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Joe Swanberg Double Bill

MUBI Special

Joe Swanberg is probably renown as one of the landmark figures of ‘mumblecore’, the term assigned to a group of American Indie films made by broke, young filmmakers, who with no budget and very little equipment went out to make films after films. Recognisable by their low-budget and low-fi aesthetics, and their focus on relationships and frank depictions of sex, populated by characters who have a slight tendency to speak at length while figuring out their own lives. Joe Swanberg’s better known works, such as Hannah Takes the Stairs or Nights and Weekends, for which he shared the screen with Greta Gerwig, are emblematic of the early days of the movement. Silver Bullets and Art History come straight after, and are just two of the eleven films the prolific Swanberg made in 2011, forming part of the Full Moon Trilogy (with The Zone). These two films, that were screened together at the Berlinale, Swanberg embarks in a process of deliberation with himself, pondering on the difficulties of directing or acting, and answering questions that have arose on previous shoots–how to film a sex scene? How far can one go when ‘in character’? He attempts to respond to his own interrogations as well as his detractors’ attacks by making two films about filmmaking, during which, in a masterful meta-self-analysis endeavour, Swanberg plays the director.

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