Ronald Bronstein and Josh Safdie Discuss Frownland

Inside Criterion / On the Channel — Mar 28, 2018


A touchstone of contemporary independent cinema since its release in 2007, Frownland was a long-gestating labor of love for first-time filmmaker Ronald Bronstein. This distinctly New York character study, shot over the course of six years, centers on the cringeworthy misadventures of a neurotic and staggeringly inarticulate coupon salesman played by Dore Mann, a distant relative Bronstein met at a funeral before writing the script. Praised by such influential publications as Cahiers du cinéma, Frownland is its director’s only feature so far, but it anticipates later works by filmmakers Bronstein has gone on to collaborate with as an actor and writer, including Josh and Benny Safdie. This under-the-radar gem made its streaming debut this week on the Criterion Channel on FilmStruck, where it can be seen in a new digital transfer alongside a conversation with Bronstein and Josh Safdie. Check out the above clip, in which Bronstein talks about his disastrous experience at film school and the “steady diet of toxic media” he consumed leading up to making the movie, including Mike Leigh’s Naked and the work of comic artists such as Robert Crumb, Daniel Clowes, and Joe Matt.