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The past couple of years, we've been challenged even further -- by ourselves. You see, the IFP Narrative and Documentary Labs urge filmmakers to take their distribution destinies into their own hands. Yes, try for a great deal from a mini-major, we say, but if that doesn't happen, be ready to DIY your distribution. Jon Reiss is a lab leader, and he has long proposed strategies like treating your festival premiere as your theatrical launch, and embarking on compressed series of two-day bookings for your theatrical run. So, in other words, we've been counseling people whose films premiere in late Fall, Winter or early Spring not to wait until November for theatrical offers.
So, that's what I tell people in my role as an IFP Lab Leader, and that's the kind of advice we put in the magazine. But, as a Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You jurist, I have to adhere to a different standard. We want the award to be meaningful, we want it to make a difference to filmmakers, and we want it to function as a kind of discovery mechanism. In other words, we still want it to highlight films that haven't gotten distribution. Not just theatrical, but also VOD and television. The problem is, each year the crop of good films fitting those categories diminishes.
It has not diminished too much this year, fortunately, for all five films selected are excellent. And, if you're in New York, you can see them all at the Museum of Modern Art this weekend, where our staff along with Josh Siegel from MoMA will be doing filmmaker Q&A's. Playing are Terence Nance's wildly inventive doc/fiction relationship deconstruction, An Oversimplification of Her Beauty; Amy Seimetz's psycho-noir romance, Sun Don't Shine; Alex Karpovsky's real-life filmmaker comedy, Red Flag; the Zellner brothers' darkly humorous metaphysical exploration, Kid-Thing; and Frank V. Ross's subtle and affecting relationship drama, Tiger Tail in Blue.
I'll be quite surprised if all of these films don't arrive in theaters following the MoMA screenings -- some even sooner than you'd think. Will there be such a strong crop next year? Or will all the good films harness the will of their makers and find ways to arrive somewhere -- theaters, on VOD or on the internet -- shortly after their fest premieres? To be continued...
See you next week.
P.S.: Jamie Stuart, a contributor whose videos have appeared often at Filmmaker, is making his first feature. You can check out his Kickstarter here. BEST FILM NOT PLAYING AT A THEATER NEAR YOU SCREENING SERIES (NOVEMBER 16-19) The annual Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You Screening Series, presented in partnership with the Museum of Modern Art, kicks off November 16th at MoMA. The Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You award, sponsored by Royal Bank of Canada, is 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 five nominated films - singled out from the 2012 festival circuit - will each screen twice at MoMA from November 16 - 21. Most screenings will be followed by Q & A's with the directors: Alex Karpovsky (Red Flag), Terence Nance (An Oversimplification of Her Beauty), Frank V. Ross (Tiger Tail in Blue), Amy Seimetz (Sun Don't Shine) and David Zellner (Kid-Thing). Nominees for the award were selected by the editorial staff and contributors to Filmmaker, and Josh Siegel, Associate Curator, MoMA Department of Film from recommendations by critics, festival programmers and curators. Tickets available at the Museum on the day of screening; MoMA members can reserve in advance. More details here.
Rust and Bone
The Law In These Parts
Tim Heidecker on The Comedy
Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You Screening Series (November 16-19)
RUST AND BONE Jacques Audiard's Rust and Bone follows Ali (Matthias Schoenaerts), a single father who works as a bouncer at a nightclub. One night, he encounters the beautiful Stephanie (Marion Cotillard), whose social status leaves him with little hope of ever reconnecting with her. That is until a horrible accident reunites them - possibly for good. Audiard, whose previous credits include The Beat That My Heart Skipped and A Prophet, has proven to be a master at combining tenderness with brutality. The critically praised Rust and Bone promises to be further evidence of this gift. Check out the latest issue of Filmmaker to read interviews with Audiard and Cotillard. THE LAW IN THESE PARTS Ra'anan Alexandrowicz's The Law In These Parts examines the Israeli judicial system in the West Bank. Alexandrowicz interviews nine judges who help him shed a light on the inner workings of a court system run entirely by the military. Described as an ambitious, highly detailed account of its subject, The Law in These Parts won the World Cinema Grand Jury Prize for documentary at this year's Sundance Film Festival, further cementing Alexandrowicz (The Inner Tour) as an important voice in non-fiction filmmaking. You can read Steven Erickson's interview with Alexandrowicz here. FIRST WINTER Benjamin Dickinson's First Winter focuses on a group of Brooklynites who retreat to a country farmhouse to indulge in sex, drugs and yoga. Their Zen is interrupted however when a freakish snowstorm hits, leaving them without heat or power. As time passes, everyone's deepest fears and anxieties rise to the surface and threaten to tear apart the group forever. The film marks Dickinson's debut feature, which premiered earlier this year at Tribeca. First Winter has been praised for its self assured and dread-induced portrayal of idealism gone awry. On the Filmmaker site, Zach Clark writes an appreciation of the movie. This week on the blog, Nick Dawson shares Jamie Stuart's Eternal Storm (pictured left), a short film on Hurricane Sandy, Gregory Collins anticipates his first trip to The US in Progress market, and Scott Macaulay posts a video of Stephen Elliot talking about his new novel Happy Baby.
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TIM HEIDECKER ON THE COMEDY By Dan Schoenbrun
It's unlikely that anyone had a more schizophrenic Sundance this past January than Tim Heidecker. The 36-year old actor and filmmaker attended the festival with two projects - Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie, the feature-length culmination of his and longtime collaborator Eric Wareheim's cult absurdist comedy TV series Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!, and the ironically named The Comedy, a dark drama from filmmaker Rick Alverson (New Jerusalem). And as both films have rolled out over the past year, Heidecker has had to juggle dueling personae - zany comedic curmudgeon and dramatic leading man.
Hoboken International Film Festival
Earlybird Deadline: November 15
Regular Deadline: February 1
Late Deadline: April 1
WAB Deadline: April 20
Festival Dates: May 31 - June 06
Chicago Underground Film Festival
Regular Deadline: November 15
Late Deadline: December 15
WAB Deadline: January 2
Festival Dates: March 6 - 10
Independent Film Festival of Boston
Regular Deadline: November 15
Late Deadline: November 30
WAB Deadline: December 7
Festival Dates: April 24 - 30