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Friday, August 22, 2014

From the Mouths of Filmmakers: John Michael McDonagh

Director John Michael McDonagh directing CALVARY.
Fox Searchlight
By John Michael McDonagh 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 some of the most distinctive voices in independent and world cinema to submit responses to a few questions about why/if they think indies/non-English-language films/classics are important to view, and how those films have been influential on their careers.

The responses below are from John Michael McDonagh, best known for writing and directing Calvary (in theaters now) and The Guard (nominated for a BAFTA for Best Original Screenplay). 

Do you feel that it is important for aspiring filmmakers and filmgoers to view independent and world cinema and why?
It depends what kind of a filmmaker or filmgoer you want to be. If you want to be the director of Thor 4, then it's not important at all to view independent or world cinema. If you're happy being the kind of sheep who will watch any studio movie regardless of quality, ditto. But, ultimately, nothing is important. Getting up in the morning isn't important if you don't want it to be.
Do you feel that it is important for aspiring filmmakers and filmgoers to view films of the past and why?
See above.
How did viewing indies and films from around the world help you when directing CALVARY and THE GUARD?
Almodóvar was a big influence on The Guard in regard to its colour palette, but that film is mostly a tribute to the studio work of John Ford and Preston Sturges, and the buddy-buddy comedies that were released by the major motion picture companies in the US in the '70s. Calvary is a different matter, as its influences range from Buñuel to Bresson to Bergman to Bruno Dumont and Carlos Reygadas. Both films, however, are heavily indebted to the editing style of Takeshi Kitano, particularly in reference to his masterpiece, Sonatine.
What's one British or Irish indie and one non-English-language film that you would recommend that film-lovers or young/aspiring filmmakers see?
Powell & Pressburger's A Matter of Life and Death, and Jean-Pierre Melville's Le Samouraï.
From the Mouths of Filmmakers continues on Monday.

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