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Cinevegas Film Festival
Editor's Note

Iím packing my suitcase to fly to L.A. in the morning, taking a break to write this Editorís note, and thinking about the Spirits and the Oscars. I will be attending the former (I chaired the committee for the Producer Award) and plan to be back here in NYC in front of the TV by the time the Oscars kick off on Sunday night. Every year thereís one title that seriously overlaps the two awards, and this year itís -- no surprise -- Juno. The Jason Reitman-helmed, Diablo Cody-scripted comedy has now become one of the biggest specialty hits of all time as well as the subject of much speculation about why exactly the film has proved so successful to so many different audiences. Yes, itís funny, well acted, and well directed, but that usually only gets you to a $60 million gross or so. The film is currently up to $125 million in the U.S., and from the lightbox posters I saw last week all over Paris, itís poised to do well abroad too. Obviously, the film is incredibly winning, but its deftly played ending in which obvious narrative beats are sidestepped while traditional functions of comedy (the harmonious reconciliation of opposing societal forces) are upheld is what I think puts the film over the top. One can find the filmís blithe avoidance of real-world teen pregnancy issues puzzling while still approving of an ending in which the concept of a stable family unit is given the gentlest of humanistic tweaks.

Speaking of Juno, here are links to two related Filmmaker pieces. We profiled two of the producers, Lianne Halfon and Russell Smith, back in 2003 and selected star Ellen Page (scroll to bottom of page) as one of our 25 New Faces in 2005.

Enjoy the awards shows and see you next week.


Scott Macaulay


Michel Gondry once again steps into his imagination and comes out with a beautiful story about friendship, creativity, and most of all, the enjoyment of movies. In the film Jerry (Jack Black) and Mike (Mos Def) are friends living in Passaic, NJ who after a freak accident inadvertently erase all the movies in Mike's video store. Hoping no one will notice, the two grab a video camera and recreate the films (like Ghostbusters, Robocop and Boyz n The Hood). Suddenly their versions become more popular in the community than the originals. Whether you want to call the film Gondry's stance on fair use or just having fun with some of the most memorable titles of the past few decades, for film lovers and fans of Gondry's surreal style, this is a can't-miss movie.


On the shelf due to music clearance rights since garnering rave reviews at Sundance in 2007, this clever horror film by Atlanta-based filmmakers David Bruckner, Dan Bush and Jacob Gentry is finally ready for release. Set in the fictitious town of Terminus, the film is broken into three sections (or, as they call them, "transmissions") which the filmmakers helmed separately. The story follows Ben (Justin Welborn) and Mya (Anessa Ramsey) as they try to escape the town that has suddenly gone crazy after a strange signal carried through phone lines and televisions infects the populace. Each section has its own style, varying from the lighthearted to the serious, but together they form s single story that's filled with both social staire as well as eye-popping gore.


By Jason Guerrasio

With so many strong docs coming out of Sundance in 2007 (Manda Bala (Send A Bullet), Crazy Love, My Kid Could Paint That, No End In Sight, War Dance, Zoo, ect.), Daniel Karslake's For The Bible Tells Me So was lost in the shuffle, but this interesting look at how religious anti-gay bias is based almost solely upon a misinterpretation of the Bible, the film should now take its place as one of the best docs that came out of last yearís festival. Hailed at festivals around the country, For the Bible Tells Me So is now getting an impressive home release through First Run Features. read more

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


This week on the blog, Nick Dawson comments on the Foreign Language Oscar category; Scott Macaulay remembers French writer and film director Alain Robbe-Grillet (pictured left), who died on Monday; Macaulay also brings our attention to a piece by Variety's Ann Thompson on marketing challenges facing filmmakers distributing their films online and a Red Band trailer of David Gordon Green's latest, Pineapple Express.

To read more posts from our blog, click here.


Documentary Rough Cut Lab
May 6 - 9, 2008
Submission deadline: March 7

Narrative Rough Cut Lab
June 11 - 14, 2008
Submission deadline: April 11

Given the pivotal role that festivals play in launching emerging filmmakers, IFP designed its Labs to assist in tackling the creative and technical challenges of completing projects before they are submitted to festivals.
These four-day workshops are lead by a seasoned group of independent producers who are the primary advisors for each project. Participants also receive individual attention on their work in sessions with Workshop Leaders who give feedback and advice on specific technical, creative and post-production issues Ė ranging from music clearance to creative editorial solutions to festival strategies. The program is open to all first-time, narrative & documentary feature filmmakers who have completed the majority of principal photography. As a commitment to diversity, IFP seeks to ensure that at least 50% of participating projects have an inclusive range of races, genders, sexual orientations, ethnicities and physical abilities in key creative positions. Projects from the Independent Film Labs have already found success on the festival circuit. 2007 Narrative Lab project The New Year Parade (dir. Tom Quinn) won the Grand Prize for Narrative Feature at the 2008 Slamdance Film Festival and will also play at SXSW in March. Post-Labs, IFP continues to offer support through its year round programming assistance, offering guidance, promotional support, funding opportunities, screenings and showcases for Lab Alumni. This includes the Adrienne Shelly Directorís Grant (a $10,000 grant to a current or recent female directing alumnus of the program), promotion and marketing assistance through access to the Independent Film Labs blog, an invitational showcase screenings of 2 Ė 3 minute clips from each of the selected films which will take place during this yearís IFP Market in September, and industry screenings for Lab Fellows from diverse backgrounds in 2008.

For submissions criteria or to apply, log onto

To read more about the IFP Independent Film Labs and its past participants, log onto


By Scott Macaulay

Continuing our look at the nominated films that have appeared in the magazine or on the Website in the last year, Scott Macaulay interviewed Away From Her director Sarah Polley for the Spring '07 issue ("Speak, Memory"). Away From Her is nominated for Best Lead Actress (Julie Christie) and Best Adapted Screenplay (Sarah Polley).

Whether it is as the paralyzed survivor in Atom Egoyan's The Sweet Hereafter or the zombie apocalypse heroine in Zack Snyderís remake of Dawn of the Dead, Sarah Polley brings something fascinating yet almost indescribable to all of her roles. A strange gravity, perhaps, or a keen sense of questioning ó or maybe just the sense that something is going on inside. The sophisticated sensibility Polley brings to her work as an actress is every bit on display in her astonishing directorial debut, Away From Her. The film, adapted from Alice Munroís short story ďThe Bear Came Over the Mountain,Ē is sagacious about human relationships, and, in its cool, precise execution, seems free of the compromises and anxieties that simmer beneath the surface in so many first features. At the same time, itís not afraid to be emotional, and it reaches its feelings with honesty and without manipulation. read more

Click here to view all Oscar Preview stories.

Festival Deadlines

Akron Independent Film Festival
Submission Deadline: Feb. 26
Festival Dates: April 3 - April 6

Kansas International Film Festival
Submission Deadline: Feb. 28 (early)
Festival Dates: Sept. 19 - 25

Jacksonville Film Festival
Submission Deadline: March 10 (early)
Festival Dates: May 15 - 21

New York International Latino Film Festival
Submission Deadline: March 14
Festival Dates July TBA

To see more fest deadlines, click here.


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