|Blog Web Exclusives Director Interviews Festival Coverage Our Videos Load & Play|
But over the years, the award's title took on different shadings. As we voted the nominees each year, we realized that the award's title could mean something different. It could mean that the "best film" could be one that was unlikely to ever be in a theater. In other words, the criteria that connoted quality and artistic adventurousness were diverging from the criteria that propelled a film into theatrical release. When we gave the award to Nina Paley's Sita Sings the Blues, for example, we debated hard, because the film had music rights issues that would deter many traditional distributors. We took note, however, of the creative way Paley surmounted this problem by offering an innovative non-exclusive ancillary rights license to companies willing to deal with music payments as well as how she offered remixable versions of her movie on hard disk. Surely the film's quality and these innovative measures were worthy of an award, even if her film was unlikely to receive mainstream release.
So, the award came to mean best films that should and might still be in theaters as well as best films that never would be. What are they this year? Well, even as the difficult traditional distribution landscape is reshaping filmmakers' creative ambitions, causing them to explore web series, transmedia, apps, etc., the films we selected, to a one, should be seen in a big dark room. Madeleine Olnek's Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same is an utterly charming romantic comedy that blends 1950s sci-fi B-movies, the New Queer Cinema of the 1980s, and the mainstream romantic comedies of Nora Ephron. Sophia Takal's Green is an evocative, sexually charged tale of female obsession toplined by three great performances; Eric Strauss and Daniele Anastasion's The Redemption of General Buck Naked is a queasily fascinating documentary about a repentant but egomaniacal African general returning to the scenes of his war crimes; Blue Hadaegh and Grover Babcock's Scenes of a Crime puts the viewer into the mind of a man accused of shaking his child to death and reveals the manipulative techniques cops used to draw confessions; and Mark Jackson's Without is a riveting psychological thriller that moves from a depiction of sexual obsession to one of the deepest grief, once again with an outstanding lead performance. These are fascinating, accomplished films. I hope to see some of you at MoMA this weekend as we screen them all, and I hope to see the films on the marquees of local arthouses in the coming months.
See you next week.
'BEST FILM NOT PLAYING' SERIES AT MoMA; VOTING DEADLINE FOR GOTHAM AUDIENCE AWARD The annual Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You Screening Series begins on Friday at the Museum of Modern Art in NYC, giving filmgoers a chance to see some of the most celebrated films from the 2011 festival circuit. The series, running November 18-21, will screen the films nominated for The Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You Award, given annually as part of the Gotham Independent Film Awards to the most outstanding independent film of the year without theatrical distribution in place. The Award is sponsored by Royal Bank of Canada (RBC). The films are Madeleine Olnek's Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same, Sophia Takal's Green, Eric Strauss and Daniele Anastasion's The Redemption of General Butt Naked, Blue Hadaegh and Grover Babcock's Scenes of a Crime, and Mark Jackson's Without. All screenings will be followed by Q&As with the directors and other film talent. More screening and ticket details here. This weekend also marks the final chance for fans to vote for the 2nd Annual Gotham Independent Film Audience Award, powered by Festival Genius. Voting ends on ends on November 20th at 11:59 pm EST. Nominees are Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey, directed by Constance Marks; Buck, directed by Cindy Meehl; Girlfriend, directed by Justin Lerner; The First Grader, directed by Justin Chadwick; and Wild Horse, Wild Ride, directed by Alex Dawson and Greg Gricus. To vote, go here. The Gotham Independent Film Awards, hosted by Oliver Platt and Edie Falco will take place Monday, March 28th at Cipriani Wall Street. Info on all the awards and ticket purchases here.
Our Forums page is new and improved! Check out the new categories: how to make films, discuss the current trends in the business, job opportunities and look out for guest filmmaker moderators. Click here to get started.
Film Calendar, DIY Distribution, Current Cinema
Another Happy Day
Werner Herzog, Into the Abyss
IFP: 'Best Film Not Playing' Series at MoMA; Voting Deadline for Gotham Audience Award
Join our Forums
ANOTHER HAPPY DAY This dysfunctional-family dramedy from first-time director Sam Levinson boasts a strong ensemble cast featuring both vets (Ellen Barkin, Demi Moore, Ellen Burstyn) and relative newcomers (Afterschool's Ezra Miller, Michael Nardelli). Another Happy Day follows the emotionally fragile Lynn (Barkin) across the disaster-ridden weekend of her eldest son's (Nardelli) wedding. As Lynn butts heads with both her children and her parents, long-brewing tensions are brought to the surface. Levinson's script is funny and touching, and the film is anchored by Barkin's raw standout performance. THE DESCENDANTS It's hard to believe that it's been seven years since Sideways, but Alexander Payne has finally completed a follow-up to his Oscar-winning wine-country road trip movie. Set in Hawaii, The Descendants follows Matt (George Clooney), an indifferent family man who is forced to be more involved in his kids' lives (and take stock in his own) after his wife suffers a boating accident. Up for three Gotham Awards (including Best Picture) and sure to be a serious contender at the Oscars, The Descendants comes imbued with Payne's signature tragicomic tone, as well as charming, multifaceted performances from Clooney and emerging talent Shailene Woodley. Read more about films nominated for this year's Gotham Independent Film Awards. THE LIE A dark comedy with emphasis on the "dark," actor Joshua Leonard (Humpday, Higher Ground) in his narrative debut as a director tracks the genesis and effects of an increasingly disastrous lie. After slacker Lonnie (Leonard) makes up a story about having a sick child in order to get out of work, the situation spirals out of control until his girlfriend (Jess Weixler) risks being exposed to the ruse. Leonard's film is a nail-biter, as the increasingly desperate Lonnie digs himself in deeper and deeper; searching for ways to avoid the inevitable consequences of his lie. TYRANNOSAUR In his feature-length directorial debut Tyrannosaur, British character actor Paddy Considine brings back the cast from his short, Dog Altogether, for this exploration of domestic violence and the redemptive possibilities of human relationships. Peter Mullan (Children of Men, My Name is Joe) stars as Joseph, an ill-tempered drunk who strikes up an unlikely friendship with Hannah, a local charity worker (Olivia Colman). When Joseph learns that Hannah is being abused by her husband (Eddie Marsan), he struggles with how to support his new friend. Gaining rave reviews at this year's Sundance, Considine's film never strays into melodramatic territory. Instead, it achieves moments of genuine grace through a tone of gritty realism. See our video interview with Mullan and Considine. This week on the blog, Gregory Bayne overviews his experiences with crowdfunding (pictured left), Scott Macaulay shares Fleischer Camp and Jenny Slate's new animated short, and David Leitner overviews the Canon C300 and Red-Scarlet-X on our new cinematography channel.
To read more posts from our blog, click here.
WERNER HERZOG, INTO THE ABYSS By Scott Macaulay
In his films, Werner Herzog has traveled the Amazon, journeyed to Antarctica and, most recently, descended through time into the caves of France to uncover centuries-old cave paintings. So, his trip to a small town in Texas awaiting the capital punishment of a young murderer might have been less epic were it not for the moral dilemmas, lingering anguish and genuine strangeness he finds there. Eschewing the tropes of typical capital punishment documentaries, Herzog, with his German-accented voice jutting from behind the camera, lends an empathetic ear to the words of not only the killer but his accomplice, the victims' daughter/sister, his father, and several of the men responsible for his capture, incarceration and, ultimately, his execution. There's a prison chaplain who goes on a reverie about golfing and the squirrels who race across the course; a "prison wife" who reveals her own version of an immaculate conception; the victims' relative, who describes entering and departing from years of intense solitude after the crime; and the accomplice's father, who rues his own parenting skills from his own prison cell. And while Herzog gives us the details of the crime -- a shockingly petty car theft that leads to the callous killing of a mother who opens her door to help two men in need -- the abyss pictured here is a larger one, encompassing a culture in which violence functions almost like a virus, with men and woman both succumbing but also resisting its infection. read more
Regular Deadline: November 18
WAB Deadline: December 12
Festival Dates: February 21 - 26, 2012
Ashland Independent Film Festival
Regular Deadline: November 18
WAB Deadline: December 16
Festival Dates: April 12 - 16, 2012
Chicago Underground Film Festival
Early Deadline: November 21
WAB Deadline: March 15, 2012
Festival Dates: May 31 - June 7, 2012