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WATCH: Director Alexander Payne's Bizarre 1985 Silent Short 'Carmen'

Photo of Ryan Lattanzio By Ryan Lattanzio | TOH! April 21, 2014 at 12:55PM

From "Citizen Ruth" and "Election" to "About Schmidt," "The Descendents" and "Nebraska," two-time Oscar winner and auteur Alexander Payne has gone from indie to mainstream and back again. Get a sense of his indie roots by watching his 1985 student short "Carmen," a silent film he made at the UCLA Film School.
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Alexander Payne directing Bruce Dern on the set of 'Nebraska'
Alexander Payne directing Bruce Dern on the set of 'Nebraska'

From "Citizen Ruth" and "Election" to "About Schmidt," "The Descendents" and "Nebraska," two-time Oscar winner and auteur Alexander Payne has gone from indie to mainstream and back again. Get a sense of his indie roots by watching his 1985 student short "Carmen," a silent film he made at the UCLA Film School. (Hat tip: Screencraft.)

Deeply rooted in Americana, Payne's films toe the line between comedy and tragedy and while "Carmen" veers mostly on the side of comedy, there is some tragedy in the odd protagonist, much like the sad sacks in "Schmidt," "Sideways" and "Nebraska." Man, has he come a long way.

This article is related to: Alexander Payne, Alexander Payne, Video, Nebraska


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.