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June 25, 2024

End of an Era: Benny Safdie Confirms Split From Brother and Longtime Collaborator Josh

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Jan 5, 2024

Benny Safdie has confirmed that he and his brother Josh have decided to part ways creatively and pursue solo projects going forward. The announcement comes as a shock to fans of the Safdie brothers, who have collaborated on acclaimed indie films like “Good Time” and “Uncut Gems” over the past decade.

A Natural Progression

In an interview with Variety this week, Benny Safdie explained that the split was a “natural progression” for the brothers:

“We’ve been working together for basically our whole lives…At a certain point, I think it’s only natural for creative people to feel like they want to explore new territoies on their own. Josh and I still love and respect each other tremendously, but it feels like time to see what we can create separately.”

Benny emphasized that there was no acrimony behind the decision, saying he will always “be proud of the work we did together.” However, after spending over 15 years attached at the hip creatively, Benny said he is excited to have the “freedom” to develop his own voice and style as a filmmaker.

Early Success Together

Benny and Josh Safdie first made waves in the indie film world with their gritty 2009 drama “Daddy Longlegs,” which they co-wrote, co-directed and both starred in. The micro-budget film earned strong reviews on the festival circuit for its raw portrayal of a divorced father struggling to raise his kids in New York City.

They followed up that critical success with the adrenaline-fueled crime thriller “Good Time” in 2017, featuring a career-best performance from Robert Pattinson. The Safdies fully established themselves as rising talents with their anxiety-inducing 2019 gem “Uncut Gems,” starring Adam Sandler in a dramatic role that earned him an Independent Spirit Award.

Film Year Directors Key Cast
Daddy Longlegs 2009 Benny Safdie, Josh Safdie Ronald Bronstein, Eleonore Hendricks
Good Time 2017 Benny Safdie, Josh Safdie Robert Pattinson, Jennifer Jason Leigh
Uncut Gems 2019 Benny Safdie, Josh Safdie Adam Sandler, Julia Fox

Through their collaborations, the Safdie brothers have developed a distinctive kinetic directing style and a knack for depicting New York City’s underbelly. Their films also often feature characters whose self-destructive obsessions lead them down dangerous paths.

Pursuing Solo Passions

In the Variety interview, Benny Safdie revealed that he has already begun work on a solo project – a documentary feature titled “The Curse” about former boxer Christy Martin. Meanwhile, Josh Safdie is said to be developing a musical film and continuing work on a Paul Reuben biopic entitled “Smashing Machine” that the brothers first announced working on together in 2021.

Benny explained that their individual interests have started to diverge more, leading to the split:

“Josh became really obsessed with telling the Christy Martin story in a really conventional narrative way. I was pushing to do it more experimentally, like a staged documentary. At some point I realized he had such a specific take he wanted to execute, and I had my own vision, so it made sense to just do our own things separately.”

Going forward, the brothers may still collaborate in some capacity, according to Benny:

“I’m not saying we’ll never work on something together again. I think we just both felt constrained only funneling all our creative energies into one shared vision.”

Expanding Acting Roles

In addition to their directing pursuits, both Benny and Josh Safdie have seen rising fortunes as actors recently as well.

Benny is fresh off a breakout supporting turn in Christopher Nolan’s 2023 film “Oppenheimer,” where he brought warmth and humor to the role of scientist Edward Teller. Other upcoming acting roles for Benny include the lead in an indie comedy called “The Curse Of Byron” and a part in Darren Aronofsky’s indie drama “Shooting Star.”

Meanwhile, Josh Safdie landed roles in Greta Gerwig’s “Barbie” movie and an untitled film from up-and-coming indie director Laura Poitras. The brothers also re-teamed as actors in 2022’s “Don’t Look Up.”

With their acting careers gaining steam in parallel, pursuing individual directing efforts likely allows the Safdies more flexibility to take advantage of acting opportunities as they arise as well.

What’s Next for the Safdies?

While Benny and Josh Safdie make intriguing creative prospects apart, the loss of their successful partnership leaves some questions about what comes next for each:

  • Will their signature kinetic energy and gritty NYC style still shine through in solo efforts?
  • Benny gained acclaim for his acting in “Oppenheimer” – will he focus more on acting than directing now?
  • Does Josh have the discipline to bring projects in on time and on budget without Benny’s balancing presence?
  • Could tensions arise if one brother has more solo success than the other going forward?

The split also leaves the long-rumored “Uncut Gems” sequel with Adam Sandler and Megan Thee Stallion in doubt now. In his Variety interview, Benny said that project is now “on pause for the foreseeable future.”

Still, if the Safdies can replicate even some of their past magic as individual filmmakers, movie fans could be in for some exciting new talents to root for. Both brothers clearly have no shortage of creative drive, as Benny summed up:

“I’m my happiest when I’m deep in creating something new. I think that’s true for Josh too. We’re just following our creative muses where they take us now.”

Wherever Benny and Josh Safdie’s solo directing journeys lead, here’s hoping their future work captures some of the chaotic, propulsive spark that electrified films like “Good Time” and “Uncut Gems.” If so, arthouse audiences eager for visceral character studies should have much to celebrate from two rising filmmaking talents branching out on their own.

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AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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