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Sundance Competition lists are out. I was happy to see a number of favorite independent filmmakers -- Ira Sachs, Ry Russo-Young, Heidi Ewing & Rachel Grady, James Ponsoldt, Antonio Campos, Kirby Dick -- sharing the stage with several first-time filmmakers we've featured in our 25 New Faces pages. The latter include Sheldon Candis, Alison Klayman and Benh Zeitlin. Sundance unrolls more titles today and finishes up on Monday, at which point I'll post some thoughts about the selection as a whole. And, of course, we'll be doing extensive coverage of the festival both on site and in weeks leading up to it.If you haven't read them by now, the
This past week also saw the 21st edition of the IFP's Gotham Awards, where the Best Feature prize went, in a rare tie-vote, to Mike Mills' Beginners and Terrence Malick's The Tree of Life. Speaking for the jury (who also included Anne Carey, Jodie Foster, Lee Percy and Nicole Kidman), Natalie Portman said, "The criteria of the Gotham Awards states that we had to focus on 'An exceptionally realized fiction film that raises the possibilities of filmmaking and that will withstand the test of time.' Of the top two films for us one is a vast, cinematic and languid tone poem about some very big ideas -- love, death, human connection and family -- and the other is a playful, plastic, stunningly personal and deceptively simple film that is also about some very big ideas -- love, death, human connection and family. We couldn't choose one over the other without feeling that we were doing a disservice to the extraordinary achievement of the other. So we have made a bold and independent decision. We chose to honor both."
Beginners, along with The Artist, Take Shelter and Drive, received recognition in the form of Spirit Award nominations this week. Check out the complete list of nominees here.
Finally, today kicks off Filmmaker's annual subscription drive. From now through December 25 we've discounted one-year, two-year and digital subscriptions to Filmmaker by 40%. A one-year subscription costs $10, and a two-year $18. Digital subs are $6. As much as I hope you enjoy reading Filmmaker's website, we're still working hard to load the print issue with in-depth articles that dive deep into the art, craft and business of moviemaking. Your support in the form of subscriptions helps underwrite all of our content, and I hope you'll please consider subscribing, renewing, or giving Filmmaker as a gift this year. As an incentive, all new and renewing subscribers will be eligible for a bonus gift. This year we have an excellent collection of items, ranging from an Oscilloscope Circle of Truth subscription, box sets from Factory 25 and Focus Features, a signed Melancholia poster by Lars von Trier from Magnolia, books from Focal Press, DVDs from New Video, Zeitgeist and Criterion, and much more. Check out the complete list and subscribe in time to receive our Sundance issue, which arrives in January.
Thanks, and see you next week.
See you next week.
WINNERS ANNOUNCED FOR 21ST ANNUAL GOTHAM AWARDS On Monday, November 28, the 21st Annual Gotham Independent Film Awards were presented at Cipriani Wall Street in New York City. This year's winners: Mike Mills' Beginners and Terrence Malick's The Tree of Life in a tie for Best Feature; Beginners for Best Ensemble Performance; Katie Galloway and Kelly Duane de la Vega's Better This World for Best Documentary; Dee Rees, Pariah, for Breakthrough Director; Felicity Jones, Like Crazy, for Breakthrough Actor; Blue Hadaegh and Grover Babcock's Scenes of a Crime for FILMMAKER Magazine's Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You Award; Justin Lerner's Girlfriend for the 2nd Annual Gotham Independent Film Audience Award; and Lucy Mulloy, Una Noche, for the inaugural euphoria Calvin Klein Spotlight on Women Filmmakers Live the Dream grant, a $25,000 cash award for an alumnus of IFP's Independent Filmmaker Labs. In addition, Career Tribute awards were presented to Tom Rothman, filmmaker David Cronenberg, and actors Gary Oldman and Charlize Theron. More here.
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Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist
IFP: Winners Announced for 21st Annual Gotham Awards
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KINYARWANDA This compelling and compassionate debut from filmmaker (and 25 New Faces alum) Alrick Brown traces several interconnected stories in an exploration of the aftermath of the 1994 civil war between the Hutus and the Tutsis and the Rwandan Genocide. Winner of the Sundance World Cinema Audience Award and an alumnus of IFP's Filmmaker Labs, Kinyarwanda was shot entirely on location in Rwanda. Brown's film is one of the most ambitious debuts of the year, a sprawling tapestry of injustice that manages to find moments of beauty and humanity amidst the chaos. SHAME Don't let the NC-17 rating stop you from seeing Shame, director Steve McQueen's bold follow-up to his BAFTA-winning debut, Hunger. Re-teaming with Michael Fassbender, McQueen's film centers around Brandon, a New Yorker whose sex addiction keeps him lonely, isolated and incapable of sustaining any real human connection. After Brandon's sister (Carey Mulligan) moves into his apartment, her presence forces him to confront his past and his self-destructive lifestyle. McQueen's film displays a confident, singular vision; his direction is as unsettling and unforgettable as Fassbender and Mulligan's performances. Read our interview with McQueen now by subscribing for a digital issue. SLEEPING BEAUTY In her provocative debut, Australian novelist-turned-director Julia Leigh (also a former 25 New Face) wrings a stirring performance from Emily Browning (Sucker Punch) as Lucy, a money-strapped college student who takes a job in the sex industry to make ends meet. Sleeping Beauty builds slowly, as Browning's Lucy reluctantly agrees to a new business proposition -- to be drugged and left unconscious while wealthy clients pay to do with her whatever they desire. Through these often disturbing sequences, Leigh builds a complex, empathetic gender study, getting at the inherent power-struggle built into sexual relationships. Read our interview with Leigh here. This week on the blog, Randy Astle reports on the new revamp of Lightworks, a nonlinear editing system, Dan Schoenbrun shares the 2012 Independent Spirit Award nominations, and reports on the Gotham Awards from Wild Horse, Wild Ride director Alexandra Dawson and winners Beginners director Mike Mills (pictured left) and Girlfriend director Justin Lerner.
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MICHEL HAZANAVICIUS, THE ARTIST By Damon Smith
Remarkably, given the decibel-raising, sensorial overkill of our current mainstream film culture, Michel Hazanavicius' The Artist, an exuberantly charming black-and-white silent melodrama about the birth of the talkies, is finding a foothold in awards season thanks to a Best Actor win at Cannes for French star Jean Dujardin, effervescent word of mouth, and the mighty muscle of the Harvey Weinstein machine. Hazanavicius, a onetime gag man for a TV comedy troupe and writer-director of the nutty James Bond spoofs OSS 117: A Nest of Spies and OSS 117: Lost in Rio, conceived of the film as a formal experiment that would hearken back to the Golden Age of live-orchestra-accompanied Hollywood cinema. Little did he realize what a welcome the film would receive from audiences around the world (I saw The Artist in a packed-to-the-rafters opera house in Doha, Qatar) who've embraced the pure spirit of his traditional tale, rendered in an obsolete format. The film centers on Douglas Fairbanks-esque silent-film star George Valentin (Dujardin), a happy-go-lucky, supremely confident actor whose career stalls when the sound era arrives, sending him into a tailspin. read more
Hamptons International Film Festival - Screenwriters' Lab
Early Deadline: December 2
WAB Deadline: January 20
Festival Dates: April 13 - 15, 2012
Los Angeles Film Festival
Early Deadline: December 2
WAB Deadline: March 2, 2012
Festival Dates: June 14 - 24, 2012
Seattle International Film Festival
Regular Deadline: December 21
WAB Deadline: February 3, 2012
Festival Dates: May 17 - June 10, 2012