Abel Ferrara

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Abel Ferrara
Abel Ferrara Cannes 2017.jpg
Abel Ferrara at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival
Born (1951-07-19) July 19, 1951 (age 68)
The Bronx, New York City, U.S.
Other namesJimmy Boy L, Jimmy Laine
OccupationDirector, screenwriter, actor, producer, editor, cinematographer
Years active1971–present
Spouse(s)Nancy Ferrara
Christina Ferrara
Websitewww.abelferrara.com

Abel Ferrara (born July 19, 1951)[1] is an American filmmaker, known for the provocative and often controversial content in his movies, his use of neo-noir imagery and gritty urban settings. A long-time independent filmmaker, some of his best known movies include Ms .45 (1981), King of New York (1990), Bad Lieutenant (1992) and The Funeral (1996).

Early life[edit]

Ferrara was born in the Bronx of Italian and Irish descent.[2] He was raised Catholic, which had a later effect on much of his work.[3] At 8 years old, he moved to Peekskill in Westchester County, New York, where he started making movies at Rockland Community College.[4] Later, he attended the film conservatory at SUNY Purchase, where he directed several short films.[5]

Early career[edit]

Finding himself out of work after film school in 1976, Ferrara directed a pornographic film titled 9 Lives of a Wet Pussy using a pseudonym.[6] Starring with his then-girlfriend, he recalled having to step in front of the camera for one scene to perform in a hardcore sex scene: "It's bad enough paying a guy $200 to fuck your girlfriend, then he can't get it up."[7]

Ferrara first drew a cult audience with his grindhouse movie The Driller Killer (1979), an urban slasher film about an artist (played by the director himself) who goes on a killing spree with a power drill. In the United Kingdom, the movie made it on a list of "video nasties" created by moral crusaders that led to prosecutions under the Obscene Publications Act 1959 and to the passing of new legislation which forced all video releases to appear before the British Board of Film Classification for rating.[8]

The directors' next feature was Ms .45 (1981), a "rape revenge" movie about a mute garment worker turned murderer (Zoë Tamerlis). Reviewers called it "a provocative, disreputable movie, well worth seeing."[9]

In 1984, Ferrara was hired to direct Fear City, starring Melanie Griffith, Billy Dee Williams, Rae Dawn Chong and María Conchita Alonso. When a "kung fu slasher" stalks and murders young women who work in a seedy Times Square strip club, a disgraced boxer portrayed by Tom Berenger has to use his fighting skills to defeat the killer.[10]

Ferrara worked on two Michael Mann-produced television series, directing the two-hour pilot for Crime Story (aired 18 September 1986), starring Dennis Farina,[11] and two episodes of the series Miami Vice.[12]

King of New York (1990) stars Christopher Walken as gangster Frank White, Laurence Fishburne, Wesley Snipes, David Caruso and Giancarlo Esposito. The movie received overall mixed reviews, but Ferrara was praised for his strong command of mood and style. Roger Ebert wrote "What Ferrara needs for his next film is a sound screenplay."[13]

Bad Lieutenant (1992) credits Ferrara and actress Zoë Tamerlis, who plays the woman who helps the Lieutenant freebase heroin in the movie, as co-writers of the script, but Tamerlis claimed that she wrote it alone.[14][15] Bad Lieutenant received Spirit Awards nominations for Best Director and Best Actor, and despite its controversial content, the movie was lauded by critics. Martin Scorsese named it one of his top 10 films of the 1990s.[16]

In 1993, Ferrara was hired for two Hollywood studio movies: a new remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, titled Body Snatchers (1993), for Warner Bros.; and Dangerous Game (1993), starring Keitel and Madonna, for MGM.

In the mid-1990s Ferrara directed two well-received independent movies:

The Addiction (1995),[17] photographed in black-and-white, stars Lili Taylor as a philosophy student who succumbs to a vampire as she studies the problem of evil and philosophical pedagogy, represented by the most violent events of the 20th century. The movie also features Christopher Walken, Annabella Sciorra, Edie Falco, Kathryn Erbe and Michael Imperioli. It was co-produced by Russell Simmons.

The Funeral (1996),[18] starring Walken, Sciorra, Chris Penn, Isabella Rossellini, Benicio del Toro, Vincent Gallo and Gretchen Mol, was nominated for five Independent Spirit Awards including Best Director.

Later career[edit]

After making The Blackout (1997) with Matthew Modine and Dennis Hopper, he contributed to the omnibus television movie Subway Stories. Ferrara then made New Rose Hotel (1998), which reunited him with Christopher Walken.

Ferrara in 2008.

Ferrara returned three years later with 'R Xmas (2001), which starred Drea de Matteo and Ice-T.

After recording two commentaries for Driller Killer and King of New York[citation needed], he made Mary (2005), the religious-themed movie starring Forest Whitaker, Marion Cotillard, Juliette Binoche, Heather Graham, Stefania Rocca and Matthew Modine. The multi-plot movie concerns an actress (Binoche) who stars in a Passion of the Christ-like movie about Jesus, where she plays Mary Magdalene, with whom she subsequently becomes obsessed. Matthew Modine portrays the director of the movie, who bears similarities to Mel Gibson. Mary premiered at the Venice Film Festival in 2005. It swept the awards ceremony, garnering the Grand Jury Prize, SIGNIS Award and two others. It was shown at the Toronto International Film Festival.[19]

In 2007, he directed Go Go Tales, a comedy with Modine, Bob Hoskins and Willem Dafoe that premiered at the Cannes Film Festival but was not shown in the United States until a special screening at the Anthology Film Archives in 2011.[20]

In 2009, Jekyll and Hyde was set to star Forest Whitaker and 50 Cent. After disagreements with Warner Bros., the movie was shelved in 2010.[21]

In 2009, Napoli, Napoli, Napoli premiered out of competition at the 66th Venice International Film Festival.[22] The docudrama received little attention and poor reviews but Werner Herzog's reboot Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans was selected for competition at the prestigious festival. Asked about the Herzog film, Ferrara was quoted widely saying "I wish these people die in hell."[23]

In September 2011, 4:44 Last Day on Earth, starring Willem Dafoe and Shanyn Leigh, premiered at the 68th Venice International Film Festival.[24]

In 2014, a fictionalized version of the Dominique Strauss-Kahn sexual assault case starring Gérard Depardieu and Jacqueline Bisset titled Welcome to New York was released on video on demand.[25][26] 2014 also saw the release of Pasolini about the titular Italian director starring Willem Dafoe.[27]

Ferrara and Dafoe collaborated for a sixth time in a movie inspired by Carl Jung's The Red Book. The script was written by Ferrara and Chris Zois and is titled Siberia.[28][29]

Personal life[edit]

Ferrara is married to Cristina Chiriac and they have a daughter, Anna.[30][31][32] He was previously married to Nancy Ferrara.[33] Ferrara has two adopted children: Endira and Lucy.[34][35] He was also in a relationship with actress Shanyn Leigh.[36][37]

Ferrara lives in Rome, Italy.[38] He moved there following the 9/11 attacks because it was easier for him to find financing for his movies in Europe.[39]

Raised Catholic, Ferrara started describing himself as Buddhist in 2007.[40] When asked if he had converted, Ferrara responded,

It’s not a conversion, you’re not a card-carrying Catholic, you’re brought up Italian, so you’re brought up with those images. All the great art is financed by the Church so they have a monopoly on the paintings, and they’re powerful images, the whole nine yards of it. But Jesus was a living man, and so were Buddha and Muhammad. These three guys changed the fucking world, with their passion and love of other human beings. All these guys had was their word, and they came from fucking nowhere. I’m not saying Nazareth is nowhere – I’m sure Jesus came from a very cool neighbourhood.

— Abel Ferrara[41]

Influences[edit]

Artists and filmmakers who influenced Ferrara's work include "the Stones and Dylan...DaVinci, Stanley Kubrick, Woody Allen and all of the great New York film makers."[42] He has also credited Pier Paolo Pasolini and Rainer Werner Fassbinder as influences.[43][44][45]

Filmography[edit]

Year Film Director Writer Actor Notes
1971 Nicky's Film Yes Yes short film
1972 The Hold Up Yes Yes Yes short film
1973 Could It Be Love Yes Yes short film
1976 9 Lives of a Wet Pussy Yes Yes pornographic movie
credited as Jimmy Boy L.
1977 Not Guilty: For Keith Richards Yes documentary, short film
1979 The Driller Killer Yes Yes role: Reno
performance credited as Jimmy Laine
1981 Ms .45 Yes Yes role: 1st rapist
performance credited as Jimmy Laine
1984 Fear City Yes
1986 The Gladiator Yes TV movie
Crime Story Yes TV pilot
1987 China Girl Yes
1988 The Loner Yes TV movie
1989 Cat Chaser Yes
1990 King of New York Yes
1992 Bad Lieutenant Yes Yes
1993 Body Snatchers Yes
Dangerous Game Yes
1995 The Addiction Yes
1996 Mylène Farmer: California Yes Music video
The Funeral Yes
1997 The Blackout Yes Yes
Subway Stories: Tales from the Underground Yes TV movie
Segment "Love on the A Train"
1998 New Rose Hotel Yes Yes
2001 'R Xmas Yes Yes
2004 Abenaa: "Rain" Yes Yes music video
2005 Mary Yes Yes
2006 Exes Yes role: Cain
2007 Go Go Tales Yes Yes
2008 Chelsea on the Rocks Yes Yes documentary
2009 Napoli Napoli Napoli Yes Yes documentary
Daddy Longlegs Yes role: Robber
2010 Mulberry St. Yes documentary
OneDreamRush: Dream Piece Yes short film
2011 4:44 Last Day on Earth Yes Yes
2012 Pizza Connection Yes web series
No Saints Yes short film
My Big-Assed Mother Yes Role: Charles Bukowski
short film
2014 Welcome to New York Yes Yes
Pasolini Yes Yes [46]
Don Peyote Yes role: Taxi cab driver
2016 Sculpt Yes
2017 Black Butterfly Yes role: Pat
Alive in France Yes Yes Yes documentary
Piazza Vittorio Yes Yes documentary[47]
Hans Yes Yes short film
2018 Buon Lavoro Yes [48]
Talking with the Vampires Yes Yes Yes documentary, short film[49]
2019 Tommaso Yes Yes
2020 Siberia Yes Yes

Recurring collaborators[edit]

Ferrara has recast many of the same actors in his movies, most notably Christopher Walken, Harvey Keitel and Willem Dafoe.[50] Other actors he has recast include Annabella Sciorra and Matthew Modine as well as character actors such as Victor Argo, Paul Calderón and Giancarlo Esposito.[51] David Caruso is another one of Ferrara's frequent film collaborators.[52] M .45 (1981) star Zoë Lund collaborated with Ferrara again on Bad Lieutenant (1992), which she co-wrote.[53] Gretchen Mol has worked with Ferrara twice.[54] Forest Whitaker starred in Ferrara's movies Mary (2005) and Body Snatchers (1993).[55]

Actor The Driller Killer
(1979)
Ms .45
(1981)
Crime Story
(1986)
China Girl
(1987)
King of New York
(1990)
Bad Lieutenant
(1992)
Body Snatchers
(1993)
Dangerous Game
(1993)
The Addiction
(1995)
The Funeral
(1996)
The Blackout
(1997)
New Rose Hotel
(1998)
'R Xmas
(2001)
Mary
(2005)
Go Go Tales
(2007)
Chelsea on the Rocks
(2008)
Napoli Napoli Napoli
(2009)
4:44 Last Day on Earth
(2011)
Welcome to New York
(2014)
Pasolini
(2014)
Tommaso
(2019)
Siberia
(2020)
Asia Argento NoN NoN
Victor Argo NoN NoN NoN NoN NoN NoN
Paul Calderón NoN NoN NoN NoN
David Caruso NoN NoN NoN
Cristina Chiriac NoN NoN NoN
Willem Dafoe NoN NoN NoN NoN NoN NoN
Giancarlo Esposito NoN NoN
Abel Ferrara NoN NoN NoN
Anna Ferrara NoN NoN
Paul Hipp NoN NoN NoN NoN NoN
Dennis Hopper NoN NoN
Harvey Keitel NoN NoN
Shanyn Leigh NoN NoN NoN NoN NoN
Zoë Lund NoN NoN
Matthew Modine NoN NoN NoN
Gretchen Mol NoN NoN
James Russo NoN NoN
Riccardo Scamarcio NoN NoN
Annabella Sciorra NoN NoN NoN
Christopher Walken NoN NoN NoN NoN
Forest Whitaker NoN NoN

Beginning with The Driller Killer in 1979 through The Projectionist in 2019, Ferrara most frequently works with cinematographer Ken Kelsch as his assistant director.[56]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Nominated work Award Result Ref
1993 Body Snatchers Palme d'Or Nominated
1993 Bad Lieutenant Independent Spirit Award for Best Director Nominated
1995 The Addiction Golden Berlin Bear Nominated
1996 The Funeral Independent Spirit Award for Best Director Nominated
1998 The Blackout Worst Director - Yoga Awards Won [57]
2001 R' Xmas Un Certain Regard Nominated

References[edit]

  1. ^ Nicole Brenez, Abel Ferrara, University of Illinois Press, 2007 page 2
  2. ^ Goldstein, Patrick (1990-10-28). "MOVIES The Prince of Darkness Director Abel Ferrara practices a kind of gonzo filmmaking, and his violent vision isn't a particularly popular one in Hollywood". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2009-11-21.
  3. ^ Lim, Dennis (2008-10-12). "Struggling With Faith and Gentrification". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-04-23.
  4. ^ "'Bad Lieutenant' filmmaker Abel Ferrara got his start at Rockland Community College". lohud.com. Retrieved 2019-12-04.
  5. ^ Dawson, Nick. "Abel Ferrara, Mary". Filmmaker Magazine. Retrieved 2019-12-04.
  6. ^ Paszylk, Bartlomiej. "The Driller Killer". The Pleasure and Pain of Cult Horror Films: An Historical Survey. McFarland. p. 153. ISBN 0-7864-3695-6.
  7. ^ Abel Ferrara: 'I made Scarface look like Mary Poppins'. interview, 5 August 2010, Guardian. Retrieved on 2012-04-15.
  8. ^ "Video Nasties | British Board of Film Classification". bbfc.co.uk. Retrieved 2019-09-09.
  9. ^ "Ms .45 (2015), directed by Abel Ferrara | Film review". web.archive.org. 2015-08-22. Retrieved 2019-09-09.
  10. ^ Fear City (1984), retrieved 2019-12-04
  11. ^ "Crime Story. 1986. Directed by Abel Ferrara". www.moma.org. Retrieved 2019-09-09.
  12. ^ "Abel Ferrara Interview". www.artinterviews.com. Retrieved 2019-09-09.
  13. ^ Ebert, Roger. "King Of New York Movie Review (1990) | Roger Ebert". www.rogerebert.com. Retrieved 2019-09-09.
  14. ^ Zoe Tamerlis on the script of "Bad Lieutenant", retrieved 2019-09-09
  15. ^ "13 Great Facts About Bad Lieutenant". mentalfloss.com. 2017-11-20. Retrieved 2019-09-09.
  16. ^ Roger Ebert & The Movies (show #1426), 26 February 2000. Rogerebert.suntimes.com. Retrieved on 2012-04-15.
  17. ^ "The Addiction (1995): Awards". Allmovie. Retrieved Feb 9, 2014.
  18. ^ "The Funeral (1996)". Allmovie. Retrieved Feb 9, 2014.
  19. ^ "2005 TIFF Archives (10 posts)". Retrieved 10 May 2015.
  20. ^ Dargis, Manohla (2011-01-06). "'Go Go Tales' With Willem Dafoe - Review". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-12-04.
  21. ^ Purcell, Andrew (2010-08-05). "Abel Ferrara: 'I made Scarface look like Mary Poppins'". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2019-12-04.
  22. ^ "Werner Herzog's Bad Lieutenant joins Venice film festival contenders". the Guardian. 2009-07-30. Retrieved 2019-12-04.
  23. ^ Brown, Mark; correspondent, arts (2009-07-30). "Werner Herzog's Bad Lieutenant joins Venice film festival contenders". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2019-12-04.
  24. ^ "Venezia 68: International competition of feature films". Venice. Archived from the original on 2011-09-27. Retrieved 2011-08-28.
  25. ^ Donadio, Rachel (May 18, 2014). "Cannes Film Festival: Strauss-Kahn Film Under Fire". The New York Times. Retrieved June 15, 2014.
  26. ^ Child, Ben (February 6, 2012). "Gerard Depardieu to star in film inspired by Dominique Strauss-Kahn". The Guardian. London. Retrieved April 17, 2012.
  27. ^ "Director Abel Ferrara on Mysterious 1975 Death of Pier Paolo Pasolini: 'I Know Who Killed Him'". The Hollywood Reporter. March 28, 2014. Retrieved June 15, 2014.
  28. ^ Fleming Jr., Mike (14 May 2015). "He's Back! Abel Ferrara To Launch Willem Dafoe-Starrer 'Siberia' On Croisette". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 20 June 2015.
  29. ^ Rife, Katie (14 May 2015). "Get Involved, Internet: Help Abel Ferrara and Willem Dafoe make a movie about dreams". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 20 June 2015.
  30. ^ Vlessing, Etan (January 21, 2020). "Abel Ferrara's 'Tommaso,' 'The Projectionist' Land at Kino Lorber (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved February 29, 2020.
  31. ^ Shoard, Catherine (18 May 2015). "Abel Ferrera turns to Kickstarter: 'I'm gonna hurt people with this film'". The Guardian. Retrieved 25 July 2016.
  32. ^ Coleman, Oli (2017-10-31). "Abel Ferarra moved to Italy for a girl he knocked up". Page Six. Retrieved 2019-09-09.
  33. ^ Maslin, Janet (19 November 1993). "Review/Film; A Movie Within a Movie, With a Demure Madonna". The New York Times. Retrieved 25 July 2016.
  34. ^ "Abel Ferrara Biography (1952?-)". Film Reference. Retrieved 20 December 2016.
  35. ^ Hoban, Phoebe (1 February 1993). "Raising Cain". New York. Retrieved 23 December 2016.
  36. ^ Macnab, Geoffrey (3 March 2012). "Willem Dafoe: 'I have a charmed life'". The Independent. Retrieved 20 August 2017.
  37. ^ Hoberman, J. (19 March 2012). "Home for the End of Days". New York. Retrieved 20 August 2017.
  38. ^ Righelato, Rowan (11 September 2015). "Abel Ferrara: 'Pasolini's death is not some kind of fictional event'". The Guardian. Retrieved 25 July 2016.
  39. ^ Lim, Dennis (10 October 2008). "Struggling With Faith and Gentrification". The New York Times. Retrieved 25 July 2016.
  40. ^ Shoard, Catherine (23 May 2014). "Abel Ferrara at Cannes: 'You gotta be careful what you say … but I'm not'". The Guardian. Retrieved 25 July 2016.
  41. ^ Gray, Carmen (12 November 2014). "The spiritual side of Abel Ferrara". Dazed.
  42. ^ "Abel Ferrara Interview". www.artinterviews.com. Retrieved 2019-09-09.
  43. ^ cryptekeeper (3 December 2012). "Cryptekeeper 041 Abel Ferrara/4H44 dernier jour sur terre" – via YouTube.
  44. ^ Kasman, Daniel (7 June 2014). "The Pursuit of Freedom: Abel Ferrara Discusses "Welcome to New York"". Retrieved 6 October 2015.
  45. ^ Carli, Vittorio. "Abel Ferrara Interview". Retrieved 6 October 2015.
  46. ^ Hopewell, John (August 16, 2013). "Ferrara, Dafoe Re-team for 'Pasolini'". Variety. Retrieved June 15, 2014.
  47. ^ Cox, Gordon (23 August 2017). "Vanessa Redgrave, Alex Gibney, Griffin Dunne Documentaries Join New York Film Festival Slate (EXCLUSIVE)".
  48. ^ "Home - Buon Lavoro - Il film". Buon Lavoro - Il film.
  49. ^ Murthi, Vikram (19 December 2016). "Isabelle Huppert, Nicolas Cage and Willem Dafoe Star in Abel Ferrara's New Film 'Siberia'". IndieWire. Retrieved 7 January 2017.
  50. ^ RUILOVA, AÏDA. "ABEL FERRARA". Interview.
  51. ^ Dee, Jake (7 January 2014). "DISSECTING DIRECTOR ABEL FERRARA!".
  52. ^ "Indie Filmmaker Abel Ferrara Will Bring Short Eyes Back to Broadway". 24 February 2010.
  53. ^ Vestby, Ethan (9 December 2013). "Abel Ferrara On Artistic Freedom, Collaboration, 'Ms. 45,' Pier Paolo Pasolini & More". thefilmstage.com.
  54. ^ Hillis, Aaron (26 February 2009). "GRETCHEN MOL INDULGES IN "AN AMERICAN AFFAIR"". Ifc.com.
  55. ^ Nastasi, Alison (19 November 2009). "Abel Ferrara's 'Jekyll and Hyde' Coming Soon From Warner Bros". Moviefone. Archived from the original on 10 December 2014. Retrieved 6 December 2014.
  56. ^ Louison, Evan. ""Filmmaking is Like Combat — 90% Boredom, 5% Panic and 5% Terror": Ken Kelsch on Four Decades as a Cinematographer". Filmmaker Magazine. Retrieved 2020-01-24.
  57. ^ "1998 (novena edición) : Los Catacric y los YoGa". Retrieved 2019-09-09.

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