Safdie brothers

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Josh and Benny Safdie
Josh (left) and Benny being interviewed at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival
Born
Joshua Safdie
(1984-04-03) April 3, 1984 (age 39)
Benjamin Safdie
(1986-02-24) February 24, 1986 (age 37)

Alma materBoston University
Occupations
  • Filmmakers
  • directors
  • editors
  • actors
Years active2007–present
Spouse
Benny: Ava Safdie
(m. 2013)
ChildrenBenny: 2
Relatives
AwardsFull list
Websiteelara.world

Joshua Safdie[1] (born April 3, 1984)[2] and Benjamin Safdie[1] (born February 24, 1986)[3] are independent American filmmakers and actors based in New York City, who frequently collaborate on their films. They are best known for writing and directing the crime thriller films Good Time (2017), starring Robert Pattinson, and Uncut Gems (2019), starring Adam Sandler.

In addition to writing and directing, both Josh and Benny serve in a variety of key positions including acting, editing, shooting, mixing sound, and producing their films. They have also frequently collaborated with Ronald Bronstein, who has co-written and edited all of their narrative features beginning with the 2009 film Daddy Longlegs. Other recurring collaborators include composer Oneohtrix Point Never, cinematographer Sean Price Williams, and production designer Sam Lisenco.

Early life[edit]

The Safdie brothers were raised in New York, the children of Amy and Alberto Safdie.[4] They spent their childhood living between their father in Queens and their mother and stepfather in Manhattan.[4] The Safdie brothers are Jewish. Their father, who is a Sephardic Jew of Syrian-Jewish descent, was raised in France and in Italy.[4][5][6][7][8] Their mother is an Ashkenazi Jew of Russian-Jewish descent.[9]

They began making films at a young age, inspired by their film-enthusiast father, Alberto.[4] They graduated from Columbia Grammar & Preparatory School in Manhattan.[4] At Boston University, they co-founded the creative collective Red Bucket Films with Alex Kalman, Sam Lisenco, Brett Jutkiewicz, and Zachary Treitz.[10] Josh and Benny Safdie graduated from Boston University College of Communication in 2007 and 2008, respectively.[11] They claim "turmoil of their youth", as children of divorced parents, became an inspiration for later work.[12] Famed Israeli-Canadian architect Moshe Safdie is their great uncle; his son, playwright Oren Safdie, is their second cousin.[13][14]

The brothers grew up as fans of basketball and the New York Knicks. The duo try to watch every game together.[15] Basketball is prominently featured in Lenny Cooke and Uncut Gems.

Career[edit]

The Pleasure of Being Robbed[edit]

In 2007, Josh Safdie was hired by Andy Spade and Anthony Sperduti to create a short film featuring Kate Spade Handbags.[16] He devised a concise story about the adventures of a kleptomaniac woman.[16] Eleonore Hendricks, who co-wrote the screenplay, portrayed the lead role.[16] The project eventually turned into a feature film.[16] The film, titled The Pleasure of Being Robbed, had its world premiere at the 2008 South by Southwest.[17] It also screened in the Directors' Fortnight section at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival, along with a short film The Acquaintances of a Lonely John directed by Benny Safdie.[16]

Daddy Longlegs[edit]

Their second feature film, Daddy Longlegs, had its world premiere under the title Go Get Some Rosemary[18] in the Directors' Fortnight section at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival.[19] Starring Ronald Bronstein, it was inspired by the filmmakers' younger years living with their father, Alberto.[12] Bronstein won the Breakthrough Actor Award at the Gotham Independent Film Awards 2010.[20] The film won the John Cassavetes Award at the 26th Independent Spirit Awards.[21]

Lenny Cooke[edit]

Their first full-length documentary film, Lenny Cooke, follows the life of Lenny Cooke, a once phenom high school basketball player, from adolescence to manhood.[22] The film premiered at the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival.[23]

Heaven Knows What[edit]

In 2014, the Safdie Brothers produced Heaven Knows What under their Elara Pictures banner.[24] The film centers around the real-life stories written in a book titled Mad Love in New York City by lead actress Arielle Holmes.[25] The film had its world premiere at the 71st Venice International Film Festival.[26] It also screened at the Toronto International Film Festival, the New York Film Festival, and the Tokyo International Film Festival.[26]

Good Time[edit]

The Safdies directed the 2017 crime film Good Time, starring Robert Pattinson and Benny Safdie as siblings.[27] The film was selected to compete for the Palme d'Or in the main competition section at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival.[28]

Uncut Gems[edit]

The Safdies (center and right) with Adam Sandler in December 2019.

The Safdies directed Uncut Gems, starring Adam Sandler, with Martin Scorsese serving as an executive producer.[29] The film was inspired by their father's time working in the Manhattan Diamond District.[12][7] It had its world premiere at the 2019 Telluride Film Festival.[30] Theatrically released in the United States in 2019, it received critical acclaim and became one of A24's highest-grossing releases.[31]

Future projects[edit]

In December 2017, The Hollywood Reporter announced that the Safdies would helm a remake of 48 Hrs. with the script being written by Josh Safdie, Ronald Bronstein, and Jerrod Carmichael.[32] In December 2019, the Safdies elaborated in an interview with The A.V. Club, saying the film was still being made but it would no longer be a remake.[33] Their script would instead be "re-shifted into something original."[33]

In February 2020, Showtime ordered a pilot for The Curse, a parody of HGTV starring Emma Stone, Nathan Fielder and Benny Safdie. Fielder co-created and co-wrote the show with Benny.[34][35]

In April 2022, it was reported by IndieWire that the Safdies were working with Sandler on a new project.[36] Later in July 2023, it was reported that Benny would not co-direct the film, marking the first time since The Pleasure of Being Robbed either of the brothers have directed solo.[37] In January 2024, Benny confirmed that the brothers would no longer be directing projects together, as they expanded to solo careers.[38]

Elara Pictures[edit]

The Safdies co-founded the production company Elara Pictures in 2014.[39] The company produced the Safdies' feature films Heaven Knows What, Good Time, and Uncut Gems,[40] Owen Kline's feature film directorial debut Funny Pages,[41] and the HBO television series Chillin Island.[42]

Filmography[edit]

Feature films[edit]

Year Title Director Writer DoP Editor
2008 The Pleasure of Being Robbed[a] Josh Josh Josh Yes
2009 Daddy Longlegs Yes Yes Josh Yes
2013 Lenny Cooke Yes No Josh Benny
2014 Heaven Knows What Yes Josh No Benny
2017 Good Time Yes Josh No Benny
2019 Uncut Gems Yes Yes No Benny

Producers

Short films[edit]

Year Title Director Writer Producer DoP Editor
2002 Lethargy Josh Josh No No No
2005 I Think I'm Missing Parts Josh Josh No No No
The Ralph Handel Story Yes No No No No
2006 We're Going To The Zoo Josh Josh Josh No No
2007 The Back of Her Head Josh Yes Josh No No
Jerry Ruis, Shall We Do This? Josh No No No No
John's Lonely Trip to Coney Island Yes No No Josh Benny
2008 The Acquaintances of a Lonely John Benny Benny Benny No Benny
There's Nothing You Can Do Yes No No No No
2010 John's Gone Yes Yes Yes Josh Yes
2011 Straight Hustle Yes Yes No No No
Buttons Yes Yes No No No
2012 The Black Balloon Yes Yes No No Benny
Trophy Hunter Yes Yes No Josh Josh
2013 Solid Gold[43] Yes No No Josh No
2016 Toback Vs. Mailer: The Incident Yes Yes No No Benny
2020 Goldman v Silverman Yes Uncredited No Josh No
Question & Answer Yes Yes No No Yes

Television[edit]

Year Title Writer Executive
Producer
Notes
2023 The Curse Benny Yes Co-creator; miniseries
Telemarketers No Yes TV series
Love Has Won: The Cult of Mother God No Yes Documentary mini-series

Josh as an actor[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
2006 We're Going to the Zoo The Hitchhiker Short film
The Ralph Handel Story The Director (voice) Short film
2007 The Back of Her Head Him Short film
2008 The Pleasure of Being Robbed Josh
Yeast Riverguy 1
2009 Taking Woodstock Documentary Cameraman Uncredited
Daddy Longlegs Chris
La corsa Alessandro Short film
2013 Lydia Hoffman Lydia Hoffman Bruce Short film
Hellaware Gallery Patron
Stand Clear of the Closing Doors Fighter
2015 This Summer Feeling Thomas
2016 Togetherness Craddock Brother #1 Episode: "Advanced Pretend"
My Art Tom
2017 Ezer Kenegdo Levi

Music videos[edit]

Year Artist Title Album Role Ref
2015 Ariel Pink "I Need a Minute" Heaven Knows What: Original Music From the Film Directors [44]
2017 Jay-Z "Marcy Me" 4:44 [45]
Oneohtrix Point Never "The Pure and the Damned" Good Time (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) [46]
2019 Brockhampton "Sugar" Ginger Producers [47]
2020 Oneohtrix Point Never "Lost But Never Alone" Magic Oneohtrix Point Never Directors [48]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Influences[edit]

Their artistic influences included the cinematic works of John Cassavetes, Martin Scorsese and Quentin Tarantino as well as underground comix artist Robert Crumb and author Irvine Welsh.[49][50][51]

Benny named Robert Bresson's A Man Escaped as his favorite film of all time, and Josh named Vittorio De Sica's Bicycle Thieves as his favorite.[52]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Also producers

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Ross, Alex Robert (July 23, 2019). "The Weeknd will appear alongside Adam Sandler in crime thriller Uncut Gems". The Fader. Archived from the original on July 24, 2019. Retrieved September 28, 2019.
  2. ^ "Josh Safdie". AlloCiné. Archived from the original on May 3, 2008. Retrieved September 28, 2019.
  3. ^ "Benny Safdie". AlloCiné. Archived from the original on June 6, 2009. Retrieved September 28, 2019.
  4. ^ a b c d e Sanneh, Kelefa (December 16, 2019). "The Safdie Brothers' Full-Immersion Filmmaking". The New Yorker. Archived from the original on December 9, 2019. Retrieved December 21, 2019.
  5. ^ Robinson, George (August 17, 2010). "Being The Safdie Brothers". The Jewish Week. Archived from the original on August 8, 2017. Retrieved December 4, 2017.
  6. ^ Zeitchik, Steven (August 10, 2017). "Safdie brothers bring a New York flavor to breakout thriller 'Good Time'". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on August 10, 2017. Retrieved September 28, 2019.
  7. ^ a b Barshad, Amos (August 21, 2017). "The Safdie Brothers Are Classic New York Hustlers". The Fader. Archived from the original on January 27, 2020. Retrieved November 14, 2019.
  8. ^ Pfefferman, Naomi (June 17, 2015). "Life as lived by a homeless junkie". The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles. Archived from the original on May 6, 2017. Retrieved November 2, 2019.
  9. ^ Vance, Kelly (December 25, 2019). "Hoops Hoopla + Precious Stones = Mayhem". East Bay Express. Archived from the original on December 26, 2019. Retrieved January 10, 2020.
  10. ^ Muhlke, Christine (August 24, 2008). "Our Gang". The New York Times. Archived from the original on July 11, 2019. Retrieved December 21, 2019.
  11. ^ Brown, Joel (June 12, 2015). "Safdie Brothers' Film Captures Life on the Street". Bostonia. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved December 21, 2019.
  12. ^ a b c Lim, Denis (May 13, 2010). "Growing Up With Dad, Distilled With Bite". The New York Times. Archived from the original on May 18, 2020. Retrieved September 28, 2019.
  13. ^ "Kevin Tierney: Six degrees of Safdie separation, starring Moshe and me|Montreal Gazette". Archived from the original on February 4, 2020. Retrieved January 18, 2020.
  14. ^ Robbins, Liz (August 11, 2013). "Museum, All 60 Square Feet of It, Celebrates the Eccentric". The New York Times. Archived from the original on December 21, 2019. Retrieved December 21, 2019.
  15. ^ Kassel, Matthew (December 6, 2013). "Watching the Knicks With the Safdie Brothers". observer.com. Archived from the original on January 22, 2021. Retrieved January 16, 2021.
  16. ^ a b c d e Kohn, Eric (October 2, 2008). "iW PROFILE | "The Pleasure of Being Robbed" Director Josh Safdie". IndieWire. Archived from the original on August 4, 2020. Retrieved November 14, 2019.
  17. ^ "The Pleasure of Being Robbed". South by Southwest. 2008. Archived from the original on March 11, 2008. Retrieved November 14, 2019.
  18. ^ Hernandez, Eugene (January 7, 2010). "3 More Sundance Films Set for Immediate VOD Debut". IndieWire. Archived from the original on July 7, 2022. Retrieved November 14, 2019.
  19. ^ Nelson, Rob (May 16, 2009). "Go Get Some Rosemary". Variety. Archived from the original on October 23, 2019. Retrieved November 14, 2019.
  20. ^ Karger, Dave (November 29, 2010). "'Winter's Bone' wins big at Gotham Awards". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on October 23, 2019. Retrieved November 14, 2019.
  21. ^ Fernandez, Sofia M. (February 26, 2011). "2011 Independent Spirit Awards Winners List". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on May 16, 2020. Retrieved November 14, 2019.
  22. ^ Diaz, Angel (December 7, 2013). "Interview: Lenny Cooke and the Filmmakers of His Documentary Talk About LeBron, Their Process, and Lenny's Regrets". Complex. Archived from the original on October 19, 2019. Retrieved November 14, 2019.
  23. ^ Harris, Brandon (December 6, 2013). "Hoop Dreams: Josh and Benny Safdie on Lenny Cooke". Filmmaker. Archived from the original on March 14, 2020. Retrieved September 28, 2019.
  24. ^ Yamato, Jen (April 23, 2014). "Safdie Bros Launch Elara Pictures Banner With Drama 'Heaven Knows What'". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on February 4, 2015. Retrieved April 23, 2014.
  25. ^ Macaulay, Scott (April 28, 2015). "I Want to Take You Higher: Josh and Ben Safdie on Heaven Knows What". Filmmaker. Archived from the original on November 14, 2019. Retrieved November 14, 2019.
  26. ^ a b Khawj, Abdulrahman (May 11, 2015). "Watch: Electric New Trailer For Josh And Ben Safdie's Award Winning 'Heaven Knows What'". IndieWire. Archived from the original on November 14, 2019. Retrieved November 14, 2019.
  27. ^ Hoby, Hermione (November 16, 2017). "Good Time directors the Safdie brothers: 'Robert Pattinson was just a guy chasing work'". The Guardian. Archived from the original on January 16, 2020. Retrieved September 28, 2019.
  28. ^ Porreca, Brian (May 25, 2017). "Cannes: 'Good Time' Starring Robert Pattinson Gets Overwhelming Standing Ovation". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on September 28, 2019. Retrieved September 28, 2019.
  29. ^ Greenblatt, Leah (October 18, 2019). "Adam Sandler on getting beat 'black and blue,' shooting nude scenes for Safdie Brothers' Uncut Gems". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on January 26, 2020. Retrieved November 14, 2019.
  30. ^ Lattanzio, Ryan (August 31, 2019). "Telluride Audiences Rattled by 'Uncut Gems,' an Endurance Test With a Great Adam Sandler Performance". IndieWire. Archived from the original on November 14, 2019. Retrieved November 14, 2019.
  31. ^ Rubin, Rebecca (December 29, 2019). "Adam Sandler's 'Uncut Gems' Scores Box Office Record for A24". Variety. Archived from the original on February 16, 2020. Retrieved January 10, 2020.
  32. ^ Kit, Borys (December 14, 2017). "'48 Hrs.' Remake in the Works with 'Good Time' Filmmakers (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on November 3, 2019. Retrieved January 1, 2018.
  33. ^ a b Dowd, A.A. (December 20, 2019). "The Safdie brothers on Uncut Gems and how they convinced Adam Sandler to take the role of his career". The A.V. Club. Archived from the original on December 26, 2019. Retrieved December 27, 2019.
  34. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (February 18, 2020). "Showtime Orders 'The Curse' Comedy Pilot From the Safdie Brothers & Nathan Fielder". Deadline. Archived from the original on February 18, 2020. Retrieved February 19, 2020.
  35. ^ "Nathan Fielder is making a comedy pilot with the Safdie brothers". News. February 18, 2020. Archived from the original on February 19, 2020. Retrieved February 19, 2020.
  36. ^ "Why Hollywood Can't Connect Movie Stars with the Filmmakers They Deserve (Column)". April 9, 2022. Archived from the original on April 13, 2022. Retrieved April 13, 2022.
  37. ^ "Benny Safdie Steps into the Spotlight with 'Oppenheimer'". July 18, 2023. Archived from the original on July 20, 2023. Retrieved July 18, 2023.
  38. ^ Shanfeld, Ethan (January 4, 2024). "Benny Breaks Out: The Safdie Brother on Going Solo, Making You Squirm With 'The Curse' and What He Learned From Christopher Nolan and PTA". Variety. Retrieved January 4, 2024.
  39. ^ Otterson, Joe (May 26, 2020). "Safdie Brothers, Elara Pictures Set First Look TV Deal With HBO". Variety. Archived from the original on November 6, 2022. Retrieved November 6, 2022.
  40. ^ Petski, Denise (May 26, 2020). "The Safdie Brothers & Their Elara Pictures Ink First-Look TV Deal With HBO". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on November 6, 2022. Retrieved November 6, 2022.
  41. ^ Kohn, Eric (August 19, 2022). "Owen Kline, Troubled Child in 'The Squid and the Whale,' Directed the Year's Wildest Comedy". IndieWire. Archived from the original on November 6, 2022. Retrieved November 6, 2022.
  42. ^ Ihaza, Jeff (December 14, 2021). "Internet Rap Mavericks 'Chillin Island' Are Too Raw for TV, but They're Doing it Anyway". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on November 30, 2022. Retrieved November 6, 2022.
  43. ^ Dawson, Nick (August 21, 2013). "Watch Online: The Safdie Brothers' Solid Gold | Filmmaker Magazine". Filmmaker Magazine | Publication with a focus on independent film, offering articles, links, and resources. Archived from the original on October 25, 2022. Retrieved October 25, 2022.
  44. ^ "Ariel Pink Finds Love in the Bathroom in "I Need a Minute" Video From Heaven Knows What". Pitchfork. May 27, 2015. Archived from the original on January 9, 2021. Retrieved March 9, 2021.
  45. ^ Marotta, Jenna (December 22, 2017). "Jay-Z Brings Safdie Brothers-Directed 'Marcy Me' Video to the Masses". Indiewire. Archived from the original on February 26, 2021. Retrieved March 4, 2021.
  46. ^ Blistein, Jon (September 5, 2017). "Watch Iggy Pop, Robert Pattinson in Oneohtrix Point Never's Creepy New Video". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on February 27, 2021. Retrieved March 4, 2021.
  47. ^ Greenwood, Douglas (December 10, 2019). "Brockhampton have dropped an insane, Safdie Brothers-approved Sugar video". i-D. Archived from the original on September 7, 2022. Retrieved September 7, 2022.
  48. ^ Blistein, Jon (November 12, 2020). "Oneohtrix Point Never Reunites With Safdie Brothers for 'Lost But Never Alone' Video". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on February 12, 2021. Retrieved March 4, 2021.
  49. ^ "Josh and Benny Safdie's Top 10|The Criterion Collection". Archived from the original on September 2, 2020. Retrieved September 14, 2020.
  50. ^ "Josh and Benny Safdie's Closet Picks|The Current|The Criterion Collection". Archived from the original on September 19, 2020. Retrieved September 15, 2020.
  51. ^ "A Beginners Guide to the Safdie Brothers' Cinematic Influences – mxdwn.com". January 20, 2020. Archived from the original on November 24, 2020. Retrieved September 15, 2020.
  52. ^ Jacqueline Coley (January 14, 2020). "The Safdie Brothers' Five Favorite Films". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Archived from the original on July 15, 2021. Retrieved July 15, 2021. Benny Safdie: "Then the second one – and let's say, this was in no particular order – but A Man Escaped, the [Robert] Bresson movie. That has to be my favorite movie of all time, just because it always makes me cry at the end, because I feel like I've achieved something that the character achieves. And it tells you what happens in the title, and it makes it no less suspenseful the entire way. You're literally feeling the sound of the gravel as he puts his foot down – those shots of the foot or the spoon going into the slot. All of these things, the editing of it, the character, the way he's using these actors who you don't really know, they just – you feel like they're real people. It's just so perfectly put together, and it's something where I kind of feel like I'm going along with the escape in a way that's just done by a master. In a weird way, I feel like Bresson is the Fontaine character in that movie. But what's weird is I've watched it again recently, and I had a totally different feeling of it, where it was more about society and how people are talking to each other. And then you realize Bresson is just kind of making the same movie every time, just with different [settings and characters]. One's World War II, one's Lancelot."

External links[edit]