Guest Picks: Adam Schartoff

Adam Schartoff of Filmwax RadioOnce a month, Filmwax Radio‘s Adam Schartoff interviews a Fandor filmmaker for his amazing ongoing podcast. Now, we’ve “flipped the script” and interviewed him about his most beloved films in our library.


For years, Adam Schartoff’s  Filmwax Radio podcast (presented by Rooftop Films) has featured some of independent cinema’s most unique and creative voices in candid and illuminating chats about the filmmaking process. Recent guests on his podcast have included Fandor filmmakers Nathan Silver, Hal Hartley, Jay Rosenblatt, and Onur Tukel. Adam’s Favorite Fandor Five are all contemporary gems that share a focus on human dynamics and struggles. Here they are, in his own words:

1. Francine (2012) directed by Brian Cassidy and Melanie ShatzkyFrancine “There’s a history of unforgettable films about women falling apart. The unforgettable factor is usually a result of the film’s central performance. Some examples that come to mind include Catherine Deneuve in REPULSION, Gena Rowlands in A WOMAN UNDER THE INFLUENCE, and Cate Blanchett’s in the recent BLUE JASMINE. To truly round out that list, one would need to include Melissa Leo’s performance as recent ex-con, Francine, in married filmmakers Brian Cassidy and Melanie Shatsky’s festival hit.  Francine’s slide in mental health is perhaps best remembered through both her animal hoarding and one truly great acting performance.”

2. Richard’s Wedding (2012) directed by Onur TukelOnur Tukel's Richard's Wedding“Disclaimer: I’m in this movie. So, you can write off any pretense of objective criticism at this point. Not only that, but the filmmaker, Onur Tukel, is a good friend of mine. His new movie, a latter day vampire comedy straight outta Brooklyn called SUMMER OF BLOOD, is premiering at Tribeca later this month. But his prior movie, Richard’s Wedding, is a salty lo-budge ensemble bit which takes place around a wedding over the course of a single day. Shot in Brooklyn and Manhattan by filmmakers Jorge Torres & Jason Banker, the film is broken into three acts. And while one can see the influences of Woody Allen and Robert Altman, Onur’s own unique voice manages to rise to the fore.”

3. Computer Chess (2013) directed by Andrew Bujalski Computer ChessAnd speaking of entirely distinct voices; Andrew Bujalski’s Computer Chess managed to elude any categorization and make it onto just about every critic’s Top 10 list last year. And for good reason: It’s so fresh in its approach and yet you’ll swear when you go watch that someone literally popped in a VHS tape. The story is about a computer chess convention in the early 80’s where a bunch of nerds gather in a crummy hotel in Silicon Valley. Nothing much happens in this largely improvised but dead-on movie. I saw it at the True/False Film Festival, where it was perfectly suited.

4. Silent Light (2007) directed by Carlos ReygadasReygadas' Silent LightCarlos Reygadas could probably light a bar mitzvah video and make it look stunning. This stark and minimalist set piece doesn’t lose its emotional edge in the least. Perhaps somewhat aesthetically inspired by icons such as Bergman and Tarr, Reygadas is one of the great recent filmmakers to come out of Central America. Silent Light put him on the map. A Mennonite husband and father’s faith is tested when he falls in love with a woman outside his marriage.”

5. The Unspeakable Act (2013) directed by Dan Sallitt Dan Sallitt is another very unique voice in indie films today. His movies are also fairly minimalist but he has created a world of his own that is at once totally realistic while also theatrical. Part of the filmmaker’s success is his amazing eye for casting and equally great ear for dialogue. You won’t recognize Sallitt’s Brooklyn (where he also resides). Don’t try and guess where the story is going because you won’t be right. Besides, who cares? Just sit back and take it all in.”

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