Curia is a streaming platform that features fresh, monthly curated collections of films and shorts. As part of this initiative, they are unveiling their inaugural Creator Spotlight series, which allows filmmakers to present some of their favorite films. For December, Riley Stearns, the writer/director of “Faults” and “The Art of Self Defense,” has chosen some of his favorites.
For his Curia selections, Stearns chose to focus on the first or second films from a filmmaker’s oeuvre, “be that director a household name or on their way to becoming one.” And it’s an eclectic list, for sure, one that speaks to the breadth of content available on the platform and Stearns’ singular taste. Below you’ll find his selections, along with his commentary on why he chose each feature.
“4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days”
“Cristian Mungiu’s Palm d’Or-winning second film is one of my favorite films, which feels weird to say considering how brutal and difficult to watch it can be at times. There are a million things that make this film special but I’ll single out the editing. It taught me that editing isn’t always about what you cut to and from — sometimes it’s what image you choose to stay on that means the most.”
“Pressure is often unfairly placed on children of successful directors and this was, unfortunately, the case for the son of the great David Cronenberg. Perceived pressure aside, Brandon Cronenberg’s debut ‘Antiviral’ proved unequivocally that he is a filmmaker with an unflinching voice and visual aesthetic that he will only continue to push and evolve (as evidenced by his fantastic follow-up, 2020’s ‘Possessor’).”
“Few films in recent memory are as visually striking as Kantemir Balagov’s ‘Beanpole.’ His touch as a director is anything but ‘light,’ yet somehow the world feels all too real. The fact that he was in his 20’s when he made this, his second film, is impressive to say the least, and it’s no surprise he was brought on to direct the live action adaptation of ‘The Last of Us.’ We’ll be hearing his name for years to come.”
“I Killed My Mother”
“Calling Xavier Dolan prolific would be a vast understatement. Like clockwork, he has made a film almost every year since his stunning debut ‘I Killed My Mother’ in 2009. The film is incredibly assured, which I love as an audience member because I can trust the journey even if there are surprises along the way. The fact that he was only 19 when he wrote, directed and starred in it is still mind blowing.”
“I watched Leos Carax’s exuberantly directed ‘Mauvais Sang’ during quarantine for the first time and fell in love with it. The set design, the use of color, his shot selection, the music- only two films into his long career, Carax was already a master.”
“Super Dark Times”
“While he’s yet to follow it up with another feature, Kevin Phillips instantly put himself on my ‘future film radar’ with his pressure cooker of a debut ‘Super Dark Times.’ One of the most impressive things about the film is how grounded the performances from the young cast are- a testament to Phillips’ skill as a director. It was hard not to see elements of my childhood group of friends onscreen (albeit heightened), which made the story’s descent into chaos all the more relatable and thus, scarier.”
“The Elephant Man”
“Few directors are as singular as David Lynch. After spending seven years making ‘Eraserhead,’ Lynch followed it up with what could be argued is his most accessible film in ‘The Elephant Man.’ While it may not be as ‘Lynchian’ (ugh, sorry) as his debut and later works, it is still a wonderful film about what it means to be human and has solidified itself as a classic.”