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Where to find filmmaking wisdom on Twitter (No kidding!)

I know, I know. ”Wisdom” and “Twitter” are words that don’t go together. We all love to hate the platform. Or hate to love it, depending on the day...or the time  of the day. That amorphous group of fans, critics and artists known as Film Twitter iis a particularly prickly and contentious realm. Not a day goes by without a new feud, or a pile-on inspired by the latest bad hot take. The worst tendencies of social media seem to get amplified: the rote self-promotion, the performative projections of the self. From time to time, I discover that two people I follow hate each other’s guts. I always experience a slight shock when they go to the mat in a barrage of hostile tweets.

As much as we decry this hellscape, we can’t look away. If you are going to spend your time there, you might as well follow some artists with insights on filmmaking, off-base recommendations of strange and esoteric works and downright provocation. The good kind of provocation.  

These are some of the personalities that will make scrolling through your timeline a most edifying experience. And just might lead you to watching - and making - better movies!

Edward Zwick rose to fame in the late 80 and early 90, with the blockbuster TV series Thirtysomething (1987-1991) and one-season cult wonder My So-Called Life (1994-1995). On film, he directed Denzel Washington in Glory (1989) which warranted him his first Oscar, and a substantial lead role in Courage Under Fire (1996). He provided Brad Pitt with an early showcase in Legends of the Fall (1994). He won an Oscar as one of many producers on Shakespeare In Love (1997). His latest credit is the Netflix series Away, with Hillary Swank. Recently, he achieved virality with a couple of threads distilling a lifetime of experience as a producer and as a director. Check them out <@EdwardZwick1>

Guillermo del Toro embraced Twitter, and Twitter embraced him back. His account has a few followers shy of 2 million, making him probably one of the most popular filmmakers on the platform. Don’t let his penchant for horror fool you. He’s a mensch, and it shows on his timeline. He routinely retweets fan art inspired by his films, trailers of movies made by his peers, and reactions to whatever he is watching or playing. He is a rare bird, the filmmaker who seems equally besotted by cinema and video games. Check him out praising Nicolas Cage in the recent indie Pig (Name, 2021) and casually revealing one of those projects that got away: an adaptation of The Count of Montecristo. It’s for those little surprises that I always come back to <@RealGDT>.

Ava DuVernay got early enough on Twitter that she snatched her name as a handle. Just @Ava, no extra characters or numerals. With 2.7 million followers comes a degree of visibility that from time to time, attracts some negative attention. Still, she has become an influential advocate and champion for african-american cinema and black artists. Her creative campus ARRAY is behind the restoration and re-release of Sankofa (Haile Gerima,1993). It’s hard to imagine Netflix distributing such a film without the prompt of the filmmaker that provided them with an Oscar nomination for the documentary The 13th (2017). Follow her <@Ava>.

Larry Karaszewski is best known for his work with writing partner Scott Alexander. Their latest film is the behind-the-scenes comedy Dolemite is My Name (Craig Brewer, 2020), which provided Eddie Murphy with his best role in years, as blaxploitation-era icon Rudy Ray Moore. Larger than life characters dominate their work. Check out Ed Wood (Tim Burton,1994), for a sympathetic look at the filmmaker labeled as the worst in history.  Or The People Vs. Larry Flint (Milos Forman, 1996), to see how an infamous pornographer can become an unlikely martyr for free speech. Karaszewski’s own Twitter account is like a warm dispatch from a Hollywood denizen. It feels like he lives in an artsy neighborhood rather than a factory town. His enthusiasm for film and art transcends the local realm, making his musings worthy even for those far from the West Coast. Follow him <@Karaszewski>.

Dana Delaney is a trooper with five decades of experience as an actor and Emmy award winner for TV series China Beach. She has also given substantial performances in films such as Light Sleeper (Paul Schrader, 1992). Besides being an accomplished thespian, she is something of a scholar of cinema. She is a recurring guest on Turner Classic Movies, one of the best sources of classic film in the United States. She just published an essay on Gloria Grahame for Noir City magazine. Her twitter feed is full of old Hollywood trivia, the lowdown on upcoming TCM events, and cool recommendations on what to watch, like The Outside Man (1972). It’s a forgotten thriller by French director Jacques Deray (La Piscine, 1969) set on L.A., with Jean Louis Trintignant and Roy Scheider, available in the labyrinth of a streaming service? Yes, please!...and thanks for the heads-up. She is a great performer who also loves film as an art form. Follow her <@DanaDelany>

Stephen Soderbergh started as an enfant terrible capable of snatching a Palm D’Or with Sex, Lies and Videotapes (1989), his feature-length debut. Three decades later, he’s a prolific cross-platform juggernaut, equally at home in cinemas or dropping series on premium cable channels. He even gives a good name to Netflix originals. His tweeting has become sporadic, but he keeps a detailed diary of media intake at his blog, Extension 765. Go there for esoteric and irresistible recommendations on what to watch, or read. Imagine that. ¡He reads books! Where does he find the time? Oh, yeah! He’s not tweeting all the time. You can follow him at @bitchuation

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