Joshua Safdie[1] (born April 3, 1984)[2] and Benjamin Safdie[1] (born February 24, 1986)[3] are independent American filmmakers and actors based in New York City, who frequently collaborate on their films. They are best known for writing and directing the crime thriller films Good Time (2017) starring Robert Pattinson and Uncut Gems (2019) starring Adam Sandler.

Josh and Benny Safdie
Josh (left) and Benny being interviewed at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival
Joshua Safdie
(1984-04-03) April 3, 1984 (age 39)
Benjamin Safdie
(1986-02-24) February 24, 1986 (age 37)

Alma materBoston University
  • Filmmakers
  • directors
  • editors
  • actors
Years active2007–present
Benny: Ava Safdie
(m. 2013)
ChildrenBenny: 2
AwardsFull list

In addition to writing and directing, both Josh and Benny serve in a variety of key positions including acting, editing, shooting, mixing sound, and producing their films. They have also frequently collaborated with Ronald Bronstein, who has co-written and edited all of their narrative features beginning with the 2009 film Daddy Longlegs. Other recurring collaborators include composer Oneohtrix Point Never, cinematographer Sean Price Williams and production designer Sam Lisenco.

Early life Edit

The Safdie brothers were raised in New York, the children of Amy and Alberto Safdie.[4] They spent their childhood living between their father in Queens and their mother and stepfather in Manhattan.[4] The Safdie brothers are Jewish. Their father, who is a Sephardic Jew of Syrian-Jewish descent, was raised in France and in Italy.[4][5][6][7][8] Their mother is an Ashkenazi Jew of Russian-Jewish descent.[9]

They began making films at a young age, inspired by their film-enthusiast father, Alberto.[4] They graduated from Columbia Grammar & Preparatory School in Manhattan.[4] At Boston University, they co-founded the creative collective Red Bucket Films with Alex Kalman, Sam Lisenco, Brett Jutkiewicz, and Zachary Treitz.[10] Josh and Benny Safdie graduated from Boston University College of Communication in 2007 and 2008, respectively.[11] They claim "turmoil of their youth", as children of divorced parents, became an inspiration for later work.[12] Famed Israeli-Canadian architect Moshe Safdie is their great uncle, and they are also related to his son, playwright Oren Safdie.[13][14]

The brothers grew up as fans of basketball and the New York Knicks. The duo try to watch every game together.[15] Basketball is prominently featured in Lenny Cooke and Uncut Gems.

Career Edit

The Pleasure of Being Robbed Edit

In 2007, Josh Safdie was hired by Andy Spade and Anthony Sperduti to create a short film featuring Kate Spade Handbags.[16] He devised a concise story about the adventures of a kleptomaniac woman.[16] Eleonore Hendricks, who co-wrote the screenplay, portrayed the lead role.[16] The project eventually turned into a feature film.[16] The film, titled The Pleasure of Being Robbed, had its world premiere at the 2008 South by Southwest.[17] It also screened in the Directors' Fortnight section at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival, along with a short film The Acquaintances of a Lonely John directed by Benny Safdie.[16]

Daddy Longlegs Edit

Their second feature film, Daddy Longlegs, had its world premiere under the title Go Get Some Rosemary[18] in the Directors' Fortnight section at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival.[19] Starring Ronald Bronstein, it was inspired by the filmmakers' younger years living with their father, Albert.[12] Bronstein won the Breakthrough Actor Award at the Gotham Independent Film Awards 2010.[20] The film won the John Cassavetes Award at the 26th Independent Spirit Awards.[21]

Lenny Cooke Edit

Their first full-length documentary film, Lenny Cooke, follows the life of Lenny Cooke, a once phenom high school basketball player, from adolescence to manhood.[22] The film premiered at the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival.[23]

Heaven Knows What Edit

In 2014, the Safdie Brothers produced Heaven Knows What under their Elara Pictures banner.[24] The film centers around the real-life stories written in a book titled Mad Love in New York City by lead actress Arielle Holmes.[25] The film had its world premiere at the 71st Venice International Film Festival.[26] It also screened at the Toronto International Film Festival, the New York Film Festival, and the Tokyo International Film Festival.[26]

Good Time Edit

The Safdies directed the 2017 crime film Good Time, starring Robert Pattinson and Benny Safdie as siblings.[27] The film was selected to compete for the Palme d'Or in the main competition section at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival.[28]

Uncut Gems Edit

The Safdies (center and right) with Adam Sandler in December 2019.

The Safdies directed Uncut Gems, starring Adam Sandler, with Martin Scorsese serving as an executive producer.[29] The film was inspired by their father's time working in the Manhattan Diamond District.[12][7] It had its world premiere at the 2019 Telluride Film Festival.[30] Theatrically released in the United States in 2019, it received critical acclaim and became one of A24's highest-grossing releases.[31]

Future projects Edit

In December 2017, The Hollywood Reporter announced that the Safdies would helm a remake of 48 Hrs. with the script being written by Josh Safdie, Ronald Bronstein, and Jerrod Carmichael.[32] In December 2019, the Safdies elaborated in an interview with The A.V. Club, saying the film was still being made but it would no longer be a remake.[33] Their script would instead be "re-shifted into something original."[33]

In February 2020, Showtime ordered a pilot for The Curse, a parody of HGTV starring Nathan Fielder and Benny Safdie. Fielder is set to co-write the show with the Safdies, and both brothers are to co-direct.[34][35]

In April 2022, it was reported by IndieWire that the Safdies would be reteaming with Sandler for a new project.[36] Later in July 2023, it was reported that Benny would not co-direct the film, marking the first time since The Pleasure of Being Robbed either of the brothers have directed solo.[37]

Elara Pictures Edit

The Safdies co-founded the production company Elara Pictures in 2014.[38] The company produced the Safdies' feature films Heaven Knows What, Good Time, and Uncut Gems,[39] Owen Kline's feature film directorial debut Funny Pages,[40] and the HBO television series Chillin Island.[41]

Filmography Edit

Feature films Edit

Year Title Director Writer Producer DoP Editor
2009 Daddy Longlegs Yes Yes No Josh Yes
2013 Lenny Cooke Yes No No Josh Benny
2014 Heaven Knows What Yes Josh No No Benny
2017 Good Time Yes Josh No No Benny
2019 Uncut Gems Yes Yes No No Benny

Josh Safdie only

Year Title Director Writer Producer DoP Editor
2008 The Pleasure of Being Robbed Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

Short films Edit

Year Title Director Writer Producer DoP Editor
2002 Lethargy Josh Josh
2005 I Think I'm Missing Parts Josh Josh
The Ralph Handel Story Yes
2006 We're Going To The Zoo Josh Josh Josh
2007 The Back of Her Head Josh Yes Josh
Jerry Ruis, Shall We Do This? Josh
John's Lonely Trip to Coney Island Yes Josh Benny
2008 The Acquaintances of a Lonely John Benny Benny Benny Benny
There's Nothing You Can Do Yes
2010 John's Gone Yes Yes Yes Josh Yes
2011 Straight Hustle Yes Yes
2012 The Black Balloon Yes Yes Benny
Trophy Hunter Yes Yes Josh Josh
2013 Solid Gold[42] Yes Josh
2016 Toback Vs. Mailer: The Incident Yes Yes Benny
2020 Goldman v Silverman Yes Josh

Television Edit

Year Title Director Writer Producer Notes
2023 The Curse No Yes Yes Co-creator; miniseries

Producers Edit

Year Title Producer
2022 Funny Pages Yes
2023 Telemarketers Executive

Josh as an actor Edit

Year Title Role Notes
2006 We're Going to the Zoo The Hitchhiker Short film
The Ralph Handel Story The Director (voice) Short film
2007 The Back of Her Head Him Short film
2008 The Pleasure of Being Robbed Josh
Yeast Riverguy 1
2009 Taking Woodstock Documentary Cameraman Uncredited
Daddy Longlegs Chris
La corsa Alessandro Short film
2013 Lydia Hoffman Lydia Hoffman Bruce Short film
Hellaware Gallery Patron
Stand Clear of the Closing Doors Fighter
2015 This Summer Feeling Thomas
2016 Togetherness Craddock Brother #1 Episode: "Advanced Pretend"
My Art Tom
2017 Ezer Kenegdo Levi

Music videos Edit

Year Artist Title Album Role Ref
2015 Ariel Pink "I Need a Minute" Heaven Knows What: Original Music From the Film Directors [43]
2017 Jay-Z "Marcy Me" 4:44 [44]
Oneohtrix Point Never "The Pure and the Damned" Good Time (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) [45]
2019 Brockhampton "Sugar" Ginger Producers [46]
2020 Oneohtrix Point Never "Lost But Never Alone" Magic Oneohtrix Point Never Directors [47]

Awards and nominations Edit

Influences Edit

Their artistic influences included the cinematic works of John Cassavetes, Martin Scorsese and Quentin Tarantino as well as underground comix artist Robert Crumb and author Irvine Welsh.[48][49][50]

Benny named Robert Bresson's A Man Escaped as his favorite film of all time, and Josh named Vittorio De Sica's Bicycle Thieves as his favorite.[51]

References Edit

  1. ^ a b Ross, Alex Robert (July 23, 2019). "The Weeknd will appear alongside Adam Sandler in crime thriller Uncut Gems". The Fader. Retrieved September 28, 2019.
  2. ^ "Josh Safdie". AlloCiné. Retrieved September 28, 2019.
  3. ^ "Benny Safdie". AlloCiné. Retrieved September 28, 2019.
  4. ^ a b c d e Sanneh, Kelefa (December 16, 2019). "The Safdie Brothers' Full-Immersion Filmmaking". The New Yorker. Retrieved December 21, 2019.
  5. ^ Robinson, George (August 17, 2010). "Being The Safdie Brothers". The Jewish Week. Retrieved December 4, 2017.
  6. ^ Zeitchik, Steven (August 10, 2017). "Safdie brothers bring a New York flavor to breakout thriller 'Good Time'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 28, 2019.
  7. ^ a b Barshad, Amos (August 21, 2017). "The Safdie Brothers Are Classic New York Hustlers". The Fader. Retrieved November 14, 2019.
  8. ^ Pfefferman, Naomi (June 17, 2015). "Life as lived by a homeless junkie". The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles. Retrieved November 2, 2019.
  9. ^ Vance, Kelly (December 25, 2019). "Hoops Hoopla + Precious Stones = Mayhem". East Bay Express. Retrieved January 10, 2020.
  10. ^ Muhlke, Christine (August 24, 2008). "Our Gang". The New York Times. Retrieved December 21, 2019.
  11. ^ Brown, Joel (June 12, 2015). "Safdie Brothers' Film Captures Life on the Street". Bostonia. Retrieved December 21, 2019.
  12. ^ a b c Lim, Denis (May 13, 2010). "Growing Up With Dad, Distilled With Bite". The New York Times. Retrieved September 28, 2019.
  13. ^ Kevin Tierney: Six degrees of Safdie separation, starring Moshe and me|Montreal Gazette
  14. ^ Robbins, Liz (August 11, 2013). "Museum, All 60 Square Feet of It, Celebrates the Eccentric". The New York Times. Retrieved December 21, 2019.
  15. ^ Kassel, Matthew (December 6, 2013). "Watching the Knicks With the Safdie Brothers".
  16. ^ a b c d e Kohn, Eric (October 2, 2008). "iW PROFILE | "The Pleasure of Being Robbed" Director Josh Safdie". IndieWire. Retrieved November 14, 2019.
  17. ^ "The Pleasure of Being Robbed". South by Southwest. 2008. Archived from the original on March 11, 2008. Retrieved November 14, 2019.
  18. ^ Hernandez, Eugene (January 7, 2010). "3 More Sundance Films Set for Immediate VOD Debut". IndieWire. Retrieved November 14, 2019.
  19. ^ Nelson, Rob (May 16, 2009). "Go Get Some Rosemary". Variety. Retrieved November 14, 2019.
  20. ^ Karger, Dave (November 29, 2010). "'Winter's Bone' wins big at Gotham Awards". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved November 14, 2019.
  21. ^ Fernandez, Sofia M. (February 26, 2011). "2011 Independent Spirit Awards Winners List". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved November 14, 2019.
  22. ^ Diaz, Angel (December 7, 2013). "Interview: Lenny Cooke and the Filmmakers of His Documentary Talk About LeBron, Their Process, and Lenny's Regrets". Complex. Retrieved November 14, 2019.
  23. ^ Harris, Brandon (December 6, 2013). "Hoop Dreams: Josh and Benny Safdie on Lenny Cooke". Filmmaker. Retrieved September 28, 2019.
  24. ^ Yamato, Jen (April 23, 2014). "Safdie Bros Launch Elara Pictures Banner With Drama 'Heaven Knows What'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved April 23, 2014.
  25. ^ Macaulay, Scott (April 28, 2015). "I Want to Take You Higher: Josh and Ben Safdie on Heaven Knows What". Filmmaker. Retrieved November 14, 2019.
  26. ^ a b Khawj, Abdulrahman (May 11, 2015). "Watch: Electric New Trailer For Josh And Ben Safdie's Award Winning 'Heaven Knows What'". IndieWire. Retrieved November 14, 2019.
  27. ^ Hoby, Hermione (November 16, 2017). "Good Time directors the Safdie brothers: 'Robert Pattinson was just a guy chasing work'". The Guardian. Retrieved September 28, 2019.
  28. ^ Porreca, Brian (May 25, 2017). "Cannes: 'Good Time' Starring Robert Pattinson Gets Overwhelming Standing Ovation". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved September 28, 2019.
  29. ^ Greenblatt, Leah (October 18, 2019). "Adam Sandler on getting beat 'black and blue,' shooting nude scenes for Safdie Brothers' Uncut Gems". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved November 14, 2019.
  30. ^ Lattanzio, Ryan (August 31, 2019). "Telluride Audiences Rattled by 'Uncut Gems,' an Endurance Test With a Great Adam Sandler Performance". IndieWire. Retrieved November 14, 2019.
  31. ^ Rubin, Rebecca (December 29, 2019). "Adam Sandler's 'Uncut Gems' Scores Box Office Record for A24". Variety. Retrieved January 10, 2020.
  32. ^ Kit, Borys (December 14, 2017). "'48 Hrs.' Remake in the Works with 'Good Time' Filmmakers (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved January 1, 2018.
  33. ^ a b Dowd, A.A. (December 20, 2019). "The Safdie brothers on Uncut Gems and how they convinced Adam Sandler to take the role of his career". The A.V. Club. Retrieved December 27, 2019.
  34. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (February 18, 2020). "Showtime Orders 'The Curse' Comedy Pilot From the Safdie Brothers & Nathan Fielder". Deadline. Retrieved February 19, 2020.
  35. ^ "Nathan Fielder is making a comedy pilot with the Safdie brothers". News. February 18, 2020. Retrieved February 19, 2020.
  36. ^ "Why Hollywood Can't Connect Movie Stars with the Filmmakers They Deserve (Column)". April 9, 2022.
  37. ^ "Benny Safdie Steps into the Spotlight with 'Oppenheimer'". July 18, 2023.
  38. ^ Otterson, Joe (May 26, 2020). "Safdie Brothers, Elara Pictures Set First Look TV Deal With HBO". Variety. Retrieved November 6, 2022.
  39. ^ Petski, Denise (May 26, 2020). "The Safdie Brothers & Their Elara Pictures Ink First-Look TV Deal With HBO". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved November 6, 2022.
  40. ^ Kohn, Eric (August 19, 2022). "Owen Kline, Troubled Child in 'The Squid and the Whale,' Directed the Year's Wildest Comedy". IndieWire. Retrieved November 6, 2022.
  41. ^ Ihaza, Jeff (December 14, 2021). "Internet Rap Mavericks 'Chillin Island' Are Too Raw for TV, but They're Doing it Anyway". Rolling Stone. Retrieved November 6, 2022.
  42. ^ Dawson, Nick (August 21, 2013). "Watch Online: The Safdie Brothers' Solid Gold | Filmmaker Magazine". Filmmaker Magazine | Publication with a focus on independent film, offering articles, links, and resources. Retrieved October 25, 2022.
  43. ^ "Ariel Pink Finds Love in the Bathroom in "I Need a Minute" Video From Heaven Knows What". Pitchfork. May 27, 2015. Retrieved March 9, 2021.
  44. ^ Marotta, Jenna (December 22, 2017). "Jay-Z Brings Safdie Brothers-Directed 'Marcy Me' Video to the Masses". Indiewire. Retrieved March 4, 2021.
  45. ^ Blistein, Jon (September 5, 2017). "Watch Iggy Pop, Robert Pattinson in Oneohtrix Point Never's Creepy New Video". Rolling Stone. Retrieved March 4, 2021.
  46. ^ Greenwood, Douglas (December 10, 2019). "Brockhampton have dropped an insane, Safdie Brothers-approved Sugar video". i-D. Retrieved September 7, 2022.
  47. ^ Blistein, Jon (November 12, 2020). "Oneohtrix Point Never Reunites With Safdie Brothers for 'Lost But Never Alone' Video". Rolling Stone. Retrieved March 4, 2021.
  48. ^ Josh and Benny Safdie's Top 10|The Criterion Collection
  49. ^ Josh and Benny Safdie's Closet Picks|The Current|The Criterion Collection
  50. ^ A Beginners Guide to the Safdie Brothers' Cinematic Influences –
  51. ^ Jacqueline Coley (January 14, 2020). "The Safdie Brothers' Five Favorite Films". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved July 15, 2021. Benny Safdie: "Then the second one – and let's say, this was in no particular order – but A Man Escaped, the [Robert] Bresson movie. That has to be my favorite movie of all time, just because it always makes me cry at the end, because I feel like I've achieved something that the character achieves. And it tells you what happens in the title, and it makes it no less suspenseful the entire way. You're literally feeling the sound of the gravel as he puts his foot down – those shots of the foot or the spoon going into the slot. All of these things, the editing of it, the character, the way he's using these actors who you don't really know, they just – you feel like they're real people. It's just so perfectly put together, and it's something where I kind of feel like I'm going along with the escape in a way that's just done by a master. In a weird way, I feel like Bresson is the Fontaine character in that movie. But what's weird is I've watched it again recently, and I had a totally different feeling of it, where it was more about society and how people are talking to each other. And then you realize Bresson is just kind of making the same movie every time, just with different [settings and characters]. One's World War II, one's Lancelot."

External links Edit