EDITOR'S NOTE
I'm back this week from Austin, where I attended the annual SXSW festival. As most of you know, SXSW is not just a music and film festival but also a huge interactive conference. I've been going to SXSW for a few years, and couple of years ago I discovered that the interactive side is where the energy is. The film panels are great, but there is something about walking all the way around the convention center into the interactive keynote rooms, which hold about 2,000 people who are all hanging on a speaker's words (as, of course, they simultaneously tweet it and update their blogs), that makes you feel like you are where it's at.

One great thing about the interactive discussions is that their discussion of new technology, platforms and modes of online organization are not insular ones; they point to important real-world issues. For example, the opening interactive keynote was by social networking expert Danah Boyd, and I thought it was brilliant. Challenging the view that "privacy is dead" in our interconnected online world, Boyd used recent privacy fails by Google and Facebook to show how individuals and communities still have the right to reasonably expect technology providers to adhere to assumptions of privacy that have been developed by users through their experiences in the offline world. By recognizing the specific needs of oppressed, marginalized, poor and politically oppositional communities, and placing them within a technological context, Boyd delivered remarks that were deeply humane. A couple days later Dan Shust, Director of Emerging Media at Resource Interactive, gave a talk that was also quite valuable, but in a succinct, "just the facts" way. In 15 minutes he walked his audience through 10 new tech developments we'll be experiencing in the next year. (Check the blog later today for my list of these things.)

This is not to say that there wasn't good discussion on the film side. There was, but it's not like there seemed to be rapid forward progress in the business models - or the contemplation of significant social change, for better or worse - that you saw discussed on the interactive side. I went to one panel titled "Nobody Wants to Watch Your Movie" online, and it began with its panelists saying that they didn't agree with the panel's name... but that viable business models for online feature film viewing were still evolving.

On the film side, there were some very strong movies. Jeffery Malmberg's Marwencole picked up the Documentary Prize, and Alicia Van Couvering interviewed him for Filmmaker here. I really liked Matt McCormick's Some Days are Better than Others and hope that there's a healthy post-fest life for this film. Check out my talk with him here. And Aaron Katz's Cold Weather was also a real favorite - check out my interview with Katz here. Also, Katz sat down with his producers Brendan McFadden and Ben Stambler as well as David Lowery pre-festival to discuss a mutual favorite film - Quentin Tarantino's Jackie Brown. The loose connection to Katz's film? Both are third features that show their directors moving in new and not entirely obvious directions. Read it here.

Finally, a big congratulations to the Lena Dunham, one of our "25 New Faces" of 2009, whose film Tiny Furniture won the Narrative Grand Prize. And kudos too to producer Alicia Van Couvering - one of Filmmaker's contributing editors. The film is witty and original, and I'm thrilled for both of them.(Before the festival we asked Caveh Zahedi to do a conversation with Dunham about the challenges of starring in your own films and the creation of semi-fictional personas, but we decided to hold it for after the festival. Expect to see it on the site sometime soon.)

Speaking of events and conferences, I'll be a moderator at two upcoming events. The first is the IFP's annual "Script to Screen" conference this weekend in New York. I'll be doing a keynote with Terry George on Sunday and there are great presentations aimed at writers writing for not just film but television and new media. Second, "The Conversation: Social Media, Digital Distribution and the Future of Film" is coming to New York March 27. Billed as a gathering of people exchanging ideas about the future of visual storytelling, it promises to be a provocative event. I'll be moderating a panel in the afternoon called "Financing and Fundraising: Reports from the Field," with folks like Kickstarter's Yancey Strickler, Indiegogo's Slava Rubin, and filmmakers Tiffany Schlain and Gregory Bayne. Hope to see some of you there.

See you next week - and if you are not following our Twitter feed, please consider adding us. (http://www.twitter.com/filmmakermag).

Best,

Scott Macaulay
Editor

      NEW IN THEATERS
THE RUNAWAYS
The Runaways were a raw and intense rock band made up of five girls in 1975 Los Angeles. Alternately female rock music pioneers and a packaged fantasy for young male listeners, they lived a fast, adult life at the age of 15. The band produced solo stars like Joan Jett and Lita Ford, and was, in a way, the predecessor for bands like Bikini Kill and The Donnas. Their story gets the rock bio treatment this year. Directed by music video vet Floria Sigismondi in her feature debut, the story is actually based on a biography of one of the band's members, Cherie Curie, played in the film by Dakota Fanning. She and Jett (Twilight's Kristen Stewart) struggle to construct both rock and roll personas and their own adult self-images as they are directed by manager Kim Fowley (Michael Shannon). Visit our site this week for a video interview with director Sigismondi.

VINCERE
Vincere is a powerful film about Ida Dalser, the lover of Benito Mussolini, whose life faced tragic circumstances. Written and directed by Marco Bellocchio, Vincere chronicles her life as well as Mussolini's rise to power and turn to fascism. Ida (Giovanna Mezzogiorno), as a young beautician in the 1910s, met Benito (Filippo Timi) and they had a passionate love affair that lasted for years, surviving both his marriage to another woman and his going off to fight in WWI. When he returned from the war, his political ideas were completed changed, and he entered politics, founding fascism. It was unclear whether Ida and Benito were legally married, but she was not publicly known or acknowledged. The pain of seeing her former lover becoming a dictatorial monster was overwhelming, and Vincere portrays Ida as a strong and honest woman trapped by the social mores of the time. A winner at several international film festivals, Vincere is a striking and emotionally-wrought film about the pain of loving someone so much that it kills you inside. In this week's Director Interviews, Bellocchio talks about how he wanted to protray Ida Dalser. "It was important for me to express her passion for Mussolini but also her courage and her irreverence toward the prevailing system," he says. "In a world where fascism reigned, she was able to rebel against fascism, Mussolini, Italy and that was something that struck me because it was something you didn’t do at the time." Read our interview with Bellocchio below.

CITY ISLAND
City Island clearly takes pleasure in its Bronx characters, with actors Andy Garcia and Julianna Margulies putting on rough local accents and playing the heads of a working-class family, who are all dysfunctional and keeping secrets from each other. Vince (Garcia) works as a prison guard, but is secretly taking acting classes, and has an illegitimate son. His daughter works as a stripper while pretending to be in college. His son has a crush on his neighbor and watches her with a 24-hr webcam. Joyce (Margulies) hasn't had sex with her husband in a year, and thinks he's cheating on her. And a handsome young ex-con enters the family's life, and Joyce has her doubts about him. Directed by Raymond De Felitta, City Island pokes fun at a family's secrets from each other, but can find family bonding within their calamity.

THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO
A Swedish thriller based on the literary sensation by Stieg Larsson, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is fast and complex with many twists and surprises. A young woman from a prominent and powerful family disappears while at a family gathering, and forty years later, her uncle is convinced that she was murdered by one of their own. Hiring a computer hacker and a journalist to investigate the story, they uncover a checkered family history connected to many gruesome murders. Their risk in discovering these secrets puts their lives at great peril. Directed by Niels Arden Oplev, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo doesn't pander to its audience with simple answers, but takes them on a dangerous ride through secrets, murder and family allegiances that cannot be broken.

GREENBERG
The newest film from director Noah Baumbach (The Squid & the Whale), Greenberg centers on a jaded New Yorker named Roger Greenberg (Ben Stiller) who is unemployed and at a crossroads in his life. He comes to L.A. to house-sit for his successful younger brother, and use the time to reflect on what to do next. He tries reconnecting with an old friend (Rhys Ifans), but spends more time with his brother's personal assistant Florence, played by Greta Gerwig, who is a revelation here. The actress best known for her roles in independent films by the Duplass Brothers and Joe Swanberg gives a remarkably natural, appealing performance as a good-hearted but directionless young woman - a specific kind of twentysomething character you probably know in life but haven't seen portrayed with such ease on screen before.

      RECENT BLOGS

This week on the blog, Scott Macaulay announces the winners at SXSW while directors Anna Higgs and Jonathan Furmanski write about their films screening at the fest. For more SXSW coverage, click here.

To read more posts from our blog, click here.

      UPCOMING AT IFP
IFP SCRIPT TO SCREEN CONFERENCE COMING UP THIS WEEKEND
IFP's Script to Screen Conference addresses the new landscape and opportunities facing content creators working across platforms in film, television and new technologies. Script to Screen explores new opportunities available to independent filmmakers and directly connects aspiring and working screenwriters to the decision-makers of the film, television and new media business. Join Terry George (Hotel Rwanda, In the Name of the Father) Sophie Barthes (Cold Souls), Monty Ross (Do The Right Thing), Lisa Cortes (Precious), Debra Granik (Winter's Bone, Down to the Bone), Steve Bodow (The Daily Show), Keith Bunin (In Treatment), representatives from Focus Features International, Sundance Channel, BlueCat Screenwriting Competition, Tribeca All-Access, Vox3, Sundance Screenwriters' Lab and many, many more! Produced in partnership with Writers Guild of America, East. Tickets and schedule now available here.

      NEWEST WEB ARTICLE
MARCO BELLOCCHIO, VINCERE
By Brandon Harris

An operatic look at the largely forgotten life and times of Benito Mussolini's first wife Ida Dalser (Giovanna Mezzogiorno), veteran Italian helmer Marco Bellocchio's Vincere is a tragedy on scales both intimate and national. read more

      FESTIVAL DEADLINES

MARCH
Dances with Films
Deadline: March 25
Festival Dates: June 3-10

Kansas International Film Festival
Next Deadline: March 27
Festival Dates: Oct. 1-7

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