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INDEPENDENT FILM WEEK - ALUMS ON THE SCREEN AND DEADLINES Recent openings of Independent Film Week Project Forum alumni projects – Aaron Schock’s Circo and James Rasin’s Beautiful Darling and DVD releases of Julia Bacha’s Budrus, Derek Cianfrance’s Blue Valentine, and Barbara Brancaccio and Joshua Zeman’s Cropsey – are coinciding with the deadlines for the 2011 Project Forum, in which a new selection of promising works in development and production will be presented to the industry for potential involvement. Deadlines are upcoming for both Spotlight on Documentaries (for U.S. filmmakers in any stage of production or post-production) and the No Borders International Co-production Market (for U.S. and International producers with partial financing on new narrative projects seeking additional partners). Be sure to seize this opportunity if you have a project relevant for submission this year. Full details here.
This week on the blog, Scott Macaulay discusses the trailers for Pedro Almadovar's The Skin I Live In and Sean Durkin's Martha Marcy May Marlene, Howard Feinstein on the films he's most anticipating at Cannes, and Part 2 of Lucas McNelly's A Year Without Rent (pictured left).
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SIX ASIDES ON “PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 2″ By Nicholas Rombes
Paranormal Activity 2 is not an avant-garde film, but only because no one has argued that it is. 1. The Importance of Framing The difference between commercial culture (pop culture) and the avant-garde is a matter of rhetorical framing. Jean-Luc Godard, for instance, created the conditions for the New Wave not only through his films, but through his words about his films, and about cinema in general. Confrontational, witty, manifesto-like, Godard framed the way people saw his films. Godard was an auteur of language, not just cinema. “A movie should have a beginning, a middle, and an end,” he famously said, “but not necessarily in that order.” Or “The cinema is truth 24-frames per second.” Like Lars von Trier (“it’s always been a lie that it’s difficult to make films”) he brought his ideas to a boil in public so that watching his movies became inseparable from recalling what he said about his movies or about cinema. (At the opposite end of the spectrum, there is the relative silence of directors like Stanley Kubrick or Terrence Malick, whose public withdrawal itself constitutes an aura of mystery.) Read More
Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival
Late Deadline: May 13
WAB Deadline: May 25
Festival Dates: October 14 - 23
Boston Film Festival
Regular Deadline: May 20
WAB Deadline: June 24
Festival Dates: September 16 - 22
Guam International Film Festival
Early Deadline: May 20
WAB Deadline: July 20
Festival Dates: September 30 - October 2
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CITY OF LIFE AND DEATH By Nelson Kim
In December 1937, China’s capital city Nanking fell to the invading Japanese Imperial Army. During the weeks that followed, the Japanese raped, tortured, and butchered the city’s remaining inhabitants; the death toll varies widely, but some estimates put it at over 300,000. Lu Chuan‘s epic film, which screens at Film Forum through May 24 and in select U.S. cities after that, dramatizes the Nanking Massacre (also known as the Nanjing Massacre) from multiple perspectives. The major characters include a small band of soldiers struggling to resist the invaders; a German businessman (based on the real-life John Rabe) and his Chinese associates, who establish a safety zone to protect the citizens of the city; a Japanese sergeant whose fundamental decency is ultimately no match for his compatriots’ brutality. read more THE FIRST GRADER From director Justin Chadwick (The Other Boleyn Girl) The First Grader follows Maruge, an elderly Kenyan war veteran who, at the age of eighty, enrolls in elementary school to cure his lifelong illiteracy. Blurring reality and fiction, the film is both a touching portrait of one man's unceasing thirst for knowledge and a balanced exploration of Kenya's long uphill battle towards education reform. HESHER Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars in this gleefully anarchic dramedy from first-time director Spencer Susser. Hesher follows a grieving father and son whose mourning process is interrupted by a rowdy punk (Gordon-Levitt) who takes up residence in their garage. Featuring a deglammed Natalie Portman as a friendly supermarket check-out girl, Hesher boasts a strong performance by Gordon-Levitt as it walks a line between punk aggression and sentimental relationship drama. L'AMOUR FOU When designer and fashion mogul Yves Saint-Laurent passed away in 2008, he left behind a vast collection of art that was soon auctioned off for hundreds of millions. L'amour Fou, the new documentary from Pierre Thoretton, uses this auction as a framing device to explore what else Laurent left behind. Through candid, grief-tinged interviews with Pierre Berge, Laurent's longtime lover, as well as Laurent's friends, associates, and fans, Thoretton paints a wistful portrait of artistry and mortality. A SERBIAN FILM When it premiered last year at SXSW, Srdjan Spasojevic's directorial debut divided audiences... and for good reason. A Serbian Film is brutal and unflinching, already claiming the reputation as one of the most shocking films ever made. The subject of lawsuits and censorship actions, the film is both outré-shocker and sardonic political commentary. Spasojevic's film tells the story of an ex-porn star turned family man (Srdjan Todorovic) who is forced back into the business to make ends meet. Ultimately, A Serbian Film is as breathtaking as it is divisive; a work that -- provided they can stomach it -- audiences won't soon forget. SKATELAND First-time director Anthony Burns turns the clock back several decades for Skateland, a nostalgic, character-driven coming of age drama. It's 1983, and a group of East Texas high school students (played by Heath Freeman, Ashley Greene, Shiloh Frenandez and Taylor Handley) are forced to grapple with the rigors of adulthood for the first time. Burns' film has already connected with audiences at Sundance and SXSW, and it's easy to understand why. Though Skateland is modest in scope, it's a heartfelt and timeless ode to adolescence.