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National University
Editor's Note

I want to talk about Hans Haacke and Trent Reznor, but give me a moment to get from the first to the second.

Haacke is a German-born artist whose conceptual work often interrogates the political and cultural associations produced by the sponsorship of art by corporations and large-scale funders. Rather than celebrate the purity of art and the artist, Haacke sees the contemporary artist exhibiting his or her work at a museum in a show sponsored by, say Exxon or Philip Morris, as being part of the “consciousness industry.” For Haacke, when framed in such a way, the art itself becomes complicit in the messaging of the corporation. And, furthermore, when faced with a system in which the only way for a museum to support the arts is to actively seek such corporate sponsorship, it is only natural, Haacke believes, that the artist, consciously or not, start shaping his or work to the ideological preferences of the funder. In this way, art itself changes. In an essay entitled “Museums: Managers of Consciousness,” he wrote:

"Those engaged in collaboration with the public relations officers of companies rarely see themselves as promoters of acquiescence. On the contrary, they are usually convinced that their activities are in the best interests of art. Such a well-intentioned delusion can survive only as long as art is perceived as a mythical entity above mundane interests and ideological conflict. And it is, of course, this misunderstanding of the role that products of the consciousness industry play which constitutes the indispensable base for all corporate strategies of persuasion.

It was never easy for museums to preserve or regain a degree of maneuverability and intellectual integrity. It takes stealth, intelligence, determination -- and some luck. But a democratic society demands nothing less than that."

Okay, this analogy is way imperfect, but I thought about the honest, ascetic rigor of Haacke’s arguments and the controversies they’ve created in the art world this week after reading the article by Jon Pareles in The New York Sunday Times entitled “Trent Reznor’s Frustration and Fury: Take It. It’s Free.” In it, Reznor reacts against the supposition being promoted by Chris Anderson and others that intellectual property is all destined to become “free” by himself beating everyone else in the race to the bottom and giving away his last two albums on the internet.

From the piece:

"Mr. Reznor has no global solution for how to sustain a long-term career as a recording musician, much less start one, when listeners take free digital music for granted. “It’s all out there,” he added. “I don’t agree that it should be free, but it is free, and you can either accept it or you can put your head in the sand.”"

I thought about Haacke, though, when Reznor talked about the one road he doesn’t want to take in the new free economy. He knows what he doesn’t want to do: make his music a marketing accessory. “Now just making good music, or great music, isn’t enough,” Mr. Reznor said. “Now I have to sell T-shirts, or I have to choose which whorish association is the least stinky. I don’t really want to be on the side of a bus or in a BlackBerry ad hawking some product that sucks just so I can get my record out. I want to maintain some dignity and self-respect in the process, if that’s possible these days.”

Thank you. I’m glad somebody has come out and said that the technological innovation of the internet, with all its price-decimating properties, shouldn’t obligate us all to become the filler in between banner ads just in order to be seen. But that’s just what a lot of people are saying artists of all kinds must become in order to get their work seen these days.

As Haacke would ask, what ideologies does such acquiescence require us to endorse? Going further, what does that do for our work? Do our movies mean the same if they are sliced and diced and released like time-release drugs over social networks? Or if animated bugs hawk products and shows by pirouetting in their lower thirds? Or if their narrative structures are reshaped to accomodate the expectations of those who’d rather play them as games?

Yeah, I know, all of this is just another form of advertising, and advertising has been around forever. But there’s something pernicious about the assumption that history is leading the filmmaker to the place where such behavior is unquestioned in the name of independence.

Okay, that’s enough of a rant for this week. Go out and see some movies. On the big screen. While you still can.


Scott Macaulay

Pepe Danquart's To the Limit follows two mountain-climbing brothers, Thomas and Alexander Huber, as they set out to break the record in speed-climbing at the 1,000 foot vertical nose of El Capitan in Yosemite Valley, California. To the Limit is Danquart's third sports-themed film, and showcases the stunning mountains of Patagonia and Yosemite, as well as two men who attempt to do what no one has done before.


Dario Argento’s latest feature Mother Of Tears, is the much coveted final installment of his "Three Mothers" trilogy, with lead honors going to daughter Asia Argento, as an American studying art restoration in Rome, Italy. When she unearths an ancient, sealed urn chained to a coffin, the expected outbreak of supernatural violence ensues, rivalling anything seen in the first two films.

Read more about the film here, or in the latest issue of Filmmaker Magazine.


This week on the blog, Conor Fetting-Smith reports on IFP's Independent Filmmaker Labs, which just launched their 4 day Narrative Lab program at Soho House in New York City, Scott Macaulay clues us in on coverage of the "Where Film and Internet Collide" event hosted at the IFC Center last week with the IFP and IndieGoGo, and André Salas comments on NYCs Pioneer theater (left) and their excellent cult and arthouse film programming.

To read more posts from our blog, click here.


Eleven narrative films poised to make their mark at film festivals in the coming year have been selected to participate in IFP's prestigious Independent Filmmaker Lab, taking place all this week at Soho House in New York City.

For the first time ever, Narrative Lab participants will also be eligible for the Independent Filmmaker Finishing Grant, a new $50,000 grant which will be awarded annually courtesy of an anonymous donation to the program. The juried award will be presented during IFP's Independent Film Week in September.

Selected to participate are: Ricky Shane Reid’s At the Foot of a Tree; Jim Issa’s Good Intentions; Terence Nance’s How Would You Feel? Vol. 1-7; Gerry Balasta’s The Mountain Thief; Patrick Epino’s Mr. Sadman; Duane Allen Humeyestewa’s Periphery; Dia Sokol’s Sorry, Thanks; David Lowery’s St. Nick; Joseph Cashiola’s A Thing As Big As The Ocean; E. E. Cassidy’s We Are The Mods and Tariq Tapa’s Zero Bridge.


By Nick Dawson

For more than 40 years, Werner Herzog has been redrawing the map, both cinematically and geographically. He started making short films in the mid-1960s, and made an impact internationally with Aguirre: The Wrath of God (1972), the tale of a mad conquistador's doomed jungle quest, the first of five collaborations with actor Klaus Kinski.

Encounters at the End of the World, Herzog's latest documentary, proves that at the age of 65 he is still undaunted by the world's least hospitable places. read more

Festival Deadlines

Austin Film Festival Screenplay Competition
Submission Deadline: June 1
Festival Dates: Oct. 16-23

San Diego Film Festival
Submission Deadline: June 2
Festival Dates: Sept. 25-28

Woodstock Film Festival
Submission Deadline: June 2 (Early)
Festival Dates: Oct. 1-5

Raindance Film Festival
Submission Deadline: June 6
Festival Dates: Oct. 1-12

AFI Fest
Submission Deadline: June 13, July 21 (Final)
Festival Dates: Oct. 30-Nov. 9

Mill Valley Film Festival
Submission Deadline: June 16
Festival Dates: Oct. 2-12

Indie Memphis Film Festival
Submission Deadline: June 16, July 15 (Final)
Festival Dates: Oct. 9-16

Find more festival deadlines here.


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