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Monday, June 30, 2014

From the Mouths of Filmmakers: David Lowery

David Lowery
By David Lowery and Joshua Handler 

Recently I've been disturbed by the amount of people who don't seek out independent films, non-English-language films, and classics.  So, I asked the filmmakers or distributors who I believe to be the most original voices in the industry to submit responses to four questions about if/why they think indies/non-English-language films/classics are important to view and how they've been influential on their careers.

The response below is from David Lowery, director of AIN'T THEM BODIES SAINTS. David also edited or co-edited critically-acclaimed films UPSTREAM COLOR, SUN DON'T SHINE, and PIT STOP and directed "Pioneer", a short film that won SXSW.

Do you feel that it is important for aspiring filmmakers and filmgoers to view independent and world cinema and why?/Do you feel that it is important for aspiring filmmakers and filmgoers to view classics and why?
It's strange to even consider this question, because I feel like the answer - a resounding yes! - is such a given that I can't immediately grasp the concept of a filmmaker, much less a filmgoer, who would consign themselves to such a narrow channel of motion picture experiences. It's not so much that it's important (although it certainly is) or that it's a matter of cultural breadth (though it's that too) - if I were to posit an argument in favor of independent and world cinema (and again, I hate to think that it would even need an argument), I would do so on the grounds of simple enjoyment. If you like movies, go see more to them! And don't stop at indie and world cinema. Dig into history! 
How has viewing indies and films from around the world helped you as a filmmaker?
Certainly, but so has watching summer blockbusters. You learn from everything. Is the ratio of great foreign films to great Hollywood efforts disproportionate? Sure, but that's in part because the US really only imports the cream of the crop. There's plenty of swill that never sees these shores, and that's a luxury we get to take advantage of. There are also lots of great foreign films that don't get released here, and tracking those down can be fun and exciting. But to get back to the question at hand: yes, it's certainly helped, and I can't imagine a version of me that didn't obsessively watch independent and world cinema in my formative years (to say nothing of me now).
What's one American indie and one film not in English that you would recommend that film-lovers or young/aspiring filmmakers see?
American indie: A double feature made up of two back-to-back viewings of Steven Soderbergh's SCHIZOPOLIS, the second time though with his commentary track. 
Non-English-language: UGETSU by Kenji Mizoguchi. I pick this one because I just saw it for the first time myself and can't believe I'd never seen it before. Absolutely beautiful.
The next response will be from Marshall Curry, two-time Oscar-nominated filmmaker, director/producer/editor of POINT AND SHOOT.

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