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National University

One of the things Iíve discussed quite a bit in this weekly newsletter in recent months is the changing landscape of independent film distribution. Like everyone, Iím interested in how digital downloads and VOD will not only change the way we watch movies but will also change what those movies are. A lot of my friends are purists and romantics about these notions, arguing that the theatrical experience must be preserved at all costs. To be somewhat contrarian Iíve taken to saying that Iíd be perfectly happy if the aesthetic satisfaction of seeing a great movie could somehow arrive in my ďinĒ box this morning.

But, having said all of that... I have seen some great movies in theaters recently. The one-two of the Toronto Film Festival and the New York Film Festival have given me one of the best viewing sprees Iíve had in a long time. Just in the last ten days Iíve seen The Class, Summer Hours, Wendy and Lucy and The Wrestler Ė all fantastic, and all made even more fantastic by having seen them in theaters. Yes, thereís the satisfaction of seeing a film as part of an audience, but for me whatís most important about the theatrical experience is its ability to focus our attention on the film while simultaneously granting us the private social space to allow our minds to wander while we do so.

So since Iím celebrating for the moment the old-fashioned notion of seeing movies in theaters, Iíll urge you to do so twice this weekend as two tremendously important debut films show up in theaters. The first is Lance Hammerís Ballast, which you can read about in the capsule blurb below. The second is a film I also more-than-highly recommend, and for whatever reason it hasnít gotten the press attention it deserves. Joshua Safdieís The Pleasure of Being Robbed is a beautiful ode to the joys and irresponsibilities of youth, and itís inflected with a freewheeling love of cinema thatís reminiscent of the early French New Wave. The film follows the absolutely riveting Eleonore Hendricks as she treats other peopleís private property like dazzling baubles to pick up and play with in the toy store of modern life. But to dub her a shoplifter or thief is to miss the point of this exhilarating film, which is an indescribable blend of early Godard, Jacques Tati and the downtown New York cinema of the Ď70s and Ď80s. The film also introduces to feature audiences Red Bucket Films, an imaginative and hardworking collective of young filmmakers who are building up an indispensable catalog of shorts, web videos and, now, features. (Safdie is about to begin his second full-length, which will this time star Frownland writer-director Ronald Bronstein.)

At the moment, The Pleasure of Being Robbed is only booked in New York. It premieres at the IFC Center on Friday and is only scheduled for a one-week run. I hope it will play elsewhere in the country soon after, and I understand it will appear on VOD at the end of the month. I give it my highest recommendation - donít miss it.

So, like Iíve been doing, get old-school this week and if you are in New York buy tickets to Ballast and The Pleasure of Being Robbed. These are great new filmmakers, and you should get in on the ground floor with them by enjoying these two new indie classics in the theaters.

See you next week.

Since premiering at Sundance earlier in the year, Lance Hammer's debut feature has been one of the most lauded directorial debuts in recent American independent film. Walking away with Best Cinematography and Best Directing awards at the fest, it has been celebrated for it's sparse yet moving portrait of three people's intertwined lives in the Delta after a horrific moment shakes them in different ways. Yet when it came to distribution Hammer turned down the best distribution deal he was offered, deciding instead to self-distribute (learn more below on how you can see the film and support the filmmaker in the New York City area). His decision has, then, made Ballast not just an astonishing first feature but also a rallying cry for an accelerating DIY distribution movement that would like to see a combination of grass-roots theatrical marketing and digital strategies benefit the independent filmmaker. In an interview with Hammer in our Fall issue, on stands later this month, the director admits "It's a gamble. It could flop, in that it goes by the wayside and nobody hears about it. But you've got to have faith in your film, and that's what I'm doing."

"It's about people who are passionate about music, especially new music, and most importantly because it's about falling in love in the East Village, which is something that I've experienced." That's what director Peter Sollet tells Nick Dawson in this week's Director Interviews about what attracted him to make Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist. His long-awaited sophomore effort after making Raising Victor Vargas in 2002, Sollet once again examines young love in New York, but this time in a more polished fashion with studio money and the talents of wunderkind Michael Cera.


This week on the blog, Lance Weiler posts a dispatch from ,b>Film Independent's 4th annual Filmmaker Forum, Scott Macaulay posts producer Ted Hope's keynote address at Filmmaker Forum and remembers Paul Newman (pictured left).

To read more posts from our blog, click here.
A new IFP program designed to connect audiences directly with new independent films being self-distributed launches today with Lance Hammerís Sundance award-winning debut feature, Ballast. Supporting the crucial first weekend box office, $25 tickets to the October 2nd event includes admission to the 8 p.m. screening at Film Forum, an invitation to the post-screening Q & A between Hammer and Tony Award-winning playwright/poet/activist/actress Sarah Jones (Bridge & Tunnel), and an invite to the exclusive after-party with the filmmaker and members of the NYC arts community, including members of the Host Committee - artists such as Vera Farmiga, Kerry Washington, Neil LaBute, Salman Rushdie, Jonathan Lethem, and Adam Yauch, who have lent their names in support of the effort and will be hosting these quarterly events. Full box-office proceeds will go directly toward the filmís theatrical run.

To learn more about the program.

For tickets.

Jamie Stuart continues his series of shorts from the 46th New York Film Festival with an appearance from Steven Soderbergh and a chance encounter with a woman in distress... or is she? see short

Palm Springs International Film Festival
Submission Deadline: Oct. 3
Festival Dates: Jan. 6-19

Cinequest Screenwriting Competition
Submission Deadline: Oct. 10
Festival Dates: Feb. 25-March 9

Ann Arbor Film Festival
Submission Deadline: Oct. 15, Nov. 15 (Late)
Festival Dates: March 24-29

San Francisco Independent Film Festival
Submission Deadline: Oct. 20
Festival Dates: Oct. 17-Nov. 6

Find more festival deadlines, click here.



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