The word ‘lived experiences’ signifies something. Why not just ‘experiences’, why add the ‘lived’? The beauty of experiences is that they can be lived and not lived. As in, they can be heard, told to from memory, shared and passed on and simply no lived or experiences by oneself directly. Then what is the significance of the prefix that is ‘lived.’ Something about experiences that are felt firsthand make them so much more reliable and powerful. They become a powerful source of knowledge. Life – what we make of it – is the first and foremost source of information one can get. Just living through life does wonders.
Cinema is like a big mirror. It can be a plain mirror that reflects life, or it can be a distorted mirror that shows you magic. But it does stem from a reflection of what is already there. This article deals with the phenomenon that is A24 – an independent American film production and distribution house. A24, in our analogy, has been known for being that plain mirror that reflects the lived experiences of people – ordinary people – who do extraordinary things. Sometimes their characters are nothing but ordinary and their lives nothing but ordinary – but there is beauty in the mundane and that is what A24 aptly captures.
Startin with A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III, A24 has been on a rollercoaster that only goes up. For me the movie that did it was Ex Machina. It was a movie my dad and I watched together – simple show of how A24 has managed to serve more than one generation and keep their interests intact. This power of theirs was reflected in the Golden Globes this year, with BEEF winning in several categories including Best Male and Female actor for limited series, anthology series or television motion picture. It is interesting to note that Past Lives was also nominated but alas lost. However, it did win best picture in the National Society for Film Critics. Well, to say the least, A24 has been bagging awards every year – remember the Oscars and Everything Everywhere All at Once? Yes, that should create a pretty picture.
Why is A24 so good at making movies? Simply states, they have a solid track record of finding talent. Although they have somewhat unfamiliar directors, by giving them enough budget to make a movie they want to make, without too many compromises they end up producing art. Additionally with their skills in marketing, the run of the movie is almost guaranteed. Another interesting thing to note is that recently A24 has becomes more of a distributor and producer for talent rather than making its own content – but the accumulation, streamlining and distribution of lesser known talent takes its own accord.
Something that appeals to this generation is how ‘vibey’ and ‘aesthetic’ the A24 movies are. Like other articles have mentioned, visuals play a major role in how cinema is perceived. The golden globes and almost every other award ceremony has been washed over by A24 – in a positive sense to be honest. Their movies bring in a sense of freshness and lightness to the stage.
But coming back, what their movies bring in most significantly is lived experiences. A24 is a celebration of life. It is a celebration of experience, of trials and tribulations, of success and failure – of life. Ranging from technology in Ex Machina to love stories such as Past Lives, A24 has seemed to tease out the nuances of experience – of the human experiences of love, loss, grief and joy. Something about fundamentally being human is beautifully enacted in the movies by A24 and it is simply a joy to watch. But when it comes to experiences, lived ones especially, they can also be communal.
One such experience is that of immigration to the United States, that the A24 production house has intricately dissected. As some reddit users call it, the “A24’s Asian American Experience Trilogy” includes the farewell, Minari and Everything Everywhere All at Once. It can now include Past Lives too, making it a quadrant. Many users proclaim on the amazement of their lived experiences being recounted on screen – especially the migration and ‘fitting in’ experience in the United States of America. A24 through these movies has managed to capture the experiences of countless Asian Americans and give voice to their narratives.
Multiple reddit users under the subreddit of r/A24 recall how although most of A24’s stories are about Asian immigrants; these immigration stories seem to be relatable to other immigrants too. The sheer narrative of feeling left out, as the odd one out, having a different sort of a lunch box, and having parents who are working odd jobs, is an experience many immigrants share, regardless of where they are from.
However, like this article teased out before, is it fair to give all of its credit to A24 as a company, or do we have to be reminded that they’ve had their hand in the release of 115 feature films but only production role in 20. As a distributor A24 might be doing a great job, but it is in hopes that directors like Lulu Wang, Lee Isaac Chung and the Daniels continue to make films like these.
My personal favorite A24 film is The Farewell with Awkwafina in the lead. To me, that movie crossed the boundaries of race, class, and background. It was a movie about life and death, and some lies. The ability of A24 to create movies with such relatable bare structures anchoring the core of the film is what makes it a well-oiled machine to begin with.
A24 has grown significantly from its earlier movies, from The Farewell and others. It has produced blockbuster hits such as Everything Everywhere All at Once and now Beef – which have rounded up taking home a lot of academy awards, golden globes and more.
What once started as a small production and distribution house, A24 has grown to heights unimaginable from when they started. But what makes their production so beautiful is that they use their heights to share stories, to share lived experiences, so that people can feel seen, heard and acknowledged – like how cinema should make people feel.