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check out my phone interview with David Leitner moments after Apple’s presentation. Or, if you prefer to read, here’s his coverage. For non-techies, why is this interesting? Wrote Leitner, “I think it’s revolutionary, in a democratic sense, to spend years to overhaul an epochal product to make it more powerful, more protean, yet more accessible, with the goal that my teenaged daughter and Walter Murch would both edit with the same software.” Or, here’s a take from filmmaker Nathan Lee Bush on his blog: “While the fate of its other video offerings remains unclear, it could be that rather than a simple upgrade from Final Cut Express or downgrade from Final Cut Studio, Apple has recognized another market segment altogether, one that has exploded with the DSLR revolution: the independent professional filmmaker. These are the filmmakers and videographers who don’t require the same sophistication of movies budgeted in the millions, but still need advanced color grading and audio editing tools. Final Cut Pro X could be to editing what the 5D or AF100 is to independent filmmakers, a category lower than the RED or F3, but still far above any consumer offerings.”The big news this week was Apple’s dramatic unveiling of a rebuilt, reimagined Final Cut Pro at an NAB-related event in Las Vegas. If you want some perspective on it,
Also interesting this week: Steven Soderbergh’s media diet. For one year, he kept a list of every movie, TV show, play and book he consumed. And that’s all it is: a list. There’s no explanation of why he read or saw something. For work? Or pleasure? Or what he was looking for when he picked up a book or popped in a DVD. Relaxation? Stimulation? Research material? There’s something fascinating about the list, and also something slightly invasive-feeling. It feels strangely private. For example, why read Chris Gerolmo’s Death for Beginners? What inspired him to watch Breaking Bad just after wrapping his film Haywire? On August 6 there’s one entry: Infinite Jest. Did he finish that 1,079-page book that day? Or just read a chapter? Or maybe... the whole thing? It seems inconceivable... but Soderbergh has made as many as three films a year. In terms of indies he watched Tiny Furniture, Please Give and Black Swan. Foreign films included Enter the Void and The White Ribbon. He read Flaubert, Steve Martin and Jonathan Franzen, and more than one book each by John Barthes and Arthur Nersesian. He seems to have watched Raiders of the Lost Ark three times -- in black and white. He watched The Social Network four times -- twice on the same day. And forget It’s a Wonderful Life -- on Christmas he watched a double bill of Inside Job and Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps.
In 2010 and '11, Soderbergh talked about retirement, announced his attention to become a painter, completed Haywire and began Contagion. What does this list, compiled during these months, say about him? What does your viewing list say about you?
See you next week.
CROSS-MEDIA FORUM NYC -- APRIL 19 Presented by IFP and Power to the Pixel, Cross-Media Forum includes case studies and conversations with creative visionaries working across platforms- including film, advertising, new media, design, mobile, publishing, and gaming. Speakers include Ty Montague, founder Co Collective, transmedia storytelling guru Jeff Gomez, Kevin Slavin, founder Area/Code, and case studies on Lance Weiler’s Pandemic, MTV’s Valemont transmedia universe and NFB Canada’s Interactive Documentaries, among others. Cross-Media Forum will also present three new transmedia projects to the audience, introducing them to financiers and top brand leaders. Admission includes the afternoon networking cocktail and the exclusive Cross-Media Forum Ping Pong kick-off party with free ping-pong and happy hour specials only for Cross-Media Forum participants. Additional program and ticket info here. For additional details on the program and ticket information, click here.
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A SCREAMING MAN By Michael Tully
For the first half of Mahamet-Saleh Haroun’s A Screaming Man, you might think Haroun’s sole mission is to deliver one of those poignant little personal fables that feel warmly contained within their own worlds. But something happens along the way. The news reports of civil unrest that filter through the background of so many early scenes maneuver their way into the forefront, to the point where the film’s scope widens dramatically. But here’s the trick, and it is what most likely resulted in its winning of the Grand Jury Prize at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival: Even as that external scope widens, A Screaming Man retains its small, personal, internal purpose. Haroun’s deft balancing act between an actual civil war and the civil war in one’s man mind is a quietly groundbreaking achievement. read more SOME DAYS ARE BETTER THAN OTHERS Matt McCormick’s debut feature follows four characters whose stories echo and reinforce each other. Carrie Brownstein of the band Sleater-Kinney plays Katrina, a would-be reality TV show contestant who works days at an animal shelter while trying to incorporate the pain of a recent break-up in her homemade audition tapes. James Mercer of the band The Shins plays a directionless slacker who just hopes to land a production assistant job so he can pay his rent. He checks in on an elderly friend and widower, played by David Wodehouse, who is making an experimental science film about soap bubbles. And Renee Roman Nose plays a severely withdrawn Salvation Army worker trying to reconnect a discarded urn containing the remains of a young girl with its owner. McCormick’s structure of vignettes and interconnecting storylines may recall for some viewers films by Todd Solondz or Miranda July, but McCormick has a style and sensibility all his own. The film is currently screening in a platform release in several cities across the country. Find your city here. And read Scott Macaulay’s interview with McCormick. ARMADILLO Winner of the Critics’ Week Grand Prize at Cannes last year, Armadillo, directed by Janus Metz, is an alarming, often harrowing grunt’s-eye view of Danish soldiers stationed in Afghanistan. Metz, a native of Denmark, embeds himself at the international Armadillo military base in Helmand Province, tracking a handful of young men on their six-month tour of duty, from their homes to the frontlines. Unlike a film like Restrepo, which was made by veteran war photojournalists, Metz came in with zero combat experience, and, as he tells us in this week's Director Interview, that gives his film a different perspective than the others. "Sometimes it takes an outsider to see the inside," he says. "From the beginning there was a strong concern for us not to cross the line and become soldiers, to become blindfolded to the machinery of the army. There was a concern to [frame] the experiences the soldiers had rather than plunge right in and [assume] their rationality. It was about feeling slightly more distance." THE CONSPIRATOR Bringing to life one of the lesser-known subplots surrounding the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, Robert Redford directs a fact-heavy recount of the trial of Mary Surratt (played by Robin Wright), the lone woman charged with conspiring to assassinate Lincoln. War hero-turned-lawyer Fredrick Aliken (James McAvoy) is assigned to the Surratt trail, which forces him to defend his patriotism while also upholding his oath to his job. But quickly Aliken realizes he will not get a fare trail to prove Surratt's innocence, as secretary of war Edwin Stanton (Kevin Kline) is out for vengeance. The film is a riveting courtroom drama that parallels many post-9/11 events. This week on the blog, Filmmaker remembers Sidney Lumet (pictured left); Apple announces Final Cut Pro X; David Leitner reports from the NAB; TV on the Radio makes a music video for each song on their new album; and filmmaker Lucas McNelly's "A Year Without Rent" project tracks his experiences volunteering on indie film projects.
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ZEINA DURRA & ELODIE BOUCHEZ, THE IMPERIALISTS ARE STILL ALIVE! By Mary Anderson Casavant
In the opening scene of Zeina Durra’s debut, The Imperialists Are Still Alive!, Asya, a young artist, poses naked for the camera. A hijab on her head, a machine gun in hand, she explains to an off-screen assistant her rationale for why the character she’s inhabiting -- a religious freedom fighter -- might have waxed her pubic hair It’s a scene that is as funny as it is politically loaded, much like the movie that follows. read more
Philadelphia Independent Film Festival
Late Deadline: April 22
WAB Deadline: May 8
Festival Dates: June 22-26
Ohio Independent Film Festival
WAB Deadline: April 22
Festival Dates: May 18-22
Sacramento International Film and Music Festival
Early Deadline: April 22
Regular Deadline: June 3
Festival Dates: Aug. 18-21