Friday, August 31, 2007
I highly encourage all minority & diversity friendly filmmakers (& fans) to start blogging :: leave the URL to your blog in comments
Document your production & distribution story for each film on your blog. Also write about other things that you care about at your blog; this will be a good way to build a fan base & also contacts that may be useful to you in your film production & distribution work. We definitely need to create a multi-ethnic indie film blog network; as the current indie film bloggers (that I know of) are mostly "white" and that can, through no ill-will or malice, can end up with just a lot of "white" filmmakers or films featuring all-"white" casts being hyped (as it has been the case for the last few years). Some of my favorite filmmakers are "white" & some of my favorite films have all-"white"casts, but, I of course would like to see indie film become a part of ALL of America, not just the majority. So start blogging RIGHT NOW diversity friendly filmmakers of all shapes & colors.
Starting a blog is easy;you can do it from Blogger as I have (click on the Blogger logo on top & follow directions) or you can blog at MySpace or at many other places that offer free blogs.
If you can read a blog, then you can create a blog.
Leave the URL & an intro to your blog in the comments, will link to it if I dig it, when I have time.
So starting now the main focus of the blog will be 1) my own movies and 2) other American (made in the US or with people or ideas from/related to here having significant roles in the production of the movie) indie movies featuring a diverse/multi-ethnic casts and or movies directed by minority filmmakers. In addition, I will be writing about whatever else that I feel like writing about; be it film (even Hollywood!) or politics or building time travel machines in your basement.
Should be fun.
Most likely the multi-ethnic art/indie film movement will have to be at first heavily DIY & "underground"
Thursday, August 30, 2007
Let's put together a new indie film movement of DIY/ultra low budget filmmakers EXCEPT with films featuring minority & multi-ethnic casts & directors
Eventually we will establish a membership review board. For now, leave a comment.
Minority directors are highly encouraged to sign up for this new filmmaking movement. As are "white" directors (given that they are not closed off to using minority talent in front of & behind the camera).
We will promote our movies, get fest & investor & theatrical & DVD & cable distro support & tons of press as Mumblecore has gotten; except of course our movies will reflect the ethnic diversity in America far better.
HONARARY MEMBERS of this New American Indie Film Movement:
Jon Moritsugu, Greg Pak, Gene Cajayon, James Spooner, Greg Araki, Jim Jarmusch, Jim McKay
(i am sure there are more that would qualify, suggest some names in Comments)
REGULAR MEMBERS (so far, the movement in only like 5 minutes old at the moment)
Sujewa Ekanayake (me) - founder
(and like I said earlier, if ya want to join, leave a comment w/ info. on you, your film, your approach to casting with diversity in mind)
POSSIBLE NAME FOR THE MOVEMENT:
New American Indie?
The Open Films Movement?
- suggest some names in Comments
As Tom Hall points out, outside of the Generation DIY series, there are a couple of Mumblecore movies with significant minority presence
In the meantime there is some important info. to communicate; at a long conversation me & Tom Hall are having at the comments in this blog (see recent post re: '06 Swanberg quote) & AJ Schnack's blog, Tom has pointed out that beyond the Mumblecore films at IFC Center's Generation DIY series, there are a couple of other Mumblecore films that do have significant minority presence. He points to Aaron Hillis's (sp?) Mumblecore chart at Cinephiliac (link later) & reminds us that David Gordon Green's film Goerge Washington featured a young African-American actor in the main role, and also that the film In Between Days was directed by an Asian American director and features an Asian lead.
Also, as I've said at several times, of the films at Gen DIY series, Bujalski's Mutual Appreciation does feature a significant minor character (the radio DJ at the begining of the movie) who is played by a minority actress.
OK, off to get more coffee and wake up more, will be back on this topic later; will add more details to this post.
Further, Mike Tully and David Lowery may have been trying to communicate the same info. that Tom did; in recent e-mail & comment section discussions.
My recent post (the "100 million minority" one) that started this conversation was primarily about the lack of minority presence both in front of & behind the camera in Mumblecore movies in the Gen DIY series at the IFC Center - the event that has received the most mainstream and indie film media attention since the start of the Mumblecore movement.
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
"Aaron Katz’s film “Quiet City” is punctuated with images of New York at twilight that cast a mood of reflective melancholy reminiscent of the loneliness at the heart of Edward Hopper paintings. Silhouettes of television aerials against a glowing orange and purple sky; yellow traffic lights on a nearly deserted avenue; a silvery subway train in the middle distance slipping through the dusky, blue-gray light; an industrial landscape at sunset: These and other beautiful images, photographed by Andrew Reed, resonate with the characters’ lives."
Read the rest of the review here.
Get info. on show times & ticket sales over here.
Dance Party USA review link :: link to interview with director Aaron Katz :: film today at IFC Center
Here is the link to my review of the movie, from last year.
And here is the link to my interview with Katz re: DPUSA.
Screening times & ticket info. for IFC Center here.
This is the Swanberg quote (from '06) that got me thinking critically about Mumblecore and minorities
From an interview at GreenCine:
Swanberg: "In a similar vein, I'm uncomfortable writing roles for women or minorities - I don't feel it's my place - and all the actresses in my films write their own material. I refuse to include a token minority simply because my characters are all white. It's not about seclusion, it's just a reflection of the white, hipster neighborhood I live in."
Read the whole interview here, so that there is more context - maybe.
I think that it is unfortunate for minority actors that Swanberg feels uncomfortable writing roles for minorities. Also I think it is unfortunate for minority actors that many of the Mumblecore directors - for one reason or another - have been unable or unwilling to cast minority actors or friends in their movies thus far. As an indie film consumer & a non-"white" person, I like movies that have multi-ethnic casting. And Mumblecore is now mainstream news, thus this complaint. Maybe things will change for the better, maybe not. And also, more minority indie filmmakers might start making more movies soon, & more mainstream media/fests/distributors/theater programmers will start working with them/raising their profile/getting them NYC runs at fine indie houses & arrange for NYTimes press - so this lack-of-diversity-in-indie-film issue might go away, maybe not, we'll see how things ago.
From Kamp Katrina review at New York Times:
"Mr. Cross and Ms. Pearl kept the camp open despite not-in-my-backyard complaints from neighbors and attempts by Mayor C. Ray Nagin to shut it down. Their blunt-spoken decency is inspiring. So is the movie’s portrait of New Orleans after the flood, a debris-strewn ghost town where human kindness is overflowing."
From Pioneer's site:
"screening to coincide with the two year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina
"Riveting . . . It's hard to overstate the impact of KAMP KATRINA's honesty; fresh off their acclaimed venture MARDI GRAS: MADE IN CHINA, the filmmakers' six-month survey arguably captured the city's wounded spirit more frankly than any of its contemporaries. The result is a disturbing yet essential record."- S.T. VanAirsdale, THE REELER
"You settle in with these people and become immersed in the chaos, brutality and surreal humor of their situation, seen close-up and often in fragments. This isn't the heartening experience of [Jonathan] Demme's film, nor is it a comprehensive picture like [Spike] Lee's - but it seems appropriate enough to a war of attrition."- Stuart Klawans, THE NATION
"Fascinating . . . Achieve[s] potent dramatic and emotional impact...Artful, beautiful visual flourishes."- Joe Leydon, VARIETY"Transfixing . . . haunting and colorful."- AUSTIN CHRONICLE
* South by Southwest * Magnolia Film Festival * IFF Boston *
from the directors of MARDI GRAS: MADE IN CHINA
KAMP KATRINA follows New Orleans native Ms. Pearl, who spontaneously converts her backyard into a tent-village for 14 displaced people for six months in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and the subsequent flooding of her beloved city. Ms. Pearl explodes off the screen, one of those flamboyantly larger-than-life personalities who, were this a fictional film, would seem too outrageous to be real. KAMP KATRINA delivers a sometimes-shattering verite exploration of the very personal daily struggles imposed by this national tragedy on a small group of troubled survivors." "
Go here for Pioneer's page for the film, tickets.
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
" The Momentum Experience marries the live urban theater model with the traditions of African-American filmmakers who self-distributed in the early 1900s, such as Oscar Michaeux. Momentum will offer an enhanced entertainment component to the price of each ticket. From a live concert performance by soundtrack artists to a cast meet-and-greet to a comedy pre-show, each feature presentation will be preceded by a unique added-value attraction for ticket holders."
Read the rest here.
The press release is from '05, so I'll have to search & learn about the current status of this project.
UPDATE: Looks like Momentum's The Seat Filler did well theatrically & was acquired by Magnolia for home video - so says this 2/06 press release.
If anyone has any info. on where to get more recent news about Momentum, leave me a note in Comments. Thanks!
Quiet City STARTS TOMORROW Wed 8/29 at IFC Center, NYC :: Trailer :: Reviews & Interview Links ::: DPUSA also playing 8/28 & 8/29!
Now, just because I keep an eye on ethnic diversity in indie film & speak up about it does not mean that I do not appreciate a good (possibly good for many indie filmmakers; including minority indie filmmakers) thing when it happens; an ultra-low/"no" budget DV (or is it HD?) film by a promising young director starting a week long run in the media capital of the world, at a venue owned by a cable television company that deals in indie film - OR - Aaron Katz's (of Dance Party, USA fame; which plays today 8/28 & tomorrow 8/29 also @ IFC Center by the way) new & beautiful looking feature Quiet City opening tomorrow (Wed 8/29) in NYC @ the IFC Center. If I were in NYC, I would be at a screening.
Quiet City page at IFC's Generation DIY program
Quiet City MySpace
Quiet City review at New York Magazine
Quiet City review at indieWIRE
Quiet City review at eFilmCritic
Interview with Aaron Katz at Spoutblog
Buy tickets for Quiet City & Dance Party, USA here.
"The genesis of this article was a recent SXSW panel discussion on the "state of independent film" that included panelists Michael Barker from Sony Classics, former producer and rep John Pierson, Film Movement's Larry Meistrich, Micah Green from Cinetic Media, Newmarket's Bob Berney, Magnolia's Eamonn Bowles, and former UA and October head Bingham Ray. During the session, New York Times film critic Elvis Mitchell raised a question about the lack of new African-American filmmakers emerging since the movement led by Spike Lee back in the '80s. Sitting in the audience listening to the panel of white males tackling the topic I was reminded that ethnic diversity is a major challenge within the specialized and/or independent film industry."
And later in the same article, here's director Jim McKay on the topic:
" "There probably aren't a lack of people of color pursuing jobs, but there are certainly an excess of people of whiteness in hiring positions -- and they are hiring their own," noted filmmaker and producer Jim McKay. Continuing he added, "Spike Lee single-handedly did more for the integration of the industry (and to bring non-whites in) than anyone in the modern history of film. And the real shame is that no one has carried the torch -- if everyone committed to doing a quarter of what Spike did in terms of hiring, things would change radically. But people are lazy. And selfish. And cowardly." "
Read the rest of the excellent article here.
Monday, August 27, 2007
OK, retirement over, back blogging due to "popular" demand :: Jonas Mekas interview @ Sense of Cinema
Check out this great interview with Jonas Mekas at Sense of Cinema. Although I have only seen very little of his movies (so far just a few of the 365 shorts project that he is doing this year), the amount of work he's done over the years on behalf of avant-garde cinema is staggering & deserving of much respect. The Anthology Film Archives, an organization that Mekas had a key role in creating, is still around & contributing to the NYC film scene (i saw the place with my own eyes last week, scroll down a couple of posts for a pic of the venue).
Here is an interesting segment from the interview (this reminded me a little bit of the recent film & photography permission & insurance protest by Picture NY), re: "the controversy surrounding the seizure of Jack Smith's Flaming Creatures (1963)":
"We were arrested and the films seized. Again we were bailed by Jerome Hill. The court procedures took place and we had witnesses in our support – Susan Sontag, Allan Ginsberg – and we lost. We were sentenced to six months of suspended sentence. Emile Zola did his job in that at least we got only a suspended sentence.
But we did not accept that and went to the Court of Appeals. We lost. Then we went to the Supreme Court in Washington, and that’s where a judge named Abe Fortas came out in support of Flaming Creatures. He made copies and distributed them to the other judges and some senators, and that caused his downfall. He was being promoted [by President Johnson] as the new Chief Justice. But they said he was a peddler of pornography and he was not appointed.
The case created a big stir and was reported in all the newspapers. As a result, a year later, censorship in New York was practically abandoned. So, it was not for nothing."
Read the entire interview here.
Thanks GreenCine Daily for the link.
so, i am retiring from blogging right now.
i believe a lot of good things were accomplished during my blogging "career"; providing assistance with the popularization of DIY filmmaking & self-distribution, promoting some interesting movies, building networks/getting to know other filmmakers & bloggers, etc. very cool.
in the future this blog/space will only be used to announce screenings of my films or their DVD & other availability.
look for Date Number One on DVD announcement (before 9/15) & DNO screening announcements here soon.
then, w/ in the next 3 months (before 11/27), i will be releasing my new feature Stranger Than Hollywood.
both films will have minority actors in lead roles as well as multi-ethnic casts.
after that i plan on releasing a no-budget/ultra-low budget feature every 3 months or sooner.
thanks for reading, see ya around.
Great World Of Sound poster at Angelika
Angelika Film Center
And, from the same review:
"Police Beat didn't seem to belong at Sundance, where it stood out for being what we used to call an independent film—the sort made with unknown actors, modest budgets, innovative production strategies, and regional specificity."
The film is about a Seattle bike-cop. Here's the official website for this innovative sounding movie (adding it to my "to watch" list). The movie is available on DVD.
Sunday, August 26, 2007
America's minority population at over 100 million, yet the grass roots film movement Mumblecore do not seem to have any dark skinned friends
An otherwise very cool indie film theater programmer asked me recently not to complain about Mumblecore being an all-"white" thing. Looks like I am not going to be able to do that.
Also, a very widely read film journalist who blogs for indieWIRE told me a while back that American indie film has always been a "white" thing. Not really ("Race Films" of the 1930's on, Cassavette's Shadows, Spike Lee, Jarmusch's Mystery Train & Night On Earth & Dead Man & Ghost Dog, Ang Lee & Mira Nair & Wayne Wang's careers). So how come the indie film media does not seem to be at all concerned about the hottest new thing in our world -Mumblecore - being an all-"white" thing?
So is Mumblecore independent film by & for "white"people only? Or for people who do not have any non-"white" friends or acquaintances or business partners? Maybe it is, at least up to now. At least that seems to be the message in the casting decisions made in the films.
In the grand scheme of things it does not matter, since Hollywood is embracing diversity. And Aaron Katz said that he is writing a script that takes place in the 70's & has an African-American lead character. So maybe Mumblecore directors too will eventually reflect the massive diversity in the country that they live & work in. And of course there is a ton of minority indie filmmakers working now & also up and coming; so, now that I am scaling back my posts re: Mumblecore films & filmmakers (this piece is more of a social analysis type piece, these kinds of things I'll still write as necessary), I'll write more about those diverse films & filmmakers here.
For the moment it is however sad that a lot of the media are hyping a grass-roots filmmaking group that does not seem to have any significant non-"white"members; in a country with a huge number (100 million is I believe greater than the total population of France) of non-"white" citizens & residents.
I believe there exists a huge "digital video divide" in the current American indie film scene/industry; from press/publicity on to distribution and all the way down to production. I think this will be changing real fast, like by next year or so, let's hope, 'cause I like to cling to my old perception & belief that the type of films I like above all else/the otherwise cool community that makes those films - American indie films/real indie films - are at least as progressive as Hollywood (indie film should be far more progressive, but I'll settle for at-least-as for now) when it comes to reflecting the ethnic diversity in America.
Finally, a key point that should not be overlooked is that THE INDIE FILM MEDIA & INDIE FILM FESTIVALS & INDIE THEATER PROGRAMMERS are the ones who have made Mumblecore as big a success as it is now. So, any blame for the near 100% "white"ness of the "movement" should be evenly spread among those entities also, not just the filmmakers who have very limited resources and are at the mercy/support of/are dependent on the people I mentioned above for building their careers.
" This is my first blog entry, ever. But I’ve been reading everywhere about the potential power of blogs. The goal of Brooklyn Young Filmmakers Center’s blog is to test out the “THE POWER OF US” (see the BYFC News, Winter 2007). We are a non-profit run by volunteers of diverse ages, mostly women of color. We are working to open up a Career Guidance & Networking Center for jobs in film that will serve both adults and teens. This blog will help us get out information about film careers and film literacy to working-class people – and we hope it will help us raise support to open our center.
Me, I’m a middle-age, working-class black woman. I have no health plan or savings. I have very irregular income based on freelancing jobs and teaching. I’m a renter hanging by fingertips in rapidly gentrifying Fort Greene, Brooklyn. I came to New York to study filmmaking after a first career in California in social work (rape and family violence). While scrambling for survival work, I took all kinds of filmmaking and acting courses, here and there, and got firsthand experience as a PA on low budget productions. I made two uneven short films years ago. And I have scripts I have written sitting in a stack on my shelf. Pretty impressive, huh?
Well, I’m also founder/director of Brooklyn Young Filmmakers. I’m a systems thinker and a dreamer, and a pretty damn good teacher and writer. And for some years, through the educational activities of BYFC, I’ve been talking to and studying filmmakers on all levels, from junior high school level to union level."
Read the rest of that entry here.
And here's the website for Brooklyn Young Filmmakers Center.
And here's their Mission (from the website, Mission tab from About Us section):
Brooklyn Young Filmmakers Center, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) tax exempt non-profit organization. The ‘young' means young to the art and business of narrative feature filmmaking. Our mission is to promote literacy, leadership, social skills, intergenerational exchange, and job training and placement through film studies, the teaching of filmmaking, and networking with industry professionals.
BYFC is a neighborhood-based project with a primary focus on residents of Fort Greene public housing and other Brooklyn residents who are underrepresented in the New York film industry, though most BYFC events are open to all New York City residents.
Brooklyn Young Filmmakers larger goal is to open a Career Guidance & Networking Center for Jobs in Film that will serve both adults and teens. The center will provide information on all the diverse careers in film and how to get started in film careers through internships, as well as promote film literacy and networking opportunities."
Maybe some of my indie filmmaker peers in NYC might want to think about possibly working with some of the talent at BYFC on their next feature. Might be a very cool/community service type thing to do.
Impressions of Gen DIY event & blogger meet up at Still In Motion blog :: Also, what I did at the Meet Up
My own impressions of the Meet Up:
First, I expected it to be not attended very well - only by like 5 or so people, or just me & Brian Geldin. But, I was pleasantly surprised to see close to 20 bloggers & filmmakers in the room (back room at Botanica bar) at one point during the night & also to see NYC indie film press heavy weights such as Eugene Hernandez of indieWIRE fame & ST Van AirsDale of The Reeler fame at the event. And of course let's not forget Matt Zoller Seitz from New York Times & The House Next Door. I spent the 2 hours or so at the Meet Up going around & saying hello to pretty much everyone - trying to be a good host, and got into some relatively long conversations with some of the bloggers present. Hmmm, I think I'll continue this when I publish my photos from the event tomorrow or Mon (there's like 30 photos!), so, illustrated notes coming soon.
Overall I was very, very happy with the event. And I look forward to announcing Meet Up #2 next year, same month (most likely) - in August '08 in NYC (exact date to be determined with Mr. Hernandez's help, and after that we'll pick a venue). Next time there will be name tags, also SWAG, also maybe more light, and coffee, & net access so that we can blog from the event! Also maybe the event should happen earlier in the day. Maybe the next Meet Up will be more like a conference & lunch & visit to a spa type event than a bar party.
Delirious definitely feels like it is made for a wide audience, and hopefully that audience will get a chance to discover it. Go here (Stylus Magazine) to read a pretty positive (they give it a B+) review of Delirious. And then go watch the movie for yourself, give it a chance, just because DiCillo did a couple of excellent movies in the past. And who knows, maybe you & Tom are in the same place at this point in time & maybe you'll connect with the movie really, really well.
Saturday, August 25, 2007
Friday, August 24, 2007
I would write more but I am tired from a long bus trip, so, will get to that later. Go check out the Ace site & see if there are any movies there that you want to check out.
August 2008; iW blogger/indie film blogger NYC meet up #2! Put that yummy stuff on yer calendar now. Exact date of event to be announced.
The lack of presence of one AJ Schnack was sadly noticed by many during these excellent indie film peeps full days in NYC, but he's got a good excuse. Happy Birthday Mr. Schnack!
Thursday, August 23, 2007
Hannah is good :: A whole bunch of indie film kids are in NYC tonight :: Pioneer Theater was digging Gen DIY a year ago
Quick thoughts re: Hannah: Andrew Bujalski playing a lead in the flick gives a very different flavor to this Swanberg flick - a huge improvement over his previous flicks as far as my movie watching enjoyment is concerned. Todd Rohal is very funny in his role, the theater (full or nearly sold out by the way) was cracking up at the boss role Todd played. Greta Gerwig (sp?) does a very good job most of the time. And don't tell Joe Swanberg this, but to me watching what I saw (most of the film, not all) tonight, I felt like I was watching something very close to Mutual Appreciation than something closer to Kissing On The Mouth or LOL, which, for me, is a very good thing 'cause Mutual App is a movie that I like a lot (#2 fave on my Mumblecore list, #1 being, so far, The Puffy Chair). The "Bujalski effect" on display in Hannah might make the flick a good bet for fans of Mutual App. Kent Osborne (sp?) also does a good job in his role (dude is also very brave and or is a very commited actor, here i speak of the final scene in the bathtub, more on that at another time).
All in all, great job Swanberg & Team Hannah.
More on the flick later this week (with spelling of names checked - too tired/shleepy now, on a foreign computer also), after I've seen all of it.
In the meantime, allow me to point you to this positive review of Hannah at indieWIRE - for more about the movie, and also to this New York Times review of Hannah (w/ more background on Gen DIY) by Matt "Home" Zoller Seitz, from today's edition. I read the NYT article while waiting for the bus in Chinatown DC this afternoon - was a pretty cool experience 'cause I knew Matt from way back (last year or so) through his film & blog & had seen Swanberg's earlier movies.
Tomorrow morning or on Fri I'll write more about the trip & events in NYC (w/ photos!), but here's a quick spelling errors full (no doubt) list of people I met/got to talk to for a bit/saw around town tonight: Mike Tully, Craig Sobel (spelling?) of the Great World of Sound (exact title?) fame, Joe & Kris Swanberg, Greta G. of Hannah fame, a lady from Indiepix (spelling?), Matt Dentler - all the way from Austin TX, Liz " Jericho's Echo" Nord, Todd Rohal, ST Van AirsDale (spelling?) of The Reeler fame, Brian "The Film Panel Notetaker" Geldin, & more. A lot of the indie film kids that I regularly hear about at indieWIRE related media/blogs & a few other places are in NYC tonight. Pretty cool.
Much of the glory for this eventful night in real indie film must go to Matt Dentler of course, the SXSW film fest producer who has been promoting Mumblecore filmmakers for several years now.
I just know that this night is gonna be talked about in years to come in the same kind of positive tone as the night Stranger Than Paradise screened in NYC prior to playing Cannes (not to say that Hannah is close to Stranger, but there is definitely an unprecedented amount of press & publicity & attention being channeled towards no budget/DIY/DV/art-indie filmmaking right now due to the Hannah & Gen DIY films run @ IFC, a significant/landscape altering event i believe).
And, to point you towards a Reeler story, programmer Ray Privett at the Pioneer was celebrating Mumblecore filmmakers like a year before IFC got excited by them (LOL screened at Pioneer in September '06, also I believe Dance Party, USA played there around the same time :: full disclosure: my flick Date Number One played there last year, but even if it didn't, I would still be a fan of Pioneer's programming - 'cause they keep it real indie quite a lot), which goes to show that if ya wanna know who & what might be getting a lot of press in indie film in the near future, keep an eye on Pioneer's programming; or better yet - go watch some real indie movies there so that they can keep programming more real indie stuff.
Goodnight from New York.
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
They may not have a lot of Color at the moment, but, the methods of the Mumblecore filmmakers are relevant to up and coming minority filmmakers
There are several reasons for writing about Mumblecore, some too esoteric & distracting-for-the-topic-at-hand (such as my "theory of no race"), but there is one very good, relevant to minority, foreign, & third-world/emerging world filmmakers reason to keep an eye on the Mumblescene; they have, using easily doable techniques (more on that below) overcome limitations and obstacles that keep people (including minorities) from making & distributing movies.
But before we go too far let's tackle an objection/excuse that some minority filmmakers have put forth re: the success (a relative thing in indie film, but getting 2 weeks or so for their films at the IFC Center & oodles of press qualifies as a success for me) of Mumblecore; that being that the Mumblecore filmmakers are able to do what they have done only because they are "white".
I would say that this is not so. Although I can't think of a similar filmmaking group that is either heavily multi-ethnic or a collection of individuals from one or two minority groups, there does exist a significant number of well known & supported (by audiences & institutions) minority filmmakers in film/indie film. To name a few; Ang Lee, Spike Lee, Wayne Wang, Mira Nair, Jon Moritsugu, Robert Rodriguez, Greg Pak, Gene Cajayon, James Spooner. Were several minority filmmakers to get in touch with each other and decide to promote themselves under a group label, with the help of their blogger & film festival programmer friends, that act alone would guarantee extra publicity and opportunities for the filmmakers, as it has to Mumblecore filmmakers - I believe.
But before various individual minority filmmakers can get to the point of forming coalitions, films have to be made, here Mumblecore points to some great ideas:
- shoot cheap; Mumblecore movies - features - have been made for less than $5,000
- use what you have easy access to - yourself, your stuff, your friends, your city, etc.
- promote yourself; several Mumblecore filmmakers have blogged/or do & keep interested people updated with their MySpace pages
- make it fun & nice - even though one may not be a fan of a given Mumblecore title, in press the filmmakers sound like a bunch of fun/nice people to hang out with; which attracts people, including press people who want to explore that angle in their articles
- self-distribute - the most successful Mumblecore movies so far have engaged in self-distribution to various degrees. at least, judging by their past, most Mumblecore filmmakers are not opposed to or uncomfortable with self-distribution
- be willing to experiment both creatively & distribution business decision making wise; work with start-ups or try working with novel ways to attempt to generate revenue from your movie
There are of course countless other indie filmmakers who have done/do the things that Mumblecore filmmakers do to get their work done & out, but at the moment the indie spotlight is on this one group, and this is a good time to grab some tips & think about adapting them to your own needs - whether you are a minority filmmaker, a female filmmaker, a poor filmmaker, whatever.
Even though the works may be of various creative & entertainment value, and even though at the moment the group is heavily "white" & male, keeping an eye on Mumblecore is valuable to other indie filmmakers because they (Mumblecore) are low budget filmmakers and their story/how they do things offers ideas that might be useful to filmmakers of various ethnic backgrounds & genders & even nationalities in getting their own films made & out.
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
See ya all who plan on showing up.
Should be fun, and of course we will come up with the secret plan to alter the course of indie film at this meet up. Should be a light, pleasant evening with masonic overtones; dress appropriately.
Buy tickets for the shows here.
Titles, play dates @ IFC Center, & trailers/clips:
* Hannah Takes the Stairs
8/22 - 8/28
* Funny Ha Ha
8/22 - 8/23
* Kissing On The Mouth
Trailer link: http://www.kissingonthemouth.com/trailer.html
(didn't see it on YouTube or MySpaceTV)
* Young American Bodies: Season 1 2006
The show at Nerve Video: http://www.nerve.com/video/Video.aspx?VideoGroupId=12
* The Puffy Chair
8/26 - 8/27
* Dance Party, USA
8/28 - 8/29
* Quiet City
8/29 - 9/4
Quiet City Trailer
Add to My Profile More Videos
* Team Picture
Team Picture trailer
Add to My Profile More Videos
* Mutual Appreciation
8/31 - 9/1
9/2 - 9/3
this page points to a QuickTime trailer (didn't see a YouTube trailer to embed):
* Quietly On By
The IFC site does not list the titles of the shorts, so, I am going with this Cinematical article that provides links & info. on several short films by Mumblecore filmmakers; some or all of these maybe present at the Mumbleshorts program @ IFC Center on 9/4.
Monday, August 20, 2007
"She Is My Sister focuses on a young woman, Rose, from a rural village who gets to university and then is able to get a job/open a business selling imported electronics goods. This all happens before the narrative begins and we see her return to her village where she finds her childhood sweetheart who she takes back to the city and introduces to her girlfriends. The 'country bumpkin', Danny, turns out to be very good at running the shop and before long the couple are married with a small child. Danny, played by Steven Kanumba who also wrote the script and seems to be one of Tanzania's successful young stars, also becomes very attractive to Rose's friend Flora."
Read the rest of the review here.
Sunday, August 19, 2007
Completed* in May 2006 (* 1st publicly screenable version, additional changes have been made to the film following several of the screenings)
* May 2006 - July 2007: 19 screenings in 5 US cities (Washington DC, Seattle, Kensington MD, New York City, Takoma Park MD), 500 - 600 audience members served
* August 2007 - working on making DVDs available for sale
* September 2007 and forward - additional screenings, week long or longer runs, DVD distribution, exploration of other distribution avenues (cable, VOD, etc.)
Saturday, August 18, 2007
TIFF happens 9/6 to 9/15.
I've seen several of the films produced by Rick & his Feature Workshops. One of the best, in my opinion, is the well written/conceived, well acted & well shot & edited Chetzemoka's Curse. It also has the honor of being the 10th film to receive the Dogme 95 certification. And the film tells an engaging story. Find out more about the film here and here.
Here is a little bit about the film:
"Only the second American Dogme 95 movie, Chetzemoka's Curse is about a young, twenty-something woman, Maya (Maya Berthoud), who is haunted by the memory of her first love and her subsequent betrayal. She still feels the pain, works to exorcise it as she wiles away her life as a maid in a small town hotel."
As far as I know this movie is not yet (!!!) available on DVD. It was released on VHS in '02, according to this page. You might have to contact Schmidt re: buying a copy (there is an e-mail link for Rick at the bottom of this page; firstname.lastname@example.org ). Some bright company or individual needs to put this flick out on DVD ASAP - I think (& or get it on cable & theatrical also - IFC First Take maybe?). There is also a dozen or more other features by Rick & collaborator's that are not yet on DVD.
Here is a list of all of Rick's films (from his site):
"A MAN, A WOMAN, AND A KILLER (1975)
1988-THE REMAKE (1978)
EMERALD CITIES (1983) Available On DVD
MORGAN’S CAKE (1988) Available On DVD
AMERICAN ORPHEUS (1992)
BLUES FOR THE AVATAR (1995)
SOMEONE LIKE ME (1997)
WELCOME TO SERENDIPITY (1998)
LONELINESS IS SOUL (1998)
MAISY'S GARDEN (1998)
CRASH MY FUNERAL (1999)
SUN AND MOON (1999)
CHETZEMOKA'S CURSE (2000)
MY BOUNTYHUNTER (2001)
THE 5TH WALL (2001)
IT'S NOT ABOUT THE SHAWERMA (2002)
RELEASE THE HEAD (2004)
BEAR DANCE (2004)
THE HIGDEN MAN (2004)
RICK'S CANOE (2006) "
That is an impressive body of real indie work.
Here is a sentence from the review:
"Typically shot in drab black-and-white, Cinefotopoulos is characterized by its total conviction and obsessive structure, as well as a distinctive atmosphere of poverty-row geekery that bids at any moment to loose a torrent of perversion."
Read the rest here.
Hey indie filmmakers, put a trailer or a clip from your films on YouTube or MySpaceTV so that I may embed it here
* and i should take my own advise & cut & post a Date Number One trailer, adding that item to the 2 do list now
Check out Matt Zoller Seitz's (filmmaker, blogger, & print film reviewer- currently at New York Times) review of Robot Stories here.
Here is a sample from the review (from an edition of the New York Press newspaper):
"In some ways, "Machine Love" is the most daring of the four segments. Like other memorable recent sci-fi and fantasy blockbusters–including A.I. and The Return of the King–it presents a simple concept and unabashedly emotional characters without fashionable ironic distance. The main character is a humanoid robot named Archie (played by Pak himself, in an opaque yet moving performance that seems to absorb and then radiate the emotions of whichever characters happen to be in the room with him). Archie is a docile sweetheart who aims to please, programmed to learn from his coworkers, absorbing both their physical skills and their value systems. But he quickly grows to find them disappointing, even repulsive, and falls into a funk. Soon, he’s a robot version of a beleaguered Franz Kafka hero, or the title character of Herman Melville’s "Bartleby the Scrivener"–an emotionally closed-off thinking man, subjugated by others who have not a tenth of his self-awareness."
And here's the official website for Robot Stories, for further exploration.
See ya in NYC next week! (film blogger meet up, Apple Store SoHo event, and I think there's some movie that Matt Dentler likes @ IFC Center)
Prior to the blogger meet up I am going to try to attend the Apple Store SoHo event re: Generation DIY filmmakers, which starts at 7 PM on Thu 8/23. Get more info. on that thingy here.
And I think there is a new movie opening up on Wed 8/22 at the IFC Center; a movie that I have not heard too much about in the blogz lately, a movie that SXSW film festival producer Matt Dentler is kind of excited about - find out all about it here. I am going to try to catch Hannah Takes the Stairs, if possible, during this trip.
Alright, see ya in NYC anyone I know who is gonna be there 8/22 - 8/24. A little V-A-C-A-T-I-O-N, woo hoo! :) - made possible in part by $20 one way shuttle bus tix from DC to NYC, & a friend's couch - very glad those things exist. A little break before we get busy with the new movie starting in September & also continuing with DNO distribution (DNO DVDs that have been ordered will ship out before 9/1).
"A lot of what Andrew Grant says in the following quoted paragraphs seem like just hype by an owner of a DVD label, a label that is about to release several Mumblecore (M-core) DVDs; questionable hype that plays with facts. Might not be a big deal in the course/history of film publicity & sales, but I was bothered by it, so here's my dissection & response to it (my thoughts in parantheses (sp?)):
"ANDREW: I think there’s a natural inclination to group artists under a single umbrella."
"Mumblecore is to film what the Beats were to literature."
(not true - On The Road was highly unusual in form - none of the M-core movies are, Allen Ginsburg was a protest artist & activist (Howl is a protest poem), none of the M-core filmmakers are, William Burroughs was highly experimental - M-core filmmakers are not; they, for the most part, make minimalist relationship movies, and where is the Amir Baraka/LeRoi Jones (name sp?) of the goup? All M-core filmmakers are "white")
"They know each other socially, occasionally work together, but unlike, say, the Dogme crowd, there’s nothing like a manifesto tying them together."
(OK, however, the existence of M-core owes a large debt to Dogme 95 making digital production acceptable as a professional format)
"Mumblecore even lacks a solid definition, so it’s terribly imprecise as a moniker."
(except Grant's, Hillis's, Dentler's & other's M-core press often lists which filmmakers belong to the movement - so, who belongs is clearly defined)
"For instance, Todd Rohal’s The Guatemalan Handshake shares virtually nothing in common with Joe Swanberg’s films, yet Todd has been grouped into the fold because he has a role in Hannah Takes the Stairs."
"There are stylistic similarities between Aaron Katz’s first two films, but thematically, they’re like chalk and cheese."
(maybe, have not seen Quiet City yet, from the trailer it seems similar to DPUSA)
"So perhaps it is just an easy hook, but when somebody writes a revised History of the Independent Film in 50 years, there’s something to be said for their loose collective."
"Having spent time with quite a few of the Mumblecore set, I’m really taken aback by how non-competitive they are, and how they take great pains to help and support each other as filmmakers, unlike the me-centric ’80s."
(OK, except friends have always worked on their friend's movies in indie film, Jarmusch uses Spike Lee's brother Cinque, Tarantino & Rodriguez work together, etc.)
"In the ’90s, the American indie world was full of Tarantino rip-offs and quirky rom-coms that functioned as little more than calling cards for studios, and that’s just not the case with these new directors."
(some M-core movies have also served as calling card for studios - as the Puffy Chair makers & Mutual App maker works for studios now, and, 80's & 90's were the start of the indie film movement as we know it, and a lot of great indie films came out in those decades - Jarmusch, Spike Lee, Hatley, etc.)
"Advances in technology have made it possible to make great-looking films with very little cash, and some of these filmmakers are creating powerful works that act as polar opposites to the dreaded “high-concept film.”"
(i don't dread high concept films, neither do a lot of other people, high concept films are very popular)
"At a relatively young median age, they’ve found the critical distance in which to observe and comment on their world, and there’s none of the narcissism that was a staple of the last decade’s indie culture (see also: Ed Burns and Eric Schaeffer)."
(m-core stuff is definitely observational, not sure how much useful commenting they are doing, and not that this is a bad thing for artists, m-core is highly narcisstic)
"It’s just impressive and extremely refreshing. It’s also the first wave of American cinema that I can think of that is neither New York nor L.A.-based; it’s scattered throughout that vast area between the coasts."
(m-core is not an entirely unique & separate wave in american indie cinema, it is just a few out of hundreds of indie filmmakers who are making & releasing ultra indie movies in this post-dogme 95 age)
aside from all that, it is however very cool that two film critics have started a DVD label (Benten Films) for low budget/no-star indie films."
Friday, August 17, 2007
Thursday, August 16, 2007
" One of biggest contribution of Ray to the world of cinema was his choice of subjects. He explored a range of characters and situations. Many of these were alien to popular Indian cinema, as they were not considered suitable film subjects in India. He brought real concerns of real people to the screen - villagers, city middle-class, intellectuals, rich and famous, detectives, kings...Ray himself summed up a very important aspect of his films: "Villains bore me." Good Vs evil, white vs. black, the hero and the villain. It was an age-old formula for evading the real truth. He explored the complex shades of grey in stead.
His films show a diversity of moods, techniques, and genres - comedy, satire, fantasy, and tragedy... Usually he made realistic films but he also experimented with surrealist devices and fantasy - Pratidwandi (The Adversary, 1970), Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne (Adventures of Goopy and Bagha, 1968) and Hirak Rajar Deshe (Kingdom of Diamonds, 1980) to name a few.
In Devi (The Goddess, 1960), he produced an Ibsen-like parable on the power of superstition, and later in Ganashatru (Enemy of the People, 1989).
Ray was deeply concerned with the social identity of his characters. He believed that behaviour of people emerges from their existence in a particular place and time in a particular social context. This was and is, largely ignored in most popular Indian song-and-dance films. In an effort to appeal to different linguistic states of India, the makers of Bollywood (Bombay / Mumbai film industry) films consciously avoid any references to a particular place. Even the names of characters and places are made as "universal" as possible.
On the other hand, the extraordinary believability of Ray's characters comes from their being firmly rooted in a well defined society- usually Bengali life in the nineteenth or twentieth century. Curiously, the feeling of "universality" stems form this authentic localism and specifics. He generally suggests the context by meaningful details, gradually forming an enveloping world."
Looks like I will be checking out a few titles from Ray's filmography.
This little Thu AM research project came about through reading about Wes Anderson's use of music from Ray's films in the upcoming movie The Darjeeling Limited, at Dentler's blog.
And here's the link once more for the Ray site, check it out.
2 Days In Paris below. Looking forward to seeing this pic. Some theater should program Before Sunset and 2 Days In Paris together. Maybe along with The Hebrew Hammer. That would be a good line up. Maybe Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, Hebrew Hammer & then 2 Days In Paris.
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
UPDATE: The gross figures that MN article gives are "box office" figures, so perhaps they do not include First Take's cable revenue, just ticket-sales-at-theaters figures. The article does go on to say the following:
" For IFC, the first 13 months worth of films generated 1 million viewings. At an average price of $5, that's only $5 million. Not a lot of money. For a big studio, that would be a lousy weekend for a single movie.
But for independent producers this is revenue they've never had before, IFC and Comcast contend. "
IFC is happy with First Take. Are such initiatives the revenue & awareness generating future for real indie filmmakers?
Here is a significant sentence from the indieWIRE article: " "The growth of this service [known as IFC In Theaters on national cable systems] from zero to forty million in about a year is pretty much unparalleled," Rainbow spokesperson Matthew Frankel told indieWIRE this afternoon, citing the widespread availability of IFC First Take's films to subscribers of DirecTV, Comcast, and Time Warner Cable, beyond just Rainbow parent Cablevision." Read the whole article here.
First Take and similar programs might be the new option for wide distribution for real indie films (low budget indie films by relatively unknown filmmakers, indie fims without many or any "stars"; basically indie film as we knew it before Pulp Fiction type Hollywood "indie" projects). Perhaps a combination (based on whichever options are appropriate for a given project) of film festival play, self-distribution - theatrical & DVD -(which, unless you have hundreds of thousands of dollars to pour into a self-distribution project, only achieves a very limited amount of success compared to the 40 million customers that have First Take access) and options such as First Take (theatrical play & cable TV availability) or programs that offer simultaneous theatrical, cable & DVD release of a film - such as 2929 Entertainment's "Day and Date" releasing, might make it possible for real independent filmmakers to build their careers by making their work available to a large number of potential customers.
Of course availability alone is not enough, much publicity work & awareness building is required to inform all those who are able to buy a movie through their cable TV that a movie that they might like is available. Perhaps this is where the web -blogs and YouTube, MySpaceTV, etc.- plays a crucial role; as a relatively inexpensive advertising platform with wide reach. Maybe companies such as IFC will experiment with advertising campaigns in all media (print, TV, radio, web) as films are released through First Take type programs to see if doing so will make the films more profitable (this is probably already being done, I just haven't followed how widely First Take titles are being advertised, something to look into).
Download and revenue figures for their First Take movies have not yet been shared with the public by IFC. Perhaps in the future we will be able to find out exactly how useful, $s wise, the program has become to indie filmmakers.
Here is a sample:
"Any vendor that works with a distributor will also work with an independent filmmaker, it’s all the same to them, just another client. Getting your packaging together, weighing production quotes of DVDs, creating a website and setting up your fulfillment and payment options can take time, patience and follow up."
Article is by Rachel Gordon. Read it here.
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
" 9:00PM NEWFILMMAKERS FEATURE PRESENTATION
Allen Blumberg GHOSTS OF THE HEARTLAND (2006, 80 Minutes, 35MM)
It's 1952, the McCarthy era is at its peak and big city reporter, Roland Lu, is returning to his hometown of Millville. When Roland arrives in town he finds that the Chinese community is experiencing persecution similar to the early stages of the Jewish experience in 1930's Germany. Roland fears that his old nemesis, McCarthyite thug, Frank Dugan is behind a plot to steal land from the Chinese., the way he did twenty years earlier from native Americans. Roland suffers from a bad case of racial self-hatred. His old girlfriend Liz, fears he will sell out the Chinese to write his big story, to win the Pulitzer, so he can be accepted into white society. Either way, Roland will have to take on Frank Dugan..."
Here's the film's website, for more info.
Wed. 8/22, 9 PM at
New Filmmakers at
Anthology Film Archives
32 Second Ave.
New York, NY 10009
Monday, August 13, 2007
" I went to the Awards Ceremony the following night even though I knew Delirious wasn’t going to win anything. At every competition festival I’ve ever been in someone always finds a way to let you know the night before. But I figured what the hell; what else am I going to do in Istanbul on a Friday night? The ceremony was entirely in Turkish. A famous Turkish woman came out and sang a Turkish song. She came out three more times before they announced the winner of the first international competition prize. I was astounded to hear my name. I’d won the Jury Prize, the Silver Tulip. I got up on stage and looked out at a vast convention hall full of Turkish people and a live broadcast to Turkish TV. I’d not even thought of preparing a speech. “At times like these,” I said, “It really makes me wish I’d taken Turkish in high school.” "
Read the rest here.
Looking forward to checking out Delirious.
Sunday, August 12, 2007
STH, my film #5, feature #3, will hopefully be completed by the end of this year. You may see a drastic drop-off in how much I post here in the coming weeks, as I get busier with STH & also with the next phase of DNO distribution (DVDs this month, may not make the 8/15 deadline though, but should certainly have them by the time I go to NYC on 8/23). I hope to update the STH blog at least once a month and this blog as DNO news breaks or other important DIY film related stuff needs to be shared.
Saturday, August 11, 2007
Here's a little bit about the movie:
"In the midst of the first Silver Jews world tour in the summer of 2007, celebrated poet/musician David Berman, his wife Cassie, and the rest of the band--Tony Crow (keyboards), Brian Kotzur (drums), Peyton Pinkerton (guitar), and William Tyler (guitar)--stopped off in Israel to play two shows and visit Jerusalem. SILVER JEW documents this unforgettable trip."
Silver Jew Movie Trailer
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ps: go md new wave! :)
" The film opened theatrically on Oct 18th, 2006 to unanimous rave reviews, and went on to an almost unheard of 9-month run in over 60 cities here and abroad. It currently has a 97% “freshness” rating at Rotten Tomatoes, based on 30 reviews. Here are just some of the accolades it’s received:
One of the Top Ten Films of the Year
● The New York Times
● Siskel & Ebert
● Chicago Sun-Times
One of the Outstanding Documentaries of the Year
● National Board of Review
● Boston Society of Film Critics
● Rolling Stone Magazine
Best Documentary of the Year
● AARP Magazine’s Movies For Grown-Ups Award
● Boston Phoenix "
And now here's a trailer for the movie:
Film comes out on DVD on 8/14, go get yourself a copy right here; many people with great taste have loved the movie so it is probably one that you want in your DVD collection.
Friday, August 10, 2007
iW Bloggers Meet Up #1/2007 NYC
Thu 8/23, starting at 9 PM, at:
47 E. Houston St., New York, NY 10012
nr. Mulberry St.
Botanica said that there will be a DJ in the front area that night, but the back should be fine for conversatin' & drinkin', also that there is a back room that would be good for the meet up (will try to get there early & snag that, it is not reservable). So, when you get to Botanica, even if the front is crowded & full of music, make your way to the back & find the bloggers!
And, for further study, here is a slightly abbreviated version of "venue scout" Amy Peters's casual description of the bar (thanks Amy!):
Re: Botanica: "This place definitely fits all the requirements: it's near the apple store (4-5 blocks away), it has cheap drinks ($3 for some beers/drinks in SOHO!),...it has a lot of space with diverse seating (I like that they have a back room with couches)...the lighting is good, they often get cool DJs (depending on the night), and their AC works!"
See ya there! Swing by after the iW moderated Generation DIY event at Apple Store SoHo that night.
8/11/07 Update: There will be SWAG: I have several (over a dozen) DVDs that I received for possible review purposes but have not watched due to lack of time, will bring them to the meet up in case any of the bloggers who show up want them; a gift that might also be good for the peeps who made the movies - they might get a review out of it. Some of these films are very good I think - bunch of 'em I received at SilverDocs '07.
Other bloggers, feel free to do the same; if you've got some good review DVDs that you won't watch for whatever reason/or already watched & are pretty much done with, bring 'em to the meet up, maybe some other blogger wants to watch the flicks.
I might also come up with other goodies to give to bloggers who show up to this event - very likely.
And here's the IMDB page for the film.
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