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Editor's Note

With both the WGA strike and the Oscars over, it’s time to get back to work. I traveled to L.A. last week for the Spirit Awards and a few meetings, and it seemed like people were emerging from their hibernations. Energies are being refocused on long-in-limbo projects, slates are being re-filled, and everyone is trying to do their best to ignore, at least for a week or two, the possibility of a SAG strike.

If you watched the Spirits, you know the Juno was the big winner, winning Best Picture, Best Actress and Best First Screenplay. But the Spirits spread the love around, with two awards (Best Actor and Best Screenplay) going to Tamara Jenkins’s The Savages, Best Director and Best Cinematographer going to Julian Schabel and Janusz Kaminski, respectively for The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Best Supporting Actress to I’m Not There’s Cate Blanchett, and Best Doc going to Dan Klores’s Crazy Love.

The awards were a lot of fun this year – a slickly paced, good spirited and quite entertaining show. One industry friend said to me, “This was the first year I didn’t take a walk and talk to people outside during the show – I sat there for two hours!” Compare that experience to the Oscars, which, despite the high quality of the nominated films, felt like watching some kind of extended AMC clip-reel tribute show. Anyway, enough with the post mortems. Check out our website and our blog for lots of new content – we’ll be adding even more original online material starting in March. And I hope to see some of you at SXSW next week.

Best,

Scott Macaulay
Editor

 

CHICAGO 10
As he did in his previous documentary, The Kid Stays In The Picture, Brett Morgen continues to stretch the norms of doc storytelling with his new film, Chicago 10, which chronicles the anti-war protest at the 1968 Democratic National Convention. Using archival footage mixed with songs by artists like Rage Against The Machine and Eminem, CGI graphics, and stars like Hank Azaria, Nick Nolte, Mark Ruffalo and Jeffery Wright to voice the principal characters, Morgen tells the story of the protests led by Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin and Black Panther founder Bobby Seale and the trial that followed. Many who saw the film when it opened the '07 Sundance Film Festival couldn't help but feel it was also a commentary on the country's current political discourse.

 

CITY OF MEN
After the success of Fernando Mirelles's Oscar-nominated semi-real look into the slums (or, as they call them, favela) of Rio, City of God took on a life of its own back in Brazil and has since spawned a TV series which arguably is more popular than the original film. The new feature City of Men is the conclusion of the TV series of the same name. The film follows Acerola (Douglas Silva) and Laranjinha (Darlan Cunha), who we've followed on the show since they were in grade school, now young adults hoping to leave the favela for good. But with Acerola being a father and Laranjinha finally finding his real father, it's hard to leave home. Mirelles's long-time collaborator, Paulo Morelli, takes the directing reigns and creates a less violent but equally powerful work with top-notch performances from many of the kids who starred in God.

 
 

PAYDAY
By Mike Plante

Every once in a while you remember an old film and wonder if you actually saw it or just had this amazing dream of an incredible movie. And every once in a while an old film is mercifully released on DVD for a new generation to discover. Today's dream DVD release is Payday (1973), starring the overboard Rip Torn. read more


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

 
 


This week on the blog, Scott Macaulay gives his impressions on last weekend's Spirit Awards, brings us up to speed on the Edison Chen sex scandal (pictured left), and wonders why Brad Renfro and others weren't included in the Oscar tribute.

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 – 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 Director’s 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 – 3 minute clips from each of the selected films which will take place during this year’s 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.


 

RAMIN BAHRANI, CHOP SHOP
By Scott Macaulay

Ramin Bahrani's films are what one could term “outsider cinema,” and yet they are made with the quiet confidence of someone who knows he belongs. Iranian-American Bahrani was born and raised in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and moved to New York to study film at Columbia University. After making the short films Backgammon (1998) and Strangers (2000), he spent three years living in Iran, his parents' former home country. Once back in the U.S., his awareness of immigrant life and the psychology of the outsider found a voice in his debut feature, Man Push Cart (2005). The story of Ahmed, a former Pakistani rock star who works as an anonymous push cart vendor in New York, the film revealed Bahrani's talents for capturing small moments and telling ostensibly low-key stories in a compelling manner. After premiering at Venice and then also playing Sundance, Man Push Cart was released theatrically to glowing reviews. Bahrani's sophomore feature, Chop Shop, another tale of minority struggles in New York, is very much a companion piece to Man Push Cart. read more

 
Festival Deadlines

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

MARCH
Jacksonville Film Festival
Submission Deadline: March 10 (early)
Festival Dates: May 15 - 21

New York International Latino Film Festival
Submission Deadline: March 14
Festival Dates July TBA

Fulmarxx Shorts Fest
Submission Deadline: March 25
Festival Dates: April 26-27

To see more fest deadlines, click
here.








 


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