Paul Thomas Anderson does not offer to host a screening and/or moderate a Q&A for many films, and he certainly does not introduce many filmmakers as “my hero.” But on Jan. 10, at CAA in Century City, the revered auteur paid tribute in those exact ways to Matthew Heineman and his Oscar-shortlisted documentary feature Retrogradewhich chronicles the end of the war in Afghanistan from the perspective of both the US and Afghan troops on the ground.
“This is a great film,” Anderson said in his introduction of the film, adding of its 39-year-old director/producer/cinematographer/editor, “I admire Matt’s films so much and really consider him a proper filmmaker, unlike the the rest of us are fakers.”
Heineman has ventured into many harrowing situations with his documentaries, which have chronicled, among other things, Mexico’s drug cartels (2015’s Cartel Landwhich was Oscar-nominated), ISIS (2017’s City of Ghosts) and a hospital during the earliest days of the COVID outbreak (2021’s The First Wave).
But Retrograde, he told Anderson, was unlike any other: “This was definitely the hardest film that I’ve made so far in my career — emotionally, logistically, physically. It started out as something and ended up as something completely different.”
Watch the full Q&A at the top of this post.
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