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National University
Editor's Note


I met Christopher Nolan once, years ago, at the Rotterdam Film Festival. It was after a screening of his first feature, Following, a nifty, no-budget thriller that Peter Broderick’s Next Wave Films (a former division of IFC that looked for new talent in the ultra-low-budget realm) had picked up for the U.S. The encounter was not much more than a “Nice to meet you, liked your film” kind of thing, and I certainly had no idea at the time that he’d go on to direct a film that would have the biggest three-day opening in U.S. box office history.

A few years after that I spent several days on a trip with a group of film industry people. One of them was a talented and hard-working manager who was obsessed with careers. That was his business, of course, but for him it was also like a “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon”-ish parlor game. I remember sitting around one night while he tried to rationalize how a number of big stars had gotten to the top, dissecting every film choice and representation shift. He also played the game in reverse. There were people who should have been stars, but there was always that one wrong choice or one unlucky break.

I thought of these moments while reading over Jason Guerrasio’s recent blog post in which he listed all of our "25 New Faces” since we started doing the feature10 years ago. We just came out with this year’s list, and I’m pretty happy with it. I’ve been particularly pleased that for many readers, these are new names. One critic remarked that she only knew two people on it (although another particularly plugged in indiewatcher said she knew a lot more). We try to strike a balance in the list between people whose work we really love and want to support even though the indie industry might know them a bit and people who are bit more under-the-radar. With regards to the former, we tend to sacrifice our choices when we have other ways of supporting the filmmaker. Courtney Hunt, for example, might have been on the list, but after winning Sundance with Frozen River it was too obvious. We put her film on the cover instead. Lance Hammer, who directed Ballast, was another clear possibility even though his Sundance win for directing made him too obvious too. We had until the last minute a six-page feature on his film in the book; when he decided to leave IFC, self-distribute and change his release date, we bumped the feature but weren’t able to add him to the list.

About those under-the-radar names, sometimes those too turn out to be not so much discoveries as affirmations. I saw Joshua Safdie’s The Pleasure of Being Robbed before SXSW, really loved it and immediately put him on the list. Since that time, but before our issue came out, his film was selected for Cannes and picked up by IFC. Ditto Barry Jenkins and his Medicine for Melancholy. I attended the first screening, its premiere, at SXSW. It was mid-day, and the theater only held about 100 people. I thought that this might be the kind of beautiful, delicate indie that could slip through the cracks without critical support. So, I added it to our list and then watched as, again, IFC picked it up and slated it for a fall release. (To my mind, the only real “odd men out” on the list are the Zellner Brothers because, as I say in the piece, they’ve been around a long time. Still, we failed to put them on the list in the past and their new Goliath is truly something new... and, we learned later, available on IFC!)

But back to the idea of careers. Like I said, I thought more about this when I looked at our list of past 25’ers. I was happy to see in each year some notable names who have gone on to great success. There are a few Academy Award nominees and at least one winner, some d.p.’s, editors and production designers who are doing big films, and a number of filmmakers who have become critical favorites. When we “sell” this feature, we tend to stress our predictive ability and cite these people as evidence of our skill and knowledge of the community. But, if we wanted to just have a bunch of soon-to-be big names, it’d be really easy for us to do that. There’s always that period between the time people who are expected to break big actually do, and we could save ourselves a lot of energy by just parroting the industry wisdom at any given moment. But that’s not what the list is about. In addition to the future stars there are always a large number of people on the 25 New Faces list whose careers are going to odder, less direct, and perhaps less visible. And looking at the lists from the past, I see many of these people, folks who, honestly, I have no idea what they are currently doing. And I’m just as happy to have recognized them because, in the years they were selected, they were doing work that was important to the culture at that time. This work was under-recognized, yes, but it was still important even if it was never going to propel them to the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion or turn them into the next Chris Nolan.

We put out a call on the blog for past 25’ers to send us updates on what they’ve been doing since appearing in the magazine, and I’ll start running these next week. I’ve been reading them as they come in and so far the responses are all over the map. Some people are just beginning to get their first features made after years of struggle; some are working in other fields; some have had kids and are now heading back to filmmaking. And some we might never hear from again. And that’s okay. A big part of independent filmmaking is always going to live in the margins, perhaps to be discovered decades from now but more often likely just to be a subtle and untraceable influence in the culture that is to come.

So, check out this year’s list, up on the site now, and come back to the blog next week for our updates on previous years’ filmmakers. See you next week.

Best,

Scott Macaualy
Editor

AMERICAN TEEN
Nanette Burstein's American Teen follows the lives of four teens - the jock, the popular bitch, the artsy misfit and the geek – in small town Indiana through their senior year of high school. Filmed daily for ten months, Burstein creates a film that goes beyond the cliched stereotypes of high school to render a portrait of complex young people trying to find their way into adulthood. With extraordinary intimacy and multitudes of humor, American Teen is about the pressures of growing up – pressures that come from one’s peers, one’s parents, and oneself.

 

MAN ON WIRE
Man on Wire is the story of Philippe Petit's conception, planning and on August 7, 1974, executing one of the most impressive stunts of the 20th Century: stringing then walking a wire between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. James Marsh's documentary gains testimony from the many co-conspirators, the girlfriend, and Petit himself. Marsh's orchestration of said testimony, extensive archive material, reconstructions of the action and Michael Nyman's dramatic music score make Man on Wire feel more Hollywood thriller than documentary. 


 


Select stories from the Summer issue are currently online.

They include: this year's 25 New Faces of Independent Film, and interviews with the Duplass Brothers on their latest film Baghead, Alex Holdridge on In Search of a Midnight Kiss, James Marsh talks about his doc Man on Wire, and a rare interview with the reclusive band Daft Punk who've made their first film, Electroma.

Plus: Lance Weiler shows how to create a fan base online, David Rosen breaks down the next telecom war, and Shelley H. Surpin, Esq. defines life rights.

 


This week on the blog, Jason Guerrasio recaps the former 25 new faces, provides the From Here to Awesome Festival lineup (pictured left), highlights next week's annual Directors Guild of America "Digital Day", and investigates indieWIRE's new owner SnagFilms.

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.

Discounted Early Bird passes on sale now!

To purchase passes and stay current on the latest information log onto http://conference.ifp.org.


 

MARGARET BROWN THE ORDER OF MYTHS
By Nick Dawson

Though she may appear to casual observers as simply a talented young chronicler of Southern culture, Margaret Brown's talents extend beyond that. The daughter of Milton Brown, the songwriter who penned the catchy title song for the Clint Eastwood vehicle Every Which Way But Loose, Brown was raised in Mobile, Alabama and since graduating from university has been highly active behind the camera.

Brown's The Order of Myths sees her return to her roots as she chronicles the Mardi Gras in her hometown of Mobile, the city where the first Mardi Gras was celebrated in 1703. The documentary looks at the different groups that contribute to the carnival festivities, including the Strikers and the Mystics, and principally focuses on the Mobile Carnival Association (which organizes the white Mardi Gras parade) and their African American counterparts, Mobile Area Mardi Gras Association. read more

 
Festival Deadlines

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

Three Rivers Film Festival
Submission Deadline: Aug. 29 (Shorts), Sept. 5 (Features)
Festival Dates: Nov. 7-20

SEPTEMBER
Tropfest NY
Submission Deadline: Sept. 5
Festival Dates: Sept. 26

Find more festival deadlines here.







 


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