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Yes, it is 25 new people. But with so many other folks out there making lists, for a moment I thought it would be cool to change the number next year, to make it 250, or 500, or 1,000 -- a real survey of as many interesting working filmmakers as we could find in a given year. Reality set in a moment later -- that would be overwhelming for us as well as for you. The broader point, though, is that lists like ours are cross sections of the scene at the moment but also lists shaped by the listmaker's editorial preferences. Sometimes our preferences don't come into relief for me until after the Summer issue has gone to bed. This time, looking over it, I can spot some trends. Last year's list had few short-film filmmakers, and I wrote that everyone seemed to be quickly moving on to features. This year we have a lot of filmmakers who have yet to finish or even begin their first features. That's because we not only saw great shorts but also because we wanted our list to remain anticipatory. Plus, this year many new filmmakers not only made features but got them out quickly through their own DIY methods. We tended to look for filmmakers whose work hadn't received their broader releases yet.
Of course, there are always exceptions -- this year one is Matt Porterfield, arriving on the list with his second film, opening this fall, which is not only an artistic breakthrough but also a great lesson in directorial quick thinking. In the "25" press release, I used the word "ingenuity" in describing the attributes of our filmmakers, and indeed, what impressed me -- and often propelled people onto the list -- was their ability to, like Porterfield, develop their own production models during a time when the old ones are crashing right and left. Some examples: Danfung Dennis, who segued from war photography to documentary film by tricking out his Canon 5D while in the field; the Sparrow Songs guys, whose film practice is growing up in public through a time-based online doc project; actress Trieste Kelly Dunn, who has made her name by starring in a string of ultra-low budget indies; and Julius Onah, who has been indefatigable on the streets of New York raising money for his new feature, impressing investors with not only his script but a well-thought out and entirely organic transmedia strategy. (For more Onah and Dunn, check out the "New Breed" videos we are hosting this week on the site.)
I guess the broader point here is that we hope our "25 New Faces" list introduces you to filmmakers whose work you'll appreciate as their careers develop. But we also hope you take away something more. Each filmmaker on the list has a story beyond his or her films. They are all approaching this business in a fresh way. They are doing stuff in a manner that feels of this moment. Are they the only ones out there doing it in new ways? No. But they are the 25 who especially caught our eye.
See you next week.
P.S.: If you are not on our Twitter feed, please consider signing up. INDUSTRY ACCREDITATION OPEN FOR INDEPENDENT FILM WEEK It's never too early to register for the 32nd Independent Film Week (September 19-24) -- in fact there are advantages. Strategically positioned between the Toronto and New York Film Festivals, Independent Film Week is the nation's oldest and largest forum for the discovery of new film projects in development and new voices on the independent film scene. This year we look forward to introducing over100 new narrative features in development and documentary works-in-progress - which have had little to no previous industry exposure - through the Project Forum. Early Industry registrants can gain access to Project Forum titles through our secure, online Independent Film Week channel by early August. Discover key information about participating projects, access video clips and trailers, and other valuable tracking information to best inform your project meeting selection. (Limited to Project Forum buyers only). The earlier you register - the earlier the access. Full details here. 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.
Film Calendar, DIY Distribution, Current Cinema
Summer Issue online
Life During Wartime
Countdown to Zero
Lucy Walker, Countdown to Zero
IFP: Accreditation open for Film Week
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!-- Begin IFP --> SUMMER ISSUE ONLINE Select stories from our Summer issue are now available, including this year's 25 New Faces of Independent Film. (Read the press release here.)
You can now read online our interviews with Amir Bar-Lev on his new doc, The Tillman Story; Gaspar Noe talks about his psychedelic look at the afterlife in Enter the Void; we look at the latest innovations in DSLR cameras; and some of our friends give their favorite apps, program and Web services.
Plus, Lance Weiler's Culture Hacker column focuses on transmedia while Anthony Kaufman's Industry Beat looks at the realities of the Do It With Others new media tools.
LIFE DURING WARTIME Five years after the release of his previous film, Palindromes, Todd Solondz, one of independent film's most single-minded auteurs, returns with Life During Wartime, a sort-of sequel to his acclaimed Happiness. In Palindromes, multiple actors played the same character. Here, all the roles of the previous film have been recast with new actors ranging from Alison Janney to Paul Ruebens to Michael K. Williams. And replacing the earlier film's sometimes painful astringency is a sincere grappling with themes of forgiveness. Which is not to say that Solondz has softened. The director's mixture of humor and drama is just as unsettling as ever. In the new issue of Filmmaker, Solondz is interviewed by director Ramin Bahrani, who observes that in a Solondz film as well as, sometimes, in life, "most of our attempts at goodness wreak havoc." Solondz replies, "But that's what's so sad. And that's what's moving, and that's what's funny. That's the comedy. All of this would be unbearable for me if this weren't a comedy. I'm always walking that path -- comedy and tragedy are always playing off of each other." Subscribe to our digital issue to read this interview as well as access to our back issues up until 2005. COUNTDOWN TO ZERO The Cold War may be over, the nations of the world interconnected through globalism, but, nonetheless, the threat of nuclear war stills hangs over us. That's the sobering message of Lucy Walker's Countdown to Zero, a powerful documentary that advocates for nuclear arms reductions and cooperation among countries as it details the ways in which, even today, a nuclear-armed world can engineer its own destruction. Running through scenarios involving nuclear terrorism by non-state actors as well as possible breakdowns in the current launching protocols in the U.S. and Russia, Walker has made a terrifying film that still manages to contain a sober and realistic political call to action. She also makes sure that Boris Yeltsin will be remembered in history for perhaps saving the world. Interviewed for this week's Director Interviews, Walker says what motivated her to make the film. "I felt this was the most urgent issue facing our species, quite literally," she says. "So as a filmmaker, that's the kind of challenge I like." Read our interview with Walker below. This week on the blog, Bill Murray's (pictured left) favorite prank triggers a long-lost memory of Scott Macaulay's; SABI Pictures gives us New Breed Los Angeles; and Michelle Byrd goes from IFP to Games For Change.
To read more posts from our blog, click here.
LUCY WALKER, COUNTDOWN TO ZERO By Damon Smith
Since her widely acclaimed first feature Devil's Playground debuted at Sundance in 2002, London native Lucy Walker (one of Filmmaker's 25 New Faces of Independent Film that year) has distinguished herself as a resourceful documentarian with a discerning eye for character detail. A study of Amish adolescents sampling the forbidden fruits of the modern world during "rumspringa," an elective time spent away from the strictures of their traditional religious community, Playground was an insightful, humanizing portrait of a little-seen, faintly understood social milieu. read more
St. Louis International Film Festival
Final Deadline: July 30
Festival Dates: Nov. 11-21
Philadelphia Film Festival
Next Deadline: July 31
Final Deadline: Aug. 15
Festival Dates: Oct. 14-24
New Hampshire Film Festival
Final Deadline: Aug 5
Deadline for Online Film Submissions: Aug. 15
Festival Dates: Oct 14-17