Wed 7.30.2014

Don’t-Miss Indies—What to Watch for in August


War Story
When: Now playing
Where: Theaters, IFC VOD
Director: Mark Jackson
Starring: Catherine Keener, Ben Kingsley
Why We’re Excited: Winner of the 2012 “Someone to Watch” Film Independent Spirit Award for his directorial debut Without, filmmaker Mark Jackson is back with his second feature, starring Catherine Keener as a traumatized war zone photojournalist. The second installment of what will be a trilogy, the film is a psychologically complex character study that has gotten a lot of attention for its powerhouse performance from Keener, who appears in almost every frame.


Rich Hill
When: August 1
Where: Theaters
Director: Tracy Droz Tragos and Andrew Droz Palermo
Why We’re Excited: 2013 Film Independent Documentary Lab project and winner of the US Documentary Grand Jury Prize at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, Rich Hill is the collaboration of filmmaker cousins Tracy Droz Tragos and Andrew Droz Palermo. The film follows three teenage boys living in rural, impoverished Rich Hill, Missouri, navigating the challenges of adolescence. It’s resonant in both its portrayal of the universal challenges of growing up and its representation of a way of American life that is rarely depicted so truthfully onscreen.
firsttime female findmember

Starred Up
When: August 4
Where: Blu-Ray/DVD
Director: David MacKenzie
Starring: Jack O’Connell, Ben Mendelsohn, Rupert Friend
Why We’re Excited: “Starred up” is a British prison slang term that describes a young offender so uncontrollable that he gets transferred to an adult prison early. Based on the true experiences of first-time screenwriter Jonathan Asser, who worked as a therapist in a London prison, this film is a violent, intensely gritty prison drama that is not for the faint of heart. It premiered at Telluride almost a year ago, played at this year’s Los Angeles Film Festival and has received considerable critical acclaim, especially for its powerful performances, ever since.

The Knick
When: August 8
Where: Cinemax
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Starring: Clive Owen
Why We’re Excited: Steven Soderbergh may be taking a break from theatrical feature films, but he’s sticking around in a big way on TV. After last year’s HBO movie Behind the Candelabra, which won just about every Emmy award for which it qualified, Soderbergh will be back on the small screen this month with this period drama on Cinemax, starring Clive Owen as a mad genius surgeon at Manhattan’s Knickerbocker Hospital in the early twentieth century.

The One I Love
When: August 15
Where: Theaters
Director: Charlie McDowell
Starring: Mark Duplass, Elisabeth Moss
Why We’re Excited: Director/author/Twitter celebrity Charlie McDowell makes his feature film debut with this romantic comedy, which premiered at Sundance in January and screened for Film Independent Members this June. Mark Duplass and Elisabeth Moss star as a married couple on the brink of divorce whose therapist advises them to go away for the weekend to rediscover their love for one another. Once they’ve arrived at their idyllic vacation house, however, everything takes a turn for the surreal.

When: August 15
Where: Theaters
Director: Lenny Abrahamson
Starring: Michael Fassbender, Domhnall Gleeson, Maggie Gyllenhaal
Why We’re Excited: Michael Fassbender stars in this British-Irish dark comedy as the title character, the eccentric frontman of an experimental band who wears an enormous papier-mâché head at all times. While it’s bit of a shame that Fassbender’s famous, handsome face is obscured for the duration of the film, color us intrigued by the offbeat premise. The film premiered at Sundance in January and screened at the Los Angeles Film Festival in June.

Life After Beth
When: August 15
Where: Theaters
Director: Jeff Baena
Starring: Aubrey Plaza, Dane DeHaan
Why We’re Excited: Writer-director Jeff Baena makes his feature film debut with this zombie rom-com, which premiered in competition at Sundance. Dane DeHaan stars as a young man who is heartbroken after his girlfriend Beth unexpectedly dies—and then elated when she comes back to life as a zombie. He wants to pick up where they left off, and to do all the things he regretted having missed before, but Zombie Beth just isn’t quite the same.

The Liberator
When: August 22
Where: Theaters
Director: Alberto Arvelo
Starring: Édgar Ramírez
Why We’re Excited: Venezuelan superstar Édgar Ramírez plays the legendary revolutionary Simón Bolívar, whose incredible story comes to life in this epic Spanish-Venezuelan biopic. The film premiered at Toronto as well as having screened at the Los Angeles Film Festival.

Love Is Strange
When: August 22
Where: Theaters
Director: Ira Sachs
Starring: Alfred Molina, John Lithgow
Why We’re Excited: Alfred Molina and John Lithgow play George and Ben, a middle-aged same-sex couple who get married after almost four decades together. But when the Catholic school where George works fires him upon finding out about their union, they can no longer afford their New York apartment, and so temporarily live separately with friends and family. The film premiered at Sundance and screened at the Berlin and Los Angeles Film Festivals, and has been met with near-universal critical acclaim.

To Be Takei
When: August 22
Where: Theaters
Director: Jennifer M. Kroot
Why We’re Excited: This documentary follows hilarious actor-turned-activist George Takei, who is now in his 70s but still has a lot to say about marriage equality, racism in Hollywood, and, yes, William Shatner. Film Independent Fellow Mayuran Tiruchelvam (Fast Track 2014 and Documentary Lab 2014) produced the film, which premiered at Sundance this year and has been very warmly received by critics. 
LGBT femalefindmember

Mary Sollosi / Intern Blogger
Reporting by Chris Lombardi

Symbol Key
Film Independent Fellow or Member: findmember
Los Angeles Film Festival Alum: LAFF
Spirit Award Winner: spiritaward
First-time Filmmaker: firsttime
Microbudget: microbudget
Female Filmmaker: female
Filmmaker of Color: filmmakerofcolor
LGBT Content: LGBT