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The 10 Best Directorial Debuts Of 2016 So Far

2016 has introduced us to a new crop of talented filmmakers. Here are the 10 we've been most impressed by.







10 Cloverfield Lane (Dan Trachtenberg)

Trachtenberg was thrust into the spotlight when previously oblivious viewers learned of the arrival of a movie bearing the Cloverfield brand. Whatever you think of the title, you have to admit Trachtenberg did a great job creating a paranoid and tense atmosphere in an intimate setting. Expect to see his name attached to some very big projects in the near future. Read our review of 10 Cloverfield Lane.


Bone Tomahawk (S Craig Zahler)

Something of a renaissance man, Zahler had established a career as both a novelist and a drummer/singer with heavy metal group Realmbuilder. Somehow he found time to become a filmmaker too, giving us this modern masterpiece that combines the western and horror genres flawlessly. Zahler claims to have penned no less than 21 scripts, and his name is attached to a bunch of projects, but nothing concrete as of yet. Read our review of Bone Tomahawk.


Chicken (Joe Stephenson)

British cinema is known for its great social realist directors. Think Mike Leigh, Ken Loach, Andrea Arnold, Shane Meadows. You can now add Joe Stephenson to that list, thanks to a stunning debut with this tale of two brothers struggling to eke out an existence on the fringes of society. Stephenson has since snared Ian McKellen for his next movie. Read our review of Chicken and our interview with Joe Stephenson.


The Here After (Magnus von Horn)

Having himself been the victim of a violent attack, Von Horn explored the recriminations of a young man released back into his community having served a short time for a violent offence. The Here After is a chilling debut guaranteed to stir up debates among its audience. Read our review of The Here After.


James White (Josh Mond)

Having produced the indie gems Martha Marcy May Marlene and Simon Killer, Mond stepped into directing with a very human story of a young man's struggle to hold his own volatile nature together while caring for his cancer stricken mother. Sadly the film went straight to DVD in the UK and Ireland. Read our review of James White.


Mustang (Deniz Gamze Erguven)

It's been another terrible year for women directors, but the emergence of talent like Erguven suggests the future may be bright. The Turkish born French filmmaker took on the strict Islamic traditions of Anatolia with a tale of five teenage sisters struggling for independence in a misogynistic society. Next she's directing a movie set during the 1992 Los Angeles riots. Read our review of Mustang.


Remainder (Omer Fast)

Like Steve McQueen, Israel's Omer Fast made a name in the world of visual arts before stepping into mainstream cinema with his debut, though its elliptical narrative is far from mainstream. Remainder plays like a cross between Blow Up and Upstream Color, a gripping head melter that makes Fast one to keep an eye on. Read our review.


The Survivalist (Stephen Fingleton)

Irishman Stephen Fingleton followed the advice of many a screenwriting guru by confining the action of his debut to a single location and centering the narrative around a mere three characters. Though it's limited in its means, The Survivalist certainly isn't lacking ambition, a post-apocalypse movie that manages to make that well worn genre feel fresh again. Read our review of The Survivalist.


The Violators (Helen Walsh)

The second novelist turned filmmaker on the list, Walsh makes a good case for herself as the next Andrea Arnold with this story of a teenage girl's attempt to hold her broken family together while preyed upon by various manipulative parties. The performance Walsh mines from her leading lady, the relatively unknown Lauren McQueen, is one of the year's most impressive. Read our review of The Violators.


The Witch (Robert Eggers)

A former production and costume designer, Eggers united horror and arthouse fans with a seventeenth century set story heavily inspired by the folk tales of New England settlers. He's been linked with a Nosferatu remake since. Read our review of The Witch.


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