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Joshua & Ben Safdie (Heaven Knows What)

A woman in a black tank-top sleeps next to a shirtless man on a couch in a messy room.

Josh and Ben Safdie, aka the Safdie brothers, are American filmmakers who have collaborated on four feature films and many more shorts. Their work includes their first co-directed feature, Go Get Some Rosemary/Daddy Longlegs (2009), which played the Cannes Directors’ Fortnight, and Lenny Cooke (2013), a basketball documentary they completed over ten years after the initial footage was shot by producer Adam Shopkorn.

The brothers’ latest co-directorial effort is Heaven Knows What (2014), the story of a group of New York City heroin junkies, partially based on the life of lead actress Arielle Holmes, whose as yet unpublished book is adapted for the film. One of the most striking films at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival, it was our pleasure to host the Safdies at our studio space at CineCycle and talk about the film’s production, its relationship to their other films and prison codes.

Our interview with the Safdie brothers was conducted in September of 2014 and was one of four feature interviews in the twenty-third monthly issue of The Seventh Art as a “video magazine.” It was released in January 2015 and is part of our TIFF 2014 coverage, along with interviews with Claire Denis, Pedro Costa, Lisandro Alonso, Ruben Östlund, David Gordon Green, Peter Strickland, Fabrice du Welz, Matías Piñeiro, and Oscar Ruiz Navia.

By Christopher Heron

Christopher Heron is one of the co-founders of The Seventh Art. He's conducted over 60 long-form interviews for the publication, while also writing and cutting several numerous video essays that investigate formal traits in films and filmmakers. He received his MA in Cinema Studies from the University of Toronto, where his work explored cinematic representations of urban space with special attention paid to the films of Pedro Costa and Tsai Ming-liang.