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Nokia Productions
Editor's Note


A few months ago I had dinner with Noah Cowan, the new artistic head of the Bell Lightbox, and listened as he bounced off of me several of the ideas and concepts that would underlie Toronto’s new $200 million film center. Just this week I saw Noah again when I took a “hardhat tour” of that same building, currently under construction in downtown Toronto with a completion date set for 2010. The building and its design are incredibly impressive – there are seven theaters, gallery and educational spaces, a café, and a rooftop hangout modeled by architect Bruce Kawabara on Malaparte’s villa from Jean-Luc Godard’s Contempt. The design is innovative – the theaters extrude slightly from the skin of the building – and Noah says that projection and sound will be realized at the highest technical standards. In fact, Noah says, the building is so technologically complex that it will take two years to build while the 44-story luxury condo that will sit on top of the Lightbox will take only four months.

But as impressive as the tour was, what was more interesting to me was the messaging of the Bell Lightbox. From the time I had dinner with Cowan before Cannes to now, his pitch for the center has distilled into one simple but effective concept. The Bell Lightbox, Noah says, is all about allowing its audiences to follow their passions.

Okay, sounds vague, but give me a minute.

A film center with seriously curated programs and gallery space exhibiting film sets and props from filmmakers like David Cronenberg and Guy Maddin will, of course, attract cinephiles – people who are passionate about films. But, Cowan explains, cinephilia is just one of many passions to be indulged within the Bell Lightbox. Films are about things other than just cinema, and Cowan says the Bell Lightbox’s programming will focus on the idea of context. Films will be seen not just as works within a cinematic canon but also as historical, social, political, economic and personal documents. The Bell Lightbox will connect audiences to movies not just by promising viewers that the direction and acting will be great but by presenting films as ways audiences can connect to broader ideas and passions. In addition to the movies themselves, there will be a strong education component and a variety of ancillary exhibitions and programming to make connections between films and the broader world. Cowan makes a comparison to a museum tour where, he says, the docent will talk about a painting’s brushstrokes – but only after that painting has been placed within a broader historical context. Cowan says that such a strategy is necessary today in a world where cinema occupies a very different place than it did two or three decades ago. In earlier years cinema was the great dream machine, teaching its viewers about history, relationships, foreign lands and sex. Now, Cowan says, the Internet is a more direct and immediate way for viewers to access desire. A film center must recognize this and work harder to provide a deeper experience for its audiences, imagining them not just as viewers or cinephiles but as complex people with a multitude of interests to be targeted and passions to be indulged.

As I listen to Cowan outline his vision, it occurs to me that the simple rhetorical shift he is employing might be one that we can all use as we try to get our films out there in the world. And I don’t mean the old “My film is about bowling; 100 million Americans bowl each year” business plan pitch. But I do mean that as we market our films we might think about who might be just plain fascinated with the worlds and subject matters of our movies and not just how stirring our stories are or how wonderfully our actors perform.

See you next week.



Best,

Scott Macaualy
Editor

PHOEBE IN WONDERLAND
In Daniel Barnz's debut feature, Elle Fanning plays Phoebe, an angelic girl with a vivid imagination who has been chosen to play the lead in her school rendition of Alice in Wonderland. But as the pressure mounts close to opening night Phoebe begins to show signs of OCD, which concern her parents (played by Bill Pullman and Felicity Huffman). But ill-equipped to help her, the illness and stress gets worse and Phoebe soon finds it difficult to decipher reality from fantasy. Examining mental illness as well as the travails of childhood, Phoebe in Wonderland is held together by superb cinematography and production design as well as two very strong performances – Fanning’s and also Patricia Clarkson’s as the tough but inspirational theater director.

 

FLOW: FOR LOVE OF WATER
The second title from Beastie Boy Adam Yauch's new distribution company, Oscilloscope Pictures, this documentary by Irena Salina can be best described as An Inconvenient Truth for water. Looking at the world's depleting water supply, Salina shows the bloodshed that's been caused over various droughts and demonstrates how what's left is being privatized. Here's what she told us about making the film before its premiere at Sundance earlier this year: "Driven by the story, the amazing people I met along the way, the new landscape and the subject, “Water,” I actually never felt alone. One has to trust the process. The more I trusted the unknown and welcomed the “be in the moment” spontaneous move, the more I felt in the flow and totally guided by some invisible forces...."

Read our interview with Salina here.

 


This week on the blog, Jason Guerrasio unveils the interview series at Filmmaker Videos, provided by Filmcatcher.com, Scott Macaulay learns of Steven Soderbergh's Che release plans, Howard Feinstein profiles Palestinian director Rashid Mashawari from the Toronto International Film Festival (pictured left) and guest blogger Jesse Epstein prepares for IFP's Independent Film Week.

To read more posts from our blog, click here.

 

INDEPENDENT FILMMAKER CONFERENCE, SEPTEMBER 14-19, 2008
Daily “Conversations with” filmmakers Kevin Smith, Frida Torresblanco, and Robert Greenwald along with industry visionaries Josh Sapan of Rainbow Media and SnagFilms’ Rick Allen.

Daily “State of the Union” discussions with Bob Berney (Picturehouse), Christian Gaines (Withoutabox), Geoff Gilmore (Sundance Film Festival), Anne Thompson (Variety), Lance Weiler (Head Trauma) and more!

Daily Case Studies featuring Guillaume Canet’s Tell No One, Almudena Carracedo and Robert Bahar’s Made In L.A., Patrick Creadon’s I.O.U.S.A., Sandi Dubowski’s Trembling Before G-d, Ryan Fleck & Anna Boden’s Sugar, Gary Hustwit’s Helvetica, Alex Rivera’s Sleep Dealer, Aaron Rose & Joshua Leonard’s Beautiful Losers, and on-line film series & new media film pioneers The Cult of Sincerity, The West Side, Molotov Alva and Star Wreck.

Panelists include filmmakers Brad Anderson (Transsiberian), Larry Fessenden (The Last Winter), Courtney Hunt (Frozen River), Barry Jenkins (Medicine for Melancholy), So Yong Kim (In Between Days), Joe Swanberg (Hannah Takes The Stairs), Craig Zobel (Great World of Sound) and representatives from A&E IndieFilms, Big Beach, BMI, Cinetic Media, HBO, IndieGoGo, ITVS, Magnolia Pictures, Maximum Films, Miramax, New Video, Oscilloscope Pictures, SAGIndie, Samuel Goldwyn Films, Spout, Strand Releasing, Sundance Channel, SXSW, This is That, Variety and more!

For the latest Conference updates and pass purchases, go to www.filmmakerconference.com.


 

ANCESTRAL ROOTS
Jeremiah Kipp

New York-based film critic Godfrey Cheshire was attending a Christmas gathering with his family in North Carolina when he received some surprising news from his cousin Charlie. Midway Plantation, the ancestral home of their extended family since the 1840s, was to be transplanted to a new location. In the name of progress, the city of Raleigh was expanding a highway and strip malls. If the plantation house and its surrounding buildings were not moved, the deterioration of the surrounding environment would be so drastic, future generations would not want to live there.

As a critic, Cheshire has always been interested in looking at the context of movies and what they mean. With his film Moving Midway, he is also creating an essay about our perception of the southern plantation, weaving his way through mythologies and historical realities, the ideas inherited from popular culture and propaganda, and actual accounts from within his family and beyond. read more

 
Festival Deadlines

SEPTEMBER
Tribeca Film Festival
Submission Deadline: Sept. 15 (Opens), Nov. 14 (Early), Jan. 12 (Final)
Festival Dates: April 22-May 3

Canada International Film Festival
Submission Deadline: Sept. 20, Nov. 20 (Final)
Festival Dates: Jan. 24-25

Victoria Film Festival (CANADA)
Submission Deadline: Sept. 24
Festival Dates: Feb. 1-10

Crossroads Film Festival
Submission Deadline: Sept. 30, Dec 20 (Final)
Festival Dates: April 2-5

Find more festival deadlines, click here.







 


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