“To look life in the face, always, to look life in the face and to know it for what it is.” — Virginia Woolf (Nicole Kidman), The Hours
Given the climate of fear and paranoia prompted by the results of the US election, I wanted to explore the idea of compassion — defined, literally, as “to suffer together” — in relation to film. In 2015, I produced The Other Half, a moving emotional drama written and directed by Joey Klein, starring Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black), Tom Cullen (Downton Abbey, Weekend), Suzanne Clément (Mommy, Laurence Anyways), Henry Czerny (Revenge) and Mark Rendall (The History of Love, The Exploding Girl). The film is a dark romantic drama about a young woman with bipolar disorder and a young man with PTSD who fall in love and struggle to forge a simple life together. It’s a strong first feature for the director and opens theatrically on December 2.
The Hollywood Reporter by Etan Vlessing March 12, 2017 7:15 PM
The Emmy winner nabbed the best TV actress prize for 'Orphan Black' and the best film actress award for her star turn in 'The Other Half.'
Orphan Black star Tatiana Maslany dominated the Canadian Screen Awards, her country's national film and TV awards, Sunday night by earning two best actress crowns. BBC America's and Space's Orphan Black also won for best Canadian TV drama.
Maslany first won the best film actress prize for her role in the indie romantic drama The Other Half. Accepting the award, she paid tribute to co-star and boyfriend Tom Cullen: "My Tom, my other half, you are electric and fearless and generous and the kindness you bring to set is inspiring and the bravery in your work is what I think of every day on set."
Maslany then stole the show by nabbing the best TV drama actress prize for her star turn in Orphan Black. "This is for all of my sestras, my beautiful sestras," she said on stage, referring to her fellow clones in the homegrown sci-fi series headed to its fifth and final season.
The Canadian actress last year won the Emmy for best actress in a drama series for her performance in Orphan Black. The clone drama, where Maslany plays a dozen look-alike characters, nabbed a field-leading 14 TV category nominations going into the Canadian Screen Awards.
Orphan Black in pre-broadcast prize-giving earned another seven trophies, including best direction and best writing in a dramatic series. In other TV acting categories, the best drama actor prize went to Adrian Holmes for his performance in the the cop drama 19-2, while SCTV alum Catherine O'Hara repeated as best comedy actress for her role in Schitt's Creek.
Elsewhere, Letterkenny won for best Canadian comedy, and Paul Sun-Hyung Lee nabbed the best comedy actor prize for his role in the homegrown sitcom Kim's Convenience. And Natasha Negovanlis, star of the LGBTQ web drama Carmilla, won the fan choice award.
In the film categories, Stephan James won the best film actor prize for his role in Race, the Jesse Owens biopic. And Xavier Dolan earned the best Canadian film and best film director prizes for his Cannes grand jury prize earner, It's Only the End of the World, starring Marion Cotillard.
The French language drama also earned Dolan the best adapted screenplay trophy and Vincent Cassel the best supporting actor prize. And House of Cards star Molly Parker won for best supporting film actress for her role in Weirdos.
America's Got Talent judge Howie Mandel hosted the Canadian kudos-fest, which honors homegrown film, TV and digital media content product. An emotional highlight of the evening was Hollywood comedy star Dave Chappelle introducing a tribute to the Just for Laughs comedy festival.
Chappelle recounted first coming to the Just For Laughs festival in Montreal in 1992 and discovering in Canada a kinder and gentler United States culturally, "like the little gay brother I didn't know we had." Other highlights included Christopher Plummer receiving a lifetime achievement award, an honor the Oscar winning actor attributed as much to his 87 years of age as his body of stage and screen work over a seven-decade career.
"I'm old. Dangerously old. I'm so old that when I was a baby, the first word I uttered was in Latin," a self-deprecating Plummer said before adding: "The curtain has not yet fallen. It's simply stuck." And Blackstone drama star Tantoo Cardinal was awarded the Earle Grey Award for her four-decade long acting career.
The Canadian Screen Awards are organized by the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television and aired on CBC.
The nominations for the 2017 Canadian Screen Awards were announced Tuesday, honouring the best in Canada’s film and television industries over the past year.
Leading the list of TV nominations is “Orphan Black” with 14 nominations, while other series to receive multiple nods include “Schitt’s Creek” (13), “Kim’s Convenience” (11), and “19-2” and “Vikings”, which each garnered nine nods.
ET Canada viewers will be pleased to note that two of our own TV specials — one exploring the fourth season of “Vikings”, the other focusing on “Survivor” — also received nominations.
Howie Mandel hosts the 2017 Canadian Screen Awards, to be broadcast live from Toronto’s Sony Centre for the Performing Arts on Sunday, March 12. Here is the complete list of film and television nominees:
Calum Marsh | December 2, 2016 10:59 AM ET National Post
Joey Klein’s The Other Half is an old-fashioned picture. Not only does it bear few hallmarks of life for urban 20-somethings in the present day – the hero, an English ex-pat living in Toronto named Nickie (Tom Cullen), communicates with his mother back home almost exclusively by way of calling-cards and payphones – but it’s also the sort of passé romantic drama I’d long assumed to be obsolete for independent filmmakers. But here’s Klein, stalwart Canadian star of screens big and small, with his directorial debut bringing the style back to vogue.
Nickie is of a type recently fashionable among leading men: grief-stricken, volatile, and darkly handsome, could-be British cousin to Christopher Abbott in James White or Casey Affleck in this year’s Manchester By the Sea. Like those louts, Nickie is by turns morose and choleric, passing the time either sulking to himself at the bar or blowing up at strangers; all it takes is a bumped shoulder in passing, a dubious glance in a club, to provoke a cataract of sailing fists. But where Abbott and Affleck’s wretches seemed beyond redemption – their pain too acute, their agony ongoing – Nickie wants to be saved. He’s ready to love, ready to get over it, ready to go to the bar without brawling.
Enter Emily (Tatiana Maslany), a sort of manic-depressive pixie dream girl. She and Nickie meet-cute (she’s on hand when he gets into a fight at the café that’s his meagre day job), fall for one another hard (dreamy romance montages abound) and seem on course for forever-happiness – until of course they aren’t. It soon transpires that Emily suffers from rapid cycling bipolar disorder: without the calming salve of her medication she’s prone to bouts of manic anarchy, a feverish analogue to Nickie’s fits of rage. She blasts music, dances wildly, paints all day and night. It’s all Nickie can do to stand back and watch.
It’s a love nearly conquered by hardship: they try, they struggle, they flail, all a brand of romantic turbulence we’ve seen on screen before. What distinguishes The Other Half are two rare virtues; one novel, one indispensable given the form. The first is the film’s fresh take on mental illness; fresh because it’s treated with sensitivity and care. Emily’s illness isn’t reduced to a quirk or idiosyncrasy; neither does it unduly define her, governing every dimension of the role.
Klein adopts the radical position that bipolar disorder is a problem this woman sometimes has under control and sometimes does not. Unfortunate that a true-to-life, down-to-earth depiction of mental illness needs to be singled out and commended in 2016. But it does, and this one ought to be.
Klein’s other asset is his ensemble. Maslany and Cullen have been praised extensively (and justly) for their work here in festival reviews and across the trades; no less excellent, if perhaps less conspicuous, are the performances of the film’s supporting players. Deragh Campbell, so terrific in Matt Porterfield’s I Used to Be Darker, does much with little screen time.
The oft-underappreciated Henry Czerny – he was Tom Cruise’s boss in Brian De Palma’s Mission Impossible, most memorably – lends depth and gravity to the role of Emily’s put-upon father, while Suzanne Clement, favoured leading lady of Xavier Dolan, gives some shading to the unloved stepmother. It stands to reason that a career actor would have a gift for directing actors himself. What Klein does with the talent on hand proves the point.
Thanks to Mongrel Media for partnering with us as the Canadian distributor for The Other Half.
Nickie Bellow (Tom Cullen) is a self-destructive drifter, ever mourning the disappearance of his younger brother. Having abandoned a life of promise in his native UK, he has spent the inaugural years of adulthood drowning grief in alcohol and violence. By the 5th anniversary of his brother’s disappearance he has reached his nadir - fired from his menial job, he is poised once again for an aimless life. Then he meets Emily (Tatiana Maslany) and the two form an immediate, inseparable bond – it is love at first sight deepened by a shared sense of sorrow. Enamored with each other, they expedite the standard rituals of a ‘normal’ relationship. Drunk on the intoxication of an accelerated young love, they consume each other ravenously, accustomed to the fleeting and transitory, untrusting of permanence. After a short amount of time, his PTSD and her bipolar disorder surface complicating their new-found intimacy. They have a connection deeper than anything they could have imagined; it’s the two of them against the world. For Nickie and Emily, time does not heal all wounds, but could real love indeed conquer all?
Friday, December 2, 2016
For information on the film including the trailer, production stills, poster and more, please click here
Writer/Director Joey Klein and Tatiana Maslany are in attendance for the film's west coast premiere.
The Other Half
True North | Canadian Images
The Other Half presents the dramatic relationship between a bipolar woman and a grief-stricken man. A feature directorial debut from Joey Klein, the film’s nuanced and sensitive narrative is striking in its depth and sincerity as it portrays a relationship borne of mutual mental distress. Emily (Tatiana Maslany, Orphan Black) and Nickie (Tom Cullen, Weekend) may not seem practically right for each other but their shared feelings of isolation, torment and depression yield a therapeutic bond wherein the presence of each other offers a sense of relief that evolves into a profound love.
Maslany and Cullen display great chemistry and are highly convincing in their difficult roles, while Klein’s sharp screenplay crafts their relationship through wonderfully subtle details. The writer-director’s inspired use of voice-over invites us to form an intimate relationship with these characters, while the film’s unique aesthetic flourishes and an indelible soundtrack creates a dizzyingly atmospheric tone that lingers long after the curtains close.
"A troubled, anguished love story that neither exaggerates nor soft-pedals the demons on display… Cullen, so memorable as the shy, taciturn half of a gay couple in Andrew Haigh’s superb British indie Weekend, brilliantly ratchets up the dramatic tension through body language alone… [And] Maslany, no stranger to mercurial turns after her endlessly multifaceted work on Orphan Black, makes Emily someone far too alive and sprawling to be reduced to a redemptive symbol…"—Justin Chang, Variety
We're thrilled to be amongst excellent company at the esteemed Los Cabos International Film Festival.
11 OCTOBER, 2016 | BY JEREMY KAY
Amat Escalante’s The Untamed (pictured) and Andrea Arnold’s American Honey will compete for the Cinemax Award for the best competition film at the Mexican festival, set to run from November 9-13.
The other selections in the Competencia Los Cabos main competition strand are: Antonio Campos’ Christine, Kristopher Avedisian’s Donald Cried, Matt Johnson’s Operation Avalanche, Gabe Klinger’s Porto, Rafi Pitts’ Soy Nero, Joey Klein’s The Other Half and Kim Nguyen’s Two Lovers And A Bear.
Competing for top honours in Mexico Primero are: Maria José Cuevas’ Beauties Of The Night, Sebastián Hiriart’s Carroña, Rodrigo Cervantes’ LosPaisages, Lucía Carreras’ Tamara y La Catarina, Ricardo Silva and Omar Guzmán’s William,The New Judo Master, and Juan Andrés Arango’s X500.
Festival heads said most of the Mexico Primero entries came through the festival’s Gabriel Figueroa Film Fund.
The winners of the Cinemax Award for best film in the Competencia Los Cabos, Cinemax Award for best film in Mexico Primero and the Cinemax Audience Award for the most popular Mexican film from both sections will each receive MXN$200,000, roughly equivalent to USD $10,549 based on exchange rates at time of writing
The festival also carries a FIPRESCI Award for best Mexican film, the Labodigital Distribution Incentive worth USD$15,000 in services, and the Art Kingdom Showbiz Agency prize, worth USD$12,000, for the production of a trailer for one Mexico Primero entry.
We were delighted The Other Half was selected by Cinefest Sudbury.FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: JULY 26, 2016 CINÉFEST SUDBURY ANNOUNCES FEATURES CANADA TO FESTIVAL LINEUP SUDBURY – Cinéfest Sudbury is excited to announce this year’s selection of high-calibre Canadian feature films at the 28th edition of Cinéfest Sudbury International Film Festival.
Lavender [Ed Gass-Donnelly, Canada/USA, Pacific Northwest Pictures, 2016] Starring: Abbie Cornish, Justin Long and Dermot Mulroney When a photographer (Cornish) in a failing marriage suffers severe memory loss after a traumatic accident, strange clues among her photos suggest she may be responsible for the deaths of family members she never knew she had.
The Other Half [Joey Klein, Canada, Mongrel Media, 2016] Starring: Tatiana Maslany, Tom Cullen, Henry Czerny, Suzanne Clément and Mark Rendall Nickie Bellow (Cullen) is a self-destructive drifter, mourning the disappearance of his younger brother. Having abandoned a life of promise in his native UK, he has spent the inaugural years of adulthood drowning grief in alcohol and violence.
All Features Canada screenings will take place at SilverCity Sudbury, located at 355 Barrydowne Road. The 28th edition of Cinéfest Sudbury International Film Festival runs from September 17th – 25th, 2016.
Thank you SXSW 2016. The OtherHalf, by writer/director Joey Klein, produced by Motel Pictures and starring Tom Cullen and Tatiana Maslany, premiered at this vibrant, excellently-programmed, film-loving festival festival.
We are thrilled the film experienced a strong positive reaction from audiences and critics. The stars and filmmakers received a lot of press coverage and the film was widely and favourably reviewed.
Amongst the many reviews was this one from Justin Chang of Variety March 12, 2016 07:13pm
Tom Cullen and Tatiana Maslany give outstanding performances as two wounded souls in this anguished love story.
A jagged, semi-impressionistic approach and two outstanding lead performances distinguish writer-director Joey Klein’s “The Other Half” among the cinema’s many portraits of self-destructiveness and codependency. What might have seemed pro forma on paper — a man, suffering the effects of long-term grief, forges a deep bond with a young woman with bipolar disorder — overcomes its occasionally studied stylistic tics to become a troubled, anguished love story that neither exaggerates nor soft-pedals the demons on display. The rising profiles of stars Tom Cullen and Tatiana Maslany (both also credited as exec producers) should lend Klein’s accomplished debut feature a halfway decent shot with indie audiences following its SXSW competition premiere.
Five years after the tragic, unexplained disappearance of his younger brother, Nickie Bellow (Cullen), a British man now living abroad (the film was shot in Toronto), is caught in the throes of an intense depression. He barely maintains contact with his parents, who are still in the U.K., and is all too easily provoked into acts of violence, one of which costs him his job as a waiter. The film seeks to immerse us in Nickie’s alienation through a consistent strategy of visual and aural dislocation, favoring back-of-the-head shots and jarring, off-screen sound cues. Klein and d.p. Bobby Shore are especially fond of using rack focus to suggest what their characters are really thinking; a sudden shift to a young boy wandering behind Nickie is surely no accident.
These devices, including a few sequences that use blurry, distorted footage to suggest faded memories, are arresting if mannered. But they recede somewhat, to the movie’s benefit, once Nickie meets a vivacious aspiring painter named Emily (Maslany), toward whom he feels an immediate, and immediately reciprocated, attraction. But if their easy intimacy — afternoons cuddling in the park, private couplings shot with unusual tenderness — initially suggest that Nickie has found his salvation, that illusion is shattered when Emily goes off her meds and her particularly severe form of bipolar disorder resurfaces. The resulting sequence, the film’s most intense and sustained, plays out with her long-suffering father (Henry Czerny) and stepmother (Suzanne Clement) trying to intervene while Nickie watches from afar, helpless and frozen.
Its title more evocative of brokenness and fragmentation than of romantic fulfillment, “The Other Half” traces the fallout from this revelation over the course of about a year. Nickie and Emily spend several months apart so she can recover, but then tentatively renew their bond after she seems to turn a corner. As the two move in together and try to establish a quiet, productive routine, Klein places his emphasis less on the relationship’s volatility than its fragility; he creates the sad impression of a connection that desperately needs to survive, even though it’s entirely likely that it won’t. The resolution, such as it is, sounds a bleakly honest note with the faintest undertone of hope.
Cullen, so memorable as the shy, taciturn half of a gay couple in Andrew Haigh’s superb British indie “Weekend,” brilliantly ratchets up the dramatic tension through body language alone; without overstating it, his performance silently suggests that Nickie sees in his girlfriend some vestige of the lost sibling he couldn’t protect. But Maslany, no stranger to mercurial turns after her endlessly multifaceted work on “Orphan Black,” makes Emily someone far too alive and sprawling to be reduced to a redemptive symbol. In steering its characters through their ups and downs, the film wisely avoids posing any sort of false equivalency between their respective issues, or having them clash in overly on-the-nose fashion.
An actor-producer with a couple of shorts under his directorial belt (including 2012’s “Waiting for You,” which starred Maslany), Klein keeps deepening and developing his film’s dreamlike syntax, echoing the characters’ increasing alienation from the world around them as they withdraw into a private cocoon. Editor James Vandewater sometimes cuts abruptly from one soundscape to another — from the overpowering backbeat of a dance club, say, to the relative quiet of an empty park — while, in addition to some well-chosen soundtrack tunes, Cullen and Klein have written a spare musical score whose electronic repetitions occasionally drown out all other noise. The lingering effect is of an emotional maelstrom that can and will flare up without warning, between long periods of relatively dormancy.
Rather than veering toward melodrama, the film continually focuses on the nervous spectacle of people trying to defuse tense situations — never more awkwardly than at a fancy dinner where Emily, orchestating a formal meeting between Nickie and her parents, proceeds to raise the emotional temperature in a thoroughly unexpected way. As sympathetic as the two leads are, the film crucially acknowledges the endless patience of the parents in their midst: Czerny is a figure of poker-faced compassion as Emily’s father, while a superb Nancy Palk works wonders in her few scenes as Nickie’s kind-hearted mother. In refusing to shut these loved ones out, as their children often do, Klein’s film provides still another moving perspective on how the other half lives and copes.
exerpted from rogerebert.com by Erik Childress March 18, 2016
One of the truly great and unexpected discoveries of this year's SXSW was Joey Klein's "The Other Half" [pictured above]. Tom Cullen ("Weekend," "Downton Abbey") plays Nickie, a cab driver with a short fuse still grieving over a family tragedy. He meets his opposite in Emily (Orphan Black'sTatiana Maslany), who is very up with life and makes him smile in a way that has likely been absent the past five years. The more open Emily is to this new relationship though, the more the symptoms of her bipolar disorder come to the forefront. Thinking of Emily as just another free spirit manifested to bring an emotionally-deadened male back to life is enough to give pause to this experience. Throw on top of all that the recent abundance of films involving people with Autism and those afflicted with ALS taking road trips to find romance, and Indie Movie Warning Bells are probably going off. Luckily, “The Other Half” handles its material with grace and authenticity. Klein is not interested in exploring mental illness as a cutesy crutch that needs to be overcome for a happy ending. What Emily lives with is shown as difficult, and the film never shies away from how that difficulty can affect even someone who loves her deeply. It is almost improper to suggest that the star of “Orphan Black” would be an ideal candidate to play a bipolar character, but Maslany is one of the most interesting actresses working today and she does not treat the symptomatic Emily as separate personalities but rather an individual struggling to maintain the best parts of her. Cullen is every bit her equal, projecting a screen presence that is equally confident and mysterious by using very few words to reflect his state of being. Klein has a visual language that recalls the early work of David Gordon Green (particularly his "All the Real Girls") and announces himself as a real talent to watch as he navigates what could have been stale, borderline offensive material into something memorable and heartfelt.
by Jason Whyte
"THE OTHER HALF is a contemporary, Romeo and Juliet love story about two damaged people, Nickie and Emily. Nickie is in mourning and burying all emotion while Emily is mentally ill and struggles with feeling too much. They fall in love at first sight and try to fit into society and find balance amidst the normal rules of relationship. The performances are incredibly truthful. And the film subverts genre expectations. The film is incredibly astute about what intimacy is like in the 21st century." - Producer Nicole Hilliard-Forde on THE OTHER HALF which screens at the 2016 edition of South By Southwest Film
I am thrilled to hear your movie is showing at SxSW and this is your first time here! Are you planning to attend your screenings?
This is my first SXSW and I will be in attendance at all three screenings on March 11, 12 and 16.
Tell me a bit about how you got your start in the industry and your previous work!
I started in casting 16 years ago. I started as a Casting Assistant, then became an Associate, then an In-house Casting Director at a fairly large casting company. There I worked on studio films and network/cable television shows. I worked in a US idiom and learned a lot. I run my own casting company now.
Along the way, I decided to delve into producing and attended the Canadian Film Centre Producers Lab, a film and television training institute founded by Norman Jewison. I set up a production company called Motel Pictures. I waited for a very special kind of writer/director to walk into my life. That person was director Joey Klein. And when he did I took the plunge of producing my first feature.
So how did this movie come together from your perspective?
It's a bit of a story. I was very familiar with Joey Klein as an actor. I had been observing his trajectory as an artist over a decade. I had auditioned him and cast him in a few projects. One night, I was at the wrap party for a feature film that Joey had starred in and I had cast. We both got chatting about life beyond the project we were celebrating that evening. He told me that he was also writing, had directed two short films and was preparing to direct a feature film. I told him that I had produced some shorts and a documentary and had thought about producing features but had not found the right project.
We decided to go out for coffee and continue chatting. Joey told me about The Other Half which he had been writing off-and-on for about nine years; that he had a cinematographer attached, two lead actors attached to the project, all of them close friends, and the interest of a Canadian distributor. I fell in love with his writing voice immediately. I could hear all of the layers of his original voice and felt a deep, shared preoccupation with the things he was writing about.
He told me about this passion project and I immediately offered to help him find a producer as he had been working alone to push the project forward, doing an amazing job I might add, and was looking for an experienced feature film producer. I made introductions for him and he updated me on the project. Meanwhile he sent me another feature screenplay to read and discuss. We agreed to develop this second script together and I began producing it. From time to time I would ask him "What ever happened with your passion project THE OTHER HALF?" For whatever reason, not much was progressing with it. During the time we developed the second script, we fell into an easy creative sympatico or groove with one another. Not long after, he asked me to produce THE OTHER HALF.
I felt that he was passing the baton to me and with that came great responsibility. The script was well-marinated, the incredible actors who were attached really validated my strong belief in his writing voice, the film was going to look beautiful, Joey's depth of cinema knowledge and cinema language were solid, and most importantly, I felt I could get behind the message of his film. So I signed on to produce it. And unlike the previous nine-ten years he had been creating and workshopping and developing the script, the script to screen process happened like a lightening bolt. Joey and I began polishing the script and began packaging the feature. Once I locked the actors' availability, not easy with two hot-in-demand actors who are both leads in series, I had three months to raise the financing for the film. It was a phenomenal education and roller coaster ride. Everyone came together to support Joey's first film. This was a capital P passion project.
What kept you going while making a movie? What drives you?
Joey and I became very close during the process of making the film. So definitely his respect and support constituted a huge driver. My kids' unconditional support keeps me going with anything I do especially with things that are challenging. My partner, Matt, certainly holds the fort while I'm producing and absorbs some of the shocks of being the husband of a producer.
But ultimately the film itself is what drives me. I felt a huge sense of responsibility to ensure that the film baby got born. My role is to protect Joey's vision of the film. Anecdotally, Joey and I are not above cutting our Lorazepam into tiny pieces and sharing with each other when things get particularly hairy during the process.
What was your biggest challenge with making this movie, and the moment that was the most rewarding to you, where you knew you had something special?
The biggest challenge with taking this project from script to screen was a lack of time, which I am happy to say we overcame by not becoming deterred by road blocks and focusing in on the tasks at hand. Joey directed the film in 16 days of principal photography. We raised the financing in three months despite the odds. Joey and I followed the yesses. All the way to SXSW!
What was your involvement with the look and design of THE OTHER HALF?
The first person Joey invited to be involved in the film was his cinematographer Bobby Shore. When you see the film you'll know why.
What are you looking forward to the most about showing your movie here in Austin?
Showing it to an audience is the thing I am most looking forward to. I love how the film turned out and think the film will provoke, stir and awaken discussion. Can't wait to share the film with you in Austin.
After the film screens at SxSW, where is the film going to show next?
We will be sure to let you know! More announcements to come.
If you could show your movie in any theater outside of Austin, where would you screen it and why?
I would love to show the film outdoors in a giant park like Christie Pitts in Toronto, Canada where people bring their lawn chairs and picnic blankets and watch great films at night, in nature. I remember watching Hitchcock's REAR WINDOW in that very setting and it was such an incredible communal experience.
What would you say to someone who was talking or texting through a movie?
Film opens up a space where time is compressed and expanded and human behaviour can be observed in a very rarefied way. Film is political. Film is flight. Film is life re-imagined. The communal nature of watching a film with an audience provides something that watching alone on your device does not. Don't miss these moments by being on your mobile device.
We have a lot of readers on our site looking to make movies. What is the ONE THING you would say to someone who is wanting to get into the filmmaking business as a piece of advice?
Find good people to make great art with.
And finally, what is the greatest movie you have ever seen at a film festival?
It would be REQUIEM by Austrian director Hans-Christian Schmid, starring Sandra Huller. It's about an epileptic girl who suffers a breakdown during her first year at university, then decides to seek help from a priest in battling the troubles associated with her strict upbringing. I saw it at TIFF. I am lucky enough to live in a city with an annual, international film festival. It's where I can find incredible films and filmmakers from around the world.
Austin, Texas, is known for a lot of things: breakfast tacos, extraordinary live music, the miraculous disease-curing magical goo that the locals call "queso." But for film fanatics, the appeal of the Lone Star State's bastion of wonderful weirdness can be boiled down to one specific thing: the SXSW Film Festival. (And also queso — it's really a year-round pleasure.) From March 11-19, the annual movie-geek get-together rolls out a stellar showcase of micro-indie dramas, midnight psychotronica flicks, a sidebar of music docs on everyone ranging from Gary Numan to hip-hop superproducers Organized Noize, and — just for good measure — premieres of a long-awaited new Pee-wee Herman movie and the latest Richard Linklater joint. Here are our 25 picks for the must-see movies at this year's edition.
Daryl Davis is a bluesman who's played alongside everyone from Jerry Lee Lewis to Bill Clinton. Matt Ornstein’s doc, however, is more interested in what the musician does when he's not playing licks or pounding the keys: introducing himself to members of the KKK. What started as a hobby for the Chicago-born Davis quickly evolved into a passion, as he realized that simply talking to a black man could alter the mindset of a virulent racist. Meet a man who's actually making America great again. DE
'The Art of Organized Noize'
They're god-given names are Patrick "Sleepy" Brown, Rico Wade and Ray Murray — but you know them as Organized Noise, the producers who gave the world TLC's "Waterfalls," most of OutKast's music and a whole mess of Southern hip-hop. Fellow mixing-board jockey Quincy "QD3" Jones steps behind the camera and dives into the Dungeon to chart how this trio changed the sound of contemporary music and made a few enemies (and a shitload of hit records) along the way. DF
'Artist & Repertoire'
Give it up for Mo' Wax! This look back at the life and times of James Lavelle goes into the founding of that seminal label, as well as bringing crate-digging master DJ Shadow to the masses, their collaborative project UNKLE, and helping turn turntablism into the chic music of that long-lost Nineties moment. And if you've been wondering what he's been up to since that Clinton-era heyday, we suspect you're about to get an answer. DF
One of them was a legendary stuntman who wanted to become a director; the other was the biggest movie star of the 1970s. When Hal Needham and Burt Reynolds decided to team up for an action comedy about a guy in a Trans Am and his trucker buddy hauling bootleg Coors into the deep South, everyone though they were crazy ... until Smokey and the Bandit broke box office records. Documentarian Jesse Moss (The Overnighters) does more than just chart the making of a cinema du good ol' boy landmark — he also delivers a history of he-men falling out of buildings for a living, a testament to the power of a hairy chest peeking out of a big-lapeled shirt and the history of a legendary Hollywood alpha-male friendship. DF
'Beware the Slenderman'
The Slenderman was the first genuine boogie monster of the modern age, a spooky sensation that started in an online forum and seeped across the Internet at warp speed. Tragically, the Web phenomenon bled into the analog world in May 2014 when two 12-year-old girls stabbed a classmate 19 times, in the hopes that the Slenderman might be impressed. Tracing how a meme evolves into a conduit for attempted murder, filmmaker Irene Taylor Brodsky's haunting doc offers an intimate look at the moment when digital folklore becomes devastatingly real. DE
Five emerging directors adapt each others' dreams into short films. The results are hypnotically senseless and often unshakably strange: a gorgeous sketch about a woodland sniper drifts into a Malick-esque portrait of an ex-con's first day of freedom; a gym teacher prepares his class for a volcano drill; a young mother who’s giving birth to an elemental monster; the grim reaper hosts a TV show about murdered black children. It's like nothing you’ve ever seen with your eyes open. DE
'Don't Think Twice'
There are very few things more agonizing than watching an improv comedy show, but walking through the second-floor window of a La Quinta Inn is probably one of them. Mike Birbiglia — whose autobiographical Sleepwalk With Me was a hit at SXSW 2012 — is someone who knows what it feels like to suffer for a laugh, so we expect that his new film about an UCB-style troupe torn asunder by one member's sudden fame will mine such pain for maximum humor. Plus Keegan-Michael Key and Gillian Jacobs co-star, which is always a good thing. DE
When he was a kid, Stefan Pokorny was obsessed with role-playing games like Dungeons and Dragons; later, he founded Dwarven Forge, a company devoted to making "pre-painted miniature terrain" for RPG enthusiasts. Now he's mounting a Kickstarter campaign to fund his most ambitious project yet: a huge art project that Pokorny hopes will inspire peace, love and harmony around the world via all-out fantasy geekitude. Something tells us this doc is going to roll a 20 in dexterity with this festival crowd. DF
'Everybody Wants Some!'
Richard Linklater had been teasing that his first post-Boyhood movie would be a "spiritual sequel to Dazed and Confused" — and this tale of a rookie college baseball player (Blake Jenner) getting to know his fellow teammates does indeed feel like a distant cousin of that modern hanging-out classic. Based very loosely on the director's own experience, this is the type of movie that considers party first and foremost a verb and plays to Linklater's strengths, i.e. a casual attitude towards plot and the ability to turn rambling conversations into a cracked poetry. And like that earlier movie, it reminds you that the dude has a great eye for young talent; if this film doesn't do for Glen Powell what Dazed did for Matthew McConaughey, we'll take a fastball to the family jewels. DF
'Gary Numan: Android in La La Land'
We all know that Gary Numan scored a big hit in 1979 with "Cars" and his paranoid-android take on electronic music; what you might not know is that he suffered from Asperger's syndrome, which — along with a trouncing from an insensitive music press — presaged a long "where is her now?" phase of his career. Directors Steve Read and Rob Alexander detail the rise, fall and phoenix-like return of an alt-music pioneer. We assume that Numan's friends contributed some talking-head testimonials here — the question is, were they electric? DF
'Goodnight Brooklyn: The Story of Death by Audio'
When underground Brooklyn music venue Death By Audio was shuttered in November 2014, its demise signaled the end of an era for Williamsburg's music scene; the space had played an instrumental role in launching bands like A Place to Bury Strangers and Dirty on Purpose. Fortunately, DBA cofounder Matthew Conboy had the good sense to film just about everything that happened between news of the warehouse space's closing and its raucous final night. Filled with killer concert footage, this rock doc bottles that brief moment in time when the neighborhood was suspended between a history of gentrification and a future of corporation. DE
'I Am Belfast'
Filmmaker, film historian and peerless first-person-essayist Mark Cousins (The Story of Film) delves into the backstory of his Northern Irish hometown, here personified as an elderly woman. (Technically, it should be called She Is Belfast, but we ain't quibbling.) Imagine a travelogue mixed with free-form musings, much wandering about and a deep dive into how this particular city has played a part in the country's identity crisis, and you're about halfway there. DE
'In a Valley of Violence'
Deviating even further from the slow-burn horror that's positioned him as the heir apparent to Wes Craven, Ti West (The Innkeepers) branches out with a Western revenge saga about a drifter (Ethan Hawke) who blows into a small frontier town with a fedora, a dog, and a serious thirst for revenge. Eventually joined by two sisters who run the local inn (Taissa Farmiga and Karen Gillan), our hero's quest for vigilante justice is sure to be accented with an unholy smattering of the red stuff. DE
American Horror Story veteran Lily Rabe is an emotionally paralyzed high school teacher who's forced to chaperone three of her students on a trip to a drama competition. As the titular professor begins to form an uneasy bond with one of the teen thespians (the electric Timotheé Chalamet, who first made noise in last year's SXSW hit, One & Two), this delicate, unassuming drama finds a way to thread a coming-of-age story with some decidedly more adult matters. DE
'My Blind Brother'
Robbie (Adam Scott) is a blind swimmer whose handsome looks have become an ironically crucial part of his identity. Bill (Nick Kroll) is the decidedly less sexy sibling who has always been there to point his brother in the right direction. Rose (Jenny Slate) is the woman they both trip over themselves for. Adapted from her short of the same name, Sophie Goodhart's feature debut uses one of SXSW 2016's most star-studded casts to tell a story about the bumps and bruises of of the ties that bind. If she's able to sustain the darkly comic energy that made the original so special, this will be the ruefully touching breakout film of the fest. DE
Back in the 1960s, a collective of surfers, psychedelic explorers and straight-up hippy-dippy freaks dubbed themselves the Brotherhood of Eternal Love. Their mission: expand the world's consciousness through LSD. The result: numerous bad trips, a few doors of perception kicked open, and a how-to blueprint for the modern drug trade. Filmmaker William A. Kirkley (Excavating Taylor Mead) spells it all out for you, maaaaan.DF
'The Other Half'
It's only a matter of time before Orphan Black star Tatiana Maslany becomes a big-screen force to be reckoned with, and this desperate romance could be the thing that sparks her explosion. Acting opposite her longtime boyfriend (Tom Cullen, who was the toast of SXSW when Weekend premiered there in 2011), the actress plays a bipolar woman in love with a self-destructive guy who’s never recovered from the disappearance of his little brother. It’s hardly the first hyper-intense drama about two lost souls scraping each other away from rock bottom, but this one should course with chemistry and conviction. DE
'Pee-wee’s Big Holiday'
Seventeen years is a long time to wait for a new Pee-wee Herman movie — but everything about the manchild in the grey flannel suit's return to big- and small-screen glory (this is a Netflix joint, after all) suggests that the wait will have been well worth it. After meeting a hunky actor named Joe Manganiello (played by hunky actor Joe Manganiello), our hero is forced to leave his hometown for the first time and venture cross-country to New York. Cue roadside encounters with a Faster Pussycat trio of tough chicks and the Amish, dream sequences, musical numbers, much candy consumption and some primo balloon fart noises. Even the trailer will make you giddy.
He's a Southern man, a socially conscious author, a dedicated back-to-the-land activist and a prime proponent of civil disobedience — and Laura Dunn's docu-profile of Wendell Berry suggests that there's still more to this agrarian spokesman than a lifetime of fighting the good fight. If you're familiar with the Kentucky native's essays, you know he's as eloquent as he is ecologically passionate and profound; if you've never read any of his stuff before (and you should), prepare to have your eyes opened. DF
Sure, the Bay Area is considered by many to be ground zero for the Our Glorious Home-Computing Revolution — but as anyone who's watched Halt and Catch Fire can tell you, Texans were doing their part to bring PCs to the masses. Specifically, the good folks at Compaq, the Houston company who took on IBM and tried to produce affordable proto-laptops back in the early Eighties. Filmmaker Jason Cohen traces the rise and fall of these unsung hardware pioneers. Yee-control-alt-delete-ha! DF
'A Song for You: The Austin City Limits Story'
For 40 years, the PBS series Austin City Limits has been bringing everything from C&W legends to No Depression alt-country acts, hard rockers to bluegrass pickers to TV sets around the States; now you can find out how this Texas-based show went from modest endeavor to the longest running music program on the air. One of two docs that Keith Maitland has at the fest (see also Tower), this stem-to-stern look at the institution centered in the "Live Music Capitol of the World" traces the entire history of ACL — and oh yes, there will be concert footage guaranteed to make you salivate. DF
'Tony Robbins: I'm Not Your Guru'
Documentarian Joe Berlinger has chronicled the stories of everyone from Metallica to the Memphis Three and Whitey Bulger — and now he turns his camera on bestselling author and celebrity motivational speaker Tony Robbins. The subtitle suggests that the portrait is designed to debunk the myth that the gentle giant is a self-help godhead, though the fact that the award-winning filmmaker got all access to Robbins' annual "Date With Destiny" mega-seminar also hints that we're about to see just how thirsty this man is offstage. Of all the fly-on-the-wall docs at the fest, this is the one we're looking forward to catching the most. DF
Early on the morning of August 1st, 1966, University of Texas student and former U.S. marine Charles Whitman killed his wife and mother, then headed to campus with a virtual arsenal's worth of firearms. He took residence in a tower and, for close to 90 minutes, randomly fired upon passerbys until he was shot by a policeman. Documentarian Keith Maitland uses first-person testimonies from witnesses to recreate Whitman's killing spree from various ground-level perspectives; he also uses rotoscoped animation to lend the entire proceedings a creepy, surreal feeling of distance as a normal Texas day turns into a waking nightmare. DF
Nicolas Cage, playing a corrupt Las Vegas cop who's tempted to steal from his precinct's evidence locker, stars alongside Elijah Wood and Jerry Lewis (!) in a crime comedy directed by the bros behind Justin Bieber’s "Where Are U Now" video. Our sincerest respect to anyone who has the strength to resist that offer. Cage may be in a James Brown-level funk right now, but don't forget that he pulled himself out of his last creative tailspin by reinventing Bad Lieutenant — so we've got high hopes for any movie that gives him a badge, a mustache, and a license to scream at civilians. DE
'War on Everyone'
From the deviant mind that brought you The Guard comes another jet-black screwball comedy about a pair of cops (Alexander Skarsgård and Michael Peña) who are just as crooked as the perps they bring to "justice." Set along the arid border between New and old Mexico, John Michael McDonagh’s warped crime flick follows our acidic heroes as they shakedown a local strip-club owner — only to end up in a bind when their attempted extortion reveals a crime too grim for them to ignore. Co-starring Paul Reiser and Creed actress Tessa Thompson, this has cult potential written all over it. DE
Orphan Black star Tatiana Maslany and Downton Abbey thesp Tom Cullen will premiere their new film, The Other Half at South By Southwest on March 12, 2016, and Variety has an exclusive sneak peek at the drama, in which a grief-stricken man and a bipolar woman fall in love and try to forge a simple life together.
Speaking to Variety after her Emmy nomination last year, Maslany explained how much of a “passion project” the film is for herself and Cullen — who are also a couple off-screen and serve as executive producers on the feature.
“It’s about two people who are very broken and very much in love with each other and trying to make it work. It’s a very simple story but told really beautifully,” she said. “The director is Joey Klein, and I’m working opposite Tom Cullen and it’s like a family affair. It’s a real passion project for all of us — we’ve been attached to it for years, so it’s finally seeing the light of day, which is the most gratifying thing.”
In the film, Nickie (Cullen) is a self-destructive loner ever mourning the disappearance of his younger brother. Having abandoned a life of promise in his native UK, he has subsisted by drowning grief in alcohol and violence. On the fifth anniversary of his brother’s disappearance – and on the verge of reaching his nadir – he meets Emily (Tatiana Maslany). The two form an immediate, inseparable bond: it is a love at first sight deepened by a shared sense of sorrow. The film also stars Suzanne Clément, Henry Czerny, Deragh Campbell and Mark Rendall.
“The Other Half” will make its world premiere in the Narrative Feature Competition at SXSW. It was written, directed and produced by Klein. Other producers on the project include Nicole Hilliard-Forde and Jonathan Bronfman, along with executive producers Cullen, Maslany, Jay Firestone, Vanessa Piazza, David Miller, Mark Gingras, John Laing, Julia Sereny and Jennifer Kawaja. Bobby Shore serves as cinematographer and James Vandewater edits, with Klein and Cullen providing the music for the film.
by Jordan Pinto playbackonline.ca February 2, 2016
Two Canadian features and two Canada/U.S. coproductions have been announced for next month’s South by Southwest Festival, including a world bow for Stella Meghie’s Jean of the Jonesesin the Narrative Spotlight program.
The Texas festival will also see the world premiere of both The Slippers from director Morgan White, and The Other Half(starring Suzanne Clement and Tatiana Maslany) from director and screenwriter Joey Klein. White’s feature will screen in the Documentary Spotlight program, while Klein’s will screen in the Narrative Feature section.
In addition, Ethan Hawke-starrer Born to be Bluewill feature in the 24 Beats Per Second category. The Canada/U.K. copro, which tells the story of Chet Baker’s comeback from heroin addiction, is making its U.S. premiere.
Canada/U.S. coproduction Jean of the Joneses tells the story of 25-year-old Jean and her multi-generational Jamaican-American family, and the secrets they discover after an estranged grandfather dies. The feature, which went into production in Toronto and New York in November 2015, is written and directed by Meghie, who was named among Playback‘s 2015 Five to Watch.
The Slippersis both produced and distributed by Tricon Films and Television, and documents the search for a missing pair of ruby slippers worn by Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz. White’s Other Half tells the story of a grief-stricken man (Tom Cullen) and a bipolar woman who fall in love and try to forge a simple life together.
The 2016 South by Southwest Festival takes place in Austin, Texas from March 11 to 20.
The Other Half will have its world premiere at the SXSW Film Festival.
The announcement was made, yesterday, at a press conference in Austin, Texas. The film is one of 10 features selected for the prestigious Narrative Feature Competition.
The Other Half is produced by by Motel Pictures Inc. and JoBro Productions. Nicole Hilliard-Forde is Producer with David Miller, Julia Sereny and Jennifer Kawaja acting as Executive Producers.
Tom Cullen (Downton Abbey, Weekend) and Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black) star with an ensemble cast that includes Suzanne Clement (Mommy), Henry Czerny (Revenge), Mark Rendall (30 Days of Night), Deragh Campbell (I Used to Be Darker) and Nancy Palk.
The romantic drama was written and directed by Joey Klein and centres on a passionate love affair between a self-destructive drifter and a bi-polar woman. It was shot in and around Toronto this past summer.
The 2016 SXSW Film Festival takes place in Austin, Texas from March 11 to 19, 2016. Screening dates and times will be revealed February 16, 2016.