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I just got back from the Dubai Film Festival, about which I’ll write next week, and am now at work on the next issue of the magazine, which goes to press a couple of days after Christmas. There’s a lot in the book that I’m excited about, including a great piece by Lance Weiler and the second in Jon Reiss’s DIY tutorials, and this year the responses to the question we posed to all filmmakers attending Sundance are particularly relevant and provocative. So, look for it at Sundance or in your mailboxes in the second half of January. And, if you are not a subscriber, there is still time to take advantage of our annual year-end offer. A year of Filmmaker is 50% off – just $9 for four issues. You can use the subscription code FMWIN08 at this link and be guaranteed of not missing an issue on the newsstand, or you can purchase a subscription for someone else as a gift. In these times, all of us our dependent on each other, and as we at Filmmaker work hard to help you navigate our rapidly changing world, your support as subscribers is greatly appreciated.

The great benefit about festival travel is the ability to catch up with friends outside of the day-to-day pressures and rhythms of one’s home and business. In fact, seeing one friend after another stroll through the door of a meeting room or bar in a foreign country is always slightly surreal. I got to catch up with a few friends and colleagues this week and was struck by how hard everyone is working to try to figure out the current filmmaking environment and also to adapt to it by changing or upgrading their games. Some were figuring out new business models, some were cost-cutting or streamlining their operations. Some were rooting hard for all the opportunities that exist in any time of change, while still others were examining their business systems or ways of organizing their own daily lives. Jon Allen’s Getting Things Done, of which I have mixed feelings about, was on more than one reading list. (For those who haven’t read the book, my two take-aways: the “2-Minute Rule” and always thinking about the “next action” are its essential tips.)

I think one challenge both filmmakers and film journalists need to tackle next year is expanding the reach and appeal to outsiders of what is currently a lively and exciting independent film blogosphere. So much of the energy surrounding indie film fandom is now centered around blogs and talk-back boards. How can we, essentially, monetize this discussion and use it to drive a greater number of paying customers to our films and video stores? How can we make our discussions more inviting to those who are interested in films but don’t see themselves as part of a film culture? Questions for the New Year...

One thing I was hoping to get done this newsletter was a succinct recap of some of this past year’s big independent film stories, but that will have to wait until I finish editing this issue’s copy. One comment, though – there has been a lot of talk around the blogosphere about new ways of approaching the distribution and marketing of indie films. A couple of newsletters ago I asked filmmakers going to Sundance to email me if they were doing anything other than making a poster, hiring a publicist and producers’ rep, and waiting for the champagne to flow as they announce their distribution deal. I wondered if anyone was planning to sell a download from their site the week after Sundance or announce a DIY theatrical tour immediately after their premiere. I got no responses. Is no one thinking outside of the box this year? If you are approaching things a different way, email me at editor.filmmakermagazine AT and we’ll throw you some ink.

See you next week.


Scott Macaulay
Winner of this year's Palme d'Or, director Laurent Cantet examines the challenges teachers face to get students engaged and involved in today's urban classrooms. Based on the book by French schoolteacher François Bégaudeau, who also plays the teacher in the film, the story is set in a public school in Paris where Bégaudeau's character is caught in a battle of wills with his mostly black Caribbean class as we follow them through a school year. Shot in a docudrama style, Cantet cast mostly non-actors and improvised scenes to capture authenticity. "[The student actors] were very involved in the creation of the film," Cantet told Filmmaker in the Fall issue. "They worked from the very beginning of the writing. They felt proud of being in the center of the process, proud of being listened to by me."

Known for his film and TV work that focus on politics and journalism (The Contender, Commander in Chief and his last film Resurrecting the Champ), Rob Lurie this time around tells a fictionalized tale of a journalist (played by Kate Beckinsale) who faces jail time when she refuses to give up her source for her Pulitzer-nominated political exposé. Vera Farmiga and Matt Dillon co-star in a film that riffs on the real-life Valerie Plame case, turning it into a tale of maternal sacrifice. Recently the film has become victim of the economy as its distributor Yari Film Group filed for Chapter 11 last week. "I didn't know,” Lurie tells Nick Dawson in this week's Director Interviews. “I found out about 6pm [on December 12] and it was really, absolutely shocking. At this moment, I still haven't spoken to Bob [Yari]... None of us really knows what it's really going to mean, how it's going to affect the film.... It's rather stunning." Read our interview with Lurie below.


This week on the blog, Alicia Van Couvering uncovers where people can go to have a creepy Christmas (pictured left), Jason Guerrasio reports on the recent shuttering of three indie distribs and Scott Macaulay posts the latest episode from Todd Sklar and his indie roadshow team.

To read more posts from our blog, click here.
The New Year brings new deadlines. Hard to believe, but preparations are already underway for IFP's 2009 programs, with the Independent Filmmaker Labs first up with online applications available January 5th, followed not that long after with applications for the Project Forum of Independent Film Week available in March. January also brings the annual trek to Park City and the beginning of the 2009 festival year. A number of alumni from both of these IFP programs have been invited to Park City and we congratulate them all. Read more about them here.
With his latest project, Nothing But the Truth, Rob Lurie revisits his favorite subjects: Washington politics and investigative journalism. The plot revolves around an exposé written by Rachel Armstrong (Kate Beckinsale) which reveals that Erica Van Doren (Vera Farmiga), the wife of a U.S. ambassador, is a CIA operative, and that her reports of another country's innocence in an assassination attempt on the American president were ignored by the government. Armstrong's story gets her a Pulitzer nomination, but her refusal to give up the name of her source has an increasingly destructive impact on her life, as well as Van Doren's. The film clearly riffs on the Valerie Plame scandal, but Lurie is more interested in examining the legal and political ideas that the incident stirred up (the role of political journalism, First Amendment rights, government intervention), as well as the human implications of the story, rather than sticking closely to the facts of the case. read more


Boston International Film Festival
Submission Deadline: Dec. 20, Jan. 23 (Shorts Final), Feb. 27 (Features Final)
Festival Dates: June 11-18

London International Documentary Film Festival
Submission Deadline: Dec. 30 (Final)
Festival Dates: March 28-April 4

Miami International Film Festival
Submission Deadline: Dec. 31 (Final)
Festival Dates: March 6-15

Find more festival deadlines, click here. And get the latest news and notes on the fest circuit at Festival Ambassador.

FALL 2008


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