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In This Newsletter

  • Editor's Note
  • Sound City
  • The Gatekeepers
  • Caesar Must Die
  • Culture Wars: Talking Brazilian Cinema and its Discontents with Director Kleber Mendonca Filho
  • IFP's 2013 Independent Filmmaker Labs Open for Submissions
  • Fest Deadlines

Editor's Note


As I write this, Scott is on a plane, returning home to NYC from the Rotterdam Film Festival, so as a result I am pinch-hitting (pinch-writing?) in his absence.

On my final night in at Sundance, I saw David Lowery's gorgeous Ain't Them Bodies Saints and, after listening to David's smart, insightful answers about his movie during the Q&A, realized how much I wished I could have that added component after many of the other films I'd seen. In the last few days, I have also been moderating a few Q&As as part of the Independent Spirit Award screening series, and have a handful more lined up, so it's fair to say that Q&As have been on my mind a little lately.

In our Fall 2012 issue, Scott wrote an excellent piece advising filmmakers how to do a Q&A, which contained sage advice from festival programmers on some basic do's and don't's. In the piece, True/False's David Wilson briefly griped about moderators who hog the limelight, and Scott jokily added, "But how to moderate a Q&A is a subject for another article."

Well, that article may well appear in the future, but I'd like - with tongue somewhat in cheek - to suggest a list of don't's that audience members (yes, that means you) can follow to make the whole Q&A experience that much smoother and better. As I intimated above, I LOVE a good Q&A, but we can all pull together to avoid a few basic no-no's.

Here are some guidelines that I think we'd all like to see adhered to:

1) No questions about the film's budget.

2) No questions about what kind of camera you shot on.

(In a perfect world, audience members would be handed a card on which is printed whatever info the director wants to share about the budget and camera.)

3) No two- or (God forbid!) three-part questions, and no follow-up questions. Time is tight, so them's the rules.

4) No questions that are not, in fact, questions. This includes taking the mic to say you really liked the movie, to offer an obscure theory on what the film actually meant, or to beg for work from the director or anyone else on stage. After the Q&A is the time to deal with these things.

5) No wasteful questions. Think about what your asking - if your question has a one-word answer or an answer that will interest you and only you, maybe just hold your tongue. At a recent Q&A, an audience member asked where exactly on the map was the foreign country in which the movie had been shot. "Google it," someone in the front row muttered.

If you have any suggestions of your own - or ideas on how moderators can up their game - feel free to email me at I look forward to hearing from you!

See you next week.
Nick Dawson
Managing Editor

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 when they need it most: through the completion, marketing, and distribution of their first features. The Labs provide community, mentoring, 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.

Recent Lab projects include current Sundance premieres Blue Caprice, directed by Alexandre Moors, and Stacie Passon's Concussion (just acquired by RADiUS-TWC); Penny Lane's Our Nixon and Visra Vichit-Vadakan's Karaoke Girl, currently at Rotterdam; Alex Meillier and Tanya Ager Meillier's Alias Ruby Blade, recently premiered at IDFA; Omar Mullick and Bassam Tariq's These Birds Walk and Stephen Silha and Eric Slade's Big Joy: The Adventures of James Broughton, world premiering at this year's SXSW; as well as earlier Lab alums such as Dee Rees' Pariah (Focus Features), Lucy Mulloy's Una Noche (Sundance Selects), Ryan O'Nan's Brooklyn Brothers Beat the Best (Oscilloscope); Michael Collins' Give Up Tomorrow (POV); and Terence Nance's An Oversimplification of Her Beauty (Variance Films).

Lab submission is open to all first-time documentary and narrative feature directors with films in post-production. As part of IFP's ongoing commitment to diversity, the Independent Filmmaker Labs seeks to ensure that at least half of the participating projects have an inclusive range of races, genders, sexual orientations, ethnicities, and physical abilities in key creative positions. Upcoming deadlines for the 2013 Labs are March 8 (Documentary) and April 5 (Narrative). More info here.

New In Theaters

Sound City

When the legendary L.A. recording studio Sound City closed down in 2011, Dave Grohl had no intention of making a documentary. He just wanted to own the famous Neve control board for his home studio. After all, this single board had recorded classics of rock music such as Neil Young's After the Gold Rush, Fleetwood Mac's multi-platinum self-titled album, and Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers' Damn the Torpedoes. Not to mention, Nirvana's groundbreaking Nevermind helped revive the struggling analog studio in the face of the '90s' digital onslaught. After Grohl purchased the Neve, he spearheaded a tribute album with fellow Sound City alums under the "Sound City Players" label. Over the course of the project, the album evolved into a documentary. Sound City is a loving homage to the studio - featuring interviews with the owners/clientele and recordings of the Sound City Players sessions - as well as a document of rock lineage through the eyes of one of its landmark institutions.

Read Jim Allen's interview with Grohl here.

The Gatekeepers

The Shin Bet is Israel's secret service, and one of the three principal organizations in the country's intelligence community. The organization's motto roughly translates to "the unseen shield," and as the entity responsible for overseeing Israel's war on terror - Palestinian and Jewish - it is easy to see how difficult it would be for an outsider to peel back the veil and delve into the minds of the men at the helm. Dror Moreh's Academy Award-nominated documentary, The Gatekeepers, does just that. Moreh gathered six former heads of the Shin Bet (the sixth, Yuval Diskin, was actually holding the position during production), to share their insights and reflect on the watershed moments and decisions in their careers. Through the film's seven segments, we see how the individuals - and the group together - reevaluate their positions and advocate a conciliatory two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Read Dror Moreh's response to our 2013 Sundance Question here.

Caesar Must Die

Winner of the Golden Bear at the 2012 Berlinale, Paolo and Vittorio Taviani's Caesar Must Die focuses on the staging of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar by the inmates of Rome's Rebibbia Prison. Filmed largely in black and white, the film delves into all angles of the humanity present in the prison, from touching introspection to anger that threatens the production of the famous play. We see the inmates compete in a contentious casting process, how the roles are meted out and the men sent to explore the text - discovering along the way the connections drawn between the characters the incarcerated criminals play and the conflicts the men experience within themselves and among each other.

This Week on Filmmaker

This week on the blog, Vadim Rizov reports on Walter Hill's Q&A at 92Y Tribeca for Southern Comfort (pictured left), Kim Spurlock shares her and her sister's experience at the Biennale College-Cinema, Scott Macaulay interviews Big Boy writer/director Shireen Seno, and Mark Harris completes his immersive storytelling series.

To read more, click here.

Newest Web Article

Culture Wars: Talking Brazilian Cinema and its Discontents with Director Kleber Mendonca Filho

By Paul Dallas

The Brazilian drama Neighboring Sounds made it onto many critics' best-of lists for 2012 and recently won Best Feature at the Cinema Tropical Awards in New York, which recognize excellence in Latin American cinema. The film's director, Kleber Mendonca Filho, was in town to accept the award and to attend a screening at the Museum of the Moving Image of short films he produced over the last decade.

The first of these shorts was made in 2002, the year Fernando Meirelles' urban epic City of God burst onto the international scene and Madame Sata played at Cannes. In the decade since then, Brazilian film -- at least in the popular imagination of the outsider -- has continued to be associated with stories of favelas and urban violence, most recognizably in the films of Jose Padilha. A sense of creative stymy could be detected with fewer Brazilian appearing on the international scene.

Read more

Festival Deadlines

Beverly Hills Film Festival
WAB Deadline: February 1
Festival Dates: April 24 - 28

Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival
Late Deadline: February 1
Festival Dates: April 11 - 28

Breckenridge Festival of Film
Early Deadline: February 4
Regular Deadline: April 1
Late Deadline: May 3
Festival Dates: September 19 - 22