If you didn't read indieWire's press release about the Undiscovered Gems series, you should check it out. Basically, the series aims to be a mother to those motherless children of the independent film circuit -- those independent films deserving of an audience that somehow never manage to secure a distributors. The initiative is a partnership between Emerging Pictures, the New York Times, IndieWire, Sundance Channel, and the California Film Institute. The venues include:
Cinema Village (New York, NY) Market Arcade Film and Arts Center (Buffalo, NY) The Loft (Tucson, AZ) Christopher B. Smith Rafael Film Center (San Rafael, CA) Theatre N at Nemours (Wilmington, NC) Cinema Paradiso (Ft. Lauderdale, FL) The Duncan Theatre at Stage West (Lake Worth, FL) Island Theatre (Martha's Vineyard, MA) Mary Riepma Ross Media Arts Center (Lincoln, NE) Circle Cinema (Tulsa, OK) Scranton Cultural Center (Scranton, PA)
Commentary: Because most of these venues aren't in places that are "major markets", releasing will be cheaper. This means more venues, more potential moviegoers -- a good thing for audiences and filmmakers alike.
I am, however, deeply troubled about the contest aspect of the series. According to the press release, "an audience prize competition will provide the winning filmmaker a cash award of $50,000, theatrical release in New York, Los Angeles and at least five other U.S. cities during 2007, as well as an exclusive broadcast on Sundance Channel."
It seems wildly unfair that audiences in a few select places essentially determine the viewing options for other audiences halfway across the country! Especially when those places are so culturally and geographically different! Just think -- the good people of Los Angeles will have their moviegoing choices dictated by folks in cities like Tulsa and Scranton! What an outrage!
Oh wait. This already happens everyday. Just in reverse.
All joking aside, congrats to the "filmmakers whose undiscovered gems" will be distributed. And if you're in a city with a venue listed above, enjoy the show.