Sean Price Williams’s 1000 Movies

Sean Price Williams

For more than twenty years, cinematographer Sean Price Williams has been a vital force in American independent cinema, shooting nearly sixty features, around fifty short films, and seven series. Before launching The Sweet East, his first feature as a solo director, in Cannes last year, he worked with Josh and Benny Safdie (Heaven Knows What, Good Time), Alex Ross Perry (The Color Wheel, Listen Up Philip, Her Smell), Jessica Oreck (Beetle Queen Conquers Tokyo), Robert Greene (Kate Plays Christine), Michael Almereyda (Marjorie Prime, Tesla), Abel Ferrara (Zeroes and Ones), and Nathan Silver (Thirst Street and the outstanding new comedy Between the Temples).

In 2005, Williams drew up a list of a thousand films—not favorites, necessarily, but definitely works from which he draws inspiration. He revises that list every six months or so and passes it around to friends and colleagues. “Canonical favorites like Fassbinder and Antonioni are listed alongside obscure one-offs, exploitation films like Savage Man Savage Beast, and the avant-garde,” noted Caden Mark Gardner in the Notebook a few years ago. That list, enthusiastically endorsed by such fans as Kristen Stewart and Jason Schwartzman, is now available as a cleanly designed book from Metrograph Editions. There’ll be an official launch of 1000 Movies in New York on Sunday, but preorders start today.

Williams’s curatorial taste was shaped early on by the years he spent working at the legendary New York outlet Kim’s Video and Music and then another five years serving as an archivist and cameraman alongside Albert Maysles. Critic and author Nick Pinkerton is among the many former fellow Kim’s employees who have gone on to bigger and brighter things, and The Sweet East is his first screenplay. The film is currently touring theaters throughout North America and the UK.

At WBUR, Sean Burns calls The Sweet East a “sneering, scathingly funny state of the union” and an update to Terry Southern and Mason Hoffenberg’s “scandalous 1958 novel Candy for the incel age . . . I was re-energized by the rudeness and impropriety of The Sweet East. It feels sincere.” If Williams isn’t too modest, it could appear in a future edition of 1000 Movies.

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