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Editor's Note

Sometimes I think independent film doesn't do history very well. I don't mean tell historical tales, but keep track of its own history. Mainstream moviemaking keeps a solid historical record, and movements like the French New Wave are well documented by journalists chronicling the currents and eddies of artistic influence. American independent film, however, is so often defined by what it's not (a studio movie) or by its business narratives (as in Down and Dirty Pictures) that sometimes the people who had a lot to do with our take on movies and moviemaking aren't properly recognized in life or in death.

This is a circuitous preamble to noting the death of filmmaker Bruce Conner this week. In many ways, Conner had little to do with independent film. His work was celebrated by the gallery world, experimental filmmakers and punk rockers, but he wasn't often namechecked in magazines by the latest hot director. Nevertheless, when Filmmaker asked a group of industry professionals and curators to help us select our "50 Most Important Independent Films," Conner's first film, A Movie, was highly placed. Compiled from stock footage, the film was an exploration of violence in terms of both content and form, and its radical editing technique, which jutted together strands of seemingly unconnected footage, was a precursor to today's music video and commercial editing. Over at Movie City Indie, Ray Pride has a number of links posted to Conner's work, and I recommend you check them out if you haven't seen them before.

On another sad note, the great science fiction writer and poet Thomas M. Disch died this week too. If you're not familiar with Disch's work (or have only read his popular The Brave Little Toaster), then check out his novel Camp Concentration or his story collection Fundamental Disch. My blog post below has more info on Disch.


Best,

Scott Macaulay
Editor


THE EXILES
Outside of a handful of screenings at festivals and colleges in the '60s and '70s not many people know about Kent Mackenzie's The Exiles, a gripping look at a group of twentysomething Native Americans living in 1960s L.A. But Charles Burnett has, and knowing the struggle it takes to get a film shown theatrically (it took 30 years for his seminal film Killer of Sheep to get a release), he has come onboard to present the film. Opening this weekend at the IFC Center in NYC (and expanding to other cities later this summer), the film is a beautiful hybrid of fiction and documentary that is finally getting its due.

 

FULL BATTLE RATTLE
Filmmakers Tony Gerber and Jesse Moss were on different ends of the industry spectrum when they met in 2004. Gerber had directed the Merchant-Ivory produced Side Streets while Moss had been best known for the gritty doc Speedo, about a demolition derby driver. But when the two heard about a U.S. Army training center in the middle of the Mojave desert they decided to team up for a surreal doc that highlights combat training that's as absurd as the war itself. Read Nick Dawson's interview with the directors below.

 


This week on the blog, Jason Guerrasio learns about From Here To Awesome's DIY DAY (pictured left), while Scott Macaulay finds reaction to the Mark Gill speech across the Atlantic and remembers Bruce Connor and Thomas M. Disch.

To read more posts from our blog, click here.

 

INDEPENDENT FILMMAKER CONFERENCE SEPTEMBER 2008
Six Days. Dozens of Panels. Daily Social Networking. The IFP Independent Filmmaker Conference is the place to gain practical knowledge from leading producers, funders, distributors, agents and buyers about issues facing today’s independent filmmakers and learn about new models and platforms that will impact your work tomorrow. Stay turned to this newsletter in the coming weeks for more information on the Conference as well as logging onto http://conference.ifp.org.


 

TONY GERBER & JESSE MOSS, FULL BATTLE RATTLE
By Nick Dawson

A strong partnership always relies on both individuals bringing different things to the table, and documentary filmmakers Tony Gerber and Jesse Moss certainly draw on diverse backgrounds for their creative collaboration. Their backgrounds in fiction and politics respectively are put to excellent use in their first film as co-directors, Full Battle Rattle. The documentary is a fascinating examination of the U.S. Army's National Training Center in the middle of the Mojave desert, where replica Iraqi villages – populated with real Iraqi expats and U.S. soldiers playing Iraqi insurgents – have been constructed to create simulated training scenarios to give troops bound for the Gulf what is essentially a dress rehearsal for war. read more

 
Festival Deadlines

JULY
Boston Film Festival
Submission Deadline: July 18
Festival Dates: Sept. 12 - 18

AUGUST
Ann Arbor Film Festival
Submission Deadline: Aug. 15 (Early), Nov. 15 (Late)
Festival Dates: March 24-29

Sundance Film Festival
Submission Deadline: Aug. 18 (All Films), Sept. 5 (Final for Shorts), Sept. 8 (Final for Features)
Festival Dates: Jan. 15 - 25

Find more festival deadlines here.







 


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