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Thursday, July 3, 2014

From the Mouths of Filmmakers: Rodney Ascher

Rodney Ascher
Courtesy of IFC Films
By Rodney Ascher 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 why/if 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 Rodney Ascher, director/editor of the highly acclaimed Room 237 that explores bizarre interpretations of The Shining.  Rodney's upcoming films include a documentary, The Nightmare, and a chapter of The ABCs of Death 2.

Do you feel that it is important for aspiring filmmakers and filmgoers to view independent and world cinema and why?
No, not ALL aspiring filmmakers anyway. Everyone building from the same influences would be kind of boring, wouldn't it? 
Do you feel that it is important for aspiring filmmakers and filmgoers to view classics and why?
Again, not EVERY one. There's the Scorsese/Tarantino model of film-scholar as filmmaker but I'm pretty open to people coming from different places. I'd be especially interested in seeing a movie made by someone who'd never seen one. 

How has viewing indies and films from around the world helped you as a filmmaker?
Hard to say, clearly my sensibility was influenced by hundreds (thousands?) of films and filmmakers from a pretty wide spectrum (and I LITERALLY drew from a lot of them in 237), but I think there's also a danger in thinking you need to see the right number of the right films before you can contribute something new. It's easy to spend time watching and re-watching that might have been better spent by working on your own projects. I've probably wasted half my life that way.
What's one American indie and one film not in English that you would recommend that film-lovers or young/aspiring filmmakers see?
Um....Alphaville and "Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story"
The next responses will start on Monday.  You won't want to miss them.

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