50 Best FIlmmakers Under 50

Zhao Liang

By Albert Serra / April 4, 2012

By Albert Serra For China, Zhao Liang is the poet of justice. All his works deal, directly or indirectly, with this topic with a distinctive gentleness. The demagogic, the obvious, and the commonplace don’t exist for him. Be it through the use of violence (the pieces of human flesh of the woman run over by…

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Wang Bing

By Chris Fujiwara / April 4, 2012

By Chris Fujiwara If there is a science-fiction element in Wang Bing’s work, an attempt to imagine unimaginable (though real) conditions for human life, there is also a war-movie element, a working-over of the terrain, together with the becoming-mineral of humanity that recalls the hard-bitten, antiheroic sagas of Samuel Fuller, Anthony Mann, and Miklós Janscó.…

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Carlos Reygadas

By Raya Martin / April 4, 2012

By Raya Martin There is much to be said about Carlos Reygadas—the way he shoots his lifeless sex scenes as class discourse, or the way he embraces his characters as milieus, and vice versa—but his greatest weapon is not his ability to achieve technical prowess with a relatively limited budget, nor his tributes to a…

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Kelly Reichardt

By Jason McBride / April 4, 2012

By Jason McBride I’ve seen each of Kelly Reichardt’s feature films at least twice, but for some reason I can never really remember how they end. This despite the fact that they all end in roughly the same way: which is sort of not ending at all, with characters still in motion, heading somewhere, anywhere,…

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Raya Martin

By Antoine Thirion / April 4, 2012

By Antoine Thirion Discovering Raya Martin’s work inevitably went hand in hand with questions about his age. People were impressed that such a young director (he was born in Manila in 1984) hadn’t used short films as a simple springboard for features, but dared to lay the foundations for several trilogies: one about cinema (Now…

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Pema Tseden

By Shelly Kraicer / April 4, 2012

By Shelly Kraicer Pema Tseden himself considers it sad that only now, after one hundred years of cinema history, the first Tibetan filmmaker has emerged. But the first is already a master, with three brilliant features to date. Known also in Chinese as Wanma Caidan, Pema Tseden was born in 1969 in the Tibetan ethnic…

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Paul W.S. Anderson

By Christoph Huber / April 4, 2012

By Christoph Huber Long mainstream-despised as a videogame hack—although his case has been adopted by a handful of highbrow critics—Brit-born Paul W.S. is the elder, least pretentious, and most consistently amusing Anderson of the current director trifecta: its termite artisan. With the homegrown Newcastle juvenile-delinquent story Shopping (1994), he delivered a stylish calling card and…

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Nicolás Pereda

By Johnny Ray Huston / April 4, 2012

By Johnny Ray Huston As I write this I’m listening to a new double-CD from San Francisco bootleg label Mad Deadly Worldwide Communist Gangster Computer God titled Polanski, Anger, Cocteau, T.V. Mikels, an entertaining collage of radio interviews that spotlights the filmmaker as implacable solo artist. Interestingly, it’s exploitation director Ted V. Mikels who emerges…

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Michael Robinson

By Genevieve Yue / April 4, 2012

By Genevieve Yue The first film Michael Robinson made, at age 11, was a home-movie remake of Poltergeist, later repurposed into Carol Anne Is Dead (1992/2008). In both, Robinson’s sister presses her palms to the glass of a television monitor, its screen glowing with static. It’s a fitting image for Robinson’s pop distortions, indicating the…

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Maren Ade

By Kent Jones / April 4, 2012

By Kent Jones I have rarely been more surprised by a movie than I was by Maren Ade’s Everyone Else (2009). Most films that good come with some kind of buzz, and this one was undoubtedly no exception, but the buzz from Berlin had not reached me. I had never seen The Forest for the…

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Liu Jiayin

By Andrea Picard / April 4, 2012

By Andréa Picard In praise of pockets—perhaps this is the essence of Liu Jiayin’s cinema to date. Like the handbags and dumplings whose real-time creation in her quietly astonishing diptych (soon to be a trilogy) of Oxhide (2005) and Oxhide II (2009) provide the films with their structuring principles, Liu’s wit, originality, and ingenious deployment…

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Jia Zhangke

By Tony Rayns / April 4, 2012

By Tony Rayns Jia Zhangke wasn’t the first indie filmmaker in China, but he’s been way more influential than such predecessors as Zhang Yuan, Wang Xiaoshuai, and Wu Wenguang. Partly because his early films—Xiao Wu (1998), Platform, Unknown Pleasures (2002): the “Shanxi trilogy”—caught moments of transition in Chinese society better than other movies did, and…

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Azazel Jacobs

By Jonathan Rosenbaum / April 4, 2012

By Jonathan Rosenbaum Many reviewers of Azazel Jacobs’ four features understandably place them in a direct lineage from his father Ken’s work. Both filmmakers are clearly preoccupied with interactions and crossovers between fiction and nonfiction—although the same could be said of everyone from Lumière, Méliès, and Porter to Costa, Hou, and Kiarostami. And both are…

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Harmony Korine

By Olivier Pere / April 4, 2012

By Olivier Père Born in 1973 in California but raised in Nashville, Tennessee, where he lives, Harmony Korine has made at least three indisputable masterpieces of modern American cinema. The precocious scriptwriter for Larry Clark’s 1995 film Kids (with whom Korine worked again in 2002, scripting Ken Park), in 1997 Korine made a stunning directorial…

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Michel Gondry

By Michael Sicinski / April 4, 2012

By Michael Sicinski Whereas almost all other music-video directors function in much the same capacity as graphic designers, Michel Gondry, by dint of an unyielding artisanal approach, has made a place for himself analogous to that of an architect. Like Frank Gehry or Peter Eisenman, Gondry is called upon, in essence, to do what he…

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Sergei Dvortsevoy

By Jerry White / April 4, 2012

By Jerry White Born in Kazakhstan and film-schooled in Moscow, Sergei Dvortsevoy has not only become his homeland’s cineaste laureate—eclipsing the brutalist Darezhan Omirbaev through his belief in the genuinely transformative possibility of a well-composed moving image—but also perhaps the first genuinely essential post-Soviet filmmaker. This is not only because he is the first important…

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Corneliu Porumboiu

By Jay Kuehner / April 4, 2012

By Jay Kuehner Please note that the director’s familial relation to former football referee Adrian Porumboiu has in no way influenced the consideration of this report; it may be pertinent that the notion of fairness figures prominently in their respective vocations. It should be stated that the work under consideration has, for the purpose of…

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Lucien Castaing-Taylor

By Scott MacDonald / April 4, 2012

By Scott MacDonald Not all young filmmakers are young filmmakers. Lucien Castaing-Taylor completed Sweetgrass (2009), the film he made with Ilisa Barbash, after a considerable career as an anthropology student (he studied with Timothy Asch at USC, got his Ph.D. at Berkeley); editor (he was founding editor of Visual Anthropological Review and had edited Visualizing…

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Serge Bozon

By Michelle Carey / April 4, 2012

By Michelle Carey To state that Serge Bozon is a great filmmaker is undeniable. However, it is just as fundamental to mention his constellation of creative collaborators in the same breath—most vitally Axelle Ropert, as well as Pierre Léon, and, at a little more distance, Aurélia Georges, Jean-Charles Fitoussi, and Jean-Paul Civeyrac. Their films are…

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Bong Joon-ho

By Andrew Tracy / April 4, 2012

By Andrew Tracy The overlap (or fusion) between genre and “art” cinema, and the language in which we discuss them, is one of the defining traits of contemporary cinephilia and criticism. Not that that’s anything new; as with most things in our endlessly reiterative culture, it’s an accentuation of long-established trends and traditions, novel only…

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Ben Russell

By Max Goldberg / April 4, 2012

By Max Goldberg Ben Russell’s field studies of transfiguration invoke the magic of cinema with fearsome lucidity. Hollis Frampton might well have been describing Russell’s work when he defined invention as “the vivid primary instantiation of a compositional strategy deriving from a direct insight into the creative process itself.” Structuralist in their conceptual clarity and…

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Apichatpong Weerasethakul

By Chuck Stephens / April 4, 2012

By Chuck Stephens Apichatpong Weerasethakul may be on a first0name basis with more people on the planet than any other Cannes-prizewinning filmmaker in history, but no matter how “average” Joe—or Joei, as he’s more recently taken to transliterating his nickname—might seem to become, he never begins to lose his heavenly glow, his beatific gleam. When…

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Albert Serra

By Alvaro Arroba / April 4, 2012

By Alvaro Arroba How can we recognize the signature of a post-classical filmmaker at first sight? Since the onset of modernity, it’s no longer revealed in the content, but in something diagrammatic found in a film’s outlines; the preliminary image (already emancipated from speech) is reduced to a series of strokes…and when some trace of…

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