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All of the above is to say that I'm really looking forward to the IFP's Independent Film Week and Filmmaker Conference this year. And, yes, the IFP publishes Filmmaker, and we're involved with one of the events, but, really, I'm not just saying that. When I looked over the schedule for the first time, I thought, wow, there's a lot of stuff here that I want to go to.
Independent Film Week runs September 16 - 20 in New York at various locations around Lincoln Center. If you haven't been to it before, it can seem a bit confusing at first because it's actually several different events, some of which are open to the public and some of which are not. If you're a filmmaker attending the Project Forum, you've already been in touch with the IFP and don't need my guidance. But if you're heard about the Filmmaker Conference portion of Independent Film Week, which is open to the public (and yes, tickets are still available), you might be wondering what's so interesting about this year's program. Here, then, are six events I'm looking forward to.
A BIG WEEK: GOTHAMS DEADLINE, INDEPENDENT FILM WEEK, AND FILMMAKER CONFERENCE This Friday, September 16th, is the deadline for U.S. independent films scheduled for release in 2012 to be submitted for consideration for the Gotham Independent Film Awards. Submissions can be made to the five competitive categories that accept open submissions - Best Feature, Best Documentary, Breakthrough Director, Breakthrough Actor, and Best Ensemble Performance. Nominees in all categories will be announced on October 18th. For info on Gothams criteria, click here. Later this weekend, IFP begins its 34th Independent Film Week in which 161 projects in development and production will be presented to more than 500 attending industry reps who can potentially partner to help move those projects forward on a financing, sales representation, broadcast or distribution level. Concurrently, the Filmmaker Conference will contain keynotes from producer Christine Vachon and Focus Features' James Schamus, filmmaker JC Chandor, ARTE's Michel Reilhac, and the Ford Foundation's Orlando Bagwell, as well as case studies of Beasts of the Southern Wild and How to Survive a Plague. Conference tickets are still available; for the schedule, click here.
I'm Carolyn Parker: The Good, the Mad and the Beautiful
Melanie Shatzky and Brian M. Cassidy, Francine
Big Week: Gothams Deadline, Independent Film Week, and Filmmaker Conference
THE MASTER In Paul Thomas Anderson's post-World War II drama The Master, Freddie (Joaquin Phoenix), a meandering naval veteran, finds hope when he meets Lancaster (Philip Seymour Hoffman), the leader of a Scientology-esque religious organization. Their bond is threatened, however, when Freddie begins to question his master's logic. Judging from the film's trailers and clips, Anderson's highly anticipated follow-up to 2007's There Will Be Blood (also scored by Radiohead's Jonny Greenwood) promises to be a powerful and unsettling film experience with powerhouse performances from both Hoffman and Phoenix. I'M CAROLYN PARKER: THE GOOD, THE MAD AND THE BEAUTIFUL Jonathan Demme's I'm Carolyn Parker: The Good, the Mad and the Beautiful is a portrait of the inspiring New Orleans resident who faced all odds in reclaiming her home following Hurricane Katrina. The film documents Parker's life as a child in segregated New Orleans, a civil rights activist, a culinary queen and finally, one of the preeminent spokespersons in the wake of Katrina's devastation. Demme's documentary is a moving and enlightening portrait of this highly endearing figure. FRANCINE In Brian M. Cassidy and Melanie Shatzky's Francine, the titular character (Melissa Leo) struggles to readjust to civilian life after being released from prison. Unable to connect with others, she starts working with animals only to discover an unexpected bond with them. The debut narrative feature by Cassidy and Shatzky (who were selected for Filmmaker's 25 New Faces in 2007) has been praised for its striking realism and Leo's quietly intense performance. Read Damon Smith's interview with the directors here. This week on the blog, Lori Donnelly reviews TIFF entries Ginger & Rosa and Eat Sleep Die (pictured left), Nicki Cruz interviews director Josh Radnor about his film Liberal Arts, and Nick Dawson interviews Filminute nominees Rafael Morais and Vijessna Ferkic about their short film Still Here.
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MELANIE SHATZKY AND BRIAN M. CASSIDY, FRANCINE By Damon Smith
Continuing their exploration in ambiguous factual/fiction blends and tonal portraiture, Melanie Shatzky and Brian M. Cassidy's no-frills narrative feature debut Francine stars Academy Award winner Melissa Leo as an emotionally shattered middle-aged woman looking for a sense of connection after she's paroled from prison. Occupying a battered rental house somewhere in the Hudson Valley, Francine struggles to define herself in relation to others, barely speaking to the manager of the pet store where she's found low-wage work cleaning fish tanks and assisting customers. Wandering through a parking lot in one scene, she comes across a death-metal band performing for a motley clutch of fans--some moshing, others swaying or head-banging--and enjoys a rare, trance-like moment of communion. Other possible routes to human connection, such as when she's invited to a church-sponsored roller-skating event by friendly Linda (Victoria Charkut), resolve poorly in the end and make it clear that Francine is painfully isolated. Another acquaintance, recovering alcoholic Ned (Keith Leonard), takes an interest, too, and finds Francine work at a stable when she's fired from the pet store, among other kindnesses, but his gentle pass at her one evening does not translate into romance. She finds intimacy instead with animals, gradually filling her house with adopted strays, lovingly brushing horses under her care, and eventually working alongside an animal doctor at a veterinary clinic in more intense settings.
Portland International Film Festival
Earlybird Deadline: September 14
Regular Deadline: November 2
Late Deadline: November 9
WAB Deadline: December 16
Festival Dates: February 7 - 23
Glasgow Film Festival
Regular Deadline: September 14
Late Deadline: October 5
WAB Deadline: October 8
Festival Dates: February 3 - 24
Oxford Film Festival
Regular Deadline: September 15
Late Deadline: October 15
WAB Deadline: November 1
Festival Dates: February 21 - 24