EDITOR'S NOTE
Just posted at Filmmakermagazine.com is our Editor's Poll of the 25 Best American Independent Films of the Decade. When Filmmaker does lists, they are usually future-oriented, like our "25 New Faces of Independent Film," but a critical take on the past decade was too tempting a subject not to ask all of our writers and editors to submit their picks for. We kept our definitions loose, allowing not only outside-the-system "pure indies" but also films produced by and through the studio specialty divisions. I was both surprised and not by the responses, and as I tabulated them I thought about memory, which I realized was the major prerequisite for the list. For a film to have placed on the list, it had to be remembered, and when a film is advertised, released in theaters, released on DVD, shown on airplanes, and shown on TV, it has a higher chance of being remembered than one you might have seen only once at a festival screening somewhere. Or, perhaps I thought about memory because so many films on the list deal with it, whether in personal, political or historical forms. In any case, check out our list and let us know what should have been on it if you were voting. You can also read Brandon Harris's essay, "It was the Aughts, and I Went to the Movies," that contains his Top 50. And check back on the blog throughout the next few days for other comments by our contributors.

See you next week.

Best,

Scott Macaulay
Editor

      NEW IN THEATERS
LOSS OF A TEARDROP DIAMOND
Adapted from an unproduced Tennessee Williams screenplay, Loss of a Teardrop Diamond, directed by actress-theatre director Jodie Markell, centers on the life of Fisher Willow (Bryce Dallas Howard), a 1920s Southern bon vivant, who falls for Jim (Chris Evans), a young man from a poor, dysfunctional family. She schemes to pass him off as a rich young man to make her family happy, but when she loses a diamond, it puts her relationship with Jim into paranoia. Featuring a stunning performance by Ellen Burstyn as Fisher's stroke-ridden aunt, Loss of a Teardrop Diamond could be seen, as Howard has said recently, as the story of Blanche DuBois one year before the fall, when she still had a chance.

THE WHITE RIBBON
Gorgeously shot in black and white by cinematographer Christian Berger, The White Ribbon, from acclaimed director Michael Haneke (Funny Games, La Pianiste), centers on a small group of German children pre-WWI, and the strange events — mysterious deaths or bad harvests, and unexplained acts of arson — in their village. These events are unusual and happen at a quick procession, and Haneke allows the film to open itself up like an old-fashioned fairy tale, seeing these changes through the eyes of the children, in a haunting and illuminating way.

OLD PARTNER
A sweet and lovely tale of friendship between an unlikely duo, Old Partner, a documentary by Korean director Lee Chung-ryoul, centers on the life between an 80-year old farmer and his 40-year old ox. Most oxen live to be 15, yet the farmer and his ox developed a 30-year old friendship that goes beyond owner and pet. It is likely that when the farmer passes, the ox will soon follow him into the afterlife. An official selection at Sundance, Old Partner is an unusual and heartwarming film about the power of friendship between humans and animals. For this week's Director Interview's Damon Smith writes, "A story of friendship and a wistful ode to agrarian lifestyles that have all but vanished in the industrial age, Old Partner wrings a poignant beauty from its timeless themes of aging, illness, loss, and loyalty." Read our interview with Chung-ryoul below.

      RECENT BLOGS

This week on the blog, Scott Macaulay highlights the making of Avatar: The Bootleg (pictured left, the real thing), gets props from Ted Hope's "21 Brave Thinkers of Truly Free Film 2009" and ponders the future of magazines.

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
LEE CHUNG-RYOUL, OLD PARTNER
By Damon Smith

Topping the Korean box office is no small feat for a first-time filmmaker, given the perennial offerings of sassy romantic comedies and vivid, attention-grabbing genre flicks from this nation's impressive stable of film artists. It's even more improbable when you've made a no-frills documentary (not so popular in South Korea) for less than $150,000 about the relationship between an elderly farmer and his aged ox. But a few months after it hit the market at the 2008 Pusan International Film Festival, where it won the best documentary award, Lee Chung-ryoul's Old Partner became one of the most successful indies in Korean film history. read more

      FESTIVAL DEADLINES

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

NYC International Film Festival
Next Submission Deadline: Jan. 4
Festival Dates: Aug 12-19

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