Produced By 2009
This yearís Cannes Film Festival is over, and anyone looking for it to have made a definitive statement about the long-term health of todayís independent film scene must have come away a little disappointed. The mood was more subdued than usual ó less parties, less people, and less of a pre-sale business. I remember the Cannes of ten years ago, in which the major U.S. independent production companies unveiled to the trades packed slates of projects and then met with all the foreign buyers. This year I saw a smaller number of my producer colleagues and the ones I did see were focused on one or two projects each, a strategy that seemed sound for these credit-crunched times. I moderated a panel at the American Pavilion on digital distribution, and while itís clear that downloading and VOD are at least part of the future for independents, these platforms still are not yet able to be reliably charted by producers trying to generate revenue models for their films. On the other hand, it was Cannes, and the festivalís ability to orchestrate the theatrical apparatus of festival film presentation remains unparalleled. Even in downtimes, itís a glamorous and exciting event. For filmmakers thinking of going next year, particularly those applying to the Atelier, I recommend Noah Harlanís article, just posted on our blog, about what to expect when bringing a U.S. project overseas to one of the co-production markets.

As for Filmmaker, we are busy putting together our annual ď25 New FacesĒ list, hitting stands in mid-July, and Iím looking at films for the IFP Rough Cut Labs, which Iím teaching with Gretchen McGowan next week. And, if you are on Twitter and arenít yet a follower of Filmmaker, please subscribe. Iím posting a bunch of stuff on Twitter these days and Iím finding it a great way to keep in touch with readers.

***Also, we're looking for energetic, hard working interns for the summer. If you, or someone you know, have an interest in journalism and film click here and scroll down to the bottom of the page to learn more.

See you next week.


Scott Macaulay
Known internationally for his Onmyoji fantasy action films, director Yojiro Takita aimed for a more conventional story with this touching Oscar winning drama. In the film, Daigo (Masahiro Motoki), an unemployed cellist from a disbanded premiere orchestra in Tokyo, takes up work preparing corpses for cremation. Though ashamed to tell his wife about his new job, he learns from the grieving families how to cope with loss and the importance of family. Departures is the film that surprised everyone to beat out favorites The Class and Waltz With Bashir to win the Best Foreign Film Oscar last February.

Lee Isaac Chung's debut feature was one of the highest praised films on the festival circuit in the last year, premiering at Cannes followed by stops at Toronto, AFI, Berlin and New Directors/New Films. Heavily improvised, it follows Kagali teenager Munyrungabo who's on a quest to seek revenge for the genocide of his parents. Meeting, Sangwa, a Hutu, the Tutsi Munyurangabo finds an unlikely friend for his journey until they show up at Sagnwa's home which puts Munyurangabo's plans in jeopardy. The first film to be made in the Kinyarwanda language, Munyurangabo is as much a scrapbook of a culture rarely seen in theaters as it is a affecting look at friendship. Interviewing Chung for this week's Director Interviews, Nick Dawson adds, "Chung's coupling of stylistic spareness with an emotionally complex narrative is highly effective, and this accomplished film leads us to hope for much more from him in the future." Read our interview with Chung below.


This week on the blog, Scott Macaulay posts the showreel for Werner Herzog's remake/reboot of Bad Lieutenant, learns what Sasha Grey's top 5 films are and Lance Weiler finds out why you should attend June's Open Video Conference (pictured left).

To read more posts from our blog, click here.

The Good Pitch has already been held in Oxford and Toronto to fantastic feedback from participants and observers including Greenpeace, Amnesty International, AVAAZ, ITVS, Gucci Tribeca Doc Fund, Hartley Film Foundation, Fledgling Fund, MySpace, YouTube, American Civil Liberties Union, BBC, Channel 4, MacArthur Foundation, Human Rights Watch, Jerome Foundation, Cinereach, ,b>UNICEF, PBS, ARTE and Witness. As a filmmaker participant, Beth Murphy, who won The Fledgling Fund Award for Socially Conscious Documentaries at last yearís Independent Film Week for The Promise of Freedom, was one of five teams selected for The Good Pitch/Hot Docs. Murphy noted on the Chicken and Egg Picture blog ďWhat a thrill to be part of the very first North American Good Pitch at TDF!... If there was ever any question about the Channel 4 BRITDOC Foundation claim that THIS is the future of documentary filmmaking, those doubts were laid to rest as Julie leBrocquy and Nic Dunlop began their moving pitch for Burma Soldier... Ours came third... and we were stunned by what happened next: Julie Parker Benello (Chicken & Egg Pictures) announced production and outreach support--the first and only on-the-spot funding at TDFís pitch table!, Ryan Harrington (Gucci Tribeca Fund/IndiePix) guaranteed distribution, Jan Rofekampf (Films Transitóour number one choice for international sales) was confident heíd be able to attract pre-sales and co-productions, and two human rights organizations signed on for our outreach campaign.Ē Eight projects will be selected to pitch in The Good Pitch @ Independent Film Week. Submissions extended to June 1 at

By Nick Dawson

Lee Isaac Chung's debut feature, Munyurangabo, continues the writer-director's exploration of cinema beyond the boundaries of language. It was shot in Rwanda in just eleven days, and represents the fruits of a filmmaking course for aspiring Rwandan natives conducted by Chung. The film, the first in the Kinyarwanda tongue, tells the story of two young friends, Sangwa (Eric Ndorunkundiye) and Ngabo (Josef "Jeff" Rutagengwa), a Hutu and a Tutsi respectively, who leave the Rwandan capital of Kigali to go and kill the man who murdered Ngabo's father during the genocide of 1994. read more


Savannah Film Festival
Submission Deadline: June 15
Festival Dates: Oct. 31 - Nov. 7

Myrtle Beach International Film Festival
Submission Deadline: June 19
Festival Dates: Dec. 1-5

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



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