Sundance Film Festival 2010
      EDITOR'S NOTE
Just a quick note this week. I am back from teaching a workshop for young film journalists at the Dubai International Film Festival, am a bit jetlagged, and am busy putting together not only the Winter issue of Filmmaker but also our Best Films of the Decade list, which should premiere on the website next week. We've surveyed all our editors and writers, and the results are surprising - perhaps in how unsurprising they are. More commentary later. In the meantime, though, please take part in our Best of Decade: Readers' Choice survey. The deadline is Friday, and we'll be publishing the results in the Winter issue. Weigh in on Best Film of the Decade, Best Director, Best Indie Trend, and more. And, if you'd like, you can give yourself an early holiday gift by doing so. After taking the survey you'll receive a half-off coupon for Filmmaker.

See you next week.

Best,

Scott Macaulay
Editor

      NEW IN THEATERS
CRAZY HEART
Nominated for several Independent Spirit Awards, Crazy Heart, Scott Cooper's directorial debut, is a tough-hearted look at the life of an alcoholic country singer, Bad Blake (Jeff Bridges). Blake has drunk away his savings, resents his more successful protegee, and is stuck playing gigs at bowling allies in New Mexico. Redemption comes in the form of a local music journalist named Jean (Maggie Gyllenhaal), who finds the good within Bad Blake's heart, and he comes to see her as the one stable rock in his life. Crazy Heart shines for its music scenes, scored by T-Bone Burnett, and the soulful performances of its leads.

A TOWN CALLED PANIC
Based on a weird and funny Belgian "puppetoon" (stop-motion animation with toys) series, A Town Called Panic, from filmmakers Stephane Aubier & Vincent Patar, centers on three plastic toys, Cowboy, Horse, and Indian, who have wild adventures to the center of the earth, across frozen tundra, and finally discover an underwater world where strange and unusual creatures live. A big hit on the fest circuit, it's a bizarre Euro Toy Story that children and like-minded adults can enjoy. Interviewing Aubier and Patar for this week's Director Interviews, Damon Smith writes, "Even those familiar with the manic style of those early episodes (which enjoy a robust afterlife on the Internet) may be astonished at the witty, lightning-flash brilliance and endearingly nutty genius of Aubier and Patar's surreal new feature film." Read our interview with the directors below.

THE YOUNG VICTORIA
Nominated this week for a Best Actress Golden Globe for her portrayal as young Queen Victoria, Emily Blunt (The Devil Wears Prada) dons 1830s period garb for The Young Victoria, directed by Jean-Marc Vallee. The story details the early years of the Queen's reign, and her romance with Prince Albert (Rupert Friend). Rather than an old stuffy marm, this film shows Victoria as a bright and intelligent young woman. Blunt may play the classic English rose, but she brings a sarcastic 21st century attitude that makes her much more than a pretty starlet.

      RECENT BLOGS

This week on the blog, Scott Macaulay learns of the creative ways to discuss Avatar (pictured left) pre-embargo, Jason Guerrasio learns of Paramount's new micro-budget arm and Macaulay reports on its first pick-up.

To read more posts from our blog, click here.

      UPCOMING AT IFP
IFP'S 2010 INDEPENDENT FILMMAKER LABS ON THE HORIZON
IFP's Independent Filmmaker Labs is the only program in the U.S. supporting first-time feature directors with projects at the crucial rough cut stage, before they are submitted to festivals. The Labs are a free, week-long workshop in New York offering personalized feedback and advice on all aspects of the post-production process, audience building, and distribution strategies in the digital age, followed by continued support from IFP as the project premieres in the marketplace. More than half of Lab alumni have gone on to premiere at major festivals - including Berlin, Sundance, SXSW, Toronto, and Venice, and have enjoyed theatrical releases, been broadcast nationally, or released on DVD. Recent Lab projects have included Vanessa Gould's Between the Folds, which premiered on Independent Lens this month, and Geralyn Pezanoski's Mine, upcoming on Independent Lens in February; Tom Quinn's The New Year Parade and Tariq Tapa's Zero Bridge, both recently nominated for the John Cassavetes Award at the upcoming Independent Spirit Awards (and each a Gotham Award nominee in 2008 and 2009, respectively), and Zeina Durra's 2009 Lab project, The Imperialists Are Still Alive!, premieres in the U.S. Dramatic Competition at Sundance 2010 next month. Lab applications will be available in January for both the Documentary and Narrative Labs which will take place in spring 2010. Read more here.

      NEWEST WEB ARTICLE
STEPHANE AUBIER AND VINCENT PATAR, A TOWN CALLED PANIC
By Damon Smith

Hoping to surprise their buddy Horse on his birthday with a homemade barbecue, dense pals Cowboy and Indian mistakenly place an order for 50 million bricks with an online vendor. When the load is delivered by an armada of Peugeot-size trucks, the pile crushes their quaint farmhouse and sends high-strung neighbor Stephen (Man Bites Dog lead Benoit Poelvoorde) into an apoplectic fit. Further hysteria ensues when a mischievous gang of gilled aquamen (one named Gerard) emerges from a watering hole and begins to pilfer entire sections of the newly rebuilt home. The hapless trio pursues them into a chasm, find themselves trapped in an Atlantis-like parallel universe, get coughed up onto a glacier, and have a memorable run-in with a giant mechanical-penguin war machine, a raucous trek that brings to mind Terry Gilliam's Dada-esque Monty Python sketches. A Town Called Panic debuted in May at the Cannes Film Festival (the only stop-motion feature ever to receive an invite) and was recently added to the Oscar shortlist for Best Animation Feature. read more

      FESTIVAL DEADLINES

DECEMBER
San Francisco International Film Festival
Submission Deadline: Dec. 21
Festival Dates: April 22 - May 6

JANUARY
Seattle International Film Festival
Submission Deadline: Jan. 4
Festival Dates: May 20-June 13

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