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In This Newsletter

  • Editor's Note
  • Like Someone in Love
  • Almost in Love
  • No
  • They Should Be Grateful: An Interview with Abbas Kiarostami
  • IFP's 2013 Independent Filmmaker Labs Open for Submissions
  • Fest Deadlines

Editor's Note

Are you on Vine?

I'm fascinated with the new Twitter-owned social video service that allows you to make and share six-second clips. (You can see a livestream here at Vinepeek.) The first thing I flashed on when I registered my account (it's iOS only at the moment), was Dogme '95, Lars von Trier's experiment in creative rule-making. In fact, due to its own UI limitations, Vine winds up sharing a rule with Dogme '95: "The sound must never be produced apart from the images or vice versa. Music must not be used unless it occurs within the scene being filmed." And, while there's no reason you couldn't mount your iPhone on a tiny tripod, for all effective purposes Vine and Dogme '95 share this rule too: "The camera must be a hand-held camera. Any movement or immobility attainable in the hand is permitted."

Like Dogme '95, Vine is all about limitation. It's what you can't do that informs what you can. Clips are no longer than six seconds. In addition, all edits have to be in camera. As mentioned above, sound has to be diegetic because Vine doesn't allow you to add a separate soundtrack. And once you make a Vine - that's what the little videos are called -- you have to upload it or save it. If you save it, you can't upload it later. You can't reflect on it and upload later, and you certainly can't redo parts of it. (This latter rule is pretty unfriendly to those with limited data plans, and I expect it to be changed shortly.)

As a viewer, Vine is instantly pleasurable, and making a Vine poses an immediately appealing creative challenge. The UI looks like Instagram's (the videos are square-ish, and you view them in portrait mode). The big innovation is that there's no "play" button. As you scroll down, the videos start playing as they center in the screen, and there's something really charming about these little moments all beginning to move as they come into frame. And there's already one Vine superstar: actor, writer and director Adam Goldberg, who is pushing all of Vine's limitations with a surrealistic paranoid murder-mystery prominently featured on the service's "Editor's Picks" page.

When I first started playing around with Vine last weekend, I thought it was going to be huge. After a few days with Vine, I'm still betting that it's going to be huge, but I'm a little less sure. And that's because Vine is hard. With Instagram, you can snap a photo, quickly reframe it ("Rule of thirds!"), slap on a filter, and it looks pretty arty. Vine requires not only a sense of composition but thought given to the editing rhythms possible in six seconds. What's more, you have to do it all on the fly. And, of course, you have to think about content. Owning a cute pet helps, but Vine pet videos are going to get tired soon. If you're going to use dialogue, it's got to be perfectly delivered and concise. Changes in background ambience -- remember, no sound editing -- become pronounced. In short, just as Dogme '95 produced some great movies and a slew of amateurish imitators, so too is Vine quickly dividing into really cool clips and those that seem random and pointless.

Perhaps because early adopters are a creative bunch, the quality level of Vine so far is surprisingly high. If nothing else, it has democratized stop-motion animation, which is surprisingly easy to do given Vine's interface. (You hold your finger on the screen to film and remove it to stop.)

I'll have more to say about Vine in a blog post that will hopefully link to some of your work on the service. If you're on Vine, shoot me an email and let me know your thoughts.

See you next week.

Scott Macaulay

P.S.: Do you own an iPad? If so, check out our new iPad edition. The app is free, and so is our Summer "25 New Faces" issue. Our new issue, with Shane Carruth on the cover and Harmony Korine inside, is only $2.99.

Upcoming at IFP

IFP's 2013 Independent Filmmaker Labs Open for Submissions

IFP's Independent Filmmaker Labs are a year-long fellowship supporting independent filmmakers through the completion, marketing, and distribution of their first features. The Labs provide community, mentorship, and film-specific strategies to help filmmakers reach their artistic goals, support the film's launch, and maximize exposure in the global marketplace. Twenty projects (10 documentaries and 10 narratives) are selected. Lab alum projects from 2012 include recent Sundance premieres Concussion (acquired by RADiUS-TWC) directed by Stacie Passon and Blue Caprice, directed by Alexandre Moors; Alex Meillier and Tanya Ager Meillier's Alias Ruby Blade, recently premiered at IDFA; Daniel Patrick Carbone's Hide Your Smiling Faces, currently World Premiering in the Berlinale's Generation section; Visra Vichit-Vadakan's Karaoke Girl from Rotterdam 2013's Tiger Award competition; and Penny Lane's Our Nixon (also Rotterdam and upcoming SXSW). Additional Lab Alums also premiering at SXSW will be Omar Mullick and Bassam Tariq's These Birds Walk, Stephen Silha and Eric Slade's Big Joy: The Adventures of James Broughton, and Lotfy Nathan's 12 O'Clock Boys. Lab submission is open to all first-time documentary and narrative feature directors with films in post-production. Upcoming deadlines for the 2013 Labs are March 8 (Documentary) and April 5 (Narrative). More info here.

New In Theaters

Like Someone in Love

As Zachary Wigon points out in his interview with master director Abbas Kiarostami, the filmmaker does not consider himself a "storyteller." And in many ways, Kiarostami does defy the trajectory of his contemporaries: unorthodox starting and ending points to his "story" and a careful and light touch (in contrast to the more aggressive grasp of Haneke or Von Trier) are just a few of his hallmarks present in his latest, Like Someone in Love. In the film (which was in competition for the Palme d'Or at last year's Cannes Film Festival) Akiko, a young student financing her studies through a job as a high-end call girl, meets up with elderly academic Takashi. It becomes readily apparent that the widower is more interested in playing house and chatting than sex and when the pair runs into Akiko's jealous boyfriend the following day, Takashi is introduced as her grandfather. Accepting the role, the three gradually settle and mold into their developing niches.

Almost in Love

Sam Neave's Almost in Love is a balancing act of performance and technique, with the entire film composed of two, continuous 40-minute takes. The film centers on a love triangle and the jealousy, lust and good humor that intermingle during the two moments. The first shot takes place at a sunset barbecue in Staten Island and sets up the second: the waning hours of a wedding celebration during an East Hampton sunrise. Involving largely the same cast of characters, the film's second half serves to develop as well as complicate the assumptions and subtleties of the first. Almost in Love opens tomorrow at the reRun Theater in Dumbo, Brooklyn.

Read Brandon Harris's interview with Neave here.


No centers on the real-life "NO" campaign, an effort to dethrone Chilean dictator Augustine Pinochet in 1988. Forced by international pressure in response to a regime characterized by a disregard for human rights, Pinochet called a referendum to continue his 15-year reign. In response, a coalition of his opposition turned to the brash and charming ad exec, Rene Saavedra (Gael Garcia Bernal), to craft a campaign to draw voters and unseat Pinochet. Rallying around a positive message and a promise of happiness rather than shock tactics and negative campaigning, Saavedra and his team succeeded not only in winning the election, but drawing a 97% voter turnout. Director Pablo Larrain used stock footage, original songs and advertisements in coordination with new material (filmed on a 1983 U-Matic camera to match the aesthetic) to present a convincing and comprehensive look at a watershed moment in Chilean and international history.

Read R. Kurt Osenlund's interview with Gael Garcia Bernal here. Kevin Canfield also interviewed Larrain for Filmmaker's Winter 2013 issue, which can be read online by subscribers.

This Week on Filmmaker

This week on the blog, Randy Astle interviews Lydia Antonini and Josh Feldman about their project Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn as well as the development of web series as a viable format for filmmakers (pictured left), Sheri Candler shares Four Tips for Festival Rejectees, Scott Macaulay extends an invitation for Conversations with Blocked Filmmakers, Allan Tong reviews John Singleton's talk in Toronto and Nick Dawson updates us on new additions to SXSW 2013.

To read more, click here.

Newest Web Article

They Should Be Grateful: An Interview with Abbas Kiarostami

By Zachary Wigon

There is a reassuring softness to the touch of Abbas Kiarostami's films. At a moment in which so many of cinema's reigning masters exhibit a violently firm command of their work (Von Trier, Haneke), Kiarostami seems happily inclined to set his viewers free through the gauzy mazes of nuance that make up his cinema, encouraging them to come to their own conclusions. That's not to say that Kiarostami's hand isn't as exacting as that of his perpetual Cannes competitors, but rather, that Kiarostami's careful grip manifests itself in a carefully light touch.

That light touch can be frustrating to those who'd rather have their art-cinema spoonfed as if it were Transformers: Kiarostami's latest, the beguiling and beautiful Like Someone In Love, was greeted with equal parts boos and cheers at Cannes 2012. The film's abrupt opening and closing points make it clear that Kiarostami isn't kidding when he explains, as he often does, that he's not a storyteller; but it's what's between those opening and closing points that makes this film so satisfyingly challenging. Like Someone In Love centers on a young prostitute named Akiko (Rin Takanashi) who is sent to the home of an older professor, Takashi (Tadashi Okuno). As Akiko and Takashi spend more time together, the contours of their relationship start becoming more and more muddled. If it calls to mind Kiarostami's previous outing, Certified Copy, then there's no mistake there, as both films are preoccupied with the importance of role-playing and the irrelevance of context. I had the chance to sit down with Kiarostami while he was in town for the New York Film Festival this past fall.

Read more

Festival Deadlines

Los Angeles Film Festival
Late Deadline for Feature-length Narratives and Documentaries: February 15
Festival Dates: June 13 - 23

Edinburgh International Film Festival
Late Deadline: February 18
Festival Dates: June 19 - 30

Sidewalk Film Festival
Regular Deadline: February 15
Late Deadline: March 15
WAB Extended Deadline: April 15
Alabama Filmmakers' Extended Deadline: April 30
Festival Dates: August 23 - 25