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Are the Zellner Filmmakers Texas’ Answer to the Coen Brothers?

This story comes from Texas Standard.

When someone says filmmaker brothers, who comes to mind? Likely, it's the Coen brothers. But it’s another set of filmmaker brothers that have really gotten the attention of critics and film festival attendees lately, and these guys have Texas ties.

David and Nathan Zellner were born in Colorado but now live in Austin. They’ve probably spent at least half of their careers fielding comments about the Coen brothers, but their latest film “Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter” sort of pays homage to them.

On the Coen Brothers:

“We love their work and have been big fans and it’s inspiring to see two other brothers make movies or create together and that’s sort of one of the things that we’ve always appreciated about their career. It’s also weird, there’s a lot of brother filmmakers. And I don’t know why they all do it but I think it’s just because you have a shorthand with someone that you’ve grown up with making home movies and now you’re just kind of making bigger and more sophisticated home movies.”

On “Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter”:

“It’s based on this story that we heard about in 2001 of this Japanese woman that traveled from Tokyo to Minnesota in search of the fictional fortune from the Coen’s film (“Fargo”). And it was a blurb that we read about on the internet and we were just so fixated on somebody, we projected a lot on it, but fixated on somebody what we saw as a modern day treasure hunt.”

On How True the Film Is:

“It seems like everybody has a different opinion on whether it’s real or it isn’t. So when we were trying to come up with a character that would take something that other people would see as totally fictitious, what would make her believe in it and what would make her go on this journey? We didn’t want to go into her psyche or diagnose her or kind of explain those sort of things but we wanted the audience to have empathy for her situation and to have an understanding of a character that wanted something more than she was getting out of life in the moment.”

On Making Bigger Films:

“We want to do bigger things and smaller things. There’s a lot of stories that have been gestating that we’d love to tell and it’s just a matter of finding the right moment and the right people to work with to make that happen. So I’m not ruling out a big Hollywood film but certainly if an opportunity presents itself that matches our sensibilities and feels like the kind of movie that we would want to go to the theaters to watch then certainly we’ll definitely entertain it.”

Hear more from Nathan Zellner in the extended interview, above.

Laura first joined the KUT team in April 2012. She now works for the statewide program Texas Standard as a reporter and producer. Laura came to KUT from the world of television news. She has worn many different hats as an anchor, reporter and producer at TV stations in Austin, Amarillo and Toledo, OH. Laura is a proud graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia, a triathlete and enjoys travel, film and a good beer. She enjoys spending time with her husband and pets.
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