Greek writer-director Athina Rachel Tsangari (Attenberg, New Directors/New Films 2011) is our 2015 Filmmaker in Residence. The initiative, now in its third year, is a partnership between the Film Society of Lincoln Center and Jaeger-LeCoultre. Previous participants were award-winning directors Lisandro Alonso and Andrea Arnold.
“We are very excited to welcome Athina Tsangari as the third annual Filmmaker in Residence during the 53rd New York Film Festival,” said Film Society Executive Director Lesli Klainberg. “Athina is a dynamic and fearless filmmaker, and we are thrilled to provide her with the space and time to develop new work while connecting her with a vibrant New York film community. Athina has already had a remarkable career, and we are so excited to see what she does next.”
“I feel greatly honored to be hosted as the Film Society of Lincoln Center and Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Filmmaker in Residence this year,” says Tsangari. “I am looking forward to working on my new script, part of which is set in New York City, and to drawing inspiration from the city itself, camaraderie from its essential film community, and stimulation from the Film Society’s invigorating programming. I am delighted to be offered a residency characterized by such rare and generous hospitality.”
During her residency in New York, Tsangari will be working on a action-thriller-comedy called White Knuckles that centers on two criminal sisters (a burglar and a bookkeeper) dealing with “VAT fraud, amour fou, architectural infiltration, and electrically amplified fistfighting.” Her newest feature, Chevalier, a buddy comedy that takes place on a luxury yacht astray on the Aegean Sea will have its world premiere in competition at the Locarno International Film Festival this August.
Athina Rachel Tsangari holds a BA in Comparative Literature, Philosophy, and Drama from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece, and an MA from NYU’s Performance Studies program. After graduation, she moved to Austin to study film directing. Her introduction to cinema came by a happy accident, with a small role in Richard Linklater’s seminal 1991 film Slacker, and her relationship with Linklater continued when she served as co-producer on Before Midnight (2013), in which she also appeared as Ariadni. Her first short, Fit, was a finalist at the Student Academy Awards. Her MFA thesis feature at the University of Texas at Austin, The Slow Business of Going (2001), a lo-fi sci-fi road movie, was listed by the 2002 Village Voice Critics’ Poll as one of the year’s “best first films” and now belongs in MoMA’s permanent film collection.
While a film student at UT Austin, she co-founded and was the artistic director of the Cinematexas International Short Film Festival, which ran for ten years (1997-2007) and pioneered experimental cinema and sonic arts. In 2004, she founded Haos Film in her native city of Athens, a filmmaker-run production and post-production studio. Among her credits as a producer are Yorgos Lanthimos’ Kinetta, Dogtooth (as an associate producer), and Alps.
Her sophomore feature, Attenberg (2010), premiered in the main competition of the Venice Film Festival, where its lead Ariane Labed won the Coppa Volpi Award for Best Actress, and then went on to win several best film/directing awards at festivals worldwide. It was Greece’s Best Foreign Language Film submission for the 2012 Academy Awards, and a runner-up for the LUX Prize for Best European film. The Capsule (2012), made in collaboration with Polish artist Aleksandra Waliszewska and commissioned by the Deste Foundation for Contemporary Art as both a film and an installation, premiered at dOCUMENTA (13) in Kassel, followed by the Locarno, Toronto, and Sundance film festivals to critical acclaim. The script for her sci-fi “screwball tragedy” Duncharon (co-written with her longtime collaborator and Haos Film partner Matt Johnson) was awarded the “ARTE France Cinéma” Award for best European project in development, at Rotterdam IFF’s CineMart in 2012.The Filmmaker in Residence program was launched in 2013 as an annual initiative created by Jaeger-LeCoultre and the Film Society of Lincoln Center designed to support a filmmaker at an early stage in the creative process against the backdrop of New York City and the New York Film Festival.
The 2013 Filmmaker in Residence, Andrea Arnold (Wuthering Heights, Fish Tank), utilized her residency to develop the script and work on pre-production for American Honey, her first feature project to be shot in the United States, which stars Shia LaBeouf and was introduced to buyers at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival.
The 2014 Filmmaker in Residence, Lisandro Alonso (Jauja, Liverpool, Los Muertos), is developing an untitled project that began during his residency at the Film Society of Lincoln Center. He is currently meeting with producers in South America and aiming to shoot soon in the United States.