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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.
Life of Pi
Central Park Five
Silver Linings Playbook
Tim Heidecker on The Comedy
Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You Screening Series (November 16-19)
LIFE OF PI In Ang Lee's Life of Pi, a young man (Suraj Sharma) is left to fend for himself at sea after surviving a catastrophic shipwreck. However, he soon discovers a stowaway on his lifeboat and the only other remaining survivor - a Bengal Tiger. The two of them gradually form a bond and embark on an unexpected and wondrous journey together. Based on Yaan Martel's best-selling novel, Ang Lee's Life of Pi has been described as equal parts high-seas adventure and transcendent work of art. CENTRAL PARK FIVE Sarah Burns' Central Park Five documents the story of five Black and Latino teenagers who were wrongfully accused of assaulting a white female jogger in 1989. After spending years in jail, the five were acquitted as the horrible truth behind the crime finally surfaced. Based on her best selling novel, Sarah Burns's critically acclaimed documentary (co-directed by her father Ken Burns and husband David McMahon) sheds a light on one of the most engrossing and tragic crime cases in history. SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK In David O. Russell's Silver Linings Playbook, Pat (Bradley Cooper), an ex-teacher moves in with his parents (Robert DeNiro and Jacki Weaver) after spending time at a mental institution. While he attempts to reconnect with his wife, Pat meets Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), a troubled divorcee who promises to help him get her back - only on her conditions. Gotham Awards 2012 honoree David O. Russell's Silver Linings Playbook (also nominated for Best Picture at the Gothams) is the rare romantic comedy that, according to critics, trades squeamish sentimentality for earnest drama and features some of the finest work from its stellar ensemble. Read Miguel Arteta's interview with David O. Russell and Bradley Cooper from our Fall issue here. This week on the blog, Aaron Cutler interviews Rick Linklater (pictured left), director of Gotham-nominated Bernie, Scott Macaulay makes an announcement about Nicholas Rombes' Blue Velvet Project, and Gregory Collins reports from U.S. In Progress.
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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.
Melbourne International Film Festival
Earlybird Deadline: November 22
Regular Deadline: February 21
Late Deadline: March 14
Festival Dates: July 25 - August 11
Los Angeles Jewish Film Festival
Regular Deadline: November 23
Late Deadline: December 14
WAB Deadline: December 31
Festival Dates: June 8 - 13
Thin Line Film Festival
Late Deadline: November 23
WAB Deadline: November 30
Festival Dates: February 8 - 18