Film Forum

The Zellner Brothers: An Introduction to their Riveting Brand of Strange

Filmmakers David and Nathan Zellner, doing what they love on the set of "Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter." Via Amplify Pictures

Filmmakers David and Nathan Zellner, doing what they love on the set of “Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter.” Via Amplify Pictures

Inspired by the Fresno Filmworks up coming April 10th screening of “Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter“, I set out to research the Austin-based filmmakers David and Nathan Zellner. Maybe for the first time, I now have a better understanding of what truly independent filmmaking looks like.

David Zellner will make a trip to Fresno to visit the historic Tower Theatre and to discuss the film with us. Here’s what I learned about the filmmaker brothers — David, in particular — and what makes up their mysterious, riveting, and fascinatingly strange world.

“Kid-Thing”

Kid-Thing” tells the story of childhood from a perspective we might have unknowingly wished to have — free from parental supervision and that of societal norms.

Annie is a playful child, but she lacks a moral compass. One day while roaming the wilderness, Annie hears a voice call out to her from deep within an abandoned well, which sets her on a journey towards self-discovery, determining what the “right” course of action in her life should be.

“Goliath”

What matters most to us? Our spouses? Our souls? Our cat?

For the Zellner brothers’ next feature film, they wring the heartstrings of pet lovers — to be seen again with the missing bunny, Bunzo, in “Kumiko” — by telling the redemptive story of a man on a journey to find his missing cat, “the sweetest, most wonderful cat in the whole world.” He has lost his spouse in an embittered divorce, and will not lose the one thing left that remains whole to him, “Goliath.”

“Aftermath on Meadowlark Lane”

David Zellner often inserts himself into his films, playing multiple characters and performing multiple roles. In “Aftermath on Meadowlark Lane,” we see the story of two brothers and their mother on their way to a mariachi recital, when they face a devastating car crash, in which they are jarringly woken up, forced to face the reality and the truth of their past.

And I had to save the best for last:

Sasquatch Birth Journal 2

There’s no description needed here, since the title says it all. Once again, the Zellner brothers tackle a mystical tale by leaving nothing up to the imagination as to their playfulness.

According to the film factoids for the movie, the birthing process of a female sasquatch is said to take up to 72 hours. Luckily the Zellners have condensed the scene to those last crucial four minutes before birth.

What’s to come: On “Kumiko,” in their own words

With “Kumiko,” the Zellner brothers say they sought to champion tales of Spanish explorers searching for gold with the strange tale of a 21st Century woman who would cross the globe searching for a mythical treasure, on an anachronistic, foolhardy, and tragic quest that quite frankly doesn’t happen anymore during the age of social networking and satellite mapping. The mystery is gone, and the Zellner brothers, if only briefly, have attempted to bring it back. They traversed two continents in a labor of love in their own obsessive quest to bring this tale to the screen that spanned over a decade.

“At first this discrepancy alarmed us,” David says in an interview the Down With Tyranny! blog. “And then we realized it was the legend and quest elements of the story that drew ourselves and others in to begin with. As with all folklore, this tale had its own sort of truth to it, though on more of a human level than factual. And that endeared us to it all the more.”

 

Megan Ginise studies journalism and public relations at Fresno State. She currently serves as the Filmworks marketing intern.

Every second Friday of the month, Fresno Filmworks screens first-run independent and international movies at the historic Tower Theatre.