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The holiday season is always especially busy for us at Filmmaker because each year we go to press between Christmas and New Year's. It's a deadline we can't blow because we need copies of the magazine to be at Sundance on its opening day. So, after I write this letter I'm going back to editing, proofreading and then, later, seeing a Sundance-bound film on its mixing stage. (Tomorrow morning I'm reserving for last-minute gift shopping.) So far I'm liking our next issue - I think it has a bit of a different flavor to it. We have a new column, some nice long interviews - including a career-spanning one with David Gordon Green in which he talks about how he traveled from George Washington to Pineapple Express and Your Highness - and a piece on private investors by Anthony Kaufman in which we learn why people on the other side of the checkbook decide to invest in film. We also provide some tips from producers on how to manage your private investor relationships, including one from me that is actually something that James Schamus taught me. I can honestly say it's been the most valuable advice I've ever been given, and the one time I didn't heed it I (or, rather, the film I was producing) lost $900,000.
I'm also excited this year to be doing daily e-mail newsletters out of Sundance. They'll be a daily digest of Sundance news that's unique to the newsletter and then links to all our web coverage. If you're getting this newsletter you're already on the list.
Tomorrow's also the last day of our once-a-year subscription sale. Thanks to everyone who has subscribed in the last three weeks. The feedback online has been gratifying. And if you haven't subscribed, I hope you'll consider doing so in the next day or even giving Filmmaker as a gift. Details are here.
Once more, my best for a great holiday. We won't have a newsletter next week but check the blog on January 1 for my New Year's resolutions for filmmakers.
See you next week.
INDEPENDENT FILMMAKER LAB FILMS HIT THE FESTIVAL CIRCUIT IFP's Independent Filmmaker Labs wrapped the third leg of the 2010 edition December 9-11 with a three-day immersion on specific distribution options and plans for each of the 20 Lab projects. The sessions were led by IFP staffers along with filmmaker and Lab leader Jon Reiss and distribution mentors Marian Koltai-Levine and Freida Orange of PMK*BNC, Jim Browne of Argot Pictures, and Adam Kersh of Brigade Marketing. Films from this lab are already beginning to hit the festival circuit. Victoria Mahoney's Yelling to the Sky will World Premiere in February in competition at the 2011 Berlin International Film Festival. Other "Class of 2010" projects screening at Sundance 2011 will include Dee Rees' Pariah in US Dramatic Competition, Alrick Brown's Kinyarwanda in World Dramatic Competition, and Andrew Dosunmu's Restless City in NEXT. First out of the gate was David Soll's Puppet, which premiered at DOCNYC in November. The IFP Filmmaker Labs are now a year-long program supporting first time feature filmmakers, with a completion and creative feedback lab in the spring, a marketing lab in the fall, and distribution lab in the winter. Applications for the 2011 Labs will be available in mid-January. Learn more at ifp.org
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Bruno Dumont, Hadewijch
IFP: Lab Films Hit the Fest Circuit
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TRUE GRIT Don't let the trailers fool you. This isn't a remake of the classic John Wayne film. In fact, True Grit, directed by the Coen Brothers, is closer to the 1968 novel by Charles Portis. Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld) is determined to avenge her father's death by tracking down his murderer, a drifter named Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin). She gets the help of an alcoholic old marshal named Rooster Cogburn (Jeff Bridges reprising Wayne's Oscar-winning role) and a Texas Ranger named La Boeuf (Matt Damon) to help her in her quest. It's the rarest of Old West tales as an adolescent girl is the hero rather than the victim. SOMEWHERE Four years after Marie Antoinette, Sofia Coppola returns with Somewhere. Set in the unique halls of L.A.'s famed Chateau Marmont, the story follows Johnny Marco (Stephen Dorff), a Hollywood actor encamped at the hotel while doing publicity and recovering from a minor accident. When his ex-wife unexpectedly drops off their 11-year-old daughter (Elle Fanning) for an extended stay, her presence prompts some life changes in Marco. But that thumbnail description, a variation of which you'll read everywhere this weekend, captures little of the film's magic. With long shots and minimal dialogue, Coppola puts on a screen a beautiful state of melancholic introspection, one that sidesteps obvious plot points in its depiction of unforced and unconventional father-daughter relationship. THE ILLUSIONIST From Sylvain Chomet, the director of of The Triplets of Belleville, The Illusionist is based on an unproduced script co-written by the French mime/comic Jacques Tati in 1956. The main character is an animated version of Tati as a struggling illusionist who visits a small town and meets a young lady who believes he really is a magician. The Illusionist is a poignantly beautiful piece of work, a tribute to a great mime performer of French popular culture. HADEWIJCH Written and directed by Bruno Dumont, Hadewijch stars Julie Sokolowski in her debut role as a young Christian nun named Sister Hadewijch who is putting herself through self-mortification rituals. But when they go to the extreme she is expelled from the nunnery, and she returns back to her civilian life where her fervor becomes more provocative and dangerous. In this week's Director Interviews, Dumont talks about his hopes for the film. "Something I'm trying to deal with in the character of Hadewijch [is] to place it in a modern context," he says. "Hadewijch is someone for whom the religious spirituality dies in a church and she's reborn to human spirituality by the end of the film. At least that's what I was trying to express." Read our interview with Dumont below. This week on the blog, "25 New Face" filmmakers Miranda July and Victoria Mahoney (pictured left) have been selected for the Berlin Film Festival; check out the trailer for Terrence Malick's new film Tree of Life; Moon director Duncan Jones' follow-up film Source Code premieres at SXSW; Obama's new tax bill includes an tax break for film production; and Scott Macaulay posts a tribute to Captain Beefheart.
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BRUNO DUMONT, HADEWIJCH By Damon Smith
Bruno Dumont's latest drama Hadewijch (winner of the FIPRESCI Prize at the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival) is an idiosyncratic take on spiritual grace that will further challenge those who have seen only grim, unrelenting austerity and sociopathic barbarism in his earlier work. Admonished by a head nun for taking her self-mortification rituals to an extreme, fair-skinned acolyte Celine (beautifully embodied by Julie Sokolowski) is ejected from the isolated rustic convent where she's taken the name Hadewijch (after the 13th-century mystic) and told to find her calling back in the modern world she has abandoned. read more
Indianapolis International Film Festival
Early Deadline: Jan. 1
Regular Deadline: March 1
Late Deadline: March 15
Festival Dates: July 14-24
Hamptons International Film Festival Screenwriters Lab
Late Deadline: Jan. 7
Festival Dates: April 15-17
Seattle International Film Festival
Final Deadline: Jan. 3
Festival Dates: May 19 – June 12