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New York University Tisch Asia
Editor's Note

When it comes to industry news, 2008 has started with a bang. The WGA strike soldiers on, with the guild’s current strategy being a “divide and conquer” one that sees them making one-off deals with everyone from David Letterman to, this past week, Paula Wagner and Tom Cruise’s United Artists. There are rumors currently that two mini-majors will soon follow suit while the conventional wisdom remains that the strike may go until April before it is settled at the studio level. Layoff notices (actually, what are known as WARN notices, which alert employees to possible layoffs) have gone out at Warner Brothers, Picturehouse is reportedly splitting with one of its parents, HBO, and, in big and surprisingly underreported news, Axium Payroll Services suddenly filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy this week. One of the industry’s leading payroll services, Axium handled both studio and independent film payrolls, and its closure is having massive impact on films in production whose payroll monies are now locked in frozen accounts. We’ve been covering this story on the Filmmaker blog – click on the links below for all of the details. Filmmaker’s new issue is just coming off press at the printers and should be on stands in a couple of weeks. It’s a great issue, I think, with a long Paul Thomas Anderson interview, Jonathan Safran Foer interviewing Michel Gondry, and an article on online distribution by Lance Weiler, among many other things. Look for some of this content on our website next week. And, finally, if you are on Facebook, please become a fan of Filmmaker on our new page.


Scott Macaulay


A favorite at the 2007 Toronto Film Festival, The Orphanage (which expands nationwide this weekend) stands out in the current horror marketplace because of its focus on the psychological. This first feature by Juan Antonio Bayona, produced by Guillermo Del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth), follows a woman, played by Belen Rueben (The Sea Inside), who winds up returning to her dark past when she travels to the beautiful seaside orphanage of her childhood. The Orphanage pays homage to classic otherworldly (fairy)tales while being its own distinct creation, challenging you to piece together an increasingly sophisticated and disturbing puzzle.


Writer-director Ilya Chaiken's (Margarita Happy Hour) ultra-low budget, DV-shot film is an honest and modest story about the effects of 9/11 on two friends whose lives are already heading in different directions. In the film Derrick (Al Thompson) and Tico (Kareem Savinon) lose their jobs at the Statue of Liberty after it is closed down due to the terrorist attacks. Trying to deal with their loss of income as well as the city’s altered psyche, they embark on a path that separates them while traversing the drug world, prison and the military.


3:10 TO YUMA
By Jason Guerrasio

In remaking the 1957 classic Western starring Van Heflin and Glenn Ford, director James Mangold (Walk The Line) thankfully doesn't bastardize the solid story or the sanctity of the original. Instead he returns to the source material (an Elmore Leonard short story) and creates this battle of wills between a struggling rancher (Christian Bale) and the notorious leader of a band of outlaws (Russell Crowe) with respect to the genre and a kick in the pants for a new generation of viewers. read more

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


This week on the blog, Scott Macaulay reports on one of the film industry's largest payroll services, Axium, closing its doors and how it will effect independent films; Macaulay also highlights Lance Weiler's multi-exhibition-platform film festival From Here To Awesome (pictured left); Jason Guerrasio learns of filmmaker AJ Schnack's new nonfiction award which plans to bring greater appreciation to documentary films.

To read more posts from our blog, click here.


The teams from 14 IFP Program Alumni projects will be making the trip to Park City next week for the Sundance and Slamdance Film Festivals. At Sundance, narrative projects include Jennifer Phang's Half Life, an alum of the 2005 IFP Narrative Rough Cut Lab; Courtney Hunt's Frozen River, a two-time IFP Market alum via both Emerging Narrative (2005) and No Borders (2006); and Alex Rivera's 2000 No Borders project Sleep Dealer. Documentary alums at Sundance include the former IFP Market docs Fields of Fuel (2004), directed by Josh Tickell; Secrecy (2006), directed by Peter Galison and Robb Moss; and Traces of the Trade (2001, 2006), directed by Katrina Browne and co-directed by Alla Kovgan and Jude Ray. Also at Sundance are two short films that are fiscally sponsored by IFP -- Tim Sternberg's Salim Baba and John Magary's The Second Line. Appearing at the Slamdance Film Festival will be Tom Quinn's feature The New Year Parade, an alum of the 2007 IFP Narrative Rough Cut Lab; the IFP Market docs My Mother's Garden (2006), directed by Cynthia Lester; and Virginia Williams's Frontrunner, Jeffrey Schwarz's Spine Tingler! The William Castle Story, Cheryl Furjanic's Sync or Swim, and John Ealer and Laura Bialis's View From the Bridge: Stories from Kosovo, all from the 2007 Market. IFP staffers Amy Dotson and Milton Tabbot will be in attendance, along with executive director Michelle Byrd, who will be serving on the Sundance Documentary Competition jury.


By Nick Dawson

After years as a theater director, Abby Epstein has transitioned into being one of the most important new female voices in documentary film. Epstein began directing plays in the 1980s in Chicago where she started her own theater company, Roadworks Productions. In the late 1990s, she relocated to New York to helm the highly successful Broadway musical RENT. Notable amongst numerous other credits is her involvement with Eve Ensler's seminal The Vagina Monologues, which she directed during its New York run as well as its North American tour. Epstein's second documentary, The Business of Being Born, also grew out of her connection to The Vagina Monologues, as it was instigated by former Monologues actress Ricki Lake. Shocked at the results of her own research into the birth industry, Lake asked Epstein to make a film about childbirth. The resulting movie is a damning indictment of the American medical profession which reveals how it excessively and detrimentally intervenes in women's pregnancy and labor. read more

Festival Deadlines

Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles
Submission Deadline: Jan. 7
Festival Dates: April 22 - 27

Atlanta Film Festival
Submission Deadline: Jan. 11
Festival Dates: April 10 - 19

Palm Beach International Film Festival
Submission Deadline: Jan. 21
Festival Dates: April 10-17

Independent Film Festival of Boston
Submission Deadline: Jan. 31
Festival Dates: April 23 - 29

To see more fest deadlines, click here.


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