Category: U.S. Documentary Competition Synopsis: An unprecedented inside look at a year in the life of the writers on the New York Times Media Desk as they grapple with the transformation of the medium they work in. Director Andrew Rossi: "I'd put a lavalier mic on the subject and sit by their cubicle. At first, people were reluctant to expose themselves too much, but they could see that, as they were writing their articles, they were also in a meta way participating in the creation of the story in the movie. I think they got excited by that and trusted that I wasn't going to romanticize it, hype it or try to manipulate it, and I think we bonded as fellow storytellers."
My Idiot Brother
Category: Premieres Synopsis: A well-meaning idealist (Paul Rudd), just released from prison for selling marijuana to a cop, wreaks havoc on the lives of his three sisters (Zoey Deschanel, Elizabeth Banks and Emily Mortimer). Director Jesse Peretz: "The whole thing happened so ridiculously quickly." Peretz, his sister Evgenia Peretz and her husband David Schisgall "gave [producer] Anthony Bregman the script to read in early December 2009, and he read it in 24 hours and was psyched, so we did a couple of drafts for him, then we gave it to Paul in early April and he read it amazingly quickly and said 'yes,' and Big Beach committed to financing it 24 hours later."
Photo by: Noam J. Christopher
Category: U.S. Dramatic Competition Synopsis: A high school senior (Corina Calderon) sets her sights on winning a scholarship in the State Powerlifting Championship so she can pay for her dream college. Director Amy Wendel: "We kept trying to get the script to this producer or that production company and win screenplay competitions, but it just wasn't happening ... so we cobbled together family money and did it. I know they all say not to do it that way, but we figured it was our only way. I was a teacher for Teach for America and [husband, co-writer and producer] Dan [Meisel] is a lawyer If we didn't hit the bulls-eye this time around, there were discussions about going back to our jobs."
Photo by: Jack English
Category: World Dramatic Competition Synopsis: Joseph (Peter Mullan) finds redemption in Hannah (Olivia Colman), a Christian charity shop worker. But she harbors a dark secret that could destroy them both. Director Paddy Considine: "We managed to raise 750,000 pounds. Because there wasn't a significant budget, I got left alone to do it. The way that I work is, I rewrite scenes as I go. I'd written this three-page dialog scene between the two lead actors, and I'd just shot the scene preceding that, and I decided, 'I'm not shooting this. I don't need it,' and I just cut it. I didn't have to explain that to three or four people. If it means that I make films with this kind of budget for the rest of my life to have that freedom, then so be it."
Photo by: Despina Spyrou
Category: Spotlight Synopsis: A young woman (Ariane Labed) in a Greek seaside town struggles with adulthood as her terminally ill father (Vangelis Mourikis) prepares for death. Director Athina Rachel Tsangari: "We shot in a small [modernist] industrial town called Aspra Spitia, which means 'white houses.' I spent the first five and a half years of my life there. I forgot all about it, and when I wrote Attenberg, I knew I wanted to stage it in a place that was not Athens ... something that was old and couldn't be identified as anywhere in particular. A month before the shoot, I realized that all along I had been writing this for Aspra Spitia. It was like moving to a town that was a ready-made studio for us."
Photo by: Zack Godshall
Category: NEXT Synopsis: A middle-aged slacker (Paul Batiste) living with his ex-wife and her family decides to become a monk. Director Zack Godshall: "Our main expenses were food, [video] tapes, a few pieces of wardrobe, a couple of props and a little gas money. I bought a hard drive to edit on. Everyone worked in volunteer capacity. We worked with natural light as much as possible, and we had had one carpenter's work light, mainly used for fill. I was the camera operator and directing the thing, and my friend, Ross Brubaker, who wrote it with me, was always there, handling the sound issues. And his sister was the costume, makeup, art direction-slash-whatever. It was a real collaborative experience."
Category: Park City at Midnight Synopsis: A group of film students who set out to capture a real live troll on camera get more than they bargained for. Director Andre Ovredal: “For the final scene where the huge troll is chasing the car, we had basically two hours left of daylight. It was completely improvised. We were changing everything around up in the mountain plateaus of Norway in minus 20 degree Celsius with the lead actor driving the old Land Rover, doing all the stunts himself, with a crew of seven or eight people sitting in the back. Probably not so safe. There was a moment where we know he lost control of the car. It’s a miracle of diving intervention that we didn’t actually tip over.”
The Bengali Detective
Category: World Documentary Competition Synopsis: Cameras follow the overweight, dance-obsessed private detective Rajesh Bharti as he takes on cases involving counterfeiting, adultery and murder. Director Philip Cox: "One case was a brutal triple murder in Kolkata. After we started filming, suspicion fell on the families themselves. There was myself, the cinematographer and a Bengali associate director, and we each had different suspicions about the people before us and didn't want to be alone with them. One time we were locked in the house with the chief murder suspect and the cinematographer quietly pointed out that there was a meat cleaver by their bed, which was the instrument the murders were committed with."
Photo by: Tom Lappin
Category: Doc Premieres Section Synopsis: An exploration of rebuilding in the wake of the 9/11 attacks featuring interviews intercut with time-lapse photography of Ground Zero's reconstruction. Director Jim Whitaker: "I wanted to put one of the cameras on the American Express Building, so [cinematographer] Tom [Lappin] and I went with the building manager ... he took us down to the 47th Floor, which was unoccupied at the time. I walked over to the middle of the building and said, 'If we could put a camera here, this would be perfect.' He pulled out a piece of chalk and marked off the space. Today, there's a door inside a conference room that looks like it's going out the window."
Category: World Documentary Competition Synopsis: A dramatic exploration of the life of Brazilian Formula One racing driver Ayrton Senna, highlighting his rivalry with fellow racer Alain Proust. Director Asif Kapadia: "I wanted to almost create a new genre. It's all true, but it plays like fictional drama. [The visuals are] constructed purely from archival footage. It goes from shot, reverse, two-shot, wide shot the way it would in a fiction film. We have voices, but we never show them as talking heads. As much as possible, we have Senna narrate his own life story using [archival] interviews. We interviewed [other people in the story] primarily in order to make sure we were getting our facts right."
Jared Leto, Lupita Nyong'o and Alfonso Cuaron took home top honors at the Academy Awards on Sunday, held at Hollywood's Dolby Theatre, with performances by Pharrell Williams and Idina Menzel, selfies with host Ellen DeGeneres and a photobomb by Benedict Cumberbatch. View gallery