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In This Newsletter

  • Editor's Note
  • Somebody Up There Likes Me
  • Ginger & Rosa
  • Spring Breakers
  • The New Digital Storytelling Series: Elaine McMillion
  • Final Days to Register for Hot Docs Discount through the American Delegation
  • Fest Deadlines

Editor's Note

"How was your premiere?" I asked a producer friend of mine down in Austin. "Okay," he said, "except that there were people serving food in the middle of the movie!"

My friend hadn't been to SXSW before, but his comment made me realize what a singular place it is. For one, the film festival is appended to -- and dwarfed by -- a giant tech festival, which, this year, had Elon Musk talking about his dream of dying on the moon and where Google demo'd a talking shoe. There are no press screenings, so everyone waits in very long lines, and the movies often start late. But then there's (mostly) great weather, barbecue, good parties and, yes, food at the Alamo Drafthouse screenings. I think to get the most out of SXSW you have to embrace its gestalt. It helps to like genre films too. I think my producer friend is still figuring it out. And for our correspondent, Brandon Harris, the mythology of SXSW proved greater than the movies. (You can read his coverage here.)

As for me, my extended thoughts will run in our next print edition. I've still got screeners to watch, so I'll hold my judgement on the line-up. Of what I saw, highlights were Sini Anderson's documentary, The Punk Singer, about Bikini Kill founder Kathleen Hanna; "25 New Face" Destin Cretton's Dramatic Jury Prize-winning Short Term 12; and Joe Swanberg's Drinking Buddies (produced by our Contributing Editor Alicia Van Couvering with Swanberg and Andrea Roa). With a great cast led by Olivia Wilde and a scene-stealing Jake Johnson, Swanberg has made a smart relationship drama that actually clarifies and enriches his entire body of work thus far.

I also liked euphonia, by another "25 New Face," Ornana's Danny Madden. In a kind of psychological horror picture, Madden comments on our always-connected, ADD world by cleverly exploring not virtual reality but instead a teenager enamored with an audio recorder and the sounds around him. But maybe the film isn't so indebted to our digital age for its commentary. I remember back in the analog era doing much the same thing as euphonia's protagonist, creating a college art product by pointing a little pocket recorder at various New York City sounds and then altering them through a Korg MS20 synthesizer. I told that to Madden when I met him at Cheer Up Charlies and he told me it was a common response -- that surprisingly many people identified with the movie's auditory explorations.

As for the buzz, I heard the most about Harmony Korine's Spring Breakers, receiving its U.S. premiere at SXSW. The film opens Friday in New York and L.A., and then goes wide a week later. I hope you all check it out. (You can read Livia Bloom's interview with Korine in our print edition and on our iPad edition.)

On another note, we have a cool series going on the website: "The New Digital Storytelling." Hosted by MIT's Open Doc Lab, it's a series of interviews with artists working with new media and interactive documentary. Today we talk with Elaine McMillion, whose Hollow is a fascinating online doc about, and a product of, the West Virginia community it profiles.

See you next week.

Scott Macaulay

Upcoming at IFP

Final Days to Register for Hot Docs Discount through the American Delegation

Hot Docs announced this week the 19 projects selected to pitch at the Hot Docs Forum. Congratulations to the two 2012 IFP Project Forum alums selected to pitch: Andrew James with Street Fighting Man and James Demo with The Peacemaker. Documentary filmmakers not part of the festival or Forum, but desiring the same networking opportunities, one-on-one meetings, Doc Shop inclusion, and festival and Forum access can receive a substantial discount on accreditation by registering through the American Delegation with IFP. Delegation registrants receive all benefits of the All-Access Pass, including full access to Hot Docs Festival screenings, the Conference, and Forum (May 1-2); access to the one-on-one Deal Maker meetings with broadcasters and funders and the Distribution Rendezvous meetings with distributors, sales agents and festival programmers; and one free film submission to the Doc Shop, Hot Docs' on-demand digital video library.

Only through this offer can filmmakers also network with other delegates through specially-scheduled events and receptions, and through International Co-Production Day (April 29) and its luncheon. The rate for delegation members is $600.00 (+HST) CAD, a 24% discount over the regular All Access Pass fee. Final deadline for this discount is Monday, March 18. For more benefits of the All Access Pass click here. For more info on registering and to receive the IFP discount code, contact Milton Tabbot.

New In Theaters

Somebody Up There Likes Me

Bob Byington's Somebody Up There Likes Me is a seemingly effortless blend of comedy and tragedy, following Max (Keith Poulson), his friend Sal (Nick Offerman) and the woman of their mutual adoration (Jess Weixler) throughout a span of 35 years. The triad stumbles through relationships as the film embraces the absurd nature of life, finds humor in bleakness, and ignores typical narrative chronology and structure. Episodes of Max's life fly by at an increasing rate, linked together by animated vignettes produced by Bob Sabiston (A Scanner Darkly), as he holds onto a mysterious briefcase and defies aging.

Ginger & Rosa

Set amidst the ominous atmosphere of the Cold War in 1962 London, Ginger & Rosa centers on the relationship of the two title characters. The teenage girls are inseparable as they skip school, share their dreams and talk about everything from love to politics. Under the strain of potential nuclear fallout, Ginger (Elle Fanning) finds solace in poetry and protest while Rosa (Alice Englert) is a cigarette-smoking rebel. Relationships strain as parents fight and interests clash. Finally, as the Cuban Missile Crisis looms, the girls' friendship shatters and the two cling desperately to the pieces.

Read Allan Tong's report from director Sally Potter's talk at the TIFF Bell Lightbox here.

Spring Breakers

Spring Breakers is Harmony Korine's follow-up to his controversial Trash Humpers, but as Livia Bloom points out in her Winter 2013 feature interview with the director, the movie takes the seemingly mainstream essence of Britney Spears and James Franco and throws it into the desolate setting of alleyways and abandoned malls, twisting the film into darker, avant garde territory akin to its predecessor. The movie follows four college girls as they rob a fast food restaurant to fund spring break and embark on party-fueled antics. Drug charges, a bailout by Alien (Franco), and a subsequent mentoring by the thug only scratch the surface of the group's celebratory downward spiral.

Check out Livia Bloom's interview with Korine from Filmmaker's Winter 2013 issue here.

This Week on Filmmaker

This week on the blog, John Yost presents a special episode of Shooting with John on Geoff Marslett's Loves Her Gun, Sara Kaye Larson tells us How to Raise Seven Grand in Seven Days on Indiegogo, Brandon Harris reports on SXSW 2013 (pictured left), and the latest episode of Rambling On discusses lessons learned from debut features.

To read more, click here.

Newest Web Article

The New Digital Storytelling Series: Elaine McMillion

By MIT Open Documentary Lab

Last week, Filmmaker and the MIT Open Documentary Lab kicked off their collaborative series of interviews with digital storytellers with a conversation with Zeega. (For an introduction to this entire series, read "Should Filmmakers Learn to Code," by MIT Open Documentary Lab's Sarah Wolozin.)

In the second part in this series, Elaine McMillion talks about her work, mainly focusing on her interactive documentary Hollow, a "hybrid community participatory project and interactive documentary" that uses HTML5 to depict a West Virginia community via video, photography, soundscapes and interactive data. From her website, McMillion describes herself thusly:

Elaine McMillion is a documentary storyteller based in Boston, Massachusetts. Her work focuses on contemporary social and cultural issues and strives to share stories from people and places that are often stereotyped by mass media.
Read more

Festival Deadlines

Outfest: Los Angeles LGBT Film Festival
Regular Deadline: March 18
Festival Dates: July 11 - 21

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

AFI Silverdocs Documentary Festival
Late Deadline: March 15
Festival Dates: June 19 - 23