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Andrew Bujalski Crowd-Funding His Next Film, The 1980s-Set 'Computer Chess'

Photo of Christopher Bell By Christopher Bell | The Playlist July 29, 2011 at 2:33AM

Though he's cited as the "godfather" of the mumblecore movement, very rarely will you hear the films of Andrew Bujalski being discussed or written about. The Bostonian's three fantastic, cream-of-the-crop features unfortunately get the short straw when it comes to conversation and respect; instead, film critics spend time writing overwrought dissertations on third-rate mumblies or one of the twelve Joe Swanberg movies that are in production per season. In 2009, the filmmaker dropped "Beeswax," a quiet yet oddly tense story about twin sisters, one of which is getting wrapped up in legal troubles. Unlike his brood, Bujalski has the patience to let things slowly compile while also devising some very uncomfortable, awkward moments of humanity. Yes, there's quite a bit of talking, but there's always something more going on on his actors' faces, particularly in their eyes: he knows how to use the in-between still moments, something crucial that's often missing in the rest of these micro-indies.
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Though he's cited as the "godfather" of the mumblecore movement, very rarely will you hear the films of Andrew Bujalski being discussed or written about. The Bostonian's three fantastic, cream-of-the-crop features unfortunately get the short straw when it comes to conversation and respect; instead, film critics spend time writing overwrought dissertations on third-rate mumblies or one of the twelve Joe Swanberg movies that are in production per season. In 2009, the filmmaker dropped "Beeswax," a quiet yet oddly tense story about twin sisters, one of which is getting wrapped up in legal troubles. Unlike his brood, Bujalski has the patience to let things slowly compile while also devising some very uncomfortable, awkward moments of humanity. Yes, there's quite a bit of talking, but there's always something more going on on his actors' faces, particularly in their eyes: he knows how to use the in-between still moments, something crucial that's often missing in the rest of these micro-indies.

Due to the muted fanfare in regards to his work, he often falls off the radar rather quickly, with little news on upcoming projects and goings on. For awhile he was attached to the Benjamin Kunkel novel "Indecision," a story that follows a preppy but indecisive college grad that has trouble committing to anything -- until he's introduced to experimental medical treatment Abulinix. Set for the big time with Paramount, word on that front has been very quiet, and even the man himself expressed doubts on whether it would actually get made or not. So what is this guy up to, then?

Well, turns out, he's been working on a period piece about nerds. Set in the 1980s, the filmmaker's fourth picture "Computer Chess" will follow a bunch of computer programmers and chess players at a knock-down drag-out tournament, pitting man and machine in the ultimate game of brain. The "Funny Ha Ha" helmer is hoping to crowd-fund this one, pulling potential investors in with a personal statement plus a cute video with Bob Byington ("Harmony and Me") constructed as a satire of pitching ideas to guileless producers. Those archaic days are behind us, as now we have Kickstarter and Megan Ellison.

He'll be going the unknown non-actor route again, and little is known in regards to plot and character details. If you're feeling kind you can donate at the United States Artists website, and while you can donate however much you want, certain amounts provide various incentives ranging from warm gratitude to the official chess tutorial software of the U.S. Chess Federation. Unpaid benefits include the realization that there is actually a U.S. Chess Federation.

This article is related to: Films, Andrew Bujalski, Computer Chess


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