Filmmakers. 2012.

April is National Poetry Month and National Jazz Month (in America). However, I am taking his time to focus on film. It has been quite a while since I made a dedicated film post.

Tilda Swinton in Lynne Ramsey's We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011)

2011 and 2012 have been great years for film (and I didn't really focus on film last year on my blog so I have some catching up to do). For a change this is not going to be a post about short films or feature productions in Northern Ireland, but cinema in need of extra celebration! With a particular focus on a highly talented bunch of individuals, essentially the auteurs of tomorrow.

The people and films listed below may already be on your radar, but that is not a bad thing. I am not going to list my top films from the past year or so; however, if you want that then see what Peter Bradshaw at The Guardian has to say or what Sight and Sound included in their annual poll. In this post I want to address emerging talents, filmmakers who have a handful of films to their name but have a clear and distinct vision.

Firstly, the fine fellows at Borderline Films. Antonio Campos, Sean Durkin and Josh Mond. The roles of director and producer rotate between the three depending on the project. Durkin is currently crisping in the directorial limelight with Martha Marcy May Marlene, on which Campos and Mond were producers. Martha fulfils their primary collaborative ideology because it is successfully straddles the fence between indie and studio, commercial and arthouse.

A full breakdown of the Borderline Films relationships, history and company aims can be found in a lovely Variety article, or on their website (which is a great place to see trailers, music videos, and commercials that the group have worked on). Martha's box-office and critical success will ensure that the group will receive much more attention in the future.

However, it was Antonio Campos who, in the director's chair, brought home the group's first feature with Afterschool (2008). And, before that, he lured the world's eyes at Cannes in 2005 with Buy It Now, a 30-minute short about a teenage girl selling her virginity on eBay.

John Hawkes and Elizabeth Olsen in Durkin's Martha Marcy May Marlene (2011)

Thus far his work has drawn from, and reflected, contemporary visual culture in a way that Cronenberg or Soderbergh once did. Campos addresses how the internet (and obviously YouTube) is playing a major role in how the world (with an emphasis on the younger generation) is approaching image creation and consumption. Afterschool will be a title that will come up more in the future as Campos, and Borderline Films, achieve more; also, with Ezra Miller in his debut acting role as the film's protagonist it may well function as this generation's Genesis.

With Ezra Miller's talent firmly in mind, I move onto Lynne Ramsey and her most recent creation: We Need to Talk about Kevin (2011). This was the film of last year that got people talking, Ramsey's film definitely ensured that British-talent continued to be recognised in the wake of The King's Speech (2010).

Ramsey, who established her meticulous visual style with her earlier films Ratcatcher (1999) and Gasman (1998), has made Kevin a tremendous international success and, rather shockingly, it is only her second feature film. Articles and reviews surrounding the film explain how Ramsey had been working on The Lovely Bones and how studio involvement saw it produced into a Peter Jackson blockbuster. That aside, it is Ramsey's scrupulous production method that has seen go from strength to strength: every shot is measured; every colour is calculated; everything is important.

Ramsey has been working hard and has been mentioned in many lists as someone to keep an eye on as well as a familiar face on the festival circuit. With a feature with Kevin's calibre now under her belt Ramsey will have the world watching her every move, which is no bad thing.

Andrea Arnold, another familiar name on the festival circuits and Cinema16 DVDs, is next on my list. Arnold's adaptation of Wuthering Heights (2011) was simply stunning. Having seen the beautiful promotional stills from Agatha A. Nitecka long before the film was released I knew it was going to have something special. Although the film's visual strengths rest with the award-winning director of photography Robbie Ryans, he and Arnold have forged a great working relationship which will benefit both as their combined accolades continue to pour in.

Kaya Scodelario as Catherine in Andrea Arnold's Wurthering Heights (2011)
Photographed by Agatha A. Nitecka

Rebecca Daly, an Irish filmmaker, has just released her debut feature film - The Other Side of Sleep (2011) - and the strength of this production ensures she is part of this list. Again, like Arnold and Ramsey, the emphasis in this case is on the visual strength of the production, but in how Daly depicts fear, grief, and waking/sleeping worlds recalls Lars von Trier and Maya Deren in equal amounts. Although the reviews are mixed on Daly's The Other Side of Sleep it is an impressive first film, in the same way that Afterschool was for Campos (which also has a von Trier/Haneke feel).

I think that shall have to do for now. I have probably missed plenty of films and filmmakers, but there will always be the Sight and Sound annual poll. I may write more on this post at a later stage, especially since each of the films mentioned and the filmmakers have shared structures and influences.


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