Nearly a month has passed since SAG-AFTRA called a strike, and more than two months since WGA launched their own strike. Actors, screenwriters, directors, camera crew, stunt artists, and the entire filmmaking ecosystem have thrown down their tools to protest that the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) meet the entirely reasonable union demands around residuals, AI and minimum rates.
There has been progress. On July 18, SAG-AFTRA greenlit 39 independent projects, granting them approval to continue production during the strike after confirmation that they were not affiliated with AMPTP. Among them includes three films from beloved and proudly independent production company A24, which agreed to the interim deals proposed by SAG-AFTRA. However, each project has to apply for individual "waivers", which was the case for Mother Mary, led by Michaela Coel and Anne Hathaway, as well as Death of a Unicorn starring Jenna Ortega and Paul Rudd.
Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, the executive director of SAG-AFTRA, encourages actors to participate in these independent projects (although some like Viola Davis have continued to strike despite the waivers), his reasoning being that by accepting the union's terms, independent productions quash the claim by studios and streamers that these demands are "unrealistic".
Some, like Sarah Silverman, have aired their scepticism of the interim waivers and compliance of independent productions, reasoning that there's nothing stopping them from selling their projects to streamers. However, this line of thinking was put to rest by Fran Drescher and Crabtree-Ireland who privately explained to Silverman that part of the waiver stipulates any studio wanting to buy the productions must first agree to the SAG-AFTRA demands, per Variety.
So if you're planning a trip to the movies but want to stand in solidarity with SAG-AFTRA and the WGA, the following movies are picket line friendly.
Talk To Me (2023)
In theatres as we speak, Talk To Me from brothers Danny and Michael Philippou is proof that some of the best horrors hail from Australia. The film, which stars RUSSH March Digital Cover Star, Sophie Wilde, and Zoe Terakes among others, is being labelled the best horror of the year, and given A24's agreement to comply with all of the SAG-AFTRA demands, it's a guilt-free watch too.
Past Lives (2023)
Hitting Australian theatres in August 31, if the SAG-AFTRA strikes continues late into the month, this A24 film will be there to feed your hunger for cinema. Starring Greta Lee, Teo Yoo and and John Magaro and the directorial debut of Celine Song, Past Lives meditates on the roads not taken and all the potential realities that exist, if not in this world, then another. This makes it sound akin to the brain-splitting work of Christopher Nolan, but that couldn't be further from the truth. In-yun, a Korean concept of which its nearest English translation is fate, grounds the romantic drama by offering hope and purpose. In-yun serves as an anchor, preventing its characters from floating away into the ether of what ifs and what could have beens.