Brother Tied

Institute History

  • 1998 Sundance Film Festival


Too many modern filmmakers concentrate exclusively and narrowly on narrative to the exclusion of more cinematic modes of storytelling. Derek Cianfrance is one young filmmaker who runs completely counter to this trend. Indeed Cianfrance’s wonderful blending of aesthetic technique and dramatically compelling characterization make the debut of Brother Tied especially promising. A classic story of the rivalry between two brothers and the man who brings about the tragic dissolution of their family frames this examination of the bonds of blood and friendship.

Cal and Aaron are two brothers whose relationship is clearly very troubled. Cal forms a friendship with a young man, Cassius, from a very different background (including the fact that he is African-American). When Aaron goads Cassius into a fight at a Christmas party, and Cal stands by his newfound friend, a series of events begins that exacerbates the tensions between the siblings into open hostility and finally, real conflict. Intense, emotively rich, and very real, Cianfrance’s universe is one in which his protagonists’ desires, needs, dreams, and ambitions are simple, yet profound and consequential. Clearly influenced by a long list of filmmakers as diverse as Pasolini, Leone, Godard, Dario Argento, and Welles, Cianfrance has a feel for his medium that extends well beyond his years. Elliptical, sometimes a bit ambivalent, and beautifully filmed with great montages, music, and editing, Brother Tied is a filmic realization made by a director who understands the power of his craft.

Derek M. Cianfrance, Director
Born in Colorado in January 1974, Derek Cianfrance developed a love for cinema at an early age. While he was studying at the University of Colorado under experimental filmmakers Phil Solomon and Stan Brakhage, Cianfrance’s short film Raw Footage won numerous national awards. Brother Tied is his first foray into feature filmmaking. He began making it when he was twenty with his cinematic partners Mike Tillman, Joey Curtis, and Jimmy Helton.

— Geoffrey Gilmore

Screening Details

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