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New York University Tisch Asia
Editor's Note

The big film news this week was the release of the Sundance list, that annual post-Thanksgiving ritual for filmmakers that either sends them into alternating spasms of ecstasy and completion-anxiety or, for those who didn’t make the cut, a particularly brutal cinematic variant of Seasonal Affective Disorder. It’s too early — and the list is too dense — for state-of-the-industry philosophizing over its contents, although fest director Geoff Gilmore told Variety that this year’s selections are “not as political and social-issue oriented” as last year’s. He characterized today’s world as a “troubled place” and said that filmmakers are finding a way of “persevering, not succumbing” as they make their way through it. Typically, there are plenty of big names in this year's Sundance films — Colin Farrell, Jack Black, Sienna Miller and even Robert DeNiro topline some of the selections — but I’m sure what we’ll wind up most excited about are the fest’s under-the-radar discoveries. Going into the festival I’m excited to see movies from Filmmaker's 25 New Faces alumni like Alex Rivera (Sleep Dealer), Megan Holley (Sunshine Cleaning), Daniel Barnz (Phoebe in Wonderland), Azazel Jacobs (Momma’s Man), Geoff Haley (The Last Word) and Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck (Sugar) as well as the directorial debuts of genius music video director Johan Renck (Downloading Nancy) and the brilliant d.p. Ellen Kuras, whose documentary Nerakhoon was filmed over a 23-year period.


Scott Macaulay


Since its premiere at the Toronto Film Festival in September, Jason Reitman's Juno has become a word of mouth sensation. The rags-to-riches backstory of its screenwriter, Diablo Cody, a former stripper-turned author who was discovered by a New York agent via her online blog and crafted a whip-smart coming of age screenplay, is now the Oscar frontrunner for Best Original Screenplay. And in one of the year's best performances, Ellen Page, one of Filmmaker's 25 New Faces in 2005, brings the sassy title character to brilliant life. Rounded out by an impressive supporting cast (Micheal Cera, Jennifer Garner and Jason Bateman), Juno certainly has the chops to be an awards-season powerhouse.


Just in time for the holiday season, Morgan Spurlock (Super Size Me) brings us a Christmas tale that is sure to cause some controversy. What Would Jesus Buy?, directed by Rob VanAlkemade, introduces Reverend Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping's Gospel Choir to the big screen as they load up their bus for a cross country trip and attempt to save people from the holiday season's rampant consumerism. The film is much less silly then it sounds, and actually brings forth several issues most people forget to think about this time of year, such as how much consumers really spend, the risk of debt, and what the big chain stores do to local economies.

By André Salas

Some DVD titles have been issued and re-issued to the point where it's a bit difficult to get excited when a new edition is announced. Such is the case with F.W. Murnau's expressionist horror masterpiece, Nosferatu. We've seen crappy un-authorized versions, including one with a goth-metal score by Type-O Negative. So I was a bit skeptical when Nosferatu: The Ultimate Edition crossed my desk. Then I actually popped the thing into my DVD player. read more


By Mike Plante

Writer-director Bryan Poyser's Dear Pillow, the story of an aspiring writer's journey into magazine porn, excels in tone and acting and contains great realistic touches by cast members Rusty Kelley, Gary Chason and Viviane Vives. When the real and porn worlds start to clash, the plot stays believable - you start to feel like you are intruding into their conversations. The faraway porn world could be just next door. Thankfully, the film never reaches sensationalism. Whether that’s good or bad for you, it's best for the film. read more

To read more posts on our favorite upcoming DVDs, click here.


This week on the blog, Jason Guerrasio passes along the official title selection for the upcoming Slamdance Film Festival, reports on the settlement between the Ann Arbor Film Festival and the State of Michigan, and gives us the scoop on Martin Scorcese's short film tribute to the master of suspense himself, Alfred Hitchcock (pictured left). To read more posts from our blog, click here.


The 17th Annual Gotham Awards will be broadcast nationally on The Documentary Channel on Saturday, December 8th from 8:00pm-10:00pm EST, and locally on NYC TV at the same time. You can also watch clips from the ceremony now on NYC TV’s VOD Player. And a special documentary on the Gothams – produced by IFP – will be available via Netflix VOD in mid-December. Stay tuned for more info.


By Nick Dawson

You might say that Jennifer Venditti is a people person. After starting out as a fashion stylist, she moved on to casting where she distinguished herself as someone with an eye for the unconventional as well as the beautiful. It was while casting her friend Carter Smith's short film, Bugcrush, that Venditti first met Billy Price, a teenager with behavioral problems, and realized that she wanted to make a film about him. Billy the Kid, Venditti's resulting documentary is a remarkable portrait of a unique human being, a true original. read more

Festival Deadlines

Aspan Shortsfest
Submission Deadline: Dec. 15
Festival Dates: April 2, 2008 - April 6

Atlanta Film Festival
Submission Deadline: Dec 14 (early), Jan. 11, 2008 (late)
Festival Dates: April 10, 2008 - April 19

Boston Underground Film Festival
Submission Deadline: Dec. 14
Festival Dates: March 27, 2008 - March 30

Rome FilmFest
Submission Deadline: Dec. 15
Festival Dates: April 4, 2008 - April 12

Wisconsin Film Festival
Submission Deadline: Dec. 31
Festival Dates: April 3, 2008 - April 6

New York Underground Film Festival
Submission Deadline: Jan. 15
Festival Dates: April 2, 2008 - April 8

To see more fest deadlines, click here.

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