Safdie brothers

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Joshua Safdie
Ben Safdie
Born New York City, United States
Occupation Director, writer, actor
Website Elara Pictures

Brothers Joshua Safdie and Ben Safdie are independent filmmakers based in New York City, who frequently collaborate.


Raised in both Queens and Manhattan, Josh and Ben Safdie began making movies at a young age, inspired by their film-enthusiast father, they attended Boston University, where they co-founded with Alex Kalman, the creative collective Red Bucket Films.[1] The turmoil of their youth, as children of divorced parents, became an inspiration for later work,[2] they are distantly related to famed architect Moshe Safdie.[1] The Safdie brothers are Jewish and were raised in the Jewish faith.[3]


The Pleasure of Being Robbed[edit]

In 2007, Partners & Spade co-founder Andy Spade commissioned Josh Safdie to create a short film to promote Kate Spade Handbags. Together, Josh and Benny and their cohort submitted instead a feature-length script, which they began shooting with Spade's support. Co-writer Eleonore Hendricks stars as a lonely kleptomaniac whose childlike charms and curiosity nevertheless leave her estranged from her fellow city dwellers, from purses to bags of grapes to a little girl's "surprise" litter of kittens, Eleonore explores the life of a free spirited thief in the city of New York.

The film premiered at SXSW in March 2008, it also played at the Cannes sidebar Directors' Fortnight, along with a short film The Acquaintances of a Lonely John directed by Benny. The film has also aired on IFC.[4]

Daddy Longlegs[edit]

A second feature film, co-directed by Josh and Benny, internationally premiered at the Director's Fortnight at Cannes under an alternate title Go Get Some Rosemary in 2009 and played its American debut at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival. Starring Frownland director Ronald Bronstein, it was inspired by the filmmakers' younger years living with their father, Albert.[2] Film critic A.O. Scott praised its "loose, intimate shooting-style," and Bronstein's performance. He called it a "lovely, hair-raising film".[5] Bronstein subsequently won a Gotham Award for Best Breakthrough Actor.[6] Go Get Some Rosemary won the Cassavetes Award at the 2011 Independent Spirit Awards, under its American title: Daddy Long Legs.[7]

Lenny Cooke[edit]

Lenny Cooke, their first full-length documentary, produced by Adam Shopkorn, follows the life of titular Lenny Cooke, a once phenom high school basketball talent ranked above Lebron James, Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire, from adolescence to manhood. Upon release of the film, Sheri Linden of the Los Angeles Times called it, "A compellingly unconventional, elliptical sports documentary that explores the mysterious realm of might-have-been."[8] The film premiered at the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival and Venice Film Festival, it was released theatrically in December 2013 and premiered on cable television via Showtime in February 2014.

Heaven Knows What[edit]

In 2014, the Safdie Brothers produced Heaven Knows What under their Elara Pictures banner.[9] Heaven Knows What centers around the real-life stories written in a book titled Mad Love In New York City by lead actress Arielle Holmes. The movie is a tale of love between heroin addicts in New York City, namely the Upper West Side neighborhood. Actor Caleb Landry Jones joined Arielle Holmes in the film's love story. Heaven Knows What world premiered at the Venice Film Festival where it won the C.I.C.A.E Award, the Toronto International Film Festival, New York Film Festival, Tokyo Film Festival, where it won the Grand Prix and Best Director Awards. Radius TWC purchased the film for US 2015 release out of the New York Film Festival.[10]

Future projects[edit]

The Safdies are currently developing a new project, Uncut Gems, inspired by their father's time working in the Manhattan Diamond District.[2]



  1. ^ a b Janke, Art. "Benny and Josh Make Movies" Bostonia Magazine, Spring 2009
  2. ^ a b c Lim, Dennis. "Growing Up With Dad, Distilled With Bite" New York Times, May 13, 2010
  3. ^
  4. ^ Kohn, Eric. "'The Pleasure of Being Robbed' Director Josh Safdie" indieWIRE October 2, 2008
  5. ^ Scott, A.O. "A Father Who Needs Some Supervision" New York Times, May 14, 2010
  6. ^ Szalai, George. "'Winter's Bone' Tops Gotham Awards" The Hollywood Reporter, November 29, 2010
  7. ^ "Film Independent Spirit Awards Home - Film Independent". Retrieved 18 July 2017. 
  8. ^ "Review: The dashed dreams of 'Lenny Cooke'". 12 December 2013. Retrieved 18 July 2017 – via LA Times. 
  9. ^ "Safdie Bros Launch Elara Pictures Banner With Drama ‘Heaven Knows What’". Retrieved April 23, 2014. 
  10. ^ McNary, Dave (1 October 2014). "Radius Buys Docu-Drama ‘Heaven Knows What’ for U.S.". Retrieved 18 July 2017. 

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