Sundance Film Festival 2010
There's a lot to write about - the Sundance list, the Gotham Awards, the Spirit nominations, and the second in indieWIRE, MoMA and Zipline Entertainment's "Indie Crisis" summits, but let me take a few words to acknowledge the great work of the IFP's outgoing executive director, Michelle Byrd, who leaves the organization this week after 16 years. Byrd, who announced that she would be not renewing her contract some time ago, has long been the mainstay of an organization that supports emerging filmmakers through a number of programs, including the annual Independent Film Week and its publishing of this magazine. Michelle is that rare executive with the ability to run an arts organization, to master the intricacies of its administration, while still always passionately embodying its artistic reason for being. Furthermore, she has done all of this with intelligence, warmth, and humor, never forgetting that the independent film business is one of personalities and personal connections. It's to her great credit that through these challenging times the IFP's mission has remained clear and that, more than ever, it is engaged with new directors and new ways of thinking about the production and distribution of independent cinema. From the whole staff at the magazine I want to thank Michelle for her support over these last 16 years, and I can't wait to learn from her what she'll be doing next.

Michelle departs this week, and while the IFP board continues its search for a new executive director, a friend and colleague, Joana Vicente, has stepped in as the interim executive director. Joana is well known to the independent community for producing, with her partner Jason Kliot, such fantastic films as Three Seasons, Coffee and Cigarettes and Broken English, as well as for her running of Open City Films, Blow Up Pictures and HDNet Films. We are thrilled that she is moving into this position and look forward to working with her in the days ahead.

See you next week.


Scott Macaulay

A new film from Jason Reitman (Juno, Thank You For Smoking), Up in the Air stars George Clooney as Ryan Bingham, a corporate downsizing expert (aka hired to tell people they're being fired) who spends his life traveling for business, preferring to live life out of hotels and in airports rather at home with a family. Just as he is about to reach ten million frequent flier miles his life is interrupted by two women: a young consultant (Anna Kendrick) hired to fire people via video-conferencing, taking away Ryan's need to travel, and a fellow frequent-flyer traveler (Vera Farmiga), who becomes a sort-of companion when their schedules align. Up in the Air brings out a finesse and maturity in Reitman's work, and, rare in Hollywood cinema, an understanding of class. Get a digital issue subscription to read our interview with Reitman in the Fall issue as well as access to our back issues up until 2005.

A remake of Danish director Susanne Bier's film Brodre, Jim Sheridan (In America, My Left Foot) directs Brothers, a family drama involving war, betrayal, and mixed alliances. Capt. Sam Cahill (Tobey Maguire) is a family man who is going off to fight in Afghanistan, leaving his wife Grace (Natalie Portman) to care for their two young daughters with the help of his brother, Tommy (Jake Gyllenhaal). Life goes on as normal until the news comes that Sam is M.I.A. Presuming he's dead, Grace is distraught, and turns to Tommy, first as a father figure for her children, and then as a possible husband. When Sam is found alive and returns home, he is not the same man. A mature and adult project for Portman, Gyllenhaal and Maguire, Brothers is an searing film that does not call itself a war drama but rather the story of one family affected by war.

This riveting documentary by Darius Marder follows Lance, a used-car salesman and aspiring treasure-hunter as he tries to help two WWII veterans in their global search for buried wartime treasure. Darrel and Andrew had each stolen priceless treasures and buried them overseas before returning to their ordinary American lives. Sixty years later, they team up with Lance to search for these treasures in a journey that forces them to reconcile with their pasts. But the story is just as much about Lance as it is his employers, and we watch as the treasure hunter tries to deal with his own lost, drug-addicted son. Loot was shot on three different continents over nearly three years, and it is a very special film, one touched by an unexpected sense of grace. Get a digital issue subscription to read our interview with Marder in the Spring issue as well as access to our back issues up until 2005.

From a screenplay by the late director/actress Adrienne Shelly, Serious Moonlight is like Misery and Funny Games if they were comedies. Meg Ryan and Timothy Hutton star as married couple Louise and Ian who get into a bit of a dilemma. Ian admits that he has been cheating on Louise with Sara (Kristen Bell), who resembles a young Louise, so Louise naturally decides to tie Ian with duct tape to a toilet so they can "work out their problems." As if that isn't bad enough, a gang of thieves, the leader played by Justin Long, ransacks their home, inadvertently forces a confrontation between the wife, the husband, and the mistress. Directed by Cheryl Hines (Curb Your Enthusiasm, Waitress), Serious Moonlight is a dark comedy that reveals some unexpected twists at the end.


This week on the blog, Jason Guerrasio reports on the films going to Sundance 2010, learns Precious & The Last Station lead in this year's Spirit Awards nominations and recaps The Hurt Locker's (pictured left) big night at the Gotham Awards.

To read more posts from our blog, click here.

The 2009 Gotham Independent Film Awards™ season is a wrap. From nominations honoring 22 films as the best of the year, awards were presented to filmmakers and actors from six winning films on November 30 at Cipriani Wall Street. Receiving the top award for Best Feature was The Hurt Locker, directed by Kathryn Bigelow, written by Mark Boal, and produced by Bigelow, Boal, Nicolas Chartier, and Greg Shapiro. The Hurt Locker also scored a win for Best Ensemble Performance, which was accepted by actors Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie, and Brian Geraghty. The Breakthrough Director Award went to Robert Siegel for Big Fan, and winning the Best Documentary award was Food, Inc., directed by Robert Kenner. Finally, this year's winner for Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You® went to You Wont Miss Me, produced and directed by Ry Russo-Young. That honor also came with a $5,000 grant sponsored by Reiff & Associates. The awards joined career Tributes given throughout the evening to Kathryn Bigelow, Natalie Portman, Stanley Tucci, and Working Title's Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner.

By Alicia Van Couvering

Filmmaker selected John Maringouin as one of our "25 New Faces of Independent Film" in 2006 after seeing Running Stumbled, the filmmaker's hilarious and disturbing film documenting his own reconciliation with his estranged father. This year he brought his remarkable film Big River Man to Sundance, a film several years in the making that documents the Amazon River expedition of Slovenian endurance swimmer Martin Strel. Big River Man will play in New York City this weekend. read more


Hamptons International Film Festival Screenwriters Lab
Submission Deadline: Dec. 4 (early), Jan. 8 (final)
Festival Dates: April 16-18

Tribeca All Access
Submission Deadline: Dec. 14
Festival Dates: April 21 - May 2

Charleston International Film Festival
Submission Deadline: Dec. 16 (early), Jan. 21st (final)
Festival Dates: April 8 -11


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