A Sinister Tale of a Young Italian Gang Forms the Basis of an Intense New Film
A dramatic and violent story about a group of kids in rural Italy during the late 1980s forms the latest offering from Francesco Calabrese, one of four winners of our Shorts on Sundays open call. Shot in an abandoned restaurant in rural, mountainside Turin, I Killer is the Italian director’s second short, following his first well-received horror film Lovely Monster. Calabrese has always been interested in darker narratives, so when he found the obscure short story Prove di Coraggio (Tests of Courage) by Italian writer Nicola Lombardi, he was inspired to turn it into a film, resulting in I Killer. Calabrese has worked on a wide range of moving-picture projects since 2003, including fashion films for Gucci and a commercial for Lamborghini—a breeze, he says, compared to the challenge of working so closely with child actors who play the young gang members: “They can’t focus for more than two hours, after that it’s just a mess.” More than anything the film reflects the desperate need to fit in that is felt among the young, something Calabrese believes everyone can relate to. “Kids can be mean and scary but at the same time most of them are gentle,” the director says. “I experienced something similar to this story—but I never risked my own life.”
The Multi-Talented Chicago Musician Willis Earl Beal Reveals an Introspective Animation
Avatars of Lionel Richie and President Barack Obama pop up in Willis Earl Beal’s animated exploration of everyday human values, trials and mediations, Principles of a Protagonist. Chicago-born Beal’s past lives include those of an army recruit and a night-shift security guard before he began recording music, promoting his work by leaving CD-Rs in public spaces around town, accompanied by hand-illustrated flyers. The autobiography-meets-fantasy concept behind Principles of a Protagonist originated in the form of a novella Beals wrote in 2010 while heartbroken and unemployed, and distributed as a photocopied 'zine. He has since hooked up with Hot Charity/XL Recordings, who put out his debut album Acousmatic Sorcery, last year, and are planning a sophomore release for late 2013. Beal continues to integrate his writing and drawing into his recording work, however, and today’s new installment of our Shorts on Sundays series is a testament to his many talents—visual, musical, and philosophical. "The Protagonist does what we cannot," Beal revealed to us in a brief artist's statement. "He embraces an inevitable destruction that is all inclusive. He knowingly constructs a set of principles that ultimately must dissolve within a meaningless void like the perceived order of life into the uncertainty of death."
Director Martin de Thurah's Intimate Portrait of the Indie Sensation’s Haunting Lament
Canadian chanteuse Leslie Feist swirls and twirls through a monochrome kaleidoscope while intoning her sultry ballad “Anti-Pioneer” in a new video by Danish director Martin de Thurah. A four-time Grammy Award nominee and 11-time Juno Award-winner, Feist honed her musical chops with electro-pop iconoclast Peaches and the Toronto alt-rock band Broken Social Scene. Her Gonzales-produced debut album Let it Die catapulted her into the mainstream limelight, and in 2006 her track “1234” from sophomore effort The Reminder went to number eight in the US after being featured on an advert for the iPod Nano. De Thurah’s video was shot with a tiny crew in an old building in Mexico City while the pair had a two-hour break in the middle of filming the promo for Feist’s “The Bad in Each Other,” lifted from recent LP Metals. “We had a window of opportunity to shoot something else, which never happens,” explains De Thurah. “I had thought about making something very simple, complex and emotional with Leslie alone. I found the song very intimate, and wanted the video to reflect that.” Currently touring Europe until September, here Feist opens up to NOWNESS about working with De Thurah, her Canadian music buddies and her fixation on puppets.
Why did you want to work with Martin?
Feist: Martin leaps out as this person with a really strange, beautiful language of moving poetry that isn’t spoon-feeding anything, but allows for a darkness and a buoyancy at the same time. Everything he had done I have a huge appreciation for, so I sought him out to recreate the language of those short films.
Are music videos important to your message?
Feist: It’s an addendum to making songs. I have an aesthetic taste of things that are going to reflect into the music, but it’s not something that I can do. There are people who have worked really hard in developing their eye and it is fun to join forces and see what you can find in the middle.
Are you still connected to the Canadian crew of Mocky [musician and producer], Peaches and Chilly Gonzales?
Feist: Ha! Very much so. Mocky, Gonzo and I are in constant contact, and Peaches travels as much as I do so we find each other when we’re in the same city. They’re definitely my original musical family for sure, and Mocky, Gonzo and I still work together all the time. They co-produced my last record with me so that’s a natural old friendship that’s just adapted over ten years. When we work together the inside jokes are flying at all times, but there’s a core sensitivity. Sometimes you can disarm the seriousness of a situation and truly look it straight in the eye if you’re jack-assing around at the same time.
There seem to be a lot of puppets in your work over the years, including last year’s The Muppets movie in which you had a small cameo.
Feist: Ha, yeah! For a couple of years on tour I had a woman, Clea Minaker, with me on stage doing live shadow puppet shows. I don’t know where it came from, but a natural answer is watching Sesame Street and The Muppet Show as a kid implanted that good-naturedness. Though also making the inanimate, animate. Even taking a salt and pepper shaker and marching them around or whatever is something of a mainline to good-natured happiness.