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In This Newsletter

  • Editor's Note
  • Beyond the Hills
  • The ABCs of Death
  • The Girl
  • This is Different: Cristian Mungiu on Beyond the Hills
  • Documentary Deadline Tomorrow! IFP's 2013 Independent Filmmaker Labs
  • Fest Deadlines

Editor's Note

Should filmmakers learn to code? That's the question posed by MIT Open Documentary Lab's Sarah Wolozin in her introduction to a 12-part series beginning today at Filmmaker. And, amidst all of our discussion in our pages about DSLR cameras and crowdfunding and audience engagement strategies, it's a question that we've contemplated too. We wouldn't think of telling a director he or she doesn't need to know anything about lenses, or sound design or dramatic lighting. So, as filmmaking begins to embrace transmedia -- extending story beyond the film frame -- why shouldn't producers and directors know something about the tools their potential collaborators use?

Coding is a skill that may or may not be practical for filmmakers to pick up. But what will be essential is for filmmakers to learn how to talk to technologists. If filmmakers want to maintain a degree of creative control over their characters and story worlds, they will need to understand the methods designers, developers and coders use in digital storytelling so as to contribute meaningfully to the process.

Filmmaker is happy to be collaborating with MIT's Open Documentary Lab on this series, which will both introduce to our readers exciting artists working within the realms of interactive storytelling and transmedia as well as provide insight into their creative processes and career paths. First up are the folks from Zeega, a new interactive storytelling platform. Check back every Thursday for the next eleven weeks for a new interview.

And, if you haven't checked it out already, here are my 25 picks for the SXSW Film and Interactive Festivals, which begin tomorrow in Austin. I think of SXSW as an informative blast; the parties are great, I always discover some good films, and the tech conference keeps me up to date with the next year's trends. Hope to see some of you there.

Scott Macaulay

Upcoming at IFP

Documentary Deadline Tomorrow! IFP's 2013 Independent Filmmaker Labs

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. Drawing from a national candidate pool, 20 projects (10 documentaries and 10 narratives) are selected.

Lab alum projects from 2012 include Sundance premieres Concussion (acquired by RADiUS-TWC) directed by Stacie Passon and Blue Caprice, directed by Alexandre Moors, (picked up by Sundance Selects); Alex Meillier and Tanya Ager Meillier's Alias Ruby Blade, which will play at Tribeca next month; Daniel Patrick Carbone's Hide Your Smiling Faces, a World Premier 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 - This Friday! (Documentary) and April 5 (Narrative). For more info and to apply, click here.

New In Theaters

Beyond the Hills

After the success of his Palme d'Or-winning 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, Romanian director Cristian Mungiu garnered similar acclaim on last year's festival circuit with Beyond the Hills. The film tells the story of Alina (Cristina Flutur) and Voichita (Cosmina Stratan), two women who have been dedicated friends and lovers since meeting in an orphanage as children. Alina has spent several years living and working in Germany when she returns to Romania to retrieve Voichita. Only now, Alina finds Voichita living a devout life in an Orthodox convent and, determined to leave with her friend, she challenges the priest. The people of the monastery begin to believe Alina is possessed and try to find a remedy; meanwhile Voichita comes to have doubts about her decisions. Beyond the Hills earned its two leads a joint Best Actress Award at Cannes. The film opens at the IFC Center tomorrow.

Read Zachary Wigon's interview with Mungiu here.

The ABCs of Death

The ABCs of Death is an ambitious horror anthology combining the inspiration of children's books with genre flicks. The film's production spans 15 countries and more than two dozen of contemporary horror's most innovative directors, including Ti West (The Innkeepers), Ben Wheatley (Sightseers) and Nacho Vigalondo (Timecrimes). The ABCs of Death consists of 26 individual chapters, with each director assigned a letter of the alphabet. The filmmakers were then free to choose a corresponding word and craft a short film involving death. What results is a frightening, provocative and sometimes funny collection that Fangoria has called, "a stunning roll call of some of the most exciting names in horror across the world."

The Girl

David Riker's The Girl follows the maturation of Ashley Colton (Abbie Cornish), a struggling twentysomething fighting to regain custody of her son. While she lives an embittered life convinced she is a victim whose child was taken from her due to her poverty, Colton is also ill-prepared to be a mother. When her own father, a truck driver living in Mexico, returns, Ashley gets involved in smuggling immigrants into the U.S. as a way to earn some quick cash. Things quickly become complicated as Ashley is left in possession of a young girl whose mother has gone missing on the cross-border journey. Failing to abandon the child, Ashley undertakes the attempt to return the girl to her native village and grows as a person, and a mother, along the way.

Check out an exclusive behind-the-scenes featurette for David Riker's The Girl here.

This Week on Filmmaker

This week on the blog, R. Kurt Osenlund interviews Park Chan-wook about his English-language debut, Stoker (pictured left), Vadim Rizov reports from True/False 2013, David Rosen discusses the Copyright Alert System, and Zeega explores New Ways of Digital Storytelling.

To read more, click here.

Newest Web Article

This is Different: Cristian Mungiu on Beyond the Hills

By Zachary Wigon

Cristian Mungiu's latest feature, Beyond the Hills, confirms suspicions that were aroused by his previous, the Palme d'Or-winning 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days. What's been confirmed is that Mungiu is that rare blend of filmmaker who seems destined to produce first-class auteurist art cinema. Mungiu blends two distinct types of filmmaking into one carefully distilled whole: his films address critically pressing social issues that are irrefutably relevant, but they also are formalist aesthetic works that are very much about the nature of cinema itself. There are plenty of serious filmmakers who tackle either one interest or the other, but finding a filmmaker who simultaneously tackles both fields of inquiry with equal intelligence and style is rare.

Mungiu's talent is on display in Beyond the Hills, which premiered at Cannes 2012. Inspired by a true event, the film centers on the relationship between two young women: Voichita (Cosmina Stratan), a nun in training at a monastery in rural Romania, and Alina (Cristina Flutur), a childhood friend who comes to visit. Problems arise when Alina fails to convince Voichita to leave the monastery and return to Germany with her; after Voichita's refusal, Alina decides to stay at the monastery, and as she becomes increasingly depressed, the priest (Valeriu Andriuta) comes to believe that Alina may be possessed by a demon, and decides he must carry out an exorcism. In excruciating detail, the audience becomes witness to how all the parts of society that are meant to help Alina instead fail her miserably. Part clear-eyed inquiry into the nature of faith, wholly critical take on the callousness of ostensibly helpful social institutions (hospitals are particularly excoriated), Beyond the Hills plays as an exploration of why religion is so necessary to so many, even as orthodox religion is portrayed as deeply myopic. Managing to juggle many narrative levels at once - the personal, the social, the spiritual - the film erects an impressive structural investigation into contemporary Romanian society. I sat down with Mungiu in New York to discuss Beyond the Hills.

Read more

Festival Deadlines

Real to Reel International Film Festival
Regular Deadline: March 8
Late Deadline: April 26
WAB Extended Deadline: May 24
Festival Dates: July 24 - 27

Nantucket Film Festival
Late Deadline: March 11
WAB Extended Deadline: March 29
Festival Dates: June 26 - 30

Waterfront Film Festival
WAB Extended Deadline: March 9
Festival Dates: Jiune 13 - 16