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Programs Wed 2.7.2024

Directors Close-Up Returns In-Person to the DGA Starting Next Week 

Following a turbulent year marked by dueling industry strikes and the violent contraction–if not yet full pop–of the streaming bubble, 2024 has thus far been pretty good to Hollywood. It certainly helps that we’re in the middle of awards season, which for cineastes amounts to a three-month holiday largely characterized by voluminous binge-watching. And not just binge-watching of the year’s top films. For the curious, the season also offers up a smuggler’s bounty full of talking special post-screening Q&As, roundtables, filmmaker panels, celebratory cocktail receptions and more.

Traditionally Film Independent’s Directors Close-Up series has been a little bit of all of the above, presenting behind-the-scenes insight into the year’s most important works of cinema, straight from the mouths and brains of filmmakers themselves. As the virtual portion of this year’s programming winds down (see below), we’re looking ahead now to our three in-person sessions coming up at the Directors Guild of America in LA.

Starting next week on Monday, February 12 DCU attendees will be treated to three great weeks of filmmaker insight from Film Independent Spirit Award wave-makers past, present and future. Here’s what’s coming down the pipe…



Why We’re Excited: American Fiction is the debut feature from acclaimed television writer Cord Jefferson (Watchmen, Station Eleven). Debuting at Toronto in 2023, this whip-smart social satire has become the sleeper hit of the new year. We’re excited to go behind the scenes with Cord and his team of collaborators for a deep dive into what it took to bring the film to the big screen. Featuring Cord Jefferson (Writer/Director), Jeffrey Wright (Actor), Erika Alexander (Actor), Christina Dunlap (Cinematographer), Laura Karpman (Composer) and Hilda Rasula (Editor). Monday, February 12 at 7:30 pm PT



Why We’re Excited: As long as audiences have an appetite to be thrilled, chilled or completely freaked out, genre films will be a staple at the multiplex and on streaming sites. But what’s the secret to making movies that keep us on the edge of our seats, while watching from between our fingers? We’re bringing together a group of today’s top midnight-movie mavericks to share their approach to scaring us silly and getting us to come back for more. Featuring Mimi Cave (Director; Fresh, Holland Michigan), J.D. Dillard (Director; The Outsider, Sleight) and Nikyatu Jusu (Director; Nanny, Suicide by Sunlight). Wednesday, February 21 at 7:30 pm PT



Why We’re Excited: Expats is the first series from Film Independent Spirit Award winner (and Project Involve alum) Lulu Wang. We’re thrilled to have Lulu back at the DCU to share her experiences bringing her latest project to life, alongside her longtime producing partner, Dani Melia and production designer Yong Ok Lee, as they offer insight into the development process, working with a production team in Hong Kong, and building the world of Expats. Featuring Lulu Wang (Writer/Director; Expats, The Farewell), Dani Melia (Producer; Expats, The Farewell) and Yong Ok Lee (Production Designer; Expats, Minari). Friday March 1 at 7:30 pm PT


And if geography, scheduling or crippling agoraphobia are a problem, don’t worry–clips will eventually make their way to our Film Independent YouTube channel, where full panels from the virtual portion of the 2024 DCU’s programming are currently available.

Virtual sessions continue today, Wednesday, February 7 with our Best International Film nominees and next Wednesday, February 14 with Spirit Award Best Feature and Best Director nominees, in our annual Spirit of Independence roundtable.

Here’s what’s happened so far…



Guests of honor: Spirit Award Best First Feature nominees Tomás Gómez Bustillo (Chronicles of a Wandering Saint), Raven Jackson (All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt), Savanah Leaf (Earth Mama), AV Rockwell (A Thousand and One), Alejandro Rojas (Upon Entry) and Juan Sebastián Vásquez (Upon Entry). Moderated by Shelby Stone (Executive Producer, The Chi.)



Guests of honor: Spirit Award Best New Scripted Series nominees Zoe Lister-Jones (Slip), Boots Riley (I’m a Virgo), Adjani Salmon (Dreaming Whilst Black), Jake Schreier (Beef), Jake Szymanski (Jury Duty). Moderated by Wendy Calhoun (Writer/EP; Prodigal Son, Empire).



Guests of honor: Spirit Award John Cassavetes Award nominees Babak Jalali (Fremont), Justin Lerner (Cadejo Blanco), Morrisa Maltz (The Unknown Country) and Franklin Ritch (The Artifice Girl). Moderated by Lisa Kennedy (freelance journalist; The New York Times, Variety).



Guests of honor: Spirit Award Best First Screenplay nominees Samy Burch (May December), Tomás Gómez Bustillo (Chronicles of a Wandering Saint), Molly Gordon (Theater Camp), Nick Lieberman (Theater Camp), Alex Mechanik (May December), Laurel Parmet (The Starling Girl), Alejandro Rojas (Upon Entry), Juan Sebatián Vásquez (Upon Entry). Moderated by Spirit Award Robert Altman Award winner Fran Kranz (Writer/Director, Mass).



Guests of honor: Spirit Award Best Documentary nominees Joe Brewster & Michèle Stephenson (Going to Mars: The Nikki Giovanni Project), Kaouther Ben Hania (Four Daughters), Asmae El Moudir (The Mother of All Lies), D. Smith (Kokomo City), Lina Soualem (Bye Bye Tiberias), Moderated by Shrihari Sathe (Producer, Stay Awake).



Guests of honor: Best New Non-Scripted or Documentary Series Spirit Award nominees Joe Brewster & Michèle Stephenson (Going to Mars: The Nikki Giovanni Project), Kaouther Ben Hania (Four Daughters), Asmae El Moudir (The Mother of All Lies), D. Smith (Kokomo City), Lina Soualem (Bye Bye Tiberias). Moderated by Shrihari Sathe (Producer, Stay Awake).


To see who else is nominated at the 39th Film Independent Spirit Awards click here. The 2024 Film Independent Spirit Awards will be held Sunday, February 25 on the beach, streaming LIVE on YouTube via IMDb and Film Independent.

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