A short list, but I do love lists!
Simple concept this week, these are the five current directors who are relatively new that I am looking for big things from in the future. If they made a film, at the very least a feature, before 2000 then I’m not including them in this list. The other caveat is that they must have directed a film within the last five years. Here’s the list,
5) Karan Gour
I’ve only seen on film from Sri Gour, but based on the way he explored obsession in 2011’s Kshay I am very interested in what he is going to do next. In fact, Kshay is the only directing credit on Sri Gour’s resume, and that fills me with hope that as he grows as a director he will only get better and better. With Kshay Sri Gour has already developed an interesting visual and narrative style, one that I look forward to seeing him hone in any future pictures. There’s always the danger of Sri Gour being a one hit wonder, but I’d like to think that the talent he showed in Kshay will carry over into his future work.
Mr. MacLane has only directed two short films, 2008’s BURN-E and 2011’s Small Fry. In those two Pixar Animation Studios shorts he showed a natural progression as a storyteller that has me yearning for more pictures from him. While BURN-E was a cute, charming, and funny short, I was most impressed by Small Fry. That short manages to combine the elements of sly humor, nostalgia, and wit into a film that can stand toe to toe with any offering from the giant that is Pixar Animation. There don’t appear to be any future projects on the horizon for Mr. MacLane, but I for one hope he gets back in the directors chair sometime soon, this time maybe he’ll get a feature of his own.
3) Daniel Stamm
I have not seen A Necessary Death or Off Hollywood & Vine, respectively the first feature film and short film from Mr. Stamm. However, I did see The Last Exorcism, and that horror film has me excited to check out the rest of Mr. Stamm’s work and interested in what he’s doing next. The Last Exorcism wasn’t a perfect horror movie, but it took the found footage subgenre of horror and added in the interesting twist of testing a mans convictions. There are plenty of suspenseful moments in The Last Exorcism, but the true strength of the film is in the way that Mr. Stamm highlights faces and stays on characters long enough for them to matter. There are a lot of good young horror filmmakers in the world today, but Mr. Stamm is the director I find myself most interested in watching new films from.
2) So Yong Kim
I’ve only seen one film from Kim-ssi, 2008’s Treeless Mountain. That one film was enough to show me a director with a lot of promise who has plenty more emotionally honest stories to tell. Treeless Mountain was a film with a small scope that managed to hit on large emotions. Kim-ssi showed a high level of skill on that film when it came to working with child actors. However, what most impressed me, and the main reason she is on this list, was Kim-ssi’s visual eye. I know this sounds like an odd comparison, but the way that she framed her characters and in turn framed her story reminded me very much of Terrence Malick. Obviously Kim-ssi has a long way to go if she hopes to approach the level of mastery Mr. Malick shows in film after film. But in terms of visual framing I feel that are a lot of similarities between Treeless Mountain and films like Badlands or Days Of Heaven. Kim-ssi is most certainly a female director to keep an eye on in the years to come.
1) Byron Howard
His name is probably not familiar to most film buffs, but it should be. Mr. Howard has directed two of the best animated movies in recent years, Tangled and Bolt, and a great animated short in Tangled Ever After. It is true that Mr. Howard works with partners on all of his films, but I can still sense his vision next to that of his partner. (Plus, in all honesty Nathan Greno could have gone on this list along with Mr. Howard but it was Mr. Howard’s work on Bolt without Mr. Greno that gives him the slight directorial edge). Tangled is a film that I find more to love about every time I watch it. Bolt I view as an unknown classic of the new Lasseter era of Disney Animation. Tangled Ever After was a lovely follow-up to Tangled that offered a bite size sampling of the clean and crisp visuals that have come to define Mr. Howard’s work. Of course, there is also Mr. Howard’s comedic chops, especially his ability to give life to memorable supporting characters through their comedic beats. Animation needs new voices as the old guard is slowly beginning to near the end of their careers. Of those new voices Mr. Howard shows the most promise and the most potential for many great years to come.
That’s the list, it’s a short one, and there are plenty of other young filmmakers who could have made the list. All that means is that there are a lot of quality, relatively new talent out there who will be providing us film buffs with lots of great films for many years to come.