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Monday, October 13, 2014

From the Mouths of Filmmakers: Martha Shane

Filmmaker Martha Shane of the documentary AFTER TILLER poses for a portrait during the 2013 Sundance Film Festival at the Fender Music Lodge, on Friday, January, 18, 2013 in Park City, Utah.
Photo by Victoria Will/Invision/AP Images
By Martha Shane 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 exciting and original voices in modern 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 Martha Shane, best known as co-writer/producer/director of After Tiller.  For their work on After Tiller, Shane and her co-director, Lana Wilson, were nominated for the Sundance Film Festival's Grand Jury Prize and the Independent Spirit Award for Best Documentary.

Do you feel that it is important for aspiring filmmakers and filmgoers to view independent and world cinema and why (if you don't feel it is important, please tell me why)? 
Of course! If for no other reason than it’s an immense pleasure to watch new or unusual visions unfold on screen. I also think the best way to learn how to make films is to study them—actually breaking them down shot by shot, and trying to understand the underlying logic of the filmmaking. 
All that said, I would love to watch a documentary made by someone who had only ever watched the TRANSFORMERS movies.  
Do you believe that it is important for aspiring filmmakers and filmgoers to view films of the past and why (if you don't feel that it is important, please tell why)? 
I don’t want to tell anyone what to do, but if you haven’t seen every film starring Barbara Stanwyck and Robert Mitchum, GO! RUN! I’m a huge noir fan, and I think there’s something so transporting about watching films from different eras. It’s the closest we can come to time travel!
How did viewing indies and films from around the world help you when making AFTER TILLER?
Some of the films that we drew on for inspiration, particularly in terms of style, would fall into that category—LAST TRAIN HOME is one, the films of Frederick Wiseman are another. My co-director Lana Wilson brilliantly answered this question here.
What's one American indie film and one non-English-language film that you would recommend that film-lovers or young/aspiring filmmakers see?
SAFE, directed by Todd Haynes. I saw this for the first time in college, and to this day, it’s the scariest movie I have ever seen. 
DAYS OF BEING WILD, the first film Wong Kar-wai made with cinematographer Christopher Doyle. I adore this movie, and I listen to the soundtrack all the time.
From the Mouths of Filmmakers continues on Wednesday. 

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