Nathan Zellner

"Deadpan comic minimalism," "fiercely original," "offbeat and surrealist" and "wonderfully off-kilter" are but some of the phrases used to describe the films of Nathan and David Zellner, two filmmaking brothers from Austin, Texas, who are as gleefully outside the mainstream as possible. There is no room for somber coming-of-age tales or bland relationship dramas in their worldview. Instead, street mimes turn to a life of crime (1997’s PLASTIC UTOPIA, their maniacal feature debut), a lonely girl becomes best friends with a disembodied voice in a well (KID-THING) or Eastern European socialist village dramas are inexplicably reset in East Texas (2001’s mind-bogglingly eccentric FRONTIER).  Raised and still proudly based in Austin, having made movies together since childhood, the Zellners have turned from pre-adolescent backyard Federico Fellinis into leaders of the town’s strong film scene, collaborating with everyone from Andrew Bujalski and the Duplass Brothers to Richard Rodriguez and Richard Linklater, all while continuing to churn out a steady stream of features, shorts and music videos. "You gotta support the Zellners," Richard Linklater raved to the New York Times in 2013. "I think they’re great filmmakers." Having introduced themselves with the giddily idiosyncratic features PLASTIC UTOPIA and FRONTIER, the Zellners quickly downsized to more maneagable (yet just as deranged) short films, with works like RUMMY, FLOTSAM/JETSAM and AFTERMATH ON MEADOWLARK LANE earning them cult-like status on the film festival circuit. KUMIKO, THE TREASURE HUNTER, based on the real-life tale of a Japanese woman obsessed with the Coen Brother’s FARGO, was a hit at the 2014 Sundance festival and has been hailed as arguably the brother’s breakthrough success. "They are following their own muse," noted documentary filmmaker and University of Texas professor Paul Stekler in a 2012 New York Times article on the brothers. "Is there anything better than being able to support yourself doing what you want to do rather than what someone in Hollywood tells you to do?" Fiercely unique, always independent and constantly surprising, the brothers Zellner are still as free as they were growing up, models of how to make a career out of making films your own way. - Jason Sanders


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