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Squaw Valley Screenwriters Workshop
Three quick requests this week: first, if you live in New York, are a member of the filmmaking community, and are concerned for the livelihood of directors, producers, crew and vendors here, please take a moment to register your support for the continuance of the Empire State Film Production Tax Credit. As my blog post explains, the tax credit that revitalized production in New York is not some giveaway to producers but rather a proven-successful job creation program that returns more to the government's coffers than it takes out. Click on the link above for the phone numbers you need to call. Time is running out before the State's new budget is unveiled, and it only takes a few minutes to make your voice heard.

The second thing is a little more self-interested. We are hard at work on the next issue of Filmmaker, which is slated to go to press a week from tomorrow. That means that this is the last week for new subscribers to begin their subscription with the next issue. I don't need to tell everyone about the meltdown in both the print publication and online journalism business these days, and while Filmmaker is a niche publication directed to a core of interested readers, we are not immune to these broader economic trends. In other words, if you are not a subscriber it'd be great if you'd consider becoming one. Our next issue features a special section on cinematography, focusing on some of the new prosumer cameras hitting the market, continues with Jon Reiss's essential series on DIY distribution (one producer told me that he negotiated his entire digital rights deal using the advice Jon relayed in his recent article), debuts a new column by Lance Weiler with a really eye-popping first installment, and also contains an article on how changes in the personal credit industry will affect filmmakers. That's in addition to a very strong set of filmmaker interviews. Okay, the plug is over, but if you'd like to become a subscriber you can click here and to subscribe digitally, which is half the price and also gets you all our back issues through 2005, click here.

The third request is echoed in the short blurb below, but I wanted to personalize it by putting it in the letter. Ramin Bahrani's tremendously moving, smart and skillfully executed Goodbye Solo opens in New York and Chicago this Friday and around the country in coming weeks. Along with Steve McQueen's Hunger it was one of the great narrative features to come out of Venice and Toronto, and it's proof of the incredible artistic vitality of the American independent movement right now. In addition to being the cornerstone of A.O. Scott's surprisingly controversial Sunday New York Times Magazine piece on neo-neo-realism, the film is also testament to Bahrani's ability to achieve his ambitious artistic goals on very modest budget. The specific things he does to accomplish this are one of the things we talk about in his interview in the next Filmmaker, and they are lessons all aspiring directors can learn from. But in the meantime, go see the movie and support the early work of a filmmaker who is going to have a long and important career.

See you next week.


Scott Macaulay
Ramin Bahrani follows Man Push Cart and Chop Shop with yet another tough-minded, idiosyncratic little gem that has been garnering praise at every film festival lucky enough to screen it. Reprising the premise of Abbas Kiarostami's Palme d'Or winning Taste of Cherry (1997), the film focuses on Solo (Souléymane Sy Savané), a Senegalese taxi driver who is warm, kind and engaging - an anti-Travis Bickle, if you like. When regular customer William (Red West) books an ominous trip to a distant mountain in two weeks time, Solo decides to befriend the world-weary old man in an effort to save him from the intended suicide that he suspects lies at the end of the journey. Despite William's resistance to Solo's attempts at friendship, an unusual relationship builds between the two men which is life changing for the characters and life affirming for the audience. Look out for our interview with Bahrani in our Spring issue.

Secrets. Lies. Deception. It doesn't exactly sound like the most up-beat two hours you'll ever spend at the cinema but fans of European art-house film noir, breathtaking cinematography and the distinctive dry humor of director Nuri Bilge Ceylan will not be disappointed. The complex and interweaving narrative begins with politician Servet (Ercan Kesal) asking his driver Eyüp (Yavuz Bingol) to take the rap for a hit-and-run and shifts to explore the gradual breakdown of the Eyüp's family as he, his wife, his son and his boss are bound together in an endless spiral of deceit. With faultless performances shot in sumptuous HD, it is easy to see why the film picked up the Best Director prize at Cannes last year. Interviewing Ceylan for this week's Director Interviews, Nick Dawson says: "The skill Ceylan has in conveying the complex inner lives of his characters is perfectly complemented by his peerless visual style, making Three Monkeys a rich, complete cinematic experience." Read our interview with Ceylan below.


This week on the blog, Scott Macaulay learns about the Onlive game console (pictured left), Jason Guerrasio posts the projects selected for this year's Tribeca All Access and Macaulay updates the lobbying by the New York film community to keep the Empire State Film Production and Tax credit.

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 Labs challenge filmmakers to realize the full potential of their footage and stories prior to industry exposure by providing mentorship and professional guidance in areas such as: editing, music selection and scoring, festival and press strategy, as well as sales, marketing and distribution options. Led by Scott Macaulay (producer & Editor-in-Chief, Filmmaker Magazine) and Gretchen McGowan (producer, The Limits of Control, Coffee & Cigarettes) the five-day Lab supports low-budget, independently produced films by first-time feature directors. Recent Narrative Lab project alumni have included Tom Quinn's Slamdance 2008 Grand Prize winner The New Year Parade and Tariq Tapa's 2008 Venice Film Festival debut, Zero Bridge. As a commitment to diversity, IFP also 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. Criteria and application information on the Lab available here.

By Nick Dawson

Nuri Bilge Ceylan's latest film, Three Monkeys, co-written with his wife (along with Ercan Kesal, who appeared in Distant), is a brooding tale of a family torn apart. The action begins with a local politician Servet (Kesal) killing a pedestrian in a hit-and-run accident. To salvage his career, he pays his loyal driver Eyüp (Yavuz Bingöl) to take the fall for him, however the situation is greatly complicated when Eyüp's wife, Hacer (Hatice Eslan), begins an affair with Servet while her husband is doing time, and their son, Ismail (Ahmet Rifat Sungar), discovers her treachery. As the title implies, Three Monkeys examines the impact of actively ignoring the misdeeds of those around us, and around this premise Ceylan creates a film which is deeply emotional yet highly restrained, an intense human drama which always feels utterly authentic. read more


Rooftop Films Summer Series
Submission Deadline: April 1 (Final)
Festival Dates: May 19 - Sep. 20

New Orleans Film Festival
Submission Deadline: April 3
Festival Dates: Oct. 8-15

Hamptons International Film Festival
Submission Deadline: April 17 (Early), June 16 (Final)
Festival Dates: Oct. 8-12

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



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