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Editor's Note

No industry news or pithy summary of the Big Trends in Independent Moviemaking this newsletter -- just my and the Filmmaker staff's best wishes to all of our readers for a happy holiday season. We're very grateful for your readership and look forward to bringing you lots of great new content in both the magazine and on the Web in the new year.


Scott Macaulay


Paul Thomas Anderson's There Will Be Blood is an American epic the likes of which have been absent from the big screen for generations. Already boasting comparisons to Greed and Citizen Kane, the quest for the American Dream has never been more bleakly destructive. Day-Lewis’s Daniel Plainview is a man who will stop at nothing to reach the ivory towers of financial eminence, using whatever low-balling, bullying tactics required. The alternate jaw-dropping performance is turned in by Paul Dano, who plays an equally dubious self-appointed profit representing the wrench in Plainview’s grand scheme. The film is pure character study a la Anderson’s previous Punch Drunk Love, and much of the camerawork retains that film’s static, poetic, quality. The soundtrack by Johnny Greenwood of Radiohead fame is quite remarkable and it bolsters the film with an intense soundscape that never falls into bombast.


Off the success of Denzel Washington’s directorial debut, Antwone Fisher, Oprah Winfrey decided to approach the Oscar winning actor to see if he’d come onboard to helm and star in a project ten years in the making about an all-black school in 1930s Texas that defied the odds and became the debating national champions. Washington jumped on board and with Forrest Whitaker co-starring along with the talents of three unknowns the film has built awards buzz, including getting a Golden Globe Best Picture nomination. Opening Christmas Day, this emotional look at the three debaters (played passionately by Nate Parker, Jurnee Smollett and Denzel Whitaker) and their coach’s (Washington) journey to face Harvard for the debating title is an inspiring piece of filmmaking that focuses on the generation of African-Americans that would two decades later be the leaders in the fight for civil rights.

By Mike Plante

Drama/Mex is the bittersweet night-in-the-life tale of three intense, interlaced human relationships. Acapulco serves as the backdrop for the stories of a suicidal man, a 15-year-old runaway, and a young couple facing hardship after a tragic breakup. In his second feature (Malachance is a cool film that deserves a DVD release), writer/director Gerardo Naranjo again shows his skill for capturing life artfully, balancing the best of both melancholy and sobering moments. read more


By Mike Plante

In 1984, German filmmaker Philip Gröning wrote to the Carthusian order for permission to make a documentary about them. Living with them and a camera, Gröning created an amazing document of their world, what they see and do. To call it a documentary might suggest it is a viewpoint of an outsider explaining a subject to other outsiders. But Gröning went deep, filming for six months, providing us an immersive experience without added explanation, 162 minutes of atmosphere with almost no talking. Its a one-of-a-kind film. read more

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


This week on the blog, Nick Dawson reports on Pablo , the animated biopic of artist and filmmaker Pablo Ferro; Scott Macaulay talks with writer/director Maria Maggenti (Puccini for Beginners) about the launch of A Working Writer, a new website; and also announces news of Focus Features new FilmInFocus site.To read more posts from our blog, click here.


Produced by IFP, the Gotham Awards help to kick-off the film awards season by celebrating the year's best independent films. Zoom In is a one-hour documentary featuring behind-the-scenes footage from the Gothams and the stories behind the films and individuals celebrated at the event. Directed by Mario Diaz and produced by IFP, Zoom In features exclusive interviews with Great World of Sound's Kene Holliday and Craig Zobel; I'm Not There's Todd Haynes and Christine Vachon; Into the Wild's Emile Hirsch; Juno's Ellen Page and Jason Reitman; The Namesake's Mira Nair and Lydia Dean Pilcher; No Country For Old Men's Javier Bardem and Josh Brolin; The Savages' Tamara Jenkins and Laura Linney; Talk to Me's Kasi Lemmons; Waitress' Keri Russell, and more. Zoom in debuts exclusively on Netflix's Instant Viewing platform on Friday, December 21.


By Nick Dawson

Our perception of a director hinges heavily on the most recent film they've made. Jake Kasdan's last movie, The TV Set, was a smart, sardonic satire of the process of creating a hit series that drew on Kasdan's own bitter experiences in network television. Though Kasdan had enjoyed working for Judd Apatow on Freaks and Geeks (1999) and Undeclared (2001) — directing episodes for these in between making his first and second features, Zero Effect (1997) and Orange County (2002) — the less positive times he had spent on other shows had given him ample fodder for his film. read more

Festival Deadlines

Aspen 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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