Produced By 2009
      EDITOR'S NOTE
Last night was a kind of mid-fest high at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. The fest is two-thirds over, and many are scheduled to leave today (with films by Gaspar Noe, Terry Gilliam and Elie Sulieman yet to be screened), so for a lot of people last night was a final blow-out. There was a party for Inglourious Basterds, the Quentin Tarantino film, that, apparently, had Harvey Weinstein at the gate and cast members fighting to get in. (The critics are somewhat split on the film; I’m seeing it today so I hope to post something soon on the blog about it). And there was a Producer’s Network/Backup Films/American Pavilion party that I laughed at when I saw it on the schedule. It started at 2:00am and went to 7:00am, ending with a sunrise dinner on the beach. Who would make it until the end of that, I wondered? Well, when I left at about 4:45, it was in high gear and showed no signs of slowing down. And at all these events, despite all the news of economic despair, it feels like just another Cannes. As one producer friend noted, there are fewer parties up in the villas — everything is on the beach — but everyone is here and engaged in the same hustle, altering their pitches, perhaps, to suit the times. There are still outlandish and seemingly inexplicable promotional spends. (One rep of a financing company told me the most opulent party he attended was a foie gras-catered soiree for a film in the market entitled Middlemen. Tag line on the poster lining the Croisette: “Business is a lot like sex: getting in is easy, pulling out is hard.”) A well-respected producer told me he took a general meeting with a U.S. sales company on Tuesday to discuss a project he has largely completed financing on. “It was like Entourage,” he told me. “I was swarmed by people who said they wanted to close a deal on the film by midnight — and they hadn’t even read the script!”

I’ll have a blog post up soon about the digital distribution panel I moderated, which was unexpectedly lively in its discussion of transparency, distributors’ rights to confidentiality when it comes to agreements with their partners, and our general desire to amass more data about audience viewing patterns on download and VOD platforms so we can better financially model our films.

See you next week.

Best,

Scott Macaulay
Editor
      NEW IN THEATERS
THE GIRLFRIEND EXPERIENCE
On the heels of his two-part bio pic, Che, director Steven Soderbergh follows up with a movie that’s precisely attuned to the current economic crisis. Set around the last presidential election, The Girlfriend Experience is a portrait of a high-end escort (played by the porn star Sasha Grey) who is both a balm and a perhaps soon-to-be unaffordable indulgence luxury item to the anxious money managers she sees. Shot with the Red camera and cast with mostly non-actors, the film is a kind of psychic portrait of late 2008 New York, where transactional relationships of all sorts are being forcibly reevaluated. Talking to Scott Macaulay for the Spring issue, Soderbergh says the themes of the recession and presidential election were not planned. "By design, the people that are cast in the film are encouraged to speak for themselves and to say whatever’s on their minds," he says. "It just happened to be a weird circumstance that we shot the movie in October of last year and all anybody was thinking about was money and, secondarily, the election. It ended up being lucky because it sort of plays to the core of the film in a weird sort of way." PLUS: Interview with the film's star, Sasha Grey.

BURMA VJ
In Anders Østergaard's latest documentary the Danish director follows a 27-year-old reporter named "Joshua" living in the largest city in Burma and reporting for Democratic Voice of Burma, which secretly documents government suppression in the country as banned by the Burmese junta. Then, the story changes when, after 19 years of relative quiet, the Saffron Revolution – an uprising of the country's Buddhist monks – turns the film into a document of the Burmese people's attempt to fight back through stunning reenactments. Interviewed in this week's Director Interviews, Østergaard talks about his attraction to reenactments. "It's a great science to recreate the past, to make the past come alive," he says. "I'm always happiest when there is some authentic or original element to the reenactment, like a sound bite which I can then build the texture around. Basically I want to tell stories which have the full cinematic flow, the feeling of being there as a cinemagoer. In order to achieve that narrative flow, you need reenactment." Read our interview with Østergaard below.

      RECENT BLOGS

This week on the blog, Scott Macaulay highlights 42 Below's One Dream Rush short films, does a quick interview with My Neighbor, My Killer's Anne Aghion (film pictured left) and Howard Feinstein reports from Cannes (post 1, post 2).

To read more posts from our blog, click here.

      UPCOMING AT IFP
DOCUMENTARY DEADLINES ARE HERE
Deadlines are imminent for two key events on the IFP calendar. Spotlight on Documentaries of Independent Film Week (application deadline May 22) is designed for filmmakers in production or post seeking financing partners, broadcast/distribution, and festival invitations. IFP will select 75 new documentary features-in-progress to present to attending funders, broadcasters, distributors, sales agents, and festival programmers for one-on-one meetings, roundtable discussions and pitch screenings. New this year at Independent Film Week is The Good Pitch (separate application – deadline May 25) which brings together inspiring social-purpose film projects and a group of expert participants from charities, foundations, brands, government and media to form powerful alliances around groundbreaking films. Eight projects will be selected to pitch on the concluding day (September 24) of Independent Film Week in NYC.

      NEWEST WEB ARTICLE
ANDERS ØSTERGAARD, BURMA VJ
By Nick Dawson

Anders Østergaard's latest film, Burma VJ, grapples with how and why we capture the world on film. It was initially meant to be a small-scale film about “Joshua,” a junior video reporter living in Rangoon, the largest city in Burma, who is part of the Democratic Voice of Burma (or DVB). Though any journalistic activity is banned under the current Burmese junta, the DVB risk their lives and freedom to secretly document government suppression in the country so that its own citizens, as well as the international community, can see. However the project changed radically in 2007, when, after 19 years of relative quiet, the Saffron Revolution – an uprising of the country's Buddhist monks – took place, turning the film into a document of the Burmese people's attempt to fight back. read more

      FESTIVAL DEADLINES

MAY
Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival
Submission Deadline: May 22
Festival Dates: Oct. 16-25

Woodstock Film Festival
Submission Deadline: May 25, June 22 (Final)
Festival Dates: Sept. 30 - Oct. 4

JUNE
Savannah Film Festival
Submission Deadline: June 15
Festival Dates: Oct. 31 - Nov. 7

Find more festival deadlines, click here. And get the latest news and notes on the fest circuit at Festival Ambassador.

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