One of the anticipated events of the summer in the indie world is the annual unveiling by Filmmaker Magazine of its “25 New Faces of Independent Film“. The 15th edition of the list includes an eclectic list of traditional storytellers, new technology communicators, web series producers and curators transitioning to making films themselves. As in years past, these are the names that we will be speaking about in the coming months as the new forces in an independent cinema that continues to evolve and transform itself. Despite economic challenges and ever deepening methods of distribution and exhibition, these are the people who are staying one step ahead.
The 2012 “New Faces of Independent Film” (with descriptions provided by Filmmaker Magazine) are:
- Desiree Akhavan and Ingrid Jungermann. Described by the filmmakers as “a gay Scenes from a Marriage” about “superficial, homophobic lesbians,” THE SLOPE is Desiree Akhavan and Ingrid Jungermann’s witty and highly successful web series, which they’re currently developing as a feature.
- Jonas Carpignano. A CHJANA, Jonas Carpignano’s explosive short film about street riots involving African immigrants in Rosarno, Italy, won the Best Short Film at the Venice Film Festival. It’s currently being developed as a feature at the Sundance Screenwriter’s Lab.
- Ian Clark. Oregon-based filmmaker Ian Clark has made a number of shorts that capture the beauty and rhythms of his region’s small-town life. His latest, SEARCHING FOR YELLOW, is about a graffiti artist who makes nature his canvas.
- Ryan Coogler. After several acclaimed shorts, Bay Area-based writer/director Ryan Coogler is making his debut feature, FRUITVALE, about the New Year’s Eve police killing of Oscar Grant and co-starring Oscar-winner Octavia Spencer.
- Drea Cooper and Zackary Canepari. Filmmaker Drea Cooper and photographer Zackary Canepari found a visually seductive and highly original approach to depicting Los Angeles in their acclaimed web series, CALIFRONIA IS A PLACE.
- Chris Dapkins. Cinematographer and filmmaker Chris Dapkins’ dreamy, shallow-focus cinematography transforms late adolescence into modern mythology in Tim Sutton’s PAVILION, due for release from Factory 25 in early 2013. Dapkins’ other credits include the documentaries THE CENTRAL PARK EFFECT and THE SWELL SEASON, which he co-directed.
- Katherine Fairfax Wright and Malika Zouhali-Worral. Film producer Katherine Fairfax Wright and journalist/videographer Malika Zouhali-Worral teamed to direct their debut feature doc, CALL ME KUCHU, about the imperiled LGBT community in Uganda, where a bill proposed making homosexuality punishable by death. The film has won awards at the Berlin Film Festival and Hot Docs.
- Hannah Fidell. Writer/director Hannah Fidell’s debut feature A TEACHER, a piercing psychological drama about an unstable female high school teacher, won the postproduction prize at the Champs-Elysees Film Festival’s US-in-Progress section in June.
- Julia Garner. Appearing in an astonishing number of films since her debut in Sean Durkin’s MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE, Julia Garner recently scored her first lead, playing a Mormon teenager in Rebecca Thomas’s ELECTRICK CHILDREN. She brings a guileless, magnetic sincerity to her portrayal of young girl pondering her own mysterious pregnancy.
- Ian Harnarine. New York-based, Trinidadian-Canadian writer/director Ian Harnarine studied nuclear physics, teaches both physics and sound recording at NYU, and won awards at the Toronto Film Festival and Canada’s Genies with his short DOUBLES WITH SLIGHT PEPPER. Now being expanded into a feature, it is about a Trinidadian food vendor confronted with his long-lost, gravely ill father.
- Cutter Hodierne. L.A.-based Cutter Hodierne has 2012′s best filmmaking story: the saga of his travel to Kenya to make FISHING WITHOUT NETS, a riveting short film about a reluctant Somali pirate. The film won the Jury Award at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival.
- Alexa Karolinski. Berlin-born, New York-based Alexa Karolinski’s first doc, OMA & BELLA, a warm portrait of two octogenarian Holocaust survivors, was recently acquired by Oscilloscope. She’s currently at work on a short doc about Warhol superstar Billy Name.
- Penny Lane and Brian Frye. Currently in post-production, OUR NIXON is Lexington, Ky.-based Penny Lane and Brian Frye’s debut feature documentary. Using rediscovered archival footage and period songs, it captures, in the words of the filmmakers, “the hubris, tragedy and banality of [the Nixon] presidency.”
- Jillian Mayer and Lucas Leyva. Jillian Mayer and Lucas Leyva mashed up notorious Southern rappers 2 Live Crew and French art film hero Chris Marker in LIFE AND FREAKY TIMES OF UNCLE LUKE, a short that screened at Sundance and SXSW this year. It’s just one of many projects, many of them internet-based, from this team of Miami artists.
- Alexandre Moors. Paris-born, New York-based Alexandre Moors is a prolific music video director and is also in post on his riveting and disquieting first feature, BLUE CAPRICE, a dark drama about the 2002 Beltway sniper attacks in Washington, D.C.
- Omar Mullick and Bassam Tariq. The filmmaking team of Omar Mullick and Bassam Tariq recently screened a work-in-progress version of their Pakistan-set debut documentary, THESE BIRDS WALK, at the True/False Film Festival. A thoughtful portrait of the young boys residing at Pakistan’s Edhi Foundation, it’s also a universal meditation on the precarious beauty of childhood.
- Terence Nance. An obsessively creative romantic drama with a wonderfully elastic form, AN OVERSIMPLIFICATION OF HER BEAUTY is New York-based writer, director, actor and composer Terence Nance’s feature debut. The film premiered in the 2012 New Frontiers section of the Sundance Film Festival before playing New Directors/New Films.
- Ornana. Georgia-based film collective Ornana mixes animation and live action in their various short and long-form projects. The animated (notes on) biology was an internet sensation, while EUPHONIA, a live-action film about a teenager obsessed with recording the world around him, is on its way.
- Julia Pott. An elephant, a horse and a monster are the characters in British-born, Brooklyn-based animator Julia Pott’s heartbreakingly poignant animated film, BELLY.
- G. Rojas. L.A.-based A.G. Rojas has brought his sometimes surreal, sometimes shocking storytelling sensibility to music videos from Spiritualized, Jack White and Earl Sweatshirt. His equally astonishing short film, CROWN, is currently on the festival circuit.
- Kim Sherman. Columbia, Mo.-based producer Kim Sherman is behind some of the year’s best independent films, including Amy Seimetz’s SUN DON’T SHINE and Adam Wingard’s YOU’RE NEXT. She’s also the producer of a film by another of this year’s 25 — Hannah Fidell’s A TEACHER — and she drums in the rock band Jerusalem and the Starbaskets.
- Jason Tippet and Elisabeth Mims. After meeting at CalArts, filmmakers Jason Tippet and Elisabeth Mims developed a visually striking, deeply empathetic documentary style, seen clearly in their debut feature, ONLY THE YOUNG. After premiering this year at True/False, it went on to the win the Grand Prize at Silverdocs.
- Wu Tsang. Wu Tsang impacted both the film and art worlds this year with WILDNESS, a politically questioning, playfully engaging portrait of the Los Angeles trans bar Silver Platter. The feature played MoMA’s Documentary Fortnight, Hot Docs, SXSW and Outfest, while an installation version showed at the 2012 Whitney Biennial.
- Patrick Wang. First-time filmmaker Patrick Wang’s IN THE FAMILY, an intense and thoughtful drama about a gay man facing child custody issues, was a sleeper indie success this past year. Currently in extended theatrical release, it was nominated for a Best First Feature Spirit Award.
- Treva Wurmfeld. Dividing her time between Los Angeles, New York and Austin, director Treva Wurmfeld is completing her debut doc, SHEPARD AND DARK, which chronicles a decades-long, mostly epistolary relationship between actor and playwright Sam Shepard and his friend Johnny Dark.
Just to illustrate how prescient, the 25 List has been in the past, some past honorees include: Sean Durkin (“Martha Marcy May Marlene”), Lena Dunham (“Tiny Furniture”), Rashaad Ernesto Green (“Gun Hill Road”), Derek Cianfrance (“Blue Valentine”), Danfung Dennis (“To Hell and Back Agai”n), Matt Porterfield (“Putty Hill”), Craig Brewer (“Hustle & Flow”), Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden (“Half Nelson”), Barry Jenkins (“Medicine for Melancholy”), Miranda July (“Me and You and Everyone We Know”), Joshua Safdie (“The Pleasure of Being Robbed”) and Peter Sollett and Eva Vives (“Raising Victor Vargas”). For fuller descriptions of this year’s group, visit: www.filmmakermagazine.com