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National University
Editor's Note


What a week. The IFP’s Independent Film Week is in full bloom, and the streets of Chelsea are filled with filmmakers and business types hustling projects, attending panels on the state of the industry, and networking at all the various parties. Meanwhile I’ve been locked up each day at in the No Borders room wearing my producer hat and meeting with the large contingent of sales agents, distributors and financiers gathered to check out the slate of new projects assembled by Susan Boehm and the staff at the IFP. As an IFP Independent Film Week participant, then, I can vouch firsthand that the mood inside the meeting room on 28th street is miles away from the gloom mongering that’s dominated commentary of the indie film scene recently. I’ve been pleasantly surprised to find buyers sincerely interested in American independent film and with the resources to get involved with the right projects.

I have always thought that rather than employing armies of accountants and translators to get a film financed that indie producers sometimes just have to ride the waves of chaos and disorder. There’s a random element to making an independent film because some part of the investment can rarely be rationalized economically. What makes a financier pick one project over another? There’s always something intangible – real love for the story, identification with the underlying social issues behind that story, a belief in the cast, or even a desire to be part of the community that is growing around a project. So, what I’ve been struck by at the IFP are the random connections I’ve been making. A meeting with a financier who I imagine will have no interest in my project turns positive when he reveals that in his previous job he knew tons of people who could help me. Another tells me that his company’s new equity player is from the country of our director and he’s looking for projects there.

These tiny moments of serendipity are in contrast to the news pinging in on our Blackberries from Wall Street. Anyone who follows macroeconomics and the slow-motion mortgage crisis knew that a week like this one was imminent. But rather than dwell on the world of money and financing, I’d like to close by noting a different kind of news that occurred this past weekend and that seemed to me equally momentous: the death of writer David Foster Wallace. In a series of great novels, short stories, and essay collections, Wallace struggled, often hilariously, to be empathetic, emotional, observant, intelligent and heartbreaking about the media-shaped, irony saturated bubble of modern American life. Most independent filmmakers think they know what they want to say but struggle to find the financial means to say it. Wallace had reached the stage in his career where he could publish to a wide audience whatever he wanted. His struggle, then, was of a different and I would argue higher order. Wallace fought to create work that would somehow slip free from the rhetorical clichés that shape so much modern storytelling. He tried to create words that would indicate an awareness of the dangers of sentimentality, ironic affectation and poor thinking while still impacting our hearts and minds. Wallace’s project was a deep and important one, and his achievements were extraordinary. I hope that as we as filmmakers work hard on our new production and distribution paradigms that we also remember Wallace and apply some of his rigor (and humor and heart) to our own storytelling.

See you next week.



Best,

Scott Macaualy
Editor

A THOUSAND YEARS OF GOOD PRAYERS
After taking a detour with lighthearted Hollywood films like Maid in Manhattan and Last Holiday, Wayne Wang returns to his roots for his latest film. An adaptation of Yiyun Li's short story, the film centers on the relationship between Yilan (Faye Yu), a naturalized Chinese immigrant living in a small American town, and her estranged widower father (Henry O), who comes to visit her. Interviewing Wang for this week's Director Interviews, Nick Dawson writes: "Wang cites the movies of Ozu as an inspiration for this intimate and tender drama, and approaches the material with a commendable sparseness and emotional restraint. For the majority of the film, he lets the simple, resonant situations play out, eliciting excellent performances from Yu and O."

 

ELITE SQUAD
Following his gripping debut feature doc, Bus 174, which highlighted his home country's rivalry between police and street kids, José Padilha now looks at Brazil's special police force in Elite Squad. A flip-side to Fernando Meirelles's City of God, Padilha's adaptation of the book Elite da Tropa follows Rio de Janerio's special drug-fighting division, BOPE, who are as dangerous and corrupt as the criminals they're chasing. One cop in the film puts it best: "Either a cop stays dirty or he chooses war." Though many critics have opposed the film's voiceover, which was a last second add on in post, most cannot deny the power of its portrayal of street violence.

 


This week on the blog, guest bloggers Jessie Epstein, E.E. Cassidy (pictured left), Tara Wray, Todd Rohal and Rodney Evans give their experiences of attending IFP's Independent Film Week.

To read more posts from our blog, click here.

 

FILM AND PHILANTHROPY 101, FRIDAY, SEPT. 19
The Independent Filmmaker Conference at Independent Film Week in New York City winds down on Friday with a free series of panels under the umbrella title “Film and Philanthropy 101.” Discussions will focus on working with partner organizations, outreach strategies, and the marketing of social issue documentaries — important planning that should begin with the inception of the project. Veterans Julia Reichert, Judith Helfand, Sandi Dubowski, Annie Sundberg, Peter Broderick and others will talk about ways to build audiences and achieve impact with your work. Location: F.I.T.’s Katie Murphy Auditorium (227 W. 27th St.).

Learn more about the event, here.


 

FILMCATCHER @ TORONTO

Filmcatcher.com provided Filmmaker with a series of director interviews from the Toronto International Film Festival.

Click to see: Jeffrey Levy-Hinte's Soul Power (pictured left), Ari Folman's Waltz With Bashir, Nik Fackler's Lovely, Still, Michael Winterbottom's Genova, Matt Aselton's Gigantic, Matteo Garrone's Gomorra, Arnaud Desplechin's A Christmas Tale, Ramin Bahrani's Goodbye Solo and Mabrouk El Mechri's JCVD.

See more at Filmmaker Videos.

 
Festival Deadlines

SEPTEMBER
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

OCTOBER
Palm Springs International Film Festival
Submission Deadline: Oct. 3
Festival Dates: Jan. 6-19

Find more festival deadlines, click here.







 


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