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Editor's Note

Iíve read a few articles online commenting on this yearís Sundance Film Festival, specifically, the perceived lack of big sales and the subdued nature of the acquisitions community. Looking back on it, though, there were some healthy developments at Sundance this year, developments that point towards the greater sustainability of our indie film world. First, while indies often complain that the specialty sphere is full of mid-budget films overloaded with big stars, by and large these were not the films that sold this year. Instead, distributors picked up modestly budgeted films that offered clear alternatives to studio and mini-major release slates. Particularly, Sony Classics got back in the American indie game after a year of in-house productions by buying Baghead, The Wackness and Grand Jury Prize winner Frozen River Ė a micro-budget mumblecore horror comedy, a stylish coming-of-age comedy and a low-budget classic indie drama, respectively. Paramount Vantage bought Nanette Bursteinís well-received American Teen, a doc that is pitched towards a young demographic immersed in social networking and self-made videos. Finally, one of the most aesthetically rigorous films in the Dramatic Competition, Lance Hammerís Ballast, was bought by IFC Films just prior to its debut next week at the Berlin Film Festival. With a quick acquisition and back-to-back competition slots at two of the most prestigious film festivals in the world, Hammer has quickly emerged from our cinematic eco-system as a major new name in arthouse cinema. A final business picture of Sundance wonít emerge until several weeks from now, when the ink dries on all the deals that presumably are in process right now. When that happens, weíll take a more thorough look at the winterís acquisitions in the pages of Filmmaker.

Best,

Scott Macaulay
Editor

 

THE BAND'S VISIT
Writer-director Eran Kolirin's award winning film gained a lot of attention over the fall when it was disqualified as Israel's submission for the Oscars for having too much English dialogue. But having received rave reviews and winning awards all over the world at festivals and award shows (including sweeping the Israeli Film Academy Awards) do its merits really rely on the recognition of the little gold man? The film follows a band of Egyptian policemen as they go to Israel to play the inaugural ceremony of an Arab arts center. The group gets lost in a Israeli desert town where they are forced to spend the night as well as face the differences Egyptians and Israeli's have with one another. Kolirin masterfully gives a lighthearted feel to address some serious topics.

 
 

2 DAYS IN PARIS
By Jason Guerrasio

In Julie Delpy's directorial debut she stars opposite Adam Goldberg in this intimate and funny look at a couple, Marion and Jack, who during a trip to Venice stop over in Paris for two days to visit Marion's parents (who in fact are Delpy's real parents) on their way home to New York.

Delpy and Goldberg are perfect together as they argue over petty things like "black mold," their immune systems and terrorism. The film takes off when Marion and Jack have lunch with Marion's parents where the jokes and snide remarks come fast and furious and Jack, knowing very little French, trying his best to keep up. Soon a subplot develops when Marion runs into an old flame who Jack feels is a little too friendly. read more


To read more posts on our favorite upcoming DVDs, click here.

 
 


This week on the blog, Scott Macaulay reports from Rotterdam on Barbara Caspar's Who's Afraid of Kathy Acker (pictured left), Best Project winner at Rotterdam's 25th Cinemart and Paul Krik's Able Danger. Macaulay also learns of four indie film companies who've signed interim agreements with the WGA.

To read more posts from our blog, click here.

 

IFP INDEPENDENT FILM LABS CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS
Documentary Rough Cut Lab
May 6 - 9, 2008
Submission deadline: March 7

Narrative Rough Cut Lab
June 11 - 14, 2008
Submission deadline: April 11

Given the pivotal role that festivals play in launching emerging filmmakers, IFP designed its Labs to assist in tackling the creative and technical challenges of completing projects before they are submitted to festivals.
These four-day workshops are lead by a seasoned group of independent producers who are the primary advisors for each project. Participants also receive individual attention on their work in sessions with Workshop Leaders who give feedback and advice on specific technical, creative and post-production issues Ė ranging from music clearance to creative editorial solutions to festival strategies. The program is open to all first-time, narrative & documentary feature filmmakers who have completed the majority of principal photography. As a commitment to diversity, IFP seeks to ensure that at least 50% of participating projects have an inclusive range of races, genders, sexual orientations, ethnicities and physical abilities in key creative positions. Projects from the Independent Film Labs have already found success on the festival circuit. 2007 Narrative Lab project The New Year Parade (dir. Tom Quinn) won the Grand Prize for Narrative Feature at the 2008 Slamdance Film Festival and will also play at SXSW in March. Post-Labs, IFP continues to offer support through its year round programming assistance, offering guidance, promotional support, funding opportunities, screenings and showcases for Lab Alumni. This includes the Adrienne Shelly Directorís Grant (a $10,000 grant to a current or recent female directing alumnus of the program), promotion and marketing assistance through access to the Independent Film Labs blog, an invitational showcase screenings of 2 Ė 3 minute clips from each of the selected films which will take place during this yearís IFP Market in September, and industry screenings for Lab Fellows from diverse backgrounds in 2008.

For submissions criteria or to apply, log onto www.ifp.org/labs.

To read more about the IFP Independent Film Labs and its past participants, log onto http://lab.workbookproject.com.


 

OSCAR PREVIEW: JUNO
By Lisa Y. Garibay

Leading up to the Oscars on Feb. 24, we will be highlighting the nominated films that have appeared in the magazine or on the Website in the last year. Lisa Y. Garibay interviewed Juno director Jason Reitman and screenwriter Diablo Cody for the Fall '07 issue ("My Super Sweet 16"). Juno is nominated for Best Picture, Best Directing (Jason Reitman), Best Lead Actress (Ellen Page) and Best Original Screenplay (Diablo Cody).

The pairing of writer Diablo Cody and director Jason Reitman was one of complete chance, like one of those cop-buddy movies where the grizzled vet is set up with a renegade newbie and against all odds the two wind up catching the bad guy with everybody rooting for them in the end. Although Juno is only Reitmanís second feature, he was born into the film business; as the son of Ivan Reitman, heís been involved in the making of movies all his life. Reitmanís award-winning short films played the likes of Sundance, Seattle and the Los Angeles Film Festival; his feature debut Thank You for Smoking was lauded by the National Board of Review and Independent Spirit Awards. read more

 
Festival Deadlines

FEBRUARY
Brooklyn International Film Festival
Submission Deadline: Feb. 15
Festival Dates: May 30 - June 8

Akron Independent Film Festival
Submission Deadline: Feb. 26
Festival Dates: April 3 - April 6

Kansas International Film Festival
Submission Deadline: Feb. 28 (early)
Festival Dates: Sept. 19 - 25


To see more fest deadlines, click here.








 


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