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Bob Byington, March 2014. Photographed by Matthew Mahon
April 29, 1971
|Years active||1996 – present|
Robert Byington (born April 29, 1971) is an American film director, screenwriter and actor living in Austin, Texas. He is most noted for his films RSO (Registered Sex Offender) (2008), Harmony and Me (2009), Somebody Up There Likes Me (2012), winner of The Special Jury Prize at the 2012 Locarno Film Festival, and 7 Chinese Brothers (2015) starring Jason Schwartzman, Olympia Dukakis and Tunde Adebimpe. His most recent film, Infinity Baby (2017), premiered at South by Southwest in March 2017.
Robert "Bob" Byington grew up in Lincoln, Nebraska. He studied at the University of California, Santa Cruz and received a major in American Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. Byington directed his first film Shameless in 1996, and followed up with Olympia in 1998, which played on opening night of the South by Southwest Film Festival. He then entered a decade long "God-imposed" hiatus before directing his next three films RSO (Registered Sex Offender) (2008), Harmony and Me (2009) and Somebody Up There Likes Me (2012).
Byington's work has been called literate, bawdy, sardonic and quirky. The Los Angeles Times described his film Harmony and Me as a "collision of joyous whimsy and bittersweet melancholy." His work is occasionally lumped in with the larger mumblecore movement in part because of his appearance in Andrew Bujalski's film Beeswax and his use of actors, such as Bujalski, Justin Rice, and Alex Karpovsky, who appeared in movies carrying the mumblecore label.
Byington considers his films thematically different from mumblecore and has resisted the label. Variety magazine agreed in its review of Harmony and Me describing Byington's work as "mumblecore without the mumble." Unlike the extreme naturalistic dialogue of many mumblecore films, Byington's work leans towards exact dialogue and, according to Roger Ebert, "perfect timing" which is "unreasonably funny". Filmmaker Magazine likened his rich humor to the New Hollywood comedies of the 1970s.
Byington often reuses performers, including Nick Offerman, Kristen Tucker, Pat Healy, Keith Poulson, Kevin Corrigan and Suzy Nakamura. Offerman starred in Byington's film, Somebody Up There Likes Me, which premiered at the 2012 SXSW Film Festival in Austin, Texas.
- "South by Southwest 2017 Schedule".
- "Interview with Byington in Filmmaker Magazine".
- "Harmony and Me review in LA Times". Los Angeles Times. March 26, 2010.
- "Interview with Byington in New York Magazine".
- Scheib, Ronnie (March 30, 2009). "Harmony and Me review in Variety Magazine".
- "Harmony and Me review by Roger Ebert". Chicago Sun-Times.
- "Harmony and Me at Denver Film Festival".
- Dalton, Stephen (August 13, 2012). ""Hollywood Reporter review of "Somebody Up There Likes Me" from Locarno". The Hollywood Reporter.
- ""Things Are What You Make of Them: The Deliciously Cracked Comedies of Bob Byington" by K. Jones. Austin Chronicle, October 3, 2009".
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