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"The film scene is going to get back to normal soon... isn't it?" Some variation of that circulated around the room at the Tribeca New York filmmakers party the other night. Everyone seemed both happy and anxious to be at a film festival, not sure whether to slip into the familiar groove or hoist their glass to a fin de siecle moment. Of course, some of that uncertainty is par for the course at Tribeca. When it comes to film festival psychoanalysis, the Tribeca Film Festival has always been a fascinating complex subject. It was founded in 2002 with both an explicitly local aim (to act as a civic booster to the physically and financially ravaged neighborhoods of post-9/11 downtown New York) as well as an ambitiously global one ("to enable the international film community and the general public to experience the power of film by redefining the film festival experience"). Now, as former Sundance director Geoff Gilmore arrives at Tribeca in the post of Chief Creative Officer at Tribeca Enterprises (the for profit company that runs the Tribeca Film Festival as well as other ventures), Tribeca enters its eighth year at a time in which the film business, filmmakers, and film festivals themselves all over are mulling Big Questions about the role of film festivals in a downloadable world. In John Anderson's Village Voice piece on this year's festival, Gilmore says, "To be honest, that's the kind of question I think about a lot: how to reinvent festivals, what they should be doing, whether or not their agendas-which have evolved greatly-need to be rethought completely."

Meanwhile, film festivals are being debated from another direction over at The Workbook Project, where a number of filmmakers grouped under the rubric "The New Breed" are engaging in a video-blogged virtual panel. Sabi Films' Zak Forsman frames the conversation in his first post, which takes the form of a report from his trip to SXSW and deals with filmmakers' "managing expectations" on the fest circuit. In other words, while fest directors ponder the ontological mysteries of film festivals, filmmakers are just wondering whether they'll meet people at one who will buy their films, or whether audiences will like them, or whether they'll just have a good time. It's clear now that for many filmmakers festivals offer their films the only darkened theaters they may see before they head toward computer screens.

For me, though, it comes down to the films. Yes, festivals frame aesthetic and business debates, but if they don't discover new films and filmmakers their loftier goals are almost irrelevant. I've only just started watching some of Tribeca's films, and at this early stage I can recommend three. There's Damien Chazelle's lovely minimalist relationship musical, Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench, Paola Mendoza's moving and very well directed drama of economic adversity, Entre nos, and Joshua Zeman (a sometime Filmmaker contributor) and Barbara Brancaccio's "horror documentary," Cropsey. Considering these are only out of the pre-screenings, that's not a bad start. More on these titles and others later and on the blog. And, check out our new Spring issue which should hit newsstands this week.

See you next week.


Scott Macaulay
Following her astonishing debut feature, In Between Days, So Yong Kim presents another beautifully understated look at young people, this time two sisters, ages 5 and 6, who are abandoned by their mother and left with an alcoholic aunt. Like In Between Days, Kim's camera work once again pushs tight into the faces of her characters to explore their thoughts and actions. In the Spring issue filmmaker Kelly Reichardt interviews Kim, and asks her about her love of close-ups. "I felt it was important to gather all of these close-ups of the girls but also the landscape because it [provides the] context of what they're coping with," she says. "And it's also so much more intense when you're dealing with kids' emotions. You feel a lot more empathy toward them because they're more helpless." Subscribe to our digital issue to read this interview as well as access our back issues up until 2005.

With a friendship that spans over 20 years, James Toback may be the only person who can get inside the head of Mike Tyson. The boxer was once the Baddest Man on the Planet and now is relegated to a sideshow act with his troubles with the law, antics in the ring and getting tattooed face. In his new documentary, Toback explores Tyson's inner demons to expose a shy, insecure person who was picked on physically or emotionally most of his life. Interviewed for the Winter 2009 issue, Toback says his relationship with Tyson began with long chats over the phone. "All of our late-night conversations over the years dealt with death, madness, murder, revenge, love, frustration, sex," he says. "We might not speak for six months and then at three in the morning the phone would ring, and it didn't matter if I was calling him or he was calling me, it would be as if we were picking up on a conversation that ended three minutes earlier."


Select stories for the Spring issue are now online.

Check out our interview with Steven Soderbergh who talks about his latest low budget project, The Girlfriend Experience. Plus, a Q&A with the film's star, Sasha Grey. Darius Marder talks about his hypnotic treasure hunting debut doc, Loot. And Olivier Assayas chats about his latest film, Summer Hours.

Also, in Jon Reiss's latest instalment he looks at DIY Web marketing. We highlight the filmmakers using still cameras to make their movies. And Esther B. Robinson walks us through what's needed to do to make that next credit card-financed film.
And don't forget: You can get the latest issue before it hits newsstands (plus back issues up to 2005) by subscribing for a digital issue. Click here to learn more.


This week on the blog, Scott Macaulay highlights an interview with Scott Kirsner where he looks at the most recent industry trends, finds that in recent months foreign sales has been slow across the board, and remembers the great speculative fiction writer and philosopher of the post-human, J.G. Ballard (his memoir pictured left).

To read more posts from our blog, click here.
Formerly known as the IFP Market, Independent Film Week is the oldest and largest forum in the U.S. for the discovery of new projects in development and new voices on the independent film scene. It is qualitatively and quantitatively the best and biggest opportunity for an independent filmmaker to connect with industry professionals - including producers, funders, distributors, broadcasters, sales agents and festival programmers. Independent Film Week's Project Forum (Emerging Narrative, No Borders International Co-Production Market and Spotlight on Documentaries) allows participating filmmakers access to scheduled one-to-one pitch meetings, "Sneak Preview" screenings, numerous networking opportunities throughout the week, and the Filmmaker Conference, featuring over 30+ cutting edge panel discussions & case studies. Now accepting applications for Spotlight on Documentaries, a program for projects in production or post-production seeking financing partners, broadcast/distribution, and festival invitations. Early Deadline: May 1 / Final Deadline: May 21. Learn more here.

By Nick Dawson

Paolo Sorrentino teams up with Toni Servillo for the third time in his latest picture, Il Divo, in which Servillo plays Giulio Andreotti, a titan of Italian politics who was the country's prime minister seven times during his long career in government. Andreotti is a figure loved and hated in equal measure who allegedly had close links with the Vatican, the Cosa Nostra and the fascist masonic lodge P2, has been given numerous nicknames (including Moloch, Beelzebub, The Black Pope and, yes, Il Divo), and yet remains enigmatic and essentially unknown. read more


LA Shorts Fest
Submission Deadline: May 8 (Final)
Festival Dates: Oct. 8-12

Bahamas International Film Festival
Submission Deadline: May 13, June 17 (Final)
Festival Dates: Dec. 10-17

Mill Valley Film Festival
Submission Deadline: May 15, June 15 (Final)
Festival Dates: Oct. 8-18

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



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