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On The Rise: 12 Directors To Watch In 2013

The Playlist By The Playlist Staff | The Playlist March 28, 2013 at 4:20PM

So far in our On The Rise series this year, we've looked at talent on the ascension in front of the camera, with a cluster of actors and actresses who look set for great things. We've also highlighted promising cinematographers, writers and composers who've already proven their worth, and look like they're about to be more and more in demand as time goes on.

Sun Don't Shine.
Amy Seimetz
While she's been directing films since 2005 (including one short co-directed with “Smashed” filmmaker James Ponsoldt), a confluence of projects are making Seimetz crystallize in the industry even though she’s already a recognizable force in the indie film community. You may not know her yet, but she’s ubiquitous, with Joe Swanberg’s “Alexander The Last”  perhaps the most notable amongst her early acting performances, and she's also worked with Barry Jenkins, Lena Dunham and Adam Wingard. She's a talented quadruple-threat -- an actor, writer, director and producer -- and she's had a solid one-two punch in the last eight months, the first being her most recent directorial effort, her narrative feature debut "Sun Don't Shine" which won accolades at the L.A. Film Festival last summer, and the second being her co-starring role in Shane Carruth's upcoming mindbender "Upstream Color." Seimetz is also a series regular on TV shows like "The Killing" and HBO’s forthcoming "Family Tree" and has another short, “When We Lived in Miami,” already in the can starring starring herself and her ‘Sunshine’ co-star AJ Bowen. While her directing career in many ways is just getting started, she's a distinctive voice both in front and behind the camera, and it seems only a matter of time until she's recognized outside of her solid acting and producing exploits.

Morten Tyldum
Morten Tyldum
While it was somewhat underseen in the U.S, taking only $1 million, thriller "Headhunters" proved to be a major hit elsewhere in the world, going toe-to-toe with Hollywood blockbusters across Europe. It's partly a symptom of the increasingly inexhaustible international appetite for Scandinavian crime, but it's also a testament to the skills of director Morten Tyldum, who looks set to follow in the footsteps of Niels Arden Oplev, Tomas Alfredson and Nicolas Winding Refn. Hailing from Norway, Tyldum trained at the School of Visual Arts in New York, and afters shorts "Lorenzo" and "Fast Forward" (which starred his "Headhunters" lead Askel Hennie), and some work in commercials and music videos, he broke through with the 2003 local comedy hit "Buddy." Five years later (with his promo work seeing his profile increasing abroad), he had another hit with the crime flick "Fallen Angels," and stayed in darker territory for "Headhunters." Based on a novel by Jo Nesbo (whose "The Snowman" is being developed by Martin Scorsese), the film is a fast-paced, wryly funny tale about a recruitment consultant who doubles as an art thief, and winds up pursued by a psychopathic ex-special forces op who he's ripped off. Slick, ultraviolent, and hugely enjoyable, with excellent performances from Hennie and "Game Of Thrones" actor Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, the film was a big hit, and while Mark Wahlberg is circling a possible Hollywood remake, Tyldum's landed some big projects of his own. He's teaming up with Wahlberg for hot spec script "The Disciple Program" at Universal, and more recently, took over from J. Blakeson on "The Imitation Game," the biopic of Alan Turing, which topped the Black List in 2011. Set to star Benedict Cumberbatch as Turing, it'll shoot later in the year, and should make Tyldum an even hotter prospect than he is right now.

Jordan Vogt-Roberts
Jordan Vogt-Roberts
We're practically this guy's PR person. It started in 2010 when one of us accidentally caught the short "Successful Alcoholics" and were bowled over by how it effortlessly captured the humor and melancholy of relationships in a wickedly fresh, yet moving manner. In fact, most of Hollywood's run-of-the-mill romcoms had nothing on this short and it had about 80 minutes less time to work with (you can watch it here). For his next trick, Vogt-Roberts followed up the short with his first feature, "Toy's House" (later retitled "The Kings Of Summer") and it became a big hit at Sundance. Having already scored TJ Miller and Lizzy Caplan for 'Alcoholics,' the director got Nick Offerman, Megan Mullally and Alison Brie in supporting roles for 'Kings' while opting for three unknowns to take the teenage leads in his film. And the results speak for themselves. Our review from Sundance called the film, "idiosyncratic, hilarious... and heralding the arrival of a fresh new comic voice"(we also named it one of 2013 Sundance’s 5 Best Films). CBS Films jumped on distribution and will release the film this summer (naturally). This just seems like the beginning of a long career with original distinctive and quirky stories that we're more than ready to watch unfold. 

Honorable Mentions: We only have so much time and space, and as such, there's a few that we thought about including that didn't quite make the cut. From the class of 2012: Robbie Pickering, who's going from "Natural Selection" to studio picture "The Kitchen Sink"; Sally El Hosaani, whose "My Brother The Devil' is terrific; Mike Birbiglia, who showed a real facility for film with "Sleepwalk With Me" and Lenny Abrahamson, the rising Irish director who's following the excellent "What Richard Did" with the Michael Fassbender-starring "Frank." And let’s not forget "Arbitrage" helmer Nicholas Jarecki, "Gimme The Loot" director Adam Leon, "War Witch" director Kim Nguyen and "Smashed" and "The Spectacular Now" filmmaker James Ponsoldt.

Grabbing our attention so far this year have been Alexandre Moors, director of Sundance film "Blue Caprice," Sebastian Lelio, whose "Gloria" was the talk of Berlin; Joshua Oppenheimer, who's behind "The Act Of Killing" and Destin Cretton, whose film "Short Term 12" was the runaway hit at SXSW. And as far as blockbusters go, we'd need to see how The Russo Brothers and cinematographer-turned-director Wally Pfister do with "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" and "Transcendence" respectively, but they're certainly hot prospects. So is Ned Benson, whose two-part feature debut "Disappearance Of Eleanor Rigby" stars Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy and Isabelle Huppert. While New Director/New Films is wrapping up soon, it's very possible members of that list (some included in the honorable mention section here) will make the full-blown list next year. - Oliver Lyttelton, Rodrigo Perez

This article is related to: On The Rise Features, Morten Tyldum, Amy Seimetz, David Lowery, Tobias Lindholm, Ava DuVernay, R. Alverson, Sean Baker, Nikolaj Arcel, Eran Creevy

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