From ‘Carol’ to ‘Tangerine’: This Year’s Independent Spirit Award Nominees

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This morning, Independent Spirit Award nominations were announced, boasting a diverse group of emerging artists and acclaimed filmmakers from Todd Haynes and Ed Lachman to Sean Baker and Cary Joji Fukunaga. The awards will be presented on February 27st so check out a selection of the nominees below and for the full list head here.

Best Feature
Anomalisa
Producers: Duke Johnson, Charlie Kaufman, Dino Stamatopoulos, Rosa Tran

Beasts of No Nation
Producers: Daniel Crown, Idris Elba, Cary Joji Fukunaga, Amy Kaufman, Daniela Taplin Lundberg, Riva Marker

Carol
Producers: Elizabeth Karlsen, Christine Vachon, Stephen Woolley

Spotlight
Producers: Blye Pagon Faust, Steve Golin, Nicole Rocklin, Michael Sugar

Tangerine
Producers: Sean Baker, Karrie Cox, Marcus Cox, Darren Dean, Shih-Ching Tsou

Best Director
Sean BakerTangerine
Cary Joji Fukunaga, Beasts of No Nation
Todd Haynes, Carol
Charlie Kaufman & Duke Johnson, Anomalisa
Tom McCarthy, Spotlight
David Robert Mitchell, It Follows

Best Screenplay
Charlie Kaufman, Anomalisa
Donald Margulies, The End of the Tour
Phyllis Nagy, Carol
Tom McCarthy & Josh Singer, Spotlight
S. Craig Zahler, Bone Tomahawk

Best First Feature
The Diary of a Teenage Girl
Director: Marielle Heller
Producers: Miranda Bailey, Anne Carey, Bert Hamelinck, Madeline Samit

James White
Director: Josh Mond
Producers: Max Born, Antonio Campos, Sean Durkin, Melody Roscher, Eric Schultz

Manos Sucias
Director: Josef Kubota Wladyka
Producers: Elena Greenlee, Márcia Nunes

Mediterranea
Director: Jonas Carpignano
Producers: Jason Michael Berman, Chris Columbus, Jon Coplon, Christoph Daniel, Andrew Kortschak, John Lesher, Ryan Lough, Justin Nappi, Alain Peyrollaz, Gwyn Sannia, Marc Schmidheiny, Victor Shapiro, Ryan Zacarias

Songs My Brothers Taught Me
Director/Producer: Chloé Zhao
Producers: Mollye Asher, Nina Yang Bongiovi, Angela C. Lee, Forest Whitaker

Best First Screenplay
Jesse Andrews, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
Joseph Carpignano, Mediterranea
Emma Donoghue, Room
Marielle Heller, The Diary of a Teenage Girl
John Magary, Russell Harbaugh, Myna Joseph, The Mend

Best Male Lead
Christopher Abbott, James White
Abraham Attah, Beasts of No Nation
Ben Mendelsohn, Mississippi Grind
Jason Segel, The End of the Tour
Koudous Seihon, Mediterranea

Best Female Lead
Cate Blanchett, Carol
Brie Larson, Room
Rooney Mara, Carol
Bel Powley, The Diary of A Teenage Girl
Kitana Kiki Rodriquez, Tangerine

Best Supporting Male
Kevin Corrigan
Results
Paul Dano, Love & Mercy
Idris Elba, Beasts of No Nation
Richard Jenkins, Bone Tomahawk
Michael Shannon, 99 Homes

Best Supporting Female
Robin Bartlett, H.
Marin Ireland, Glass Chin
Jennifer Jason Leigh, Anomalisa
Cynthia Nixon, James White
Mya Taylor, Tangerine

Best Documentary
(T)error
Directors/Producers: Lyric R. Cabral & David Felix Sutcliffe
Producer: Christopher St. John
Best of Enemies
Directors/Producers: Robert Gordon and Morgan Neville

Heart of Dog
Director/Producer: Laurie Anderson
Producer: Dan Janvey

The Look of Silence
Director: Joshua Oppenheimer
Producer: Signe Byrge Sørensen

Meru
Directors/Producers: Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi
Producer: Shannon Ethridge

The Russian Woodpecker
Director/Producer: Chad Gracia
Producers: Ram Devineni, Mike Lerner

Best International Film
Embrace the Serpent
(Colombia)
Director: Ciro Guerra

Girlhood
(France)
Director: Céline Sciamma

Mustang
(France, Turkey)
Director: Deniz Gamze Ergüven

A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence
(Sweden)
Director: Roy Andersson

Son of Saul
(Hungary)
Director: László Nemes 

Best Cinematography
Beasts of No Nation, Cary Joji Fukunaga
Carol, Ed Lachman
It Follows, Michael Gioulakis
Meadlowland, Reed Morano
Songs My Brothers Taught Me, Joshua James Richards

Director Zal Batmanglij Breaks Down His Personal Cinematic Classics

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When it comes to my appetite for cinema, it’s not always the film that intrigues me the most but the voice behind it. Speaking with various filmmakers—from auteurs that have been working for decades to emerging independent directors on the cusp—what I find myself obsessively enticed by is: why did this person, make this film, at this time in the world? Not only what did the film convey to the audience but what was the film trying to say, what was their intention—trying to understand where the film changed from an idea ruminating in their brainstem to the screen. And although it’s always interesting to know what other works inspired a specific film, I love discovering the movies that eternally excite my favorite directors, whether or not there’s any direct correlation between that which they worship and that which they create.

And as one of the most thrilling and inspiring new filmmakers to emerge in the last few years, Zal Batmanglij has been putting out films that speak to our current generation, illuminating the world we live in and asking us—now what do we do? His films carry a mix of political charge, poetic beauty, and suspenseful thrill that harkens back to a bygone era of cinema yet are distinctly modern and fresh.

So previously knowing about his love for films such as Kieslowski’s Three Colors: Red or Pekula’s All the President’s Men, I wanted Zal to breakdown some other films he loves, giving a fresh look at classics from David Lynch to Bernardo Bertolucci—and even his own first film Sound of My Voice. A few months ago Zal and I got on the phone to dissect just what he loves about these films and what he takes away.  Enjoy.

Klute

25% Jane Fonda – especially her voice in this film
25% Tone: that alchemy of direction. Also, the chemistry between Fonda and Sutherland, had to have been real.
15% Gordon Willis’ cinematography
15% Editing through holding the shot and withholding—you rarely see the therapist.
15% Sound design. That phone ringing.
5%  The 1970s – clothes, sets, the film stock.

The Conformist

45% The dreamlike tone; years later the mood lingers like an afterimage.
20% Jean Louis Trintignant
10% Finale in the snow
10% The tango scene
10% Vittorio Storaro’s cinematography
5%  The psychosexual undercurrent

Sound of My Voice

50% Brit
30% The tone of the film — the colors, the handheld cinematography by Rachel Morrison, that basement…
10% Rostam’s score
10% The element of WTF

Double Life of Veronique

30% It’s the music, which still haunts
30% Irene Jacob who pulls you in and keeps you clean.
30% The framing and the sense of magic from the film stock and colors.
20% The use of SOUND especially when the sound design enters the actual film — to take us to the train station.

Six Degrees of Separation

20% Will Smith’s fucking balls out performance
20% Stockard Channing’s transformation
20% The script based on Guare’s play, that dialogue
20% Donald Sutherland’s Flan
20% Real power and money skewered so effortless on screen.

Mulholland Drive

20% Bad Girl Naomi
20% Sweet naomi
20% WTF dream logic tone
10% Angelo Badalamenti’s music
10% Rebekah Del Rio singing “Crying” at the night club

A Conversation With Director Zal Batmanglij on His New Film ‘The East’

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Ever since the end credits rolled on Zal Batmanglij’s debut feature Sound of My Voice, I have been anticipating just what his next cinematic endeavor would offer. Upon seeing his first, I was immediately drawn to he and co-writer/actress Brit Marling’s brilliant simpatico and their shared affinity for storytelling that’s both beautifully poetic yet intelligently thought-provoking. And as two of the most interesting and wholly inspiring voices in independent cinema, the two have once again struck audiences with their new film, eco-thriller The East, which opened to rave reviews last week. 

Their seductive and haunting Sound of My Voice, captivated us with a style that amalgamated science fiction, psychological drama, high-concept thrill, and ethnographic study. "So much of what Brit and I have to do as writers is to go live,” says Batmanglij, understanding the importance of “living something authentic” in order to come back and tell an original story. And although the two have their own unique sensibilities as writers—Batmanglij with a zeal or creating stories that stem from the anxieties of the modern age as shown through a lens that exposes the mysticism lurking just beneath the surface, and Marling holding an ineffable quality existing somewhere between serene grace and fierce intelligence that allows us to be mesmerized by just about anything she does.
 
Now more than ever, in a time where our personal sense of security is constantly in question and our beliefs are always on the line, we need films that not only speak to where we’re headed as a society but how it feels to exist in the world today. As we’re forced to assimilate to ever-changing and frightening state of things, the culture that we’re consuming should not only be a means of escapism to dull our anxiety but a reflection and a call to action, an inspiration for ideas that will fuel us. 
 
And with The East, Batmanglij has created a film that’s as intriguing as it is topical, as emotionally stirring as it cinematically thrilling. The film follows Sarah (played by Marling), a young ex-FBI agent now working for an elite private intelligence firm who is hired to infiltrate an anarchist collective that is rumored to be attacking big corporate CEOs and forcing them to come in contact with the harm they’ve inflicted on the masses. But in her time spent with the collective known as The East, her beliefs begin to waver as she starts to sympathize with the group’s leaders (Alexander Skarsgard and Ellen Page) and opens her eyes to the wrong doings that so easily go unnoticed.
 
A few weeks ago, I sat down with Batmanglij, who has become one of not only my favorite new filmmakers but one of the most interesting interview subjects, to discuss the insightful reactions to The East, he and Marling’s creative process, and what a film like this means in today’s culture.
 
What’s been interesting to see with the film is how people have been reacting across the board. It’s not only young, more politically active people that have been responding well. 
Definitely. And older women love the movie—I think they connected to that idea of careerism versus being more human or softer and that balance. But young people really love it, like 13 to 19 year olds really connect with it, which I didn’t expect.
 
Well it’s a film about young people rebelling and doing something important in a way that’s actually intellectual or for a greater purpose than simply having fun.
There’s this idea now that rebellion is like play, but rebellion has always been rebellion, not play. Going on spring break isn’t rebellion, having a part at your parents house when they’re out of town is about the thrill of being antiauthoritarian, it isn’t just about the thrill of getting drunk for the first time. It’s funny how consumerism has sort of co-opted that of sex and drunkeness and debauchery as the things that everyone should want and stride for. That’s such a capitalist trick.
 
It might be more rebellious now to just stay in at the library.
Or be antiauthoritarian or against the status quo. One of Michael Haneke’s movies that I love is The Seventh Continent. Supposedly when it premiered at Cannes, the audience freaked out when they flushed the money down the toilet at the end. That idea was so anathema to people. That fascinates me, the idea of flushing money down a toilet bothers people more than murder bothers people.
 
Well, it’s also a more tangible concept, it’s harder to conceive of actually murdering someone.
I think people imagine murdering people more than they would imagine flushing their money down the toilet. It so breaks the illusion of everybody wanting to win the lottery. But back to your question, across the board, the movie played strong at Sundance and the Q&A had 95% retention and I thought: is this because of the actors? And then we showed the movie in Ann Arbor where it was just me and Brit. People started talking about the movie and afterwards came up to me and were like, "You know, the guy who poisoned the water in our town, he was in the audience and we kept looking over at him." And then this older woman was like, "So I came with my sister who always drags me to these movies, I don’t really like these kind of movies, I like comedies, and I don’t even watch movies in theaters." So I said, thank you and then she’s like, "But I saw your movie and I can’t get it out of my head, it’s one of my favorite movies I’ve seen in the last couple years because it’s asking questions, I just feel guilty about what I’ve been doing." And I was like, well, don’t feel too guilty—but that reaction was just so heartwarming. Then we went to SXSW  and had a similar reaction, and then from place to place—whether it was Dallas or Philadelphia, Chicago, San Francisco—people wanted to talk. It’s not so much about the movie but people want to talk about these issues—the corruption of pharmaceutical companies and how they’re being run by marketing rather than the bettering of people’s lives, corporate accountability, private intelligence, and is private intelligence really happening? And that’s a cool reaction.
 
With Sound of My Voice, because it was a smaller film, that operated on two levels—the grand concept and the intimate story. With something like Sound of My Voice or even Another Earth, you guys say, okay this woman might be a time traveler or you put an Earth 2 in the sky and you believe it because it’s rooted in something deeper and you’ve built the base for this story. You don’t need to necessarily show those things in detail to understand them as truth. But with this, because it was a bigger film you have the grand concept, the intimate story, but also the middle, more explainatory section of the film. Is that something you were aware of?
Thats interesting. As a writer, I always thought of Sound of My Voice as a single gear bike, like it had one rotation and you just had to pull off that rotation and you could do that rotation scene after scene if it was doable and that translated into the filmmaking—and the scenes were about claustrophobia or about faith. And then The East I always thought of it as three gears and you can create venn diagrams and do interesting things with it. So yeah, just trying to pull off all the math of the thriller and trying to make it thrilling and then in the shooting of it too, I was really lucky that I had amazing collaborators. 
 
Did you have an idea of who you wanted to cast in the film beforehand?
The script was its own litmus test—who wants to come and have an adventure with us. And right away people closed the script and were either like, not for me, or I have to do this. And we were excited to meet those people and we got lucky that they’re such good actors, the acting is really strong in this movie—like Julia Ormond had two days of work and she just shines. 
 
Were you all really close off set?
There wasn’t much off-set time, we were working six days a week. But on our one day off, we would actually spend a lot of time together. Alexander would cook for the crew and the cast. We liked each other but we were also learning from each other, I felt like it was a time of great discovery for people.There were these freegans I’d invited to come play with three other members of The East—I didn’t want extras or background, I get so offended by the idea of "background" actors. So there were three freegans and I remember they had each their own hotel room but instead wanted to all be in a room together, and I thought that was so cool. I think the actors were fascinated by that world, as were the freegans by the actor’s world and they merged together.
 
I know you’re very inspired by the political thrillers of the 1970s and that definitely comes across in this and knowing that going into it, felt like you were able to merge your cinematic affinities so well with something that was so modern. Were than any specific films you were looking to while making this?
I love Pakula, as you know, so I love The Parallax View and All The Presidents Men and Klute. But the funny thing is, I storyboard these movies as we’re writing the final draft but I never bring that notebook to set. We sort of throw it all out and let the soup come.Someone said that they thought parts of The East were really familiar and I thought to myself: really? I’ve been thinking about that and what it is, is that the thrill is familiar. 
 
But it’s not a cheap thrill, there’s a purpose and you’re connected. It’s thrilling because you care about these people and want to know what’s happening.
They’re poisoning a pharmaceutical board’s champagne with its own pharmaceutical, that’s not familiar.
 
When was the last time you saw that?
And when was the last time you saw a movie about a female spy who had a female boss? We never see that.
 
How do you and Brit go about working together, what is that creative process like for the two of you? I know that you had visited an anarchist collective while traveling and that sparked your desire to write this.
We couldn’t shake that experience and we also wanted to do a spy movie, so those two vines grew together. We’re like gardeners, we come to the garden and dig the soil, plant the seeds, and water it. Then we tend together. But it’s also about being kind to each other, you know, when  ideas are first starting they’re so weak, they’re like these little single cell organisms, they’re like amoebas and they’re gelatinous and you have to hold them really delicately like this little jelly fish creature and it goes from my hand to Brit’s hand. You just have to hold it and and it’s a very soft enterprise—it’s something that if you do with someone you don’t really trust it feels silly. And also, if you feel a lot of push back that little character or idea will die, so you have to create a space where you can do that back and forth with each other. It’s funny how it just starts growing and pretty soon it’s not in your control anymore. A character like Izzy did things all the time that I didn’t think she would do.
 
And what’s so great about The East is that the message is so strong and yet it’s not polemic, it’s there to spark thought.
In Philadelphia when we were showing the movie, for some reason a lot of parents brought their 13 or 14 year olds—or was it the teens that brought their parents. I don’t know how they found out about the movie but they started asking questions in tandem. And I thought wow, how amazing to start the trans-generational dialogue, I felt like the parents were really grateful that this dialogue had started. So I don’t think it’s as much about the film as much as its about the conversation that comes afterwards. I made the joke that you should see this movie with someone you’re sleeping with so you can wake up and talk about it. But it’s also a nice movie for parents and children to see together—older children and their boomer parents or younger children and their younger parents—because it’s a nice film to talk about and it’s about what it stirs up in us about accountability.
 
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Check out more brilliant posters for the film by Caspar Newbolt.

See a New Set of Photos From Zal Batmanglij’s ‘The East’

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Last year, when speaking to writer and actor Brit Marling about Sound of My Voice, we got to talking about the films that have informed us creatively and the longing to expose everyday life in an abstract way. "Like that moment in Three Colors: Blue when she’s dragging her knuckles across that stone wall or in Red when the bubble gum ad becomes like the metaphysical portal into how she nearly dies and meets the love of her life. A fucking bubble gum ad! I love that pairing," she said. "I think our generation has that desire. You see it in music now, too; there’s a kind of earnestness and deep desire for something romantic and honest, but also the possibility for something magical in the mundane. We’re all hoping there’s more to all of this that meets the eye, and I hope that’s true." And with her latest film, The East—which she stars in and co-wrote with the film’s director, the wonderfully talented Zal Batmanglij, they’ve once again have collaborated to create something both thrilling and emotional, relevant to our current generation and questions that plague our society.

Starring Marling, Ellen Page, Alexander Skarsgard, and Patricia Clarkson, The East goes as follows:

Someone is attacking big corporate CEOs and forcing them to consume harmful products they manufacture. An elite private intelligence firm is called into action and contracts ex-FBI agent Sarah Moss to infiltrate a mysterious anarchist collective, The East, suspected to be responsible. Skilled, focused, and bent on success, Sarah goes undercover and dedicates herself to taking down the organization. She soon finds, however, that the closer she gets to the action, the more she sympathizes with the group’s charismatic leaders.

And with the film’s release later this month, we’ve already seen a trailer for the feature, as well as stills and posters. But now we get an even closer look at the film with a new set of photos—both on set and from the film—as well as a new featurette. The East is a fantastic second feature for Batmanglij and shows how truly talented he and Marling are at creating an enlightening and engaging narrative.

So if you haven’t been keeping up with the film, see HERE, HERE, and HERE for more on The East and catch it when it hits theaters May 31st.

 

 

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Watch a Thrilling New Trailer for Zal Batmanglij’s ‘The East’

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Last week, we talked about the need for films that not only show us where we’re at as a society and where we’re going, but how it feels. Alongside that, came new stills for Zal Batmanglij’s upcoming eco-thriller The East, a film that speaks to the confounding nature of our generation with a voice that’s refreshing and unique. Brimming with kinetic energy and emotion Batmanglij’s sophomore feature was co-written with Brit Marling, the two exploring similar territory as their first film Sound of My Voice—investigation of identity, the allure of charismatic leaders, and questions of personal belief—but now tackling those questions on a larger scale. And with The East, Batmanglij has proven himself a filmmaker to be excited about, whose career feels important to our current independent cinematic climate with the desire to tell authentic stories that reflect what it means to exist in today. 

And with The East, we follow Marling as Sarah, a young ex-FBI agent now working for an elite private intelligence firm who is hired to infiltrate an anarchist collective that is rumored to be attacking big corporate CEOs and forcing them to come in contact with the harm they’ve inflicted on the masses. But in her time spent with the collective known as The East, her beliefs begin to waver as she starts to sympathize with the group’s leaders and opens her eyes to the wrong doings that so easily go unnoticed.

When I interviewed Marling last year, we spoke about the type of films we both enjoy and the films she intends to write, saying: 
 I think cinema can get at the ineffable and the metaphysical in a way that’s very special. If a play is 80 percent auditory and 20 percent visual, cinema is the reverse. There are moments in film that can get to a place beyond words. Literally things that cannot be described by language—language is too limited. I think that we’re always interested in those kind of endings, trying to arrive at a place after 90 minutes of storytelling just for one breathless moment where the film is articulating something that you’ve always wanted to say but there haven’t been words for. 
And with The East, we’re left in that breathlessness, questioning our own beliefs and struggling to understand just which way we should turn. So with that, today we get a new trailer for the feature that highlights the drama and thrill of the story but also exposes the emotional side of their journey, with brilliant performances by Marling, Alexander Skarsgard, Ellen Page, Shiloh Fernandez, and many more. Take a look below.

BlackBook Exclusive: See the New Poster & Official Website for Zal Batmanglij’s ‘The East’

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“Your beliefs are always coming into question; it’s a hallmark of our time; it’s very hard to believe fully in something,” said director Zal Batmanglij, who in the last year has emerged as one of the most exciting and innovative voices in a new wave of American film. With a style that blends both intimate drama with high-concept thrill, his evocative debut Sound of My Voicea film that mixed science fiction, psychological drama, and ethnographic study—left us eagerly awaiting just what he would have in store for us next. And to our delight, we didn’t have to wait long. His sophomore feature The East premiered this January at Sundance to a warm reception and, thanks to Fox Searchlight, his wholly important eco-thriller will be hitting theaters this May.

Penned by Batmangij and Brit Marling, his collaborator and star, the film explores similar themes as Sound of My Voice, with investigation of identity, the allure of charismatic leaders, and questions of personal belief. Batmangij and Marling seem to share a cinematic language; while Batmanglij has a knack for exploring the anxieties that plague our modern age, harkening back to a bygone era of political and social thrillers, Marling possesses an ineffable grace and intelligence that’s as fierce in her writing as it is in performance, both capturing the metaphysical nature inherent in human connection.

And with The East, we follow Marling as Sarah, a young ex-FBI agent now working for an elite private intelligence firm who is hired to infiltrate an anarchist collective that is rumored to be attacking big corporate CEOs and forcing them to come in contact with the harm they’ve inflicted on the masses. But in her time spent with the collective known as The East, her beliefs begin to waver as she starts to sympathize with the group’s leaders and opens her eyes to the wrong doings that so easily go unnoticed.

But what makes the film so exciting is that Batmanglij has made something totally important to our generation that speaks to where we’re at and where we’re going in a way that hasn’t been touched on in modern cinema. The East feels like the first film to breathe a young voice into an issue so embedded in our current society, but in a way that’s more personal than polemic. There’s an emotional authenticity behind the thrill, making it something you can feel as well as enjoy.

“We’re not trying to hit anyone over the head with these ideas,” Batmanglij told me. “We’re trying to plant these seeds so they will grow, because I think it’s much more important that these ideas grow inside of people than it is that they come out changed. A film shouldn’t be too intellectual in the making of or the watching of, but much later they can be—little seeds that just pop up and make you question things.” 

And today we’re pleased to share the new poster for The East highlighting Marling as well as her striking co-stars Ellen Page and Alexander Skarsgård. In addition, you can now explore the film’s awesome official website here at WeAreTheEast.com.

 east 

The East will premiere in Austin this weekend as the closing night film of this year’s SXSW Film Festival. Batmanglij, Marling, Page, and Skarsgard will all be in attendence when the the film screens at 8pm at the Paramount Theater on Sunday, March 16th.

Watch the Striking First Trailer for Zal Batmanglij’s ‘The East’

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Zal Batmanglij and Brit Marling’s latest collaboration, eco-thriller The East premiered at Sundance last night to a warm reception. Produced by Fox Searchlight with Marling, Alexander Skarsgard, and Ellen Page leading the cast, the film explores similar themes as the previous Sound of My Voice, with questions of identity,  the allure of charismatic leaders, and a sense of well-nuanced thrill. Batmanglij has a knack for exploring the questions of our age with a mystical sense that at once heightens reality and reminds us of our basic human desires. And in The East:

Sarah Moss (Marling) is a brilliant operative for an elite private intelligence firm whose top objective is to ruthlessly protect the interests of their A-list corporate clientele. She is assigned to go undercover to infiltrate an anarchist collective known for executing covert attacks upon major corporations. Living amongst them in an effort to get closer to their members, Sarah finds herself unexpectedly torn between two worlds as she starts to fall in love with the group’s charismatic leader, finding her life and her priorities irrevocably changed.

Check out the trailer below, which looks pretty damn haunting and incredible.

 

Here’s the cast and Batmanglij at Sundance this past weekend.

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Get a Closer Look at Zal Batmanglij’s New Film, ‘The East’

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As two of the most interesting new voices in independent cinema, writer-director Zal Batmanglij and writer-actress Brit Marling, have been enticing audiences for the past year. Although both have their own unique sensibility, they speak the same cinematic language—whereas Batmanglij has his own zeal for creating stories that stem from the anxieties of the modern age as shown through a lens that exposes the mysticism lurking just beneath the surface, harkening back to bygone eras of political and social thrillers, Marling holds an ineffable quality existing somewhere between serene grace and fierce intelligence that allows us to be captivated by just about anything she does. And after their haunting and seductive feature, Sound of My Voice, we were all left wondering just what Batmanglij would come up with next. Since then, Brit’s acting talents have been in high-demand, taking on roles alongside Richard Gere and Susan Sarandon in Arbitrage and Robert Redford and Julie Christie in The Company You Keep. Meanwhile, Batmanglij has been hard at work finishing their latest collaboration, The East, which will premiere at Sundance next week. "So much of what Brit and I have to do as writers is to go live,” says Batmanglij, who actually stayed in an anarchist collective with Marling prior to making the film— understanding the importance of “living something authentic” in order to come back and tell an original story. Starring Ellen Page, Alexander Skarsgard, Patricia Clarkson, and Marling, the film goes as follows:

Someone is attacking big corporate CEOs and forcing them to consume harmful products they manufacture. An elite private intelligence firm is called into action and contracts ex-FBI agent Sarah Moss to infiltrate a mysterious anarchist collective, The East, suspected to be responsible. Skilled, focused, and bent on success, Sarah goes undercover and dedicates herself to taking down the organization. She soon finds, however, that the closer she gets to the action, the more she sympathizes with the group’s charismatic leaders.

In speaking of her work as a writer and actress, Marling said, "I try to write the thing that really scares me, the thing that I might not be able to do…I feel like our generation is sort of shrugging off all the things that our parents told us about how it has to work. I made a lot of decisions early on that seemed to come out of a place of fear and then all the sudden you’re like, wait, life is actually going to go by really quickly and I don’t ever want to look back and be like, hmmm I really played it safe, glad I did that and now I’m in this safe comfortable situation but I never really lived or failed or messed up or took any big risks."

The film has yet to find a proper release date but Fox Searchlight will be at the helm of distribribution and we’ll be be sure to keep an eye out for any more news on one of our most-anticipated films of 2013. In the meantine, check out USA Today‘s sneak peak at the The East.

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The Best of BlackBook’s 2012 Film Coverage

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2012 was an interesting year for cinema—whether it be Hollywood franchise blockbusters, independent stage-play-turned-comedies , or haunting and heartbreaking foreign dramas. In the first half of the year, we saw young filmmakers such as a Brit Marling, Benh Zeitlin, and Leslye Headland debut their innovative and fresh take on modern stories, with films that established them as unique new voices of independent American cinema. Hollywood staples David O. Russell, Quentin Tarantino, Wes Anderson, and Whit Stillman once again pleased audiences and won critical praise for their idiosyncratic features. And then there were the beautifully guttural foreign films from Michael Haneke, Miguel Gomes, and Leos Carax that constantly reinvent, not only what film can be, but the experiential nature of cinema as well. 

So as the year draws to a close and we begin to anticipate next year’s film slate, here’s the best in BlackBook’s film coverage of the past twelve months—highlighting our favorite films of 2012 that will linger on in history and the one’s to breakout next year’s biggest stars.


Holy Motors
Amour
Silver Linings Playbook



Damsels in Distress

Django Unchained

Moonrise Kingdom
The Deep Blue Sea
The Queen of Versailles
Beasts of the Southern Wild


Cosmopolis
Sound of My Voice
Wuthering Heights

Bachelorette
The Loneliest Planet
Sleepwalk with Me


Beware of Mr. Baker
Anna Karenina
The Imposter

The Snowtown Murders
The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Tabu