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A few weeks ago producer Jake Abraham wrote a piece for us entitled "A Beacon of Democracy," in which he detailed his DIY efforts to release Kirt Gunn's Lovely by Surprise. The essay got a lot of views on our site, and I've been waiting for him to write a follow-up in which he lets us know how the release panned out. Well, while we're waiting for that piece he's written another entitled "Tweet This!". In this article he discusses his distressed reaction to learning that the link to a bootleg copy of his film has been circulating among filesharers.

Abraham told me that he wrote the piece in order to start a discussion about issues like piracy and the Chris Anderson "free" model among niche-content producers whose revenue streams are, let's face it, pretty fragile right now. Already there have been some good responses on the blog, including one that links to this post by John August in which he discusses his own response to learning that his feature The Nines has been bootlegged. And I especially like Brian Chirls's blog post, "Twitter Filesharing and Green Slime," in which he writes about how he plans to acknowledge filesharing when he makes his film while combating it by positioning his picture as a "premium brand" for which authenticity and a relationship with the creator are as much a part of the product as the digital file itself. I'll write more about this later on the blog, but feel free to chime in yourself if you have thoughts on the matter.

Speaking of dialogues, a producer posting to our new message forum wants to know of DIY-releasing ventures that have really made money so he can go back to his investors with some facts. I know a few, but join up and comment if you can add some more.

And, remember, follow us on Twitter!

See you next week.


Scott Macaulay
For twenty years whale hunting has been outlawed throughout the world. That hasn't stopped Japanese fishing vessels from making an annual trip to the Antarctic ocean to hunt and slaughter whales. But they've met their match in the form of Paul Watson, former Greenpeace member turned whale crusader for the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, where, along with 46 international volunteers, he makes a yearly trip to the Antarctic to face down the Japanese fleets protecting the whales who are in danger of extinction. Directed by Dan Stone, At the Edge of the World plays like a wild action film, with heroes and villains battling on the high seas, claiming their turf like modern-day pirates.

Written and directed by The Wrestler scribe Robert Siegel, Big Fan features comedian Patton Oswalt (The King of Queens) as Paul Aufiero, a Staten Island average joe who works as a tollbooth operator and is a New York Giants fanatic. Only able to enjoy the games via TV and radio (sometimes while sitting in the stadium parking lot during the games), he lives vicariously through the star players. By chance, the Giants star linebacker is hanging out in his neighborhood, but a misunderstanding leads to Paul getting beat up by him and the player barred from playing the rest of the season. Staying loyal to his team, Paul refuses to sue and thinks up a way to redeem himself. "The film is ultimately something of a surprise," writes NIck Dawson in this week's Director Interviews. "Its humor is slyer and more subtle than we might expect and Siegel interestingly avoids the darker, more obvious direction his script could have taken, instead choosing a nuanced, bittersweet narrative for Oswalt's poignant and lovably pathetic Paul."

When six different American women suffer the deaths of their children it seems impossible to go on with their lives. Through the work of documentary filmmaker Jennifer Steinman, the women travel to rural South Africa where they work as volunteers at local organizations assisting at-risk teenagers, children with HIV and AIDS, physically-challenged youth, and victims of domestic abuse. It's a tremendously powerful film in which the isolating emotion of grief is transformed into a deep engagement with the world and a broader humanity. The film won the Emerging Visions Audience Award at this past SXSW, and for its release the filmmakers have partnered with Gigantic Digital, which offers the title as a $2.99 rental with a preview section downloadable free. Visit Motherland's website to learn more about the film and the activities of its makers.

Anna Wintour, the enigmatic force behind American Vogue for the past 20 years, is the focus of this film by R.J. Cutler, which documents the madness involved in assembling the magazine's September 2007 issue, which turns out to be Vogue's biggest issue ever. Cutler captures not only Wintour's signature bob and sunglasses but also her sense of humor, her sharp and intelligent eye towards fashion, and her facility for quick opinions that can make or break careers. The September Issue gives audiences that rare look into the hard work that goes into such a seemingly glamorous industry.

Hirokazau Kore-eda's (Nobody Knows) latest film centers on a family reunion, where the elderly parents are visited by their grown children and grandchildren. Relations are strained between father Kyohei (Yoshio Harada) and son Ryota (Hiroshi Abe), degrading Ryota's marriage, and it happens to be the 15th anniversary of the death of the eldest son, Junpei, the "good son," who had accidentally drowned. Reminiscent of a Chekhov play, Still Walking burns with lost hope, resentment, anger, and the bonds of family that are both unbreakable yet easily strained by tragedy and different paths in life. "I think with this film, more than any other, I was able to portray the most sides of a character," Kore-eda says in our Web Exclusive interview conducted by Damon Smith. "To show their complexities and in the most well-rounded, three-dimensional forms." Read our interview with Kore-eda below.

Director Ondi Timoner's (DiG!) new documentary brings the audience back to 1999 when the Internet was yet to produce its own stars. Long before MySpace and YouTube, there was Josh Harris, known by his alter ago "Luvvy." Harris organized a Big Brother-like arrangement where he and over 100 volunteers lived in cubicle spaces equipped with TVs and beds in a hotel floor before cameras 24/7 broadcast over the Internet via a live feed. It sparked the roots of Internet stars video recording themselves out of narcissism and wanting fame for fame's sake. Harris may have sacrificed a lot for his experiment, but the voyeuristic interest in the lives of he and his roommates would mirror the following decade's propensity for oversharing as well as the train wreck appeal of current reality TV shows. We Live In Public won the Best Doc prize at this year's Sundance.


This week on the blog, Scott Macaulay learns the deflationary effects of music video's new guard, posts the trailer for Werner Herzog's other film screening at Toronto, the David Lynch executive produced My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done (pictured left), and points out Roger Ebert's piece on the current health reform debate.

To read more posts from our blog, click here.

IFP's five-day Independent Filmmaker Conference is the must-attend event for film and media professionals to learn how today's creative choices and business decisions are impacting tomorrow's artists, industry and audiences - and shaping the future of independent film and media-making.

Newly announced Keynotes! Filmmaker Mira Nair (Salaam Bombay!, Mississippi Masala, Monsoon Wedding, The Namesake, and the highly anticipated Amelia), Big Beach Films' Peter Saraf (Everything Is Illuminated, Little Miss Sunshine, Sunshine Cleaning, Away We Go, and the forthcoming Jack Goes Boating). Industry leaders will include Ted Hope (This is That), Ross Kauffman (Born Into Brothels), Lynne Kirby (Sundance Channel), Peter Kujawski (Focus Features), Bill Plympton (Idiots and Angels), as well as representatives from BMI, HBO, HotDocs, Kodak, SAGIndie, Sundance, SXSW, Withoutabox, and many more! EARLY BIRD PASSES ON SALE NOW! Download the Conference Brochure, get more info, and purchase passes at

By Damon Smith

A connoisseur of longing and remembrance who brings great sensitivity to each of his reflective fables, Japan's Hirokazu Kore-eda should be better known in the States, as his films extend the tradition of world-class artists like Naruse and Ozu. Enthralled with the operation of memory and the impact of grief on the lives of everyday people, Kore-eda has created a body of work that's as rich with feeling as it is modest in tone.

His latest feature, Still Walking, surveys a low-key family gathering at the home of proud, retired doctor Kyohei (Yoshio Harada) and his wife Toshiko (Kirin Kiki), who have assembled their relations to honor their eldest son, a drowning victim, on the occasion of his death. read more


Olympia Film Festival
Submission Deadline: Sept. 1
Festival Dates: Nov 6-14

Miami International Film Festival
Submission Deadline: Sept. 13 (early), Oct. 18 (final)
Festival Dates: March 5-14


Our Forums page is new and improved! Check out the new categories: how to make films, discuss the current trends in the business, job opportunities and look out for guest filmmaker moderators. Click here to get started.



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