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Riley Stearns' The Art of Self Defense

Annual Top Films Lists

Top 100 Most Anticipated American Indie Films of 2018: #80. Riley Stearns’ The Art of Self Defense

The Art of Self Defense

Riley Stearns‘ 2013 Sundance preemed short, The Cub along with the 2015’s SXSW preemed feature debut Faults which we called “deviously entertaining and a fascinating first calling card,” meant that whatever he’d tackle next would be a definite radar item. Described as a dark comedy, this past September, Stearns headed Kentucky for The Art of Self Defense — a project that the Bleecker Street folks picked up from the getgo.

Spotful &

2009’s Solitary Man‘s Jesse Eisenberg and Imogen Poots join Alessandro Nivola in a project that sees Eisenberg play a man who is attacked on the street and enlists in a dojo — led by a charismatic and mysterious sensei (Nivola) — in an effort to learn how to defend himself. What he uncovers is a sinister world of fraternity, violence, hyper-masculinity, and a woman — played by Poots — fighting for her place in it. Steve Terada, Phillip Andre Botello, Jason Burkey, and Damsel filmmaker David Zellner complete the cast.

Release Date/Prediction: Just prior to filming, the Bleecker Street folks landed the pic. They’ve yet to date the picture, but we assume they’ll want to showcase the film at a major film fest especially with a cast that includes Jesse Eisenberg at the top.

Eric Lavallée is the founder, CEO, editor-in-chief, film journalist and critic at (founded in 2000). Eric is a regular at Sundance, Cannes and TIFF. He has a BFA in Film Studies at the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema. In 2013 he served as a Narrative Competition Jury Member at the SXSW Film Festival. He was an associate producer on Mark Jackson's This Teacher (2018 LA Film Festival, 2018 BFI London). In 2022 he served as a New Flesh Comp for Best First Feature at the 2022 Fantasia Intl. Film Festival. Current top films for 2022 include Tár (Todd Field), All That Breathes (Shaunak Sen), Aftersun (Charlotte Wells).

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