Monday, June 02, 2008

Calling Joe Swanberg a historic filmmaker might be pushing it, but his professional emergence has unquestionably coincided with historic developments. More than ever before, artists have discovered new outlets for exposure and distribution on the internet, and Swanberg has utilized both aspects. The twenty-six year old Chicago-based director has been churning out low-budget films about the day-to-day romantic dalliances of twentysomethings since 2005, when his first feature, Kissing on the Mouth, established him as a mainstay of the South by Southwest Film Festival in Austin — and, by extension, the contemporary landscape of American independent cinema. Since then, he has completed three more features, two of which (Hannah Takes the Stairs and Night and Weekends) were purchased for theatrical distribution by IFC Films. Hannah opened last year, while Nights is scheduled to premiere on November 14. However, the primary venue that showcases Swanberg's observant profiles of young adult behavior lies in cyberspace.

Since 2006, Swanberg has been developing the web series Young American Bodies for Nerve, and the show recently began its third season, this time appearing for a larger audience on Conceived as short segments detailing the lives of a few struggling Chicagoans (including their sex habits, which Swanberg refuses to censor), Young American Bodies has brought attention to Swanberg's work outside of the festival circuit as he continues to direct features. Meanwhile, he recently launched a quasi-detective series called Butterknife for the film discussion site Spout. With his extremely specialized subject matter and incessant DIY approach, Swanberg rides the wave of new media without compromising his creative interests. In a phone conversation from Chicago, he spoke with Stream about his unique professional trajectory, the philosophies behind his output, and upcoming projects, including a collaboration with Oscar-nominee Noah Baumbach.

Read the interview in Stream...

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