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May 31, 2017

A Look At The Shifting National Budget

In order to funnel $60 billion in additional spending on defense in the United States and funding the border wall and school choice programs, Donald Trump proposed some pretty extreme budget cuts from a large number of national agencies and programs, including the Education Department and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. If his budget proposal gets pushed through, it would be the most startling financial reallocation since the early 1980s during Reagan’s era. The Washington Post takes a deeper look into what Trump’s budget plan would actually do.

National Budget: Agriculture, Interior, Energy, Transportation, HUD

“The Agriculture Department, Interior Department, Energy Department, Transportation Department and the Department of Housing and Urban Development control much of the nation’s vast infrastructure.”

During Reagan’s time in office, the departments that control a majority of the nation’s infrastructure saw significant cutbacks, particularly HUD. Although it was Reagan’s promise to downsize the government that led to a reduction in federal housing financing, a bulk of the budget variations have been due to political and financial strife. The Energy Department’s budget jumped in the 1970s as a result of the surge in oil production during the energy crisis and in the 1980s, during the “farm crisis,” the Agriculture Department saw a similar budget hike.

In more recent years, the 2008 financial crisis led to a great deal of the departments to receive increased finances. But with Trump’s 2018 proposition, all of these departments will have their budgets slashed between 12 and 21 percent, with a majority of the money appropriated coming from research and climate-change-related programs.

National Budget: Treasury, Commerce

“The Treasury Department and Commerce Department are concerned with the government’s finances and the country’s economic growth, respectively. Their funding levels are largely driven by the state of the economy and government budgets.”

In the mid-1970s, the Treasury Department lent out over $1.3 billion (valued at roughly $6 billion today) to New York City because the city government was on the verge of bankruptcy. The jump in the Treasury’s spending in response to New York’s predicament is similar to how other financial departments respond to national financial crises as well. The 2008 housing crisis led to an increase in funding for the Commerce Department and the FDIC saw a rise in spending simultaneously.

Trump’s 2018 plan would result in a 4 percent cut for the Treasury, mainly IRS funding, while Commerce would receive a 16 percent decrease in programs that aid communities impacted by climate change or manufacturing automation.

National Budget: State, Homeland Security, Justice

“The State Department, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice, which focus on diplomacy and law enforcement, have grown almost continuously for the past 40 years.”

After the 2001 terrorist attacks, the Department of Homeland Security was established. All of the independent agencies that existed prior to 2011, like Immigration and Customs Enforcement, were then consolidated into the DHS. Between 2001 and 2002, the budget for defense programs—mainly counter-terrorism and immigration—practically doubled. A minor increase in funding also resulted in response to Hurricane Katrina.

The budget changes Trump has proposed would cause an increase in funding by about 7 percent for the DHS, with a majority of the funds going towards building the border wall and increasing the number of ICE agents. The State Department would see a 29 percent drop in funding for programs such as foreign military and humanitarian aid as well as a slash in funding to the United Nations and various international organizations. The Justice Department would see smaller cuts, about 4 percent, and a transfer in money from prison construction to counter terrorism and removal of undocumented immigrants from the U.S.

National Budget: Veterans Affairs, Education, Health and Human Services, Labor

“The Department of Veterans Affairs, the Education Department, the Department of Health and Human Services and the Labor Department have among the largest discretionary budgets in the government.”

Similar to other categories of the financial plan, funding for these departments tend to change according to the state of the economy. From 2008 to 2009, after the 2008 financial crisis, the Labor Department saw an increase in funds by roughly 50 percent to finance job training programs as part of the stimulus plan. The HHS’s budget also increased during this time by half in order to fund programs such as Head Start and medical technologies.

Trump’s budget plans for these departments seems to bounce a bit all over the place. The VA is looking at a 6 percent increase which would help alleviate some of the veteran’s health-care system backlog, while the Education Department, although it would see a 14 percent decrease overall, there would be an increase in financing school choice programs. Meanwhile, the Labor Department and HHS budget would drop by 21 and 18 percent, respectively.

National Budget: General Services Administration, EPA, Small Business Administration, NASA

“The [General Services Administration, Environmental Protection Agency, Small Business Administration, and NASA] vary as widely as their budgets, and they have faced many different peaks and troughs over the past 40 years.”

The General Services Administration, an organization that helps other agencies operate, had a budget increase of nearly twentyfold from 2008 to 2009, a part of which went to finance the construction and repair of government buildings nationwide. The EPA’s budget also virtually doubled during this time and the cumulative agencies within this category went up by roughly a third.

Since then, a majority of the budget increases have been revoked and many of these agencies are looking at further budget cuts. The EPA would lose 31 percent of its 2017 budget along with a fifth of its personnel. A majority of the cutbacks are targeted at research programs dealing with climate change and environmental cleanup. At the same time, Agencies like the Small Business Administration and NASA would see 5 and 1 percent budget cuts, respectively.

National Budget: Defense

“Defense has long been one of the largest items in the budget, this year comprising nearly 50 percent of discretionary spending. The largest driver of defense spending over the past 40 years has been war.”

The Reagan administration’s response to the Cold war led to increased spending on defense by almost two-thirds. The defense budget saw another extreme hike during the Bush administration in order to finance military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Under Trump’s proposed budget plan, defense spending would increase by 9 percent, roughly $52 billion. Even though that’s more than Obama projected for 2018 and less than what congressional defense militarists want, Todd Harrison, direct of the Defense Budget Analysis at the Center for Strategic and International Studies said, “It’s in line with what you’re expecting to see.”

[Via: The Washington Post]

Source: Visual News

May 30, 2017

5 SIMPLE WAYS TO SHAPE YOUR CONTENT THROUGH YOUR CULTURE

This article originally appeared on Column Five.

Many content marketers think they’re doing content right. They brainstorm. They monitor upcoming events. They plan their editorial calendar based on things like:

  • New product releases and updates
  • Holidays
  • Company news
  • Current events
  • Trends
  • Conferences

They stick to their calendar and publish regularly. Yet their content fails.

It’s not surprising. When you’re too focused on filling the content pipeline, becoming a slave to your editorial calendar, it’s easy to lose sight of what you should be creating.

WHAT IS GOOD CONTENT?

Good, effective content connects. It speaks directly to your audience and provides something that they want or need. Yet so much content meets readers at a superficial level; most of it lacks heart and emotional connection. It’s the equivalent of talking about the weather.

If you want to form relationships with your audience and convince them to invest in your brand, which you do, you need to connect through truly meaningful content that tells a worthwhile story.

How do you know what’s worthwhile? The strongest stories include two key traits:

1) They’re interesting: Most industries are becoming commoditized and more competitive, which makes it harder for brands to stand out. To break through, you need a strong, distinct voice. Telling unusual, unique, or intriguing stories helps you do this. That means diving past the surface, identifying interesting topics, teasing out unique angles, and turning them into compelling stories to capture your audience’s attention.

2) They’re useful: The quickest way to make your audience fall in love with your brand is to provide content that applies to their lives. (This type of content is also innately interesting to them.) To do this, you can focus on content that helps them solve a problem, learn something new, or do something better. Think education (blog posts, webinars, ebooks, etc.) or inspiration (customer or employee stories, etc.).

So you know what makes a compelling story, but where do you find those stories in your own operation? This is where things can get murky for marketers, but don’t get overwhelmed. You have the single greatest source of inspiration right in front of you, all around you, even in your instant messages.

It’s your company culture.

WHY CULTURE MAKES FOR GOOD CONTENT

Content marketing is a long-term process to turn strangers into supporters of your brand. The first step of this process is introducing yourself: showing your audience who you are, how you see the world, and why anyone should care about any of this. Conveniently, these are the very same elements that comprise your company culture.

When you approach content from this angle, your stories inherently capture your unique and authentic perspective. This hits both marks for generating great stories:

  • They’re interesting because they’re unique. No other company has your mission, vision, values, people, origin story, failures, and successes.
  • They’re useful because they stem from your personal experiences. If you’ve experienced something or solved a problem firsthand, your audience is more likely to trust your advice.

When you peel back the curtain, you’re more vulnerable—and that’s the key to developing a deep, emotional connection with your audience.

But what does that look like in action? Here are 5 ways to turn your culture into incredible content.

1) SHARE YOUR VISION, MISSION, AND VALUES

If you don’t have these principles articulated for your company, you absolutely should. Sharing your company’s purpose through your vision, mission, and values helps your internal team understand why they’re working, what they’re doing, and how they’re supposed to be doing it. (This also helps create a cohesive culture.)

Additionally, showcasing your principles externally shows your audience who you are and what you stand for. Audiences crave connections with brands that share their same values. For some prospects, your principles could be the key factor in their decision-making.

Creating content around your principles doesn’t mean you publish your mission statement. It means you mine those values for inspiration. What do you care about? What inspires you? What’s been on your mind? How might you create content to move the needle on those issues?

This type of thinking has helped us come up with many content ideas. For example, one of our values is “be good to each other.” This value inspired us to create our People for Periods project, an interactive microsite to educate and help destigmatize menstruation in honor of Women’s Health Week.

On another occasion, after we read the story of how Ben Franklin once refused a loan repayment and directed the debtor to “pay it forward,” we became so inspired by the “pay it forward” philosophy that we turned the entire tale into a high-quality print, which ultimately became our holiday gift to our partners. (It was a much more meaningful gift than a branded coffee mug.)

This type of content is a simple way to put your beliefs out into the world and into your audience’s hands.

2) HIGHLIGHT YOUR PEOPLE

Your company is (or should be) full of great people. Celebrate them—and give them a platform. Your audience wants to put a face to your brand, and this is a great way to do it.

This can be as easy as showcasing their work or creating a page to spotlight employees. It can be more involved, too. You might encourage your employees to write blog posts (even if they aren’t on the content team) about their experience, or create content around a volunteer event that your company sponsors.

For example, our Director of Strategy Asher Rumack recently wrote a well-received article about battling—and beating—his creative struggles. When Designer Jenny Famularcano began to take calligraphy classes after work, we tapped her to hand-letter inspirational quotes for our Instagram account. And when our New York team helped YMCA kids create a chalk mural, we created a video recap.

If employees aren’t comfortable writing or producing content themselves, they can still brainstorm ideas, offer their perspectives, and help you identify angles your audience would find valuable.

A few other ways to highlight your employees:

  • Showcase their innovations, awards, etc.
  • Interview them (perhaps film them in their work environment)
  • Give them shout-outs on social media

3) TELL YOUR ORIGIN STORY

Find creative ways to showcase how your company started and how it’s evolved over time.

I find myself telling Column Five’s origin story most frequently during sales meetings, and I’m still pleasantly surprised by how interested people are in knowing this stuff. Why do people care? Because this is the stuff that is specific to each company, and stories of humble beginnings are always interesting, inspiring, and endearing.

Recently, my team has even started to help our partners tell their stories, too. We publish interviews with clients about how they built their companies, what they learned, and what advice they’d give to those facing similar issues.

Any time you share your experience—including your struggles, failures, and growth—you cultivate stronger relationships.

4) PUBLISH YOUR FAILURES

Everyone fumbles and fails their way through at least the early days of launching a brand. Even if you’re a 10-year business veteran, you will face challenges.

Sharing stories about how you’ve failed and what you learned humanizes your brand, makes you more relatable, and demonstrates that you are invested in learning and trying to improve—for yourself and your customers.

Most importantly, it provides your readers with something of value—the opportunity to learn from your mistakes.

We’ve written about the toughest lessons I’ve learned about building a content strategy, and we had our entire team share the best content marketing lessons they’ve learned.

You may feel shy or strange talking about how you’ve absolutely botched something, but as long as you frame it in terms of what you’ve learned, you have nothing to lose.

5) PUBLISH YOUR SUCCESSES

Hopefully, you don’t just have failures in your brand’s story. Just as you share your losses, you should share your wins—not in an arrogant way but with humble confidence. (Your audience appreciates your advice from failures, but they definitely want to know how to win.)

To ensure you stay humble, when you share your wins, think of ways to frame it in terms of why you won or succeeded. Doing so enables people to “stand on your shoulders.”

For example, when our agency created a viral video for Microsoft, we let our audience know about the success. But we presented it as a behind-the-scenes blog where we shared the strategic thinking that went into the project, how we vetted the idea, and why we think it worked.

If you help others around you succeed, you succeed.

REMEMBER: GO DEEPER

When you use your content as a conduit to express your culture, you can market your company as a unique entity versus a transactional, lowest-cost provider, which is the best advantage available. This alone should inspire you to grab your team and a pizza to start hashing out your ideas.

Using this tactic doesn’t mean you have to abandon your entire content strategy. You can build your editorial mix around high-value, high-interest ideas first, then plug in company news, new product updates and releases, etc. to maintain your publishing schedule.

But no matter what you create, always focus on leading with value for your audience first.

Are you already incorporating culture into your content marketing strategy? I’d love to hear about its impact in the comments below. Want more content marketing tips?

Source: Visual News

May 29, 2017

Where Is Craft Beer Most Popular In America?

This article originally appeared on Priceonomics.

It’s difficult to miss the degree of variety beer lovers can enjoy at this moment in the US. This is due to the explosion of small breweries coming on to the scene, which emphasize experimenting with flavors and styles

Over the past 40 years (thanks to deregulation in the beer industry) the number of breweries in America expanded from a post-prohibition low of under 100, to over 5,000 in 2016. The bulk of this growth comes from small breweries, the most familiar to consumers being the microbrewery.

According to the Brewers Association, a trade group for American craft brewers, a microbrewery is any local and independent brewer that sells fewer than 15,000 barrels of beer per year and sells at least 75% through other bars, restaurants, and liquor stores.

Unfortunately, it’s not the case that you can walk to your local liquor store and choose from 5,000 different breweries to bring home tonight. The reach of small breweries are confined to particular markets as most microbreweries have limited and local distribution. The variety from these small craft breweries is typically limited to the state or metro area the brewery where the brewery is located. The fact is, some areas of the country are just better for beer aficionados who want lots of options.

So where do you have the best chance to sample the greatest variety of beer possible? Which states and cities have the most breweries overall?

We analyzed business listing data from Priceonomics customer Datafiniti to offer some perspective into that. This data set included the listings of craft breweries along with their locations. We combined this with supplementary information from the Brewers Association catalog of breweries, to offer more specific details. From our analysis, we are able to find out in what parts of America breweries reign supreme.

We found that cities in the Pacific Northwest and Colorado are your best bet for finding the most breweries in one place. Cities along the coasts and in the Midwest are also solid destinations. There are also some exciting small cities outside of this trend that should not be overlooked (like Asheville, NC). Vermont is the state with the most craft breweries per capita, while Boulder, Colorado is the city with the highest density of craft breweries.

***

To begin our investigation, the natural starting point is to look at the state level. So, which state has the most breweries?

Data source: Datafiniti

Number one is California by a serious margin, with over 600 breweries. Colorado and Washington are the next closest with about 350 each. With 15 or fewer breweries, Hawaii, Mississippi, Washington D.C. and North Dakota are at the bottom of our list. Overall we see a greater number of breweries in coastal states, as well as the Great Lakes region. 

Colorado is an outlier in this overall trend, but that’s because it independently developed one of the most distinct state beer cultures. It is both the home of a brewing giant, Coors, and a major player in the craft beer revolution. Really driving home the importance of brewing in the state is the fact that the current governor was a cofounder of one of Denver’s first microbreweries.

Looking at the information in absolute terms skews our list towards the larger states with greater population. It’s intuitive that states with more people (and therefore more beer drinkers) would be able to support more breweries. Understanding the number of breweries per capita will tell us where breweries are most plentiful relative to population.

Data source: DatafinitiDatafiniti

The title of most breweries per capita goes to Vermont. Even though they only have about 50 in total, since the state is so small, that equates to 8 breweries per person. Montana, Colorado, Maine, and Oregon all have about 6 breweries per person. Overall we see a strong presence of breweries in the Pacific Northwest, New England, and the Midwest.

Vermont has a strong craft brewing tradition. After changes in state law in the late 80’s allowed more small breweries, there was a dramatic increase in brewpubs (brewery-restaurant hybrids that brew the beer they serve on site) and later microbreweries. Another interesting inclusion is Montana. Its craft brewing sector has grown over the past several years, with industry production increasing by 50% between 2010 and 2013. Maine is also experiencing a recent boom with an increase from 34 breweries in 2011 to 59 in 2015.

***

Breweries have always been tightly connected with cities. In the wave of immigration from Europe, immigrants came into cities and brought their beer making traditions. In fact, before prohibition there were just as many breweries in America as there are now (each much smaller in size and production, of course).

From Brewerytown in Philadelphia, a neighborhood on the National Register of Historic Places, characterized by the remains of the ten breweries that once stood there, to New York City’s host of former breweries, run mostly by German immigrants – our early cities loved beer.  Cities were important because of their access to clean water, available labor, and ease of distribution. Prohibition destroyed the industry and the remains of this era are gone, but the importance of cities is still apparent today for many of the same reasons.

For this analysis, we looked at Metropolitan Statistical Areas, geographic areas with high population density which are interconnected economically and socially. This is because, for the purposes of what beers are available in which markets, city boundaries are not the best markers. For example, San Francisco is highly interconnected with other cities in the Bay Area such as Oakland (both are part of the San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, CA MSA). A beer brewed in one city is likely available in the other.

So, which MSA has the most breweries? Where is our the US brewing capital?

Data source: Datafiniti

Seattle-Tacoma wins that title with 174 breweries. Other top MSAs include Chicago, IL, Denver, CO, and Portland, OR.

Similar to the case with the state analysis, it is important that we not only consider absolute number, but also breweries per capita. 

Boulder, CO is our top MSA with 13 breweries per 100,000 persons. Boulder is a key contributor to the rich brewing tradition of Colorado (mentioned previously) and had a strong homebrewing culture in the late 80’s. In fact, Colorado has the most metropolitan areas on our list, with Fort Collins, Denver (host of the Great American Beer Festival) and Colorado Springs in addition to Boulder. 

A few other metropolitan areas are worth noting because they are different than what most people would expect. Asheville, NC is the only city in the South on our list. Craft brewing grew here in late 90’s and it has since been named the best beer city in America by several publications. Also the city of Portland is an interesting case, but not the one you’re thinking of. It may be surprising, but Portland, Maine is actually ranked higher than Portland, Oregon.

***

You are now equipped with a comprehensive and exhaustive survey of American breweries. By digging into the number we can see that if you want a variety of breweries to choose from, your best options are cities on the West Coast or Colorado, but you really can’t go wrong in most big cities.

Source: Visual News

May 28, 2017

‘Logan Lucky’ First Trailer: Steven Soderbergh Races Back to the Big Screen After A Four-Year Hiatus

Forget the blockbusters and the high profile indie releases like “The Beguiled” and “It Comes At Night.” For many cinephiles, the biggest event of the summer movie season is the long-awaited return of Steven Soderbergh to the big screen, and today we finally have our first look at footage form his upcoming race car capper “Logan Lucky.”

READ MORE: ‘Logan Lucky’: Steven Soderbergh Says His First Film in Four Years Is ‘An Anti-Glam Version of an Ocean’s Movie’

Channing Tatum, Adam Driver and Riley Keough play down-on-their-luck siblings who attempt to reverse a family curse by carrying out an extensive robbery during the Coca-Cola 600 race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Think of it like a much less glamorous version of Soderbergh’s hit “Ocean’s Eleven” franchise. The star-studded cast also includes Daniel Craig, Hilary Swank, Katharine Waterston and Katie Holmes.

The main of attraction is Soderbergh, however, who hasn’t had a theatrical release in four years. “Side Effects” was released in 2013, and since then he’s only had two other projects, the award-winning HBO movie “Behind the Candelabra” and the Cinemax drama “The Knick,” both of which were for television. While he teased retirement from feature filmmaking, it’s clear Soderbergh has an itch for the big screen.

The anti-“Ocean’s Eleven” comparison is apt, as that’s how Soderbergh teased the project earlier this year to Entertainment Weekly. “Nobody dresses nice. Nobody has nice stuff. They have no money. They have no technology,” he said. “It’s all rubber band technology, and that’s what I thought was fun about it….This is a version of an ‘Ocean’s’ movie that’s up on cement blocks in your front yard.”

Bleecker Street will release “Logan Lucky” in theaters August 18. Watch the first trailer below.

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Source: IndieWire film

May 28, 2017

Profile in Courage: A Guy Bought a Ticket to Alamo Drafthouse’s All-Female Screening of ‘Wonder Woman’

The Alamo Drafthouse recently set up women-only screenings of “Wonder Woman,” and you can probably guess what happened next: Dudes were unhappy. Among them is one Stephen Miller, who decided to protest this great injustice by purchasing a ticket to said screening and letting Twitter know about it. Not all heroes wear capes, friends.

READ MORE: ‘Wonder Woman’ Is The Best DC Universe Film Yet, According to First Reactions

“Apologies, gentlemen,” reads the Drafthouse’s initial announcement, “but we’re embracing our girl power and saying ‘No Guys Allowed’ for several special shows at the Alamo Downtown Brooklyn. And when we say ‘Women (and People Who Identify as Women) Only,’ we mean it.”

Miller took swift action on Twitter. “I have some personal news I’d like to share,” he tweeted along with an image of his receipt for said screening. A back-and-forth quickly followed in his mentions; this being Twitter, it was a highly productive conversation.

READ MORE: ‘Wonder Woman’ Director Patty Jenkins Wants to Help a Woman Battling Stage IV Cancer See the Movie Early

These all-female screenings have inspired much debate throughout the week, and this latest development suggests it isn’t going away just yet. “Wonder Woman” opens this Friday, June 2.

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Source: IndieWire film

May 28, 2017

Cannes 2017 Jury Press Conference: Will Smith Loved ‘Jupiter’s Moon’ and ‘BPM’ Made Pedro Almodóvar Tear Up

Now that the awards have been handed out and Cannes has officially come to a close, the Competition jury has made it official with a press conference. Led by Pedro Almodóvar, the rest of the jurors — Maren Ade, Fan Bingbing, Park Chan-wook, Jessica Chastain, Agnès Jaoui, Will Smith, Paolo Sorrentino and Gabriel Yared — assembled in front of journalists the world over to discuss their choices and their process.

READ MORE: 2017 Cannes Winners: ‘The Square’ Wins the Palme D’or, Sofia Coppola and Joaquin Phoenix Also Honored

“Did supreme harmony reign?” they were asked at the beginning. “Was it a love fest, or was blood splattered on the walls and carpets?” Smith responded first, joking in a way that should surprise few: “It was pretty smooth and easy. I was trying to get Pedro to stop offering me sexual favors for my vote, but it was easy.”

“There was no blood,” said Almodóvar. “We all respected each other very much. That doesn’t mean we were thinking the same thing about all the films…we always respected the other members of the jury.” Asked about “BPM (Beats Per Minute),” which won the Grand Prix and tells of French AIDS activists’ efforts in the 1990s, the filmmaker became teary-eyed as he praised the film.

Smith pointed to “Jupiter’s Moon” as a personal favorite, joking that “sometimes democracy sucks” because his favorite left the ceremony empty-handed.

Following Sofia Coppola’s win for Best Director — only the second time a woman had won the prize — the female jurors were asked about the award’s significance and the state of female filmmakers in general. “I do believe that if you have female storytelling, you also have more authentic female characters,” said Chastain. “The one thing I really took away from this experience is how the world views women.”

READ MORE: Watch the 2017 Cannes Awards: Live Stream Who Won the Palme d’Or

She called this “disturbing” and expressed her desire to see more women onscreen that resemble the ones she knows in real life — women with their own agency and viewpoints. Jaoui chimed in next, citing Almodóvar as one of the few directors whose movies pass the Bechdel test and pointing to the overall lack of films that pass it as a problem. Ade made one thing clear: “We didn’t give these awards to women because they are women.

Bingbing expressed her happiness to award Best Director to Coppola, adding that she wants to “encourage female filmmakers” as they continue their efforts.

“A couple black folks won’t hurt next year either,” Smith added. “We’ll talk about that another time.”

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Source: IndieWire film

May 28, 2017

Cannes 2017 Awards Analysis: ‘The Square’ Wins the Palme d’Or, But the Real Winners Are Hollywood Alternatives

After 10 days in which a jury watched 19 competition films, the 70th edition of the Cannes Film Festival came down to seven prizes for six of them. It didn’t take long for the jury to make it clear that they couldn’t settle on just one of many options. Announcing a tie for the screenplay award, jury president Pedro Almodovar said, “We have our first surprise.”

But the truth was that, in a wildly unpredictable year, everything felt like a surprise. Over the course of the 2017 festival, no single feature emerged as a definite frontrunner for the Palme d’Or, and the outcome of this year’s ceremony reflects the sheer range of options — all of which stand out as explicit challenges to safe commercial bets.

It started with that screenplay award. “The Killing of a Sacred Deer” writer-director Yorgos Lanthimos awkwardly split the stage with “You Were Never Really Here” writer-director Lynne Ramsay. Both movies are innovative genre experiments from singular directors working with American actors eager to get outside their safety zones. One of those, “You Were Never Really Here” star Joaquin Phoenix, later took the stage to accept the best actor prize. The actor thanked Ted Hope and Amazon for supporting the project, providing another reminder of the way that the festival continues to reflect the changing landscape of the film industry.

Much about this year’s Cannes spoke to that change, from the contemptuous presence of Netflix with two competition titles (both of which won nothing) to the radical choice by this year’s programmers to showcase two television shows in the lineup (“Top of the Lake” and “Twin Peaks”) in addition to a virtual reality piece (“Carne y Arena”). But at the end of the day, it was the winners that spoke to the sheer range of cinema on display at this year’s festival, and the extent to which they provided a contrast to the limited arena of Hollywood.

That much was visible when Andrey Zvyagintsev, director of Jury Prize winner “Loveless,” looked over at the jury and singled out Will Smith: “He really does exist!” At times, it can seem as though the Cannes image of a prestigious arena for cinematic achievements exists in a fantasyland of its own creation, but it was moments like this one that fed the perception that these movies could, in fact, break out of their bubbles.

And perhaps they will. Almost every single Cannes winner has already secured U.S. distribution, including the surprise Palme d’Or winner “The Square,” from Sweden’s Ruben Ostlund. (Magnolia Pictures picked it up months before the festival.) The two-and-a-half hour art-world satire was filled with brilliant scenes in its cringe-comedy portrayal of a neurotic curator — but even if many critics felt that the full picture never came together, nobody could deny that it reflected an uncompromising vision. The same could be said for “Sacred Deer,” in which Lanthimos gets A-listers Nicole Kidman and Colin Ferrell to go to insane extremes in this unnerving tale of a family that falls apart for devious purposes.

"The Beguiled"

“The Beguiled”

Focus Features

Meanwhile, Sofia Coppola’s elegant feminist thriller “The Beguiled” — which refashions the ideas of the Civil War-set story through her own expressionistic filter — may turn out to be her most accessible, outwardly entertaining feature to date, even as it shows not an ounce of compromise. That’s a good enough reason for her to make history as only the second woman filmmaker to win best director at the festival.

The jury also gave a second-place prize to Robin Campillo’s “BPM (Beats Per Minute),” a sprawling ensemble drama about the AIDS group ACT UP in Paris during the early ’90s. It was a reasonable choice for the movie, a fairly straightforward but well-acted period piece that should help catapult Campillo into an even greater arena of recognition as he joins the Cannes auteur club.

“BPM” (The Orchard) was one of two winners that struck a topical note in the outcome of this year’s competition. The other was Diane Kruger, who plays the wife of a man killed in a suicide bombing in Fatih Akin’s “In the Fade.” The movie marked her first German production and is a safe bet to further awards acclaim when the film is released.

“We don’t make films for awards, but this cost me a lot personally, so being here means more people will appreciate your work,” she said on the red carpet before the ceremony. In her acceptance speech, she added, “I can’t accept this award without thinking about anyone who has been affected by terrorism… please know that you have not been forgotten.”

Awards pundits had their money on Nicole Kidman, who had four roles in Cannes projects this year, to walk away with something. She didn’t land the actress prize, but the jury still found room for her in a special 70th anniversary award. It was almost as though nobody on this year’s jury wanted to snub the favorites of the festival, a stark contrast to last year, when few predicted that festival favorite “Toni Erdmann” would go home empty handed or that Ken Loach’s fairly routine socially conscious drama “I, Daniel Blake” would win big. This time around, virtually every well-received movie in competition got some form of acknowledgement.

“Well, it was tough,” Almodovar told one red-carpet reporter, lurking behind his ubiquitous shades. “We defended our positions very strongly. But it should be like that — completely democratic.” The prizes support that assertion: They represent a range of sensibilities, provocations, and themes, all of which will likely propel them to further recognition.

But this year’s festival may have been most impactful for a jury that included actors and directors who must now return to the industry aided by renewed perspectives on international cinema. “I’m so inspired,” juror Jessica Chastain said on her way to the ceremony. “I can’t wait to get back on the set.” But Will Smith may have said it best as he zipped into the Palais des Festival: “It was spectacular!”

Leave it to a movie star to sum up one of the most memorable Cannes editions in years, one in which old and new worlds collided as the future of the art world sat at the center of an unending debate. But at the end of the day, it was the movies that dominated every conversation, and conversations about their quality that prevailed. So it always goes at Cannes.

Source: IndieWire film

May 28, 2017

Cannes 2017: Sofia Coppola Makes History as the Second Female Filmmaker to Win Best Director

The 2017 Cannes Film Festival has come to an end in history-making fashion. When Jury President Pedro Almodóvar announced the Best Director prize to “The Beguiled” helmer Sofia Coppola, she became the second female director in the festival’s 70-year history to claim the prize. The last woman to win Best Director was Soviet filmmaker Yuliya Solntseva in 1961 for “The Chronicle of Flaming Years.”

READ MORE: 2017 Cannes Winners: ‘The Square’ Wins the Palme D’or, Sofia Coppola and Joaquin Phoenix Also Honored

Coppola earned strong reviews for “The Beguiled,” a feminist adaptation of the Clint Eastwood-starring 1971 film of the same name. Nicole Kidman, who won the 70th Anniversary Prize earlier today, plays the headmistress of a secluded school for girls in 1864 Virginia. Their lifestyle is disrupted by the discovery of a wounded Union Army solider. Elle Fanning and Kirsten Dunst also star.

In his A- review, IndieWire senior film critic David Ehrlich hailed the movie as “the mustiest and most conventionally entertaining film of Coppola’s brilliant career.” It was later named one of IndieWire’s 10 best movies of Cannes 2017.

The last time Coppola competed for the Palme was in 2006 with “Marie Antoinette.” She was famously booed for the period drama, which makes her history-making victory today all the more celebratory. In her pre-written speech (she was not on hand to accept the award), the director thanked Jane Campion for “being a role model and supporting women filmmakers.” Campion remains the only female director to win the Palme.

Focus Features will release “The Beguiled” in select theaters June 23.

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Source: IndieWire film

May 26, 2017

Here Is How Americans Feel About Climate Change

Climate change has been a hot topic for the past decade not only in the U.S. but across the globe as well. It affects every person, animal, and ecosystem regardless if they believe in it or not and will continue to do so unless steps are taken to reduce global warming. But lately, there have been a lot of debates about whether or not climate change is a man-made event or if it is even a real concern. For many lawmakers, public opinion about climate change is a significant element to consider when forming policies about global warming. To determine where people in the U.S. stand on climate change, Yale created the Climate Opinion Maps based on data collected through the year 2016.

Climate Change: Counties

In general, opinions on climate change shift in relation to where people lived. With that in mind and the fact that local polling is expensive and demanding, the researchers established a model that narrowed down the national public opinion results to more practical levels: state, congressional district, and county. Doing so allowed them to approximate what national public opinion is about climate change while also revealing Americans’ different beliefs, attitudes, and what policies they support.

Climate Change: Regulate CO2

According to the site, this is how they obtained their measurements:

“The estimates are derived from a statistical model using multilevel regression with post-stratification (MRP) on a large national survey dataset (n>18,000), along with demographic and geographic population characteristics. The estimate were validated using three different methods. First, cross-validation analyses were conducted within the dataset.[…]Second, the model estimates derived from the full dataset were compared to the results of independent, representative state- and city-level surveys conducted in California, Colorado, Ohio, Texas, San Francisco, and Columbus, Ohio in 2013.[…]Third, some model estimates were compared with third-party survey data collected by other researchers in previous years.”

From the data they collected, we can see that, overall, 70% of Americans believe climate change is currently happening but that number varies when looking at individual counties. Only 49% of the people in Emery County, Utah, for instance, believe in global warming, while 72% in Grand County, Utah, a neighboring country, think climate change is happening.

Climate Change: Metro Areas

The questions included on the survey covered beliefs, risk perceptions, policy support, and behaviors. It comprised of questions like “Do you think global warming is happening?” to “When do you think global warming will start to harm people in the United States?” and inquiries on how much do respondents support or oppose listed policies? The response categories for a majority of the questions were then condensed into a single variable for evaluation.

Climate Change: Congressional Districts California

Climate Change: Public Opinion Survey

Explore the map and see if how much your county deviates from the national average here.

Source: Visual News

May 25, 2017

7 TRAITS EVERY GREAT CONTENT MARKETER MUST HAVE

This article originally appeared on Column Five.

Developing and promoting great content is no easy game. It takes a lot to run a good operation—and the most important aspect is the people in that operation. Beyond their skill sets and knowledge base, good content professionals exhibit particular qualities that contribute to their success.

Whether you’re a one-person operation or a CMO in charge of a large department, work to cultivate these seven qualities in yourself and the people around you to improve your content marketing efforts.

1) PATIENCE

Content marketing isn’t a sprint; it’s a marathon without a finish line. Being comfortable with this reality is hugely important. While it’s frustrating to see tactics that used to work become less effective, or experiment with new things that fail, it’s imperative to understand that patience really is a virtue when it comes to doing content right for the long-haul.

Cultivating this mindset will help you avoid burnout when things don’t go the way you’d like. In working with large brands and tiny startups, I know there’s a learning curve for everyone. If you want to master content marketing (or anything), you need to be willing to spend time required to get good.

As we know, Malcolm Gladwell says it takes 10,000 hours to master anything. Truthfully, I’ve been active in marketing for over 10,000 hours myself, and I still feel like there’s so much to learn—in large part because things are always changing.

Remember that no one who’s doing this work well and making a name for themselves as a leader started yesterday. Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Good things take time.

2) GOOD LISTENING SKILLS

Good content marketing isn’t about doing what you want. It’s about serving your customers first. This is where empathy comes into play.

To create excellent content marketing, you need to get inside your customers’ minds, understand what they struggle with, and look for ways to help fix their troubles. To do that, you need to listen more than you talk. This means both listening to the challenges they face in their day to day—and listening to their feedback on your product or service, no matter how harsh it may be. This outsider perspective is the key to moving in the right direction.

And customers are not the only ones you should be listening to. Pay attention to anyone and everyone who’s doing great work. Soak up their knowledge like a sponge. As Brandon Mull says, “Smart people learn from their mistakes. But the real sharp ones learn from the mistakes of others.”

While opportunities to listen might not always easily and organically present themselves to you, regardless of your role, clients, or business model, make it your responsibility to create these opportunities. I find that emailing people to ask for feedback not only works well but is relatively pain-free—and it scales.

3) CURIOSITY

If you’re bored with what you’re doing, it shows in your content. The antidote? Get inspired and mix it up. Curiosity will serve you well here. (Interestingly, creativity guru and author Elizabeth Gilbert encourages people not to look for their passion in life but to follow their curiosity.)

You should always be interested in learning new things, expanding your skill set, or trying a different approach. In content marketing, an always-changing field, resting on your laurels is death.

Always assume that there are better, more interesting, and more effective things you could—and should—be doing, then go out and find them. Make curiosity an intrinsic part of your nature. I promise you will tap into some seriously awesome stuff.

4) HUMILITY

There is little room for ego in content marketing. In fact, the more willing you are to be humbled, the more successful you’ll be. The more you experiment and fail, the more you improve—even if it feels humiliating.

Humility makes you a better team player and allows you to put your customers and brand before yourself. You become more open-minded and willing to engage with others (aka listen!), which helps both personally and professionally.

I’m a big proponent of the “strong opinions, weakly held” approach to doing things. Adopting this mentality also allows you to encourage and accept constructive feedback—and sometimes even help from others when needed. In the long run, this only helps.

5) CONFIDENCE

While you should be humble, it’s also important to build your confidence in your content marketing skills.

Confidence is the key to not letting an epic failure eat you alive—and to getting back up and trying again. Rewards don’t come to people who give up before they even try; they come to those who are not willing to let their failures define who they are. As Randy Nelson of Pixar says, “The core skill of innovators is error recovery, not failure avoidance.” The ability to recover, he says, not some innate ability, is the mark of a creative genius.

Building confidence in yourself and your team requires boldness and courage. The good news is the quicker you bounce back from obstacles, the more your confidence grows. And the more confident you are, the more likely you are to pitch that crazy-but-brilliant idea that just might bring your team to the next level.

6) DISCIPLINE

Maintaining quality and consistency are vital to a successful content marketing operation, but it takes a lot of diligence to maintain. This is why discipline is the key to keeping the engine running.

Creating and promoting content can sometimes be like going to the gym: four out of five of the times I don’t want to be there, but I power through my workout and 100 percent of the time I’m glad I did.

Even when it gets hard, frustrating, or confusing, know that the content still needs to be created.

Now this doesn’t mean you should focus on quantity over quality simply to maintain discipline. It means you should work to strategize and follow through.

Remember: The only way to track your content’s success (and learn what to do better next time) is to have something to measure it against.

7) SINCERITY

You’ve heard about the importance of authenticity a couple million times by now. That said, there are some common traps that brands fall into in this quest. I’d advise you against the following:

  • Unnecessary trend-jacking: Do you really care what your medical provider thinks about Kanye West on Twitter? No. If it’s a natural fit, you can consider it. But far too often this just ends up backfiring.
  • Copying other brands: So Apple came out with a great new campaign? Let them have it and come up with something of your own. Copying other brand’s voices or tactics looks hacky at best and sleazy at worst.

If you approach content marketing with an honest and sincere desire to do good and provide value to your readers first and foremost, you won’t go wrong. Don’t try to be authentic; just be.

ALWAYS CHECK YOURSELF

When working with customers or fellow content marketers, you will find many opportunities to demonstrate these qualities or practice cultivating them. If you find some more difficult than others, that’s OK. That means you’re aware—and that’s a great first step.

For more tips, find out how to build the right content marketing team, how to write a useful creative brief, and how to tap into your team’s ideas

Source: Visual News