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Last night in Rotterdam I watched as filmmaker and Filmmaker contributor Lance Weiler won the Arte France Cinema award for his Cinemart project HIM. The award comes with a 10,000 euro prize, and in bestowing it Arte’s Michel Reilhac cited Lance’s work in pointing the way towards new forms of cinema that engage contemporary audiences in new and different ways. The Cinemart has customarily been the home for hardcore auteur filmmaking that is financed through combinations of state, regional and co-production incentives, broadcast licenses and territorial pre-sales, so the market’s recognition of a project like Weiler’s, which doesn’t yet fit comfortably into these models, is evidence that the imperative to think anew about cinema is a global one.

A few hours earlier I watched Weiler as well as others including Reilhac, Brian Chirls, Liz Rosenthal, Della Churchill, Brian Pope and Michael Gubbins on a panel devoted to new forms of distribution and storytelling that was moderated by Lucius Barre. All had interesting comments, but I was really struck by some of the things that Reilhac, whose Arte division has helped fund films such as Cold Souls and Mister Lonely, said. It’s one thing when struggling filmmakers pick up the gauntlet for new media and new ways of telling stories, but it’s another when an established funder recognizes that his own models have to evolve. As a funder, Reilhac said, “we are used to thinking that the film is ‘the end,’ but now we are finding that that is not true. It is a true revolution if, as producers, TV people and distributors we stop considering the film as the end of the process of making film. If we do this, if we stop considering film as something we have to deliver by a certain date for a festival screening, then we are forced to rethink the model.” Reilhac went on to reference a graphic displayed at the festival a year earlier by Weiler in which a feature film is a large circle in the middle of several smaller concentric circles representing various social and trans-media offshoots. “I thought the circle representing the feature film should be the same size as the other circles,” he said. “There is no longer any reason for film to be at the center – everything is all part of the same puzzle.”

I’ll elaborate on these comments in a forthcoming blog post but, for now, congratulations to Weiler for his Cinemart win!

Finally, our Winter 2009 issue is now online. Links to elect articles are below, and also consider picking up the issue on the newsstands or subscribing to either the print or digital edition. One article you won’t find online is my cover story with Barry Jenkins about the practice and thinking behind his thoughtful and beautiful Medicine for Melancholy. Produced DIY-style on a tiny budget, in addition to being a great film it’s one that should give hope to today’s generation of independent filmmakers. It opens this week at NYC's IFC Center and I can’t recommend it highly enough.

See you next week.


Scott Macaulay
An impressive debut feature by writer-director Barry Jenkins, Medicine for Melancholy has enjoyed a fulfilling ride on the festival circuit since premiering to rave reviews at last year's SXSW, and now gets a much deserved theatrical release through IFC Films. The film highlights 24-hours following a one-night stand between African-American San Fransciscans, Jo (Tracey Heggins) and Micha (Wyatt Cenac), that leads to them discovering each other as well as the city (which has one of the lowest African-American populations). Examining deep-seeded issues Jenkins, who is African-American, has of the city and of himself, the film's d.p. James Laxton shoots in a stunning gray tone that engages the viewer to the moody social dynamics of this tender DIY romantic drama.

Milcho Manchevski's third feature is a suspenseful drama about a doctor, Lazar Perkov (Borce Nacev), who struggles to understand a series of terrifying visitations from the dead. As Perkov is slowly torn from his wife and child in this sexually intense film, themes of thievery and redemption emerge, never saturated with sentimentality. Initially entitled Ghosts, then Bones and finally Shadows, all titles impart the earthy darkness and disturbing gravity of a tale that is distinctly hatched from the masterful Manchevski. Interviewing Manchevski for this week's Director Interviews, Nick Dawson calls the film "a curious patchwork of genres, organically mixing together ghost story, film noir, romance, social allegory, folk tale, psychological horror and erotic thriller, and its visual style owes as much to Hollywood as it does to arthouse cinema." Read his interview with Manchevski below.


Select stories from the Winter issue are up on the Website.

Steve McQueen talks about his amazing first feature, Hunger; Greg Mottola chats about his return to indie films with Adventureland; and the always talkative James Toback reveals how it was to get inside the mind of Mike Tyson for his documentary, Tyson.

Also, Jon Reiss continues his series of pieces on self-distribution, this time focusing on the home video aspect, and Lance Weiler gives tips on how to build a film industry via the Web.

The issue will be on newsstands this week.

Don't forget: You can get the latest issue and archive issues by subscribing for a digital issue. Click here to learn more. Only $9 and you'd be doing your part to help the environment.


This week on the blog, Lance Weiler gives notes from the Rotterdam International Film Festival (pictured left), Scott Macaulay updates Nina Paley's efforts to raise money for music rights to her Gotham's Best Film Not Played at a Theater Near You-awarded film Sita Sings The Blues and Jason Guerrasio posts the award winners from this year's Sundance and Slamdance fests.

To read more posts from our blog, click here.
IFP designed its Independent Filmmaker Labs to assist filmmakers in tackling the creative and technical challenges of completing their projects before they are submitted to festivals. The five-day Lab programs support low-budget, independently produced films by first-time feature directors in the rough assembly stage that can benefit from the mentorship of experienced film professionals. Recent Lab project alumni have included Tom Quinn’s Slamdance 2008 Grand Prize winner The New Year Parade, Matt Wolf’s Wild Combination: A Portrait of Arthur Russell, released through Plexifilm, and two recent 2009 Park City debuts – Ngawang Choephel’s Tibet in Song which received the World Cinema Special Jury Prize at Sundance, and Lee Storey’s Smile ‘Til It Hurts: The Up with People Story which premiered at Slamdance. Deadlines, criteria and additional information on both the Narrative and Documentary Labs available here.

By Nick Dawson

Writer-director Milcho Manchevski has only made three features over the course of his 15-year film career, yet the multi-talented Macedonian rarely allows himself a moment to catch his breath. Manchevski's previous films have both been set in multiple countries but in his latest feature, Shadows, the action is entirely set in Macedonia. The film begins with Lazar “Lucky” Perkov (Borce Nacev), a handsome surgeon with a gorgeous wife and young son, getting into a near-fatal car crash. A year later, his rehabilitation is complete but his marriage is disintegrating, he sees strange people in his apartment building – including an ancient woman spouting a warning in an obscure dialect – and he is becoming drawn to the mysterious and alluring Menka (Vesna Stanojevska). read more


Sarasota Film Festival
Submission Deadline: Jan. 30
Festival Dates: March 27 - April 5

Chicago Horror Film Festival
Submission Deadline: Jan. 31
Festival Dates: Sep. 26-28

Indie Grits Film Festival
Submission Deadline: Feb. 1 (Final)
Festival Dates: April. 15-19

Athens International Video & Film Festival
Submission Deadline: Feb. 2
Festival Dates: April. 24-30

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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