Directors Close-Up Schedule

Description of weekly events for Directors Close-Up 2021

This year, our Directors Close-Up series is 100% devoted to the immensely talented nominees of the 2021 Film Independent Spirit Awards.

Below you’ll find the official schedule for Directors Close-Up 2021 – don’t forget to check back often for event updates and newly added participants.

And, before you start scrolling, you already got your DCU series pass, right?
 

Directors Close-Up series passes are on sale now.

 
In addition to participating live, passholders will have exclusive on-demand access to every DCU event, after the series concludes on April 21.
 
Alternatively, a limited number of single tickets will be made available the Friday prior to each individual DCU event.

Closed captioning will be available for all Directors Close-Up events.
Schedule, content, speakers and moderators are subject to change.

 

Wednesday, March 3

The Spirit of Independence: Directors Roundtable

12:00 pm PT

Risk takers, mavericks, visionaries… Join us as the 2021 Film Independent Spirit Award Best Director and Best Picture nominees discuss their films, their careers and the ways in which they have been able to balance their artistic integrity with the demands of the marketplace. Through their experiences, we’ll explore the creative vision of a director.

Lee Isaac Chung (writer/director, Minari )
Emerald Fennell (writer/director, Promising Young Woman)
Eliza Hittman (writer/director, Never Rarely Sometimes Always)
Kelly Reichardt (writer/director, First Cow)
Chloé Zhao (writer/director/editor, Nomadland)

Moderated by Josh Welsh (President, Film Independent)

Get ready for Day 1 of the Directors Close-Up – watch the trailers here.
 

Wednesday, March 10

Small Screen, Big Picture: TV Creators

12:00 pm PT

2020 will be remembered as the year of lockdown, when bingeing television became the norm. So, we’re excited that this year we have expanded our program to include incredible new series produced for television. The small screen is where unique, independent voices have been going to tell stories that don’t fit neatly into the constraints of a two hour feature. This session will bring together creators of some of the most innovative, fascinating and thought-provoking stories – each nominated for the inaugural Best New Scripted Series Spirit Award – to discuss their approach to storytelling for an expanded time frame.

Lee Eisenberg (creator, Little America)
Emily V. Gordon (creator, Little America)
Steve McQueen (creator, Small Axe)
Kumail Nanjiani (creator, Little America)
Anna Winger (creator, Unorthodox)

Moderated by Wendy Calhoun (producer/writer; Prodigal Son, Empire)

Get ready for Day 2 of the Directors Close-Up – watch the trailers here.
 

Wednesday, March 17

A Different Type of Narrative, Pt. 1 – Feature Documentaries

12:00 pm PT

From intriguing investigations into rampant social concerns to personal examinations of joy and love in a time of adversity, this year’s Best Documentary nominees are a great representation of the incredible latitude presented to documentary filmmakers today. Join us as we discuss questions and challenges inherent to nonfiction films with the directors behind some of the most intriguing documentaries of the year. We’ll explore how their work pushes the boundaries of storytelling to go beyond simply letting reality unspool on the screen, to carefully crafting narratives that bring us closer to the truth.

Maite Alberdi (writer/director, The Mole Agent)
Garrett Bradley (director, Time)
Kirsten Johnson (writer/director, Dick Johnson is Dead)
James LeBrecht (writer/director, Crip Camp)
Alexander Nanau (writer/director, Collective)
Nicole Newnham (writer/director, Crip Camp)

Moderated by Morgan Neville (director; Won’t You Be My Neighbor?)

Get ready for Day 3 (part 1) of the Directors Close-Up – watch the trailers here.
 

A Different Type of Narrative, Pt. 2 – Documentary Series

5:30 pm PT

Though the documentary series format is not new, the impetus in which it has grown and evolved in the last few years has offered us immense opportunities to delve into the lives of fascinating characters and immerse ourselves with abandon in stories that poignantly capture our time. From the aberrant behavior of individuals, to the streets of American cities during an increasingly volatile socio-political climate, these series provide us with a textured and nuanced picture of our time. The Spirit Awards’ Best New Non-Scripted Series nominees join us to address the challenges and rewards of long-form storytelling, and the opportunities the small screen form offers filmmakers bringing real life to our living rooms.

Christine Clusiau (co-director, Immigration Nation)
Heidi Ewing (co-director, Love Fraud)
Rachel Grady (co-director, Love Fraud)
Steve James (director, City So Real)
Peter LoGreco (executive producer/director, We’re Here)
Shaul Schwarz (co-director, Immigration Nation)

Get ready for Day 3 (part 2) of the Directors Close-Up – watch the trailers here.
 

Virtual Networking Reception

7:00 pm PT

Following A Different Type of Narrative, Pt. 2, join fellow attendees for an hour of networking and conversation – all DCU passholders and March 17 single ticket holders are welcome to participate. Access to this event (via Zoom) will be included in the reminder email for A Different Type of Narrative, Pt. 2, which registrants will receive approximately one hour prior to its listed start time.
 

Wednesday, March 24

Your First Time: The Director’s Debut

5:30 pm PT

Your first time on a film set can be a thrilling, exciting and/or terrifying experience – even more so when you’re the director and everyone is looking to you for guidance. Yet, seasoned directors have expressed how glad they were they didn’t know better on their first film, as they found that naiveté allowed their distinct voices to come through, without the restraints of internal judgement.

This year’s Best First Feature nominees hit a proverbial home run their first time up to bat, and their experiences will provide valuable insight on how to approach your first time behind the camera: what you’re expected to know, building and trusting your team, the battles worth fighting, and when (and why) it’s OK to ask questions.

Radha Blank (writer/director/actor, The Forty-Year-Old Version)
Heidi Ewing (co-writer/director, I Carry You With Me)
Darius Marder (co-writer/director, Sound of Metal)
Edson Oda (writer/director, Nine Days)
Channing Godfrey Peoples (writer/director, Miss Juneteenth)

Moderated by Darrien Michele Gipson (Executive Director, SAGindie)

Get ready for Day 4 of the Directors Close-Up – watch the trailers here.
 

Wednesday, March 31

On the Global Screen: International Filmmakers

12:00 pm PT

Cinema, the universal language that binds us together, continues to remind us of its immense potential to build empathy, allowing us to meet people and characters from distant lands, see life from their points of view, and find our shared humanity through their experiences. For the first time at the DCU, we’re thrilled to assemble the Best International Film nominees, from across four continents. With diverse storytelling traditions, production approaches and visual styles, they will provide insight into how filmmaking differs around the globe and examine the power of film to bring us together.

Juliano Dornelles (co-writer/co-director, Bacurau)
Lili Horvát (writer/director, Preparations to Be Together for an Unknown Period of Time)
Kleber Mendonça Filho (co-writer/co-director, Bacurau)
Chaitanya Tamhane (writer/director, The Disciple)
Jasmila Žbanić (writer/director, Quo Vadis, Aida?)

Get ready for Day 5 of the Directors Close-Up – watch the trailers here.
 

Wednesday, April 7

From Page to Screen: Writing and Directing

5:30 pm PT

It always starts with a good screenplay… you can make a bad film from a good script, but never a good film from a bad script. This year’s Spirit Award-nominated screenplays were written by a diverse group of storytellers that include both writer/directors and screenwriters. Through their experiences we’ll explore their points of view and writing processes, as well as the collaboration between writer and director to successfully bring a story from the page to the screen.

Kitty Green (writer/director, The Assistant)
Noah Hutton (writer, Lapsis)
Mike Makowsky (writer, Bad Education)
Andy Siara (writer, Palm Springs)
James Sweeney (writer, Straight Up)
Alice Wu (writer, The Half of It)

Get ready for Day 6 of the Directors Close-Up – watch the trailers here.
 

Virtual Networking Reception

7:00 pm PT

Following From Page to Screen: Writing and Directing, join fellow attendees for an hour of networking and conversation – all DCU passholders and April 7 single ticket holders are welcome to participate. Access to this event (via Zoom) will be included in the reminder email for From Page to Screen: Writing and Directing, which registrants will receive approximately one hour prior to its listed start time.
 
 

Wednesday, April 14

The Spirit of Altman: Casting and Directing an Ensemble

5:30 pm PT


 

Wednesday, April 21

The Spirit of Cassavetes: Making a Low-Budget Movie

5:30 pm PT

As if it’s not hard enough to get an independent film made these days, making one for less than $500k requires an extra amount of ingenuity, passion and tenacity. This year’s John Cassavetes Award nominees have shown they know how to make every penny count, and they’re ready to discuss how they were able to turn the challenges of low-budget filmmaking into remarkable creative opportunities. As the saying goes, “necessity is the mother of invention.”

Merawi Gerima (writer/director, Residue)
Robert Machoian (writer/director, The Killing of Two Lovers)
Kelly O’Sullivan (writer/actor, Saint Frances)
Isabel Sandoval (writer/director, Lingua Franca)
Alex Thompson (director, Saint Frances)
Patricia Vidal Delgado (writer/director, La Leyenda Negra)

Moderated by Andrew Ahn (director, Driveways; writer/director, Spa Night)

Get ready for Day 8 of the Directors Close-Up – watch the trailers here.
 

Virtual Networking Reception

7:00 pm PT

Following The Spirit of Cassavetes: Making a Low-Budget Movie, join fellow attendees for an hour of networking and conversation – all DCU passholders and April 21 single ticket holders are welcome to participate. Access to this event (via Zoom) will be included in the reminder email for The Spirit of Cassavetes: Making a Low-Budget Movie, which registrants will receive approximately one hour prior to its listed start time.