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When you're covering a film festival and are stuck for a lede, there's one readymade that always works -- write about how you're actually attending dozens of separate festivals. Because you can only see a fraction of what's on display, you might wind up seeing a string of depressing films or maybe all comedies. Serious social interest documentaries, or forbidding formalist experimentations. You write about how at a communal event that is all about bringing people together you are alone in your own curatorial solipsism.

I'm not going to write that piece today; I've done it too many times before. But I thought of this old journalistic shortcut while talking to a filmmaker on the shuttle bus yesterday. He seemed down; from what I could tell, Sundance wasn't going his way. I murmured some encouraging words and told him that it's all about the long game, there will be more festivals, films can take time to find their audience. Etc. Later, I thought about this filmmaker when reading Brian Newman's excellent Sundance wrap-up. For Newman, looking at the festival from the perspective of new media and DIY strategy, this year's festival is all good cheer. He writes:

"But probably my favorite thing was that the mood among the DIY indies was so upbeat. People were clearly ready to make their own new system, they have the tools and case studies to help them and were, frankly, completely unafraid of the new world order. I've always hung around this crowd a bit, so I get that people have been happily doing DIY for a long time, but this time it was clear that DIY had gone mainstream. People are slowly starting to 'get it' a bit more and every single day I learned something new from a filmmaker doing something different. That's a good thing."

I thought I should ask Newman to give a pep talk to my bus-riding filmmaker friend. But then, just a few hours later, I ran into a sales rep. She said she was having a great festival. "I've never seen anything like this buying spree," she commented, saying that she was about to close on another title. Which one, I asked. You guessed it — it was the film of the filmmaker I met earlier. "He seemed kind of down," I said. "Oh, he got one bad review but all the good ones are coming out now. His film is going to be fine."

How to measure mood, the vibe of the business? Obviously, anecdotal evidence is flawed. Do we use The Wrap's scorecard (24 films sold so far)? Or perhaps something fancier is needed, a Consumer Sentiment Index of the indie film business? Something cranked out via algorithm by a team of statisticians holed up in the basement of Sundance's Marriott Headquarters. Or maybe an Indie Film National Debt Clock, ticking away at Kimball Junction? All ideas for next year...

Best,
Scott Macaulay
Editor

IN THIS NEWSLETTER
Editor's Note
Sundance Blog & Features
Sundance Responses
Sundance Video
SUNDANCE BLOG & FEATURES
In the blog, Brandon Harris gives us a look at the titles inside his critic's notebook (including The Catechism Cataclysm, pictured left), and we post our latest volunteer video, co-produced by Kenneth Cole.

To read more posts from our blog, click here.

"SEPTIEN" DIRECTOR MICHAEL TULLY By Nick Dawson

Michael Tully began his career with a flurry, getting selected for Filmmaker's 25 New Faces of Independent Film in 2006 on the back of his debut feature Cocaine Angel, and then following it up the next year with Silver Jew, a documentary about Silver Jews frontman David Berman. In the years since, Tully has stayed active, shooting Mary Bronstein's Yeast, acting in a handful of movies by fellow Generation DIY peers, including Aaron Katz's Quiet City and Ry Russo-Young's You Won't Miss Me, and editing the indie film website Hammer to Nail. But, in terms of new films, he has kept his head below the parapet. Now, however, he's back with his second narrative feature, Septien. more

SUNDANCE RESPONSES
"THE INTERRUPTERS," DIRECTOR STEVE JAMES Making The Interrupters was, by its very nature, a series of hoped-for surprises: Producer Alex Kotlowitz and I wanted to be awakened in the middle of the night by a violence interrupter and told we should come quick to capture them dealing with a potential mediation. No such moment was more surprising than "Flamo," a young man full of rage, making his entrance into our film by opening his front door and angrily flinging his cell phone out into the snow. more

"KABOOM," WRITER-DIRECTOR GREGG ARAKI Our biggest surprise with Kaboom had to be the crazy standing ovation we got at our Cannes Premiere. I was in the Grand Palais, literally the hugest movie theatre I've ever seen, with five young actors from the cast, producers, crew, etc., all dressed up in our tuxes and the girls in these stunning gowns and we were all totally intimidated and terrified. more

"THE BENGALI DETECTIVE," DIRECTOR PHILIP COX Making The Bengali Detective was an incredibly intense period of filmmaking. I and my small team had no idea where our detective and his investigations would lead us. Each client brought their own revelations and twisting storyline. We had a central character die during the production, a subject who discovered her husband was sleeping with her brother's wife. more


SUNDANCE VIDEO
LEGENDARY DP VILMOS ZSIGMOND AT SLAMDANCE '11 By Jamie Stuart

Vilmos Zsigmond, the Oscar-winning cinematographer of such films as Close Encounters of the Third Kind, The Deer Hunter, McCabe & Mrs. Miller, The Sugarland Express and The Long Goodbye, dropped by unexpectedly to discusses his work and his latest film, Summer Children, which is playing at Slamdance. Here is the uncut footage. see video

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