Friday, August 31, 2007

I highly encourage all minority & diversity friendly filmmakers (& fans) to start blogging :: leave the URL to your blog in comments

One of the ways that publicity & interest is built in the indie/real indie film world right now is through blogs. So, if you are a minority or other filmmaker who wants some press from this blog, include the URL to your blog when you e-mail me or leave me a comment re: your blog.
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.


- Sujewa

Redacted entry at GreenCine Daily

Even if you skip reading through the other 5 or 6 excellent posts GreenCine Daily will put up today (if they hold true to their usual rate of work), make sure you read this post about a new fictionalized Brian DePalma movie about a real life crime that took place in Iraq. Though film is used mostly for escapism, Readacted might actually be a movie that matters; a movie that affects things beyond the world of entertainment.

- Sujewa

New blog name for the new mission

So, once again, the name of this blog has changed, from DIY FILM EXPLOSION to THE WILD DINER FILMS & NEW AMERICAN (MULTI-ETHNIC) INDEPENDENT FILM BLOG. Yeah, it's a long name, but, that's cool; I operate in the indie/real indie film world & there is plenty of room here.

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.

- Sujewa

Most likely the multi-ethnic art/indie film movement will have to be at first heavily DIY & "underground"

As the current indie fest (mainstream fests, not ethnic focused fests)/indie film press/indie theatrical distribution & indie DVD distribution scene is heavily in favor of all-"white" art/indie films, the multi-ethnic art/indie film movement (see couple of posts below for the intro to that) will most likely have to be at first a heavily D.I.Y./"underground" scene with DIY screenings (screenings produced by the filmmakers themselves) & DVD sales/distribution - self-distribution being the main methods of getting the films to the interested audiences, and the press will have to come from our own (filmmakers & fans) blogs & websites & other self-promotional efforts (plus random mainstream indie or general mainstream press that we might luck out with for a film/DVD or a screening here and there) until there are a significant number of films & sales/customers for this movement at which point I am sure the mainstream indie players will take notice & will want to get in on the act.

- Sujewa

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Round Table: Indie Producers article at the Hollywood Reporter

This article might be of interest to some people.

- Sujewa

Let's put together a new indie film movement of DIY/ultra low budget filmmakers EXCEPT with films featuring minority & multi-ethnic casts & directors

Anyone who wants to join & are: 1) making movies - indie/real indie movies now, and 2) these movies feature multi-ethnic casts or at least some significant diversity, can sign up in comments, your application will be reviewed.

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)



New American Indie?

The Open Films Movement?

- suggest some names in Comments


- Sujewa

As Tom Hall points out, outside of the Generation DIY series, there are a couple of Mumblecore movies with significant minority presence

It's morning in DC, just getting my day started, so I will flesh this post out later today with links & names.

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.

- Sujewa

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Positive review of QUIET CITY in New York Times

Stephen Holden's review of Aaron Katz's new film Quiet City (opening today at the IFC Center in Manhattan) makes the movie sound interesting & good (at least for me, I like that under populated & beautiful urban look/feel in movies - as seen in Mystery Train, also possibly a tiny bit Before Sunrise type story). Here is the opening paragraph of the review:

"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.

- Sujewa

Dance Party USA review link :: link to interview with director Aaron Katz :: film today at IFC Center

Aaron Katz's first feature Dance Party, USA is screening today at the IFC Center in Manhattan.

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.

- Sujewa

This is the Swanberg quote (from '06) that got me thinking critically about Mumblecore and minorities

Since I've been catching all manner of heat from friends, fellow indie filmmakers, & friends of Mumblecore re: pointing out (in this post) that there is a significant lack of minority (dark skinned people was my specific complaint) participation in Mumblecore (even though the US reportedly has over 100 million minorities) I thought about why I even thought of this topic in the first place (in relation to this one group of ultra-indie/low/"no" budget/DIY filmmakers - filmmakers who I often write positive things about re: their DIYness). Then I remembered (while responding to a comment by David Lowery at AJ Schnack's blog today) something I read last year; a quote from an interview with Joe Swanberg (who I otherwise think is cool, I talked to him briefly when I went to see his movie Hannah Takes the Stairs premiere in NYC last week, and even this quote has many possible interpretations, but this was what was - in part/a significant item - on my mind, no doubt, re: thinking about this whole topic of ethnic diversity & Mumblecore).

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.

- Sujewa

Kamp Katrina now playing at Pioneer Theater in NYC :: Trailer

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.

- Sujewa

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

African American film distribution project The Momentum Experience

Found out about this project from one of my commenters (on the diversity in indie film post/re: iW article, couple of posts below), sounds interesting. Here is a little bit from the press release:

" 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!

- Sujewa

Quiet City STARTS TOMORROW Wed 8/29 at IFC Center, NYC :: Trailer :: Reviews & Interview Links ::: DPUSA also playing 8/28 & 8/29!

Quiet City trailer!:

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.

- Sujewa

indieWIRE asked 75 film community insiders about diversifying American cinema

This iW article from May '04 is still relevant & interesting; re: ethnic diversity in American indie film. Here is the introduction to the article by Eugene Hernandez:

"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.

- Sujewa

Monday, August 27, 2007

OK, retirement over, back blogging due to "popular" demand :: Jonas Mekas interview @ Sense of Cinema

Hmmm, retiring from blogging is not such a bright idea, in second thought, 'cause the blog helps with promoting my movies & flicks by other interesting filmmakers (in these sad days of relatively uninteresting/apolitical/disengaged from the wider world low budget real indie fiction feature movies getting a ton of hype, it would be useful for many to keep this blog active). So I am back.


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.

- Sujewa

blogging dayz are over - off to make a bunch of movies with minority leads/multi-ethnic casts

hey, if i am very bothered by the heavy lack of minority presence in current indie films (see post a couple of posts below), maybe i should see this thing as an opportunity & go make some good features with minority leads/multi-ethnic casts.

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.

- sujewa

4 photos from NYC, Blogger Meet Up (rest coming later on Mon)

Anthology Film Archives
Great World Of Sound poster at Angelika
Angelika Film Center
That's Brian (The Film Panel Notetaker blog), Amy (The Film Panel Notetaker blog), Stu (The Reeler)


I have to go through a few steps to get the photos up on this blog, so the process takes some time. But, since I had a great time in NYC 8/22 - 8/24, I'll start sharing some of the photos now. The rest coming later today (Mon 8/27).

- Sujewa

"Dreamlike in style, Police Beat is also a real-world vision of what American indies could be..."

Those words are from a Village Voice review of the indie film Police Beat. Here is the full sentence: "Dreamlike in style, Police Beat is also a real-world vision of what American indies could be if they dared to recognize the drama in our own neighborhoods." The review is by Rob Nelson, check it out here.

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.

- Sujewa

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

According to this San Francisco Chronicle article about 1 in 3 people in the US are non-"white". Mumblecore filmmakers or as the IFC Center calls them - Generation DIY, have been identified as a grass roots movement in the indie film press & also in the mainstream press. So, I would think that it is reasonable to expect a movement that comes from "the people" to have some key players who are not "white". Yet, pretty much (if I recall correctly) all the Mumblecore movies I 've seen so far (Kissing On The Mouth, LOL, Funny Ha Ha, Mutual Appreciation, The Puffy Chair, Dance Party, USA, Hannah Takes the Stairs) have featured an all-"white" cast and all the celebrated Mumblecore directors who are on their way to Hollywood & indiewood fame & wealth are all-"white". Mumblecore may have aesthetic/film technique differences from mainstream American film & television, but, when it comes to not collaborating with minority talent, Mumblecore is like 1950's Hollywood or mainstream television from that era.

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.

- Sujewa

Brooklyn Young Filmmakers are now blogging

The non-profit organization Brooklyn Young Filmmakers Center have a blog up & running. Here is an interesting portion from one of the recent entries:

" 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.

- Sujewa

Impressions of Gen DIY event & blogger meet up at Still In Motion blog :: Also, what I did at the Meet Up

Even though Pamela does not call the historically significant event - The iW Blogger/Indie Film Blogger NYC Meet Up #1 - by it's name, there are some good details of the fun had in the second half of her post.

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.

- Sujewa

Saw Delirious

I saw Tom DiCillo's new film Delirious on Thu 8/23 evening - well, the 12:15 or so show, at the Angelika in NYC (no matinee discounts/$11 for a noon show! - i guess that's new york :( Flick was well made, many of the audience members at the show seem to dig it, some laughed out loud several times. On the surface the overall mood of the film seems bitter, with the relative innocence & the openness of the young central character mixed in for some sweetness. Steve Buscemi was fun to watch. The worlds depicted in the movie (the mainstream entertainment industry, homeless kid with big dreams of fame) are not ones that I am too interested in so I guess I am not really the target audience for the movie (i'm like more into movies that only like 50 people are really into - made for "no money" on DV & making "no money" at theaters, unfortunately for all concerned :), but Delirious seems like it would have sold well as just a regular wide release comedy - something that plays in all the malls in America - I can see a lot of teen girls digging it due to the young lead dude in the film, and I guess teen dudes digging it too, for different reasons (there is a little bit of an Entourage feel in the flick - getting that impossible big break, etc., etc.). Maybe eventually Delirious will go wide & or perhaps many people will check it out on DVD. I definitely wish Mr. DiCillo the best with this movie (as in I hope it makes a lot of money) 'cause I got a lot of enjoyment out of his earlier films Johhny Suede & Living In Oblivion, and with a financial success on his hands he may do some more weird little movies like those early gems, in addition to stuff like Delirious that should appeal to a wider audience.

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.

- Sujewa

All Mumbled Out

Too much Mumblecore all at once. I think I need to mix in other stuff to my media & entertainment diet, so, no more writing about anything Mumblecore related for a long time (except I still need to post up photos from my NYC trip, and those are full of M-core ppl, coming very soon to this blog - tomorrow or Mon). However, I am sure that there will be lots of M-core coverage happening all over the media landscape for months to come now that NYTimes & other major media have discovered & are celebrating the M-core kids, so I think the M-core ppl are gonna be all right even if ultra-micro media like this blog gets busy looking elsewhere.

- Sujewa

Notes from Apple Store SoHo Generation DIY/Mumblecore panel discussion

Check out the notes here at the hard working Film Panel Notetaker Brian Geldin's blog.

- Sujewa

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Friday, August 24, 2007

Ace Film Festival in NYC 8/24 - 26

Get all the info. about one of the newest NYC film fests here.

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.

- Sujewa

iW Blogger/indie film blogger NYC meet up # 1 was a huge success

The fact that all the Gen DIY excitement is happening in NYC this week helped the event. Just stumbled back from the event, all the way to Astoria, neeeed sleep. Will have photos & notes from this nights events (Apple Store SoHo Gen DIY panel, blogger meet up @ Botanica, both on Wed 8/23 night) up here tomorrow. This trip to NYC was awesome; thanks a lot to everyone who came out to the blogger meet up today.

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!

- Sujewa

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

I got to NYC and made it to the IFC Center about 20 minutes after Hannah Takes the Stairs's 8 PM show began. Enjoyed what I saw. Since the flick is now available on cable, I'll catch the first 20 minutes this weekend or maybe even tomorrow here in NYC (i definitely prefer to watch movies on a movie theater screen; much, much better - so maybe the theater definitely).

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.

- Sujewa

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

Many have questioned me both openly and privately as to why I blog about Mumblecore (be it positively, negatively, or ambivalently, based on the exact Mumble-topic at hand) when they are, for the most part, not an ethnically diverse movement/group.

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.

- Sujewa

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Final reminder: iW bloggers/indie film bloggers meet up Thu 8/23, 9 PM @ Botanica

Get all the info. here.

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.

- Sujewa

Mumblecore blog-a-thon warning

Have you heard about Mumblecore movies? If not, this blog Cinephilia says there's gonna be a blog-a-thon this weekend/starting Fri 8/24.

- Sujewa

Trailers & clips for all the Gen DIY/Mumblecore films playing at IFC Center NYC 8/22 - 9/4/07

IFC Center page for The New Talkies: Generation DIY series.

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:
(didn't see it on YouTube or MySpaceTV)

* Young American Bodies: Season 1 2006

The show at Nerve Video:

* 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

* Hohokam

* 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

* Mumbleshorts

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.

- Sujewa

Monday, August 20, 2007

She Is My Sister reviewed at In The Picture blog

From In The Picture blog:

"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.

- Sujewa

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Date Number One distribution project status - quick overview

Date Number One
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.)

- Sujewa

Saturday, August 18, 2007

James Spooner's White Lies, Black Sheep to play at TIFF

I've written about & posted the trailer to White Lies, Black Sheep earlier, so here's some fresh news from Cinematical; the flick is going to play at the next Toronto International Film Festival. Read more about it here at Cinematical.

TIFF happens 9/6 to 9/15.

- Sujewa

Dogme #10 - CHETZEMOKA'S CURSE - A Rick Schmidt Production from 2000

I think it would be fair to say Rick Schmidt is the godfather of ultra-low budget real indie filmmaking because not only has he been engaged in the pursuit of that unique & often frustrating but sometimes awesomely rewarding art form since 1975 (!!!), but he has popularized the practice through his essential indie filmmaking how-to book Feature Filmmaking At Used Car Prices and the follow up book Extreme DV At Used Car Prices. Before I shoot a new film (and often during & after), I re-read one or both of his books.

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; ). 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):


1988-THE REMAKE (1978)

EMERALD CITIES (1983) Available On DVD

MORGAN’S CAKE (1988) Available On DVD











THE 5TH WALL (2001)





MIRAGE (2005)

RICK'S CANOE (2006) "

That is an impressive body of real indie work.

- Sujewa

Review of Jame Fotopoulos's Back Against the Wall at Village Voice

The prolific Chicago based indie filmmaker James Fotopoulos's Back Against the Wall (2000) sounds bizarre & interesting (available for purchase from Facets). Check out a review of the film, by J. Hoberman at Village Voice, here.

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.

- Sujewa

Hey indie filmmakers, put a trailer or a clip from your films on YouTube or MySpaceTV so that I may embed it here

I've found that it is very easy to embed a YouTube or MySpaceTV clip on this blog, so, since I am always on the lookout for short cuts when it comes to blogging, having a trailer or a clip of yer real indie film on one of those places will make it easier for me to mention it here/provide a tiny bit of press for yer project. E-mail me with yer clips & trailers links ( or post the links/URLs below in comments and I might promote them here when I get around to it. Thanks!

- Sujewa
* and i should take my own advise & cut & post a Date Number One trailer, adding that item to the 2 do list now

Greg Pak's Robot Stories reviewed by Matt Zoller Seitz

This excellent theatrically self-distributed (in '04) real indie feature is available on DVD.

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.

- Sujewa

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)

The last week of not-too-much-work-during-the-summer is coming up; I am taking a little trip to NYC, mainly for the iW blogger/indie film blogger meet up on Thu 8/23 starting @ 9 PM @ Botanica bar, more info. here. I will also be visiting a bunch of indie theaters & catching a lot of movies during this trip. On this trip I'll have with me screener DVDs of Date Number One to give to several NYC people I've promised them to months ago; we are staying true to the Wild Diner Films motto: "yeah, it'll get done eventually" :).

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).

- Sujewa

Hmmm, I don't think Mumblecore filmmakers are to film what the Beats were to literature

As the name of this blog indicates, I am a big fan of ultra-low budget real indie filmmakers, including Mumblecore filmmakers, getting press, getting their movies out, building careers, etc. But I was slightly bothered by the following quoted statements (from Spout blog) by Benten Films co-owner Andrew Grant about the Beats, 80's & 90's indie filmmakers, in relation to Mumblecore filmmakers. Here is the comment I left at the Spout post:

"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."

(we'll see)

"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."

- Sujewa

Friday, August 17, 2007

A Ghost

A clip from my favorite American movie:

- Sujewa

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Website for Indian indie filmmaker Satyajit Ray

A comment I made at Matt Dentler's blog made me look up the career of the late Indian filmmaker Satyajit Ray (1921-1992). I knew he was not Bollywood, but made what we would consider art/indie films, but I did not know that he made one movie a year from 1955 until 1991 - that's a lot of Indian indie films from one artist! Here is the text from a page on Ray's work, from the excellent website (from Subjects: Ray's World page under Filmmaking tab):

" 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.

- Sujewa

Mmmm Julie Delphy - 2 DAYS IN PARIS trailer

And that mmmm is re: her talent of course - writes, acts & directs. Check out the trailer for
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.

- Sujewa

Jumping Off Bridges trailer

Jumping Off Bridges is one of the handful of theatrically self-distributed '06 movies that I had a chance to watch. A well made, well reviewed movie. Check out a trailer here:

- Sujewa

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Multichannel News article gives gross revenue figures for 15 IFC First Take films

Since the topic of IFC First Take has suddenly become much talked about & contested in the web/blog world (see Brian Neman's post), here is an article at Multichannel News that gives gross revenue figures for 15 First Take movies. The MN article goes on to question the effect First Take has on indie theaters, and points out that First Take has been very useful to some indie film producers.

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. "

- Sujewa

IFC is happy with First Take. Are such initiatives the revenue & awareness generating future for real indie filmmakers?

When IFC's First Take was introduced about a year and a half ago, it was one of several new indie film distribution experiments that were probably being tried to see if the then (and still) relatively broken indie film distribution system can be fixed, and probably better yet, made profitable. With the acceptance of digital production by the indie film industry & audiences post-Dogme 95, the number of independent films being produced each year sharply increased in this first decade of the 2000's while at the same time distributors who made the 1990's indie film boom happen moved away from acquiring low budget real indie features. About a year and a half after the introduction of the program, IFC seems to be very happy with the status of their First Take initiative. Check out this indieWIRE article for a detailed look.

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.

- Sujewa

Article at Renew Media: "Self-distribution - when is it the right choice?"

Check out the article here.

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.

- Sujewa

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Ghosts of the Heartland playing Wed 8/22, 9 PM, New Filmmakers @ Anthology Film Archives, NYC

This movie Ghosts of the Heartland sounds interesting. From New Filmmaker's site:

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

- Sujewa

Monday, August 13, 2007

Yahoo! Finance link for Movie Production, Theaters page

Not really sure what the numbers mean, but perhaps in the future, if I deal with making bigger budgeted movies & big production & distribution companies, this page will be useful.

- Sujewa

Tom "Delirious" DiCillo is blogging

Just read about 5 entries at Tom DiCillo's blog, re: the release of Delirious, good stuff. Check it out here. Here is a sample from his post re: Delirious adventures in Turkey:

" 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.

- Sujewa

Grace Lee's American Zombie

I guess I am adding a zombie comedy to my "2 watch" list for the first time in my life (if I recall correctly), 'cause Grace Lee's new film American Zombie sounds interesting. Check out the Cinematical review here.

- Sujewa

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Delirious trailer

Speaking of Living In Oblivion (see post below), here is a trailer to Tom DiCillo's new movie Delirious:

- Sujewa

Stranger Than Hollywood blog updated

I made a little progress report on my feature #3, the next movie, over at its blog Stranger Than Hollywood. The challenge, for me, with STH - an indie movie about the making of an indie movie - is to not take the Living In Oblivion path (which is one of my all time favorite movies) but still make it entertaining & worth watching for the kind of people who like watching movies or TV shows about making movies (that's my kind of people, i am a big fan of that "genre"), I think I've figured out the way. Read about it at this STH entry.

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.

- Sujewa

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Jericho's Echo trailer

Check out a trailer to Liz Nord's doc about punk rockers in Israel:

Find out more about the movie here, including info. on buying the DVD.

- Sujewa

Silver Jew trailer

Check out the trailer to Mike "Cocaine Angel" Tully's new film Silver Jew; a doc about the band Silver Jews (read more about the movie here).

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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- Sujewa
ps: go md new wave! :)

Afro-Punk trailer

Check out a trailer for James Spooner's doc Afro-Punk here:

- Sujewa

Trailer for the highly acclaimed doc 51 Birch Street :: DVD out on 8/14

Doug Block's doc about his parents' marriage is one of the recent theatrical self-distribution success stories. Find out all about the doc here. Here's a little bit about the 51 Birch successes (from the website):

" 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.

- Sujewa

Jack Kerouac reading from On The Road - a YouTube clip

On The Road, one of my favorite books (I read it once every year), one that I found for the first time in the early 90's & which kept me from getting too sad during a Chicago winter, is turning 50 years old this year. In celebration here is a YouTube clip of author Jack Kerouac reading from his book:

- Sujewa

Friday, August 10, 2007

iW Bloggers NYC meet up Thu 8/23, starting 9 PM @ Botanica

Looks like we finally have an appropriate bar for this most special of bloggers meet ups (thanks to Brian "The Film Panel Notetaker" Geldin & Amy Peters for the research). The info. is below, all bloggers who post at indieWIRE blogs page are invited to come & meet other iW bloggers (i think it might be fun) & hang out. Other NYC based (or in town that night) indie film/film bloggers are also invited. See ya there! Send me an e-mail ( if there is a question & or concern about the event:

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!), 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.

- Sujewa

Jonas Mekas interview at Time Out New York

Check out the interview here.

Thanks IFC Blog for the link.

And here's Jonas Mekas's website, for more info. on his 365 short films project that's been going on all year long.

- Sujewa

Website for Water Flowing Together

There is one more SilverDocs '07 item that I am working on completing, which is an interview with Water Flowing Together's subject dancer Jock Soto and the doc's director Gwendolen Cates. While I complete the interview post, check out the website for Water Flowing Together, they have a trailer for the film there.

And here's the IMDB page for the film.

- Sujewa



Indie Film Blogger Road Trip

At DIY Filmmaker Blog's Facebook Page


BREAKTHROUGH WEEKEND Teaser Trailer on Vimeo

Breakthrough Weekend teaser trailer on YouTube

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