Safdie Brothers

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Joshua Safdie
Ben Safdie
Born New York, United States
Occupation Director, Writer, Actor
Red Bucket Films

Brothers Joshua Safdie and Ben Safdie are independent filmmakers based in New York City, who frequently collaborate.


Raised in both Queens and Manhattan, Josh and Ben Safdie began making movies at a young age, inspired by their film-enthusiast father. They attended Boston University, where they co-founded with Alex Kalman, the creative collective Red Bucket Films.[1] The turmoil of their youth, as children of divorced parents, became an inspiration for later work.[2] They're distantly related to famed architect Moshe Safdie.[1]

Red Bucket Films[edit]

The Safdies are members of Red Bucket Films a creative collective formed by several friends and schoolmates, including fellow filmmakers Alex Kalman, Brett Jutkiewicz, and Sam Lisenco.[1] They collaborate closely with each other on many projects. "What most of us are here for is to paint each other's canvases," says Josh.[3] They often work with nonprofessional actors.[2]

The Pleasure of Being Robbed[edit]

In 2007, Partners & Spade co-founder Andy Spade commissioned Josh Safdie to create a short film to promote Kate Spade Handbags. Together, Josh and Benny and their cohort fleshed out the concept into a feature-length script, which they began shooting with Spade's support. Co-writer Eleonore Hendricks stars as a lonely kleptomaniac whose childlike charms and curiosity nevertheless leave her estranged from her fellow city dwellers. From purses to bags of grapes to a little girl's "surprise" litter of kittens, Eleonore explores the life of a free spirited thief in the city of New York.

The film premiered at SXSW in March 2008. It also played at the Cannes sidebar Directors' Fortnight, along with a short film The Acquaintances of a Lonely John directed by Benny. The film has also aired on the IFC.[4]

Daddy Longlegs[edit]

A second feature film, co-directed by Josh and Benny, premiered at Cannes under an alternate title Go Get Some Rosemary in 2009. Starring Frownland director Ronald Bronstein, it was inspired by the filmmakers' younger years living with their father, Albert.[2] Film critic A.O. Scott praised its "loose, intimate shooting-style," and Bronstein's performance. He called it a "lovely, hair-raising film".[5] Bronstein subsequently won a Gotham Award for Best Breakthrough Actor.[6] Go Get Some Rosemary won the Cassavetes Award at the 2011 Independent Spirit Awards, under its American title: Daddy Long Legs[7]

Lenny Cooke[edit]

Lenny Cooke, their first full length documentary, produced by Adam Shopkorn, follows the life of titular Lenny Cooke, a once phenom high school basketball player ranked above Lebron James, Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire, from adolescence to manhood. Upon release of the film, Sheri Linden of the Los Angeles Times called it, "A compellingly unconventional, elliptical sports documentary that explores the mysterious realm of might-have-been."[8] The film premiered at the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival and Venice Film Festival. It was released theatrically in December 2013 and premiered on cable television via Showtime in February 2014.

Future Projects[edit]

The Safdies are currently finishing "Heaven Knows What," starring Caleb Landry Jones and Arielle Holmes, who wrote the unpublished memoir the film is based on. Holmes also stars opposite Jones.[9] Safdies also work on a new project, Uncut Gems, inspired by their father's time working in the Manhattan Diamond District.[2]


  1. ^ a b c Janke, Art. "Benny and Josh Make Movies" Bostonia Magazine, Spring 2009
  2. ^ a b c d Lim, Dennis. "Growing Up With Dad, Distilled With Bite" New York Times, May 13, 2010
  3. ^ Muhlke, Christine. "Our Gang" New York Times Magazine August 22, 2008
  4. ^ Kohn, Eric. "'The Pleasure of Being Robbed' Director Josh Safdie" indieWIRE October 2, 2008
  5. ^ Scott, A.O. "A Father Who Needs Some Supervision" New York Times, May 14, 2010
  6. ^ Szalai, George. "'Winter's Bone' Tops Gotham Awards" The Hollywood Reporter, November 29, 2010
  7. ^ Nominees February 28, 2011
  8. ^
  9. ^

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