Archive for the ‘Distribution & Screenings’ Category

Dance Party USA and Quiet City on DVD

Tuesday, January 29th, 2008

Aaron Katz’s second feature, the Independent Spirit Award nominee Quiet City is being released on DVD today. While well worth seeing, the real treasure here, in my opinion, is the second disc, which features Katz’s debut, Dance Party USA. A portrait of teenage misogyny (and its redemption) Dance Party USA is one of my favorite DIY movies from the last few years.

This two-fer is the second release from upstart distributor Benten Films and, like their first release, this package does not disappoint with extras.

From Here to Awesome

Friday, January 11th, 2008

For filmmakers it is the best of times and worst of times. The tools are more accessible but the market has become saturated….From Here to Awesome is an attempt to answer some of the largest issues facing filmmakers today – discovery, distribution and sustainability.

– From Here to Awesome festival co-founder Lance Weiler

From Here to Awesome is a “new” film festival — both in the sense that it has just launched and in its aims and approach. I encourage all filmmakers using film festivals as a gateway to larger distribution efforts (theatrical, DVD release, etc) to check it out.

Billed as a discovery and distribution festival, FHTA has been dreamt up by three filmmakers with unassailable DIY credibility: Lance Weiler (Head Trauma, The Last Broadcast), Arin Crumley (Four-Eyed Monsters) and M dot Strange (We Are the Strange). Their ethos and aesthetic run through the festival, from the way that they plan to use existing web community portals (YouTube, MySpace, etc) to conduct the submission and selection process, to the festival’s filmmaker-friendly guidelines (e.g., no entry fee, all rights remain with filmmakers, etc).

Submissions are open (as of yesterday); the deadline for submissions is March 7.

In all, it’s an ambitious undertaking, one that seems to be nothing less than a reinvention of the film festival. Here’s wishing them — and the filmmakers that submit — the best of luck.

Check it out for yourself.

An Oscar Antidote for Documentaries

Monday, January 7th, 2008

Today, Thom Powers, Documentary Programmer at the Toronto International Film Festival, and AJ Schnack (filmmaker of Kurt Cobain: About a Son and blogger of All These Wonderful Things) announced the launch a new award for nonfiction filmmaking, to be held in March at the IFC Center in New York.

Nominees in eight categories will be announced in Park City on January 20.

The new awards are a direct response to the Oscars. From recent debates over confusing (and shifting) eligibility guidelines, to its long history of jaw-dropping omissions (e.g., neither Hoop Dreams nor The Thin Blue Line were even nominated their respective years), the Academy’s treatment of the genre has long been a source of consternation and disappointment for many within the documentary community. That’s not to say that many worthy films haven’t been nominated and awarded over the years… but clearly the AMPAS doesn’t give documentary the attention that it does to fictional feature films.

Hats off to AJ and the others behind this initiative.

indieWIRE has the first report.

Documentary Interviewing Techniques

Sunday, January 6th, 2008

… from a surprising source: ESPN.

John Sawatsky, ESPN’s senior director of talent development, has tutored reporters, anchors and producers around the world. Since 1991, he has devoted all his time to teaching interviewing to professional journalists. ESPN asked him to assess the prospects for the upcoming “60 Minutes” interview of Roger Clemens.

Sawatsky’s assessment amounts to a lesson in interviewing technique (and rips Mike Wallace to shreds in the process). Fascinating reading.

Five Best 10 Bests (and then some)

Friday, January 4th, 2008

My favorite part of the year-end (or year-beginning) “Best Of” lists is how these lists serve as a kind of aggregator for the movies that I should give my time to in the coming year. Let’s face it, if you live in the USA and you don’t live in New York or L.A. (I don’t), and/or you didn’t make it to the Toronto Film Festival or Cannes last year (nope), and/or you’re not a member of the press with access to advance screenings (ditto), you might have had the chance to see only three of, say, J. Hoberman’s picks for the ten best.

That’s what region-free DVD players and video projectors are for. So, without further ado, here are my five favorite Top 10 (or more) lists of 2007.

indieWire Critics Poll
Village Voice/LA Weekly Film Poll
Two polls that are virtually identical in their results… because they poll virtually the same group of people. Don’t ask me why there are two polls.

IndieWire 2007 Critics Poll: Best Undistributed Film
Village Voice/LA Weekly Film Poll: Best Undistributed Film
Same as above.

Michael Atkinson’s Straight Outta Digi: The Best Non-Theatrical Debuts of ’07

DVD Beaver’s Best DVD Releases of the Year

Jonathan Rosenbaum’s Top Movies of the Year


Oh, and the best film I saw last for the first time last year? The restoration of The Whole Shootin’ Match at SXSW. Over twenty-five years since it was produced, it’s still not available on DVD.