Homage to Jeff Nichols

For the Tribute to the Author we decided to valorise an author of great intensity, much loved by the critics but just relatively known in Italy: American director Jeff Nichols.

During the four days of the Festival it will be possible to watch all his three movies on the big screen in the original language with Italian subtitles, including his debut film Shotgun Stories (2007) never released in Italy.

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Director and writer, Nichols was born and raised in Little Rock, Arkansas, and is considered one of the most promising American authors of the new generation. His cinematographic debut, Shotgun Stories, presented at the 2007 Berlinale, won the FIPRESCI Jury Award at the 2007 Viennale and the Grand Jury Prize at the Austin Festival. His second feature film, Take Shelter, was presented in the Dramatic Competition section of the 2011 Sundance Film Festival and, as international premiere, at the Semaine de la Critique of the 2011 Cannes Film Festival where it won the Grand Prix and the FIPRESCI Award. Mud, his last movie, debuted last year in competition at the Cannes Film Festival. Nichols is currently directing his new feature film, Midnight Special.

 jefff nichols

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Jeff Nichols is one of the most significant authors in their thirties. Putting it that way, this consideration might seem exaggerated, but it’s as well true that there aren’t many filmmakers so young and with just three movies under their belts who managed to develop such an attention around them to justify such a privileged position.

Through his films, Nichols rereads with a new eye American traditions and mythologies, both cinematographic (Terrence Malick, Steven Spielberg) and literary (from Mark Twain to Cormac McCarthy). He tells small epic daily tales with quiet higher ambitions, sometimes cosmic, some other political, often moral and always told from the point of view of common people, everymen always typed in lowercase. His poetic universes are crowded by vivid humble province portraits, always beautiful in their human dignity, exactly like the characters of any Raymond Carver’s tale.

Like David Gordon Green, his colleague, friend, schoolmate and mentor (he produced Shotgun Stories), Nichols sets this intimate, delicate, obsessive family portraits in the place that marked his life more than any other, that deep South of the United States where Arkansas lies, the state where he was born and raised. Landscapes that, with their peculiar environment of horizons, fields and streams, are told by his visionary talent in way that is sometimes horror and hallucinated (Take Shelter), more often lyric, and that is characterized by specific and rigorous choices of format (Mud is filmed in Scope), editing, camera movements and even of music. It’s not a complete surprise then that this kind of cinema, independent but with a look at the box office, classic (in the most positive meaning of the term) but intimate, had an hard time reaching our country: Take Shelter and Mud had a late distribution, often forced into summer or late-summer screenings, Shotgun Stories is unreleased even.

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FILMOGRAPHY

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shotgun-stories

Shotgun Stories
Fiction, USA, 2007, 92′

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Brothers Son, Kid and Boy live together in a small rural community of Arkansas. They grew up in the bitterness towards an alcoholic father who left them when they were kids. When they receive the news of his death they attend the funeral in the place where the man built a new life with a new family and had become a reputable person.
The meeting with the half-brothers turns into a bloody feud with an escalation of vengeance that could unsettle their future and that of their loved ones.

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Take Shelter
Fiction, USA, 2011, 121′

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Curtis LaForche lives in a small village in Ohio with his wife and six-year-old daughter. He starts to be bothered by terrible nightmares about an apocalyptic twister. He decides to keep the secret for himself, but starts to obsessively build a shelter in the home yard. His behaviour make his relationship with his wife, his colleagues and his neighbours quite difficult; but the tension inside the family and the community is nothing compared to Curtis’s fright for what his dreams might really mean.

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Mud

Mud
Fiction, USA, 2012, 121′

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Ellis and Neckbone, 14 years old, during one of their daytrips find a refugee on island in the middle of Mississippi. It’s Mud: one tooth missing, a snake tattooed on his arm, a rifle and a lucky shirt. Mud is also a man who believes in love, something that Ellis desperately needs to approach to try to forget the daily tensions between his parents. Mud involves the two adolescents in the repair of a boat that will allow him to leave the island. But it’s hard for the boys to discern truth from falsehood in Mud’s words. Did he really kill a man? Is he really chased by police though some bounty hunters? And who’s this mysterious girl that has just landed in their small town in Arkansas?

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