News & Updates
February 4, 2018
It’s 11pm at night. I’m banging my head against my battered and weary keyboard. My deadline was 5 hours ago… “Why, oh why won’t you Export?!”<p>We’ve …
Source: CW’s Flipboard Feed
February 2, 2018
Capital One at SXSW is looking forward to Banking’s Big Moment this year. Jana Etheridge, Chief of Staff for Capital One’s Financial Services Division provides insight to the value of collaborating with SXSW and their goals for this year’s festival.
How is your brand directly relevant to the SXSW Conference and Festivals (Interactive, Film, and Music)? If not directly relevant, what do you view your contribution to be?
This is our fourth year as a Super Sponsor at SXSW, and there’s a reason we keep coming back. At its core, SXSW remains a hub for the brightest minds in innovation across industries. It continues to grow and evolve, and so does Capital One.
A few years ago, it became clear to us that the future of banking would be different. To win in banking we needed to master things like digital channels, machine learning and real-time analytics. But we also needed to invest and invent, like the leading technology companies in those fields. This meant committing to developing our own software, attracting top tech talent and reimagining our operating model.
SXSW has allowed us to showcase our digital creativity, product innovation and exceptional customer-focused outputs in an incredible way, while connecting us with diverse perspectives and an amazing talent pool. I am so excited to share what we have in store for attendees this year at the Capital One House!
Jana Etheridge, Chief of Staff for Capital One’s Financial Services Division
When approaching SXSW, what conference track or festival are you targeting as your main focus and why?
The SXSW Interactive Festival is always on the verge of the next big tech breakthrough. We love that because Capital One isn’t your traditional bank. We’re fixated on tech innovation, data-driven solutions and diverse thinking to change the way people engage with their money. And we’re laser-focused on doing the right thing for our customers, associates and the world around us.people
How do you as a company hope to connect with SXSW registrants and attendees? (activation details, social media, etc.)
FFor the third year in a row, we’re transforming Antone’s Nightclub into the Capital One House from March 9 – 12. Antone’s is an awesome venue because it helped Austin claim its billing as the “Live Music Capital of the World.” Here, we’re hosting talks on a variety of topics (from our very own associates!), ranging from AI and Channeling Vulnerability, to Elevating Blacks in Tech and Learning UX from Board Game Design. Plus we’ll be taking attendees through our activations in fun, interactive ways. Overall, we want to spark discussion and allow attendees to exchange ideas.
At night, folks will hear from incredible (to be announced) musicians, including local Austinites!
Beyond attending, we’re hiring! If you’re interested in learning more, join us for brunch March 11. You’ll have a chance to mingle with a select group of industry influencers, hear from our own associates and learn more about why Capital One is a great place to work.
What values or messages does your company wish to promote that brought you to a cohesive partnership with SXSW?
SXSW brings together people from all walks of life — techies, musicians, filmmakers, culture leaders and more — to connect and learn from one another. We’re honored to take part in such a diverse and thought-provoking event. Capital One is still a founder-led company, and it wasn’t long ago that we were a startup. We still carry that startup mentality with us: we’re not afraid to seek out new experiences and try bold things. We see the beauty in testing, retesting and then testing again. And we’re pushing the limits of technology to bring humanity and transparency to our products and services to meet our customers’ deepest needs.
Photo by Sara Marjorie Strick
Sponsored Content and Photo of Jana Etheridge Provided by Capital One
Source: SxSW Film
February 1, 2018
To commemorate the 25th edition of the SXSW Film Festival, we continue our weekly alumni spotlight on careers launched, artists discovered, powerful performances, and more with filmmaker Lauren Wolkstein.
Wolkstein has had numerous short films play at the SXSW Film Festival including her jury award-winning narrative short Cigarette Candy (2010), The Strange Ones (2011, co-directed by Christopher Radcliff), and Jonathan’s Chest (2014, producer/editor). At SXSW 2016, Wolkstein and four other directors created collective:unconscious, a unique anthology of short films based on their dreams. Wolkstein directed Beemus and It’ll End in Tears for the anthology. In 2017, Wolkstein and Radcliff re-teamed to premiere their debut feature, an adaptation of their 2011 short, The Strange Ones. The film played in Narrative Feature Competition and earned a Special Jury Recognition for Best Breakthrough Performance for James-Freedson Jackson. The Strange Ones is available to watch digitally.
We are excited to share her #SXSWFilm25 story with you:
“I honestly don’t know where I would be right now without SXSW; it has shaped my career into what it is today. SXSW programmed my Columbia MFA thesis film Cigarette Candy, which won the Narrative Jury Award for Best Short Film in 2010. This moment changed everything for me and it was the first time people started seriously taking notice of me as a filmmaker.
Since then, SXSW has been an unwavering champion of my work – from short films to SXSW bumpers to omnibus features to my first feature film, The Strange Ones, that premiered at SXSW this past year. Janet Pierson, Claudette Godfrey, Jarod Neece, and everyone at SXSW are tireless champions of emerging artists and love discovering new talent. They have created an incredibly holistic space for an inspiring community of independent filmmakers to collaborate and celebrate the spirit of exceptional visual storytelling year after year. I have met all of my favorite collaborators and friends at SXSW. Not to mention, I met our soon-to-be baby daddy at my first SXSW. Imagine the SXSW onesies we’re going to purchase. TMI? Spring in Austin – It’s my favorite time of the year.”
Join Us For SXSW 2018
Grab your Film Badge today for primary access to all SXSW Film events including world premieres, roundtables, workshops, and parties. Register to attend by Friday, February 9 and save. Book your hotel through SXSW Housing & Travel for the best available rates.
See you in March!
The Strange Ones Photo by – Sean Kennedy
Source: SxSW Film
February 1, 2018
Each year, different trends emerge from SXSW programming and act as identifiers for where we’re at and where we’re headed. From the 12 significant trends identified by the SXSW Programming Team for the 2018 event, Convergence is Everywhere emphasizes how we can achieve new levels of creative collaboration if we are willing to see past conventional boundaries and explore different industries and ways of thinking. Get to know this trend and related-SXSW sessions below that we think will dominate discussions this March.
Convergence is Everywhere Trend
As people, our ability to adapt is what allows us to advance and thrive. Actively challenging our own ideals yields personal growth, and integrating outside perspectives prompts collaboration and the potential for innovation. There’s a new world of possibility beyond the limits of how we define ourselves, joined by a new wave of thought-leaders coming forth to drive the future of creativity.
Learn from Amber Thomas of Polygraph, as well as Liz Manashil and Jess Feselier in the session, More Than Numbers: Data Analysis for Storytellers, as they bridge the gap between art and business and discuss how storytellers can revolutionize their audience reach with data analytics. Attend The Emotional Life of Your Autonomous Car, led by Pamela Pavliscak of Change Sciences, to explore the blurring line between human and machine.
Embracing disruptive technological trends is imperative to sustaining an environment that values flexibility over rigidity. Hear from Evernote’s Anirban Kundu on the potential of artificial intelligence in the session Sci-Fi to Reality: Evolution of AI in the Workplace and learn about the changing relationship between performance and tech in the session Breaking the 4th Wall: Drone Swarms in Art, led by Verity Studios AG speakers Philippe Labouchere, Léa Pereyre, and others.
Discover how today’s thought-leaders are uniting industries from all over the world and add these sessions to your 2018 SXSW Schedule. Stay tuned for more programming announcements through March.
Convergence is Everywhere Session Highlights
- More Than Numbers: Data Analysis for Storytellers
- The Emotional Life of Your Autonomous Car
- Sci-Fi to Reality: Evolution of AI in the Workplace
- Branded Cities: Can We Avoid an Urban Dystopia?
- Breaking the 4th Wall: Drone Swarms in Art
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Join Us for SXSW 2018
The SXSW Conference includes 24 programming tracks divided amongst Interactive, Film, Music, and Convergence. Each March, some of the world’s most creative minds come together in Austin, Texas to discover, learn, network, brainstorm and collaborate.
Explore new opportunities during 10 days of sessions, screenings, showcases, exhibitions, networking, and beyond from March 9-18 at SXSW 2018. Save big when you register to attend before Friday, February 9.
SXSW registrants get access to SXSW hotels at the lowest rates available by making reservations through SXSW Housing & Travel. Visit our availability page and then book your stay today to save.
Teaser Photo by David Zacek
The post Convergence is Everywhere – 2018 SXSW Programming Trends appeared first on SXSW.
Source: SxSW Film
February 1, 2018
Get ready for another memorable SXSW next March 9-18 in Austin, Texas! Register to attend by Friday, February 9 and save. Explore highlights from recent programming announcements from the Film Festival, Music Festival, and Conference below, watch our Spotlight Video above, and learn how to customize your SXSW Schedule.
SXSW Conference & Festivals celebrate the convergence of the interactive, film, and music industries during 10 days of sessions, screenings, showcases, exhibitions, parties, art installations, and networking.
SXSW is the premier destination for thousands of creatives from a vast and diverse range of industries to discover what’s next. From compelling conversations with industry heavy weights and forging new connections, to buzz-worthy film screenings and fresh new sounds at showcases, SXSW fosters creative and professional growth.
This March, get ready for the perfect mix of learning, discovery, innovative visions, personal points of view, new friends, a serious amount of tacos, and beyond. This is only a sampling of the multitude of unexpected adventures to come next March… with many exciting programming announcements still on the way.
Latest Programming Announcements
For the SXSW Conference, philanthropist Melinda Gates joins the lineup as a Convergence Keynote with previously announced Keynotes Lyor Cohen, Sadiq Khan, Darren Aronofsky, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Barry Jenkins, Esther Perel, and whurley.
In addition, the newest round of Featured Speakers includes Oscar-winning director, writer, and producer Spike Lee; Apple’s Senior Vice President of Internet Software and Services Eddy Cue; award-winning actress, writer, and director Lena Dunham; actor and writer Ethan Hawke; Star Wars VIII: The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson; activist and technologist Chelsea Manning; executive editor of Recode Kara Swisher; Westworld cast members Evan Rachel Wood, James Marsden, and Jeffrey Wright; YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki; and many more.
Building on an impressive Conference lineup, these speakers represent many of the developing trends expected to come out of SXSW 2018. Explore our 12 top trends for SXSW 2018 through the lens of tech and culture.
The SXSW Film Festival rolled out the red carpet with the announcement of the 2018 Features Lineup and Opening Night Film A Quiet Place. The full lineup will include 132 Features, 44 films from first-time filmmakers, 86 World Premieres, 11 North American Premieres, and 5 U.S. Premieres. Additional titles will continue to be announced up until March. Take a look back at the past 25 Years of the SXSW Film Festival with weekly spotlights on careers launched, artists discovered, powerful performances, and more from featured alumni.
Dive into the latest round-up of Showcasing Artists announcements including Sub-Pop indie-rockers Bully, XXL Freshman Class alumni OG Maco, Polyvinyl garage-rock band White Reaper, The Strokes’ Albert Hammond Jr., and funky soul singer Davie, as well as Mentor Sessions with Tiana Lewis (Pandora), Tom Mullen (Atlantic Records), Samantha Steele (Triple 8 Management) and many more. Listen to weekly SXSWfm’s specialty shows highlighting 2018 Showcasing Artists and tune into SXSW News for weekly announcements now through March.
Browse through all confirmed programming for the 2018 SXSW Conference & Festivals on the online SXSW Schedule and begin building your personal schedule. Check out the Schedule Help page for further information on logging in, filtering events, and adding events to your schedule.
Download the SXSW GO mobile app to sync your online schedule with your mobile device, so your info will always be up-to-date. Plus, get schedule recommendations based on favorited events, networking contacts, and more.
For more in-depth coverage of SXSW, explore the latest issue of SXSWorld® magazine in its new online format.
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Begin Your SXSW Adventure
It’s never too early to begin planning your SXSW adventure! With expanded access to events for all registrants, attendees will receive primary access to programming associated with their badge type but now also enjoy secondary entry to most other SXSW events. Take the Tracks Quiz to discover which badge fits your needs. The Platinum Badge remains the key to primary access to all of SXSW.
Register and book your hotel today! SXSW registrants get access to SXSW hotels at the lowest rates available by making reservations through SXSW Housing & Travel. Visit our availability page and then book your stay today to save. If you are attending as a group (10+), contact us for more information on special savings.
SXSW is also offering an exclusive “Buy One Badge, Get One Free” discount for students now through Thursday, March 1. If you are a currently enrolled high school or college student, fill out the application for you and a fellow student today.
Teaser photos courtesy Apple Music / 2017 SXSW Conference panel, Shake Up the Industry by Entertaining with Empathy – Teaser Photo by Ann Alva Wieding
The post Discover What’s Next: Register to Attend SXSW 2018 appeared first on SXSW.
Source: SxSW Film
February 1, 2018
Nail Art, Inclusive Design, and Everyday Ways to Fight Oppression: Social Impact Track Sessions For SXSW 2018
The desire and motivation to do good has a snowball effect, and when one person speaks up, it has the power to permeate society. The SXSW Social Impact Track highlights activists, storytellers, entertainers, nonprofits, foundations and social enterprises creating impact and contributing to a better world. This March at SXSW, the Social Impact Track will address topics ranging from tangible ways media influencers can advocate for change to the development of civil rights for cyborgs.
During the Social Impact Track hear from activists such as Manal al-Sharif and learn how anyone can create change and generate social impact. In 2011, as part of the Women2Drive campaign, Al-Sharif daringly filmed herself driving in Saudi Arabia and posted the video to YouTube. SXSW Programmer Tammy Lynn noted, “Although Al-Sharif didn’t actually break any law, she and her fellow agitators successfully broke the taboo and demanded an end to the ban. This September, Saudi Arabia announced that they plan to lift the ban on women drivers, effective June 2018. See Al-Sharif speak, along with other remarkable women in the Social Impact session, Everyday Ways to Fight Oppression.”
Dive deeper into the Social Impact Track from March 10-14 during SXSW Convergence programming. SXSW Convergence programming features a range of topics that straddle the cultural and technological intersection at the heart of SXSW with primary access granted to all SXSW Badges.
Social Impact Session Highlights
Everyday Ways to Fight Oppression
Speakers: Manal Al-Sharif, Thor Halvorssen (Human Rights Foundation), Leyla Hussein (Dahlia Project), and Maria Toorpakai Wazir (Maria Toorpakai Foundation)
Repressive regimes use many tools to keep power, and now people everywhere are fighting back with ordinary actions. Hear how a computer scientist in Saudi Arabia challenged the government by driving a car; how a psychotherapist in the UK used creativity to combat violence against women; and how a girl in Pakistan defied the Taliban by playing squash. During this panel, moderated by the Human Rights Foundation, these women will show how anybody can make an impact and bring about social change.
Tiny Canvases: Identity and Protest through Nail Art
Speakers: Meghann Rosales (Nails Y’all)
Meghann Rosales is a nail artist and owner of Nails Y’all in Austin, TX. With a background in cartooning, she specializes in hand-painted miniature portraits of people and pets. She draws heavily on politics, feminist iconography, pop culture, and art for design inspiration. Her nails have appeared in The Atlantic, Whole Foods, and The Rachel Maddow Show.
Meghann was raised in Houston and moved to central Texas in 2001. Prior to opening her business in 2011, she earned a Master’s degree in education from Fordham University in New York City, where she taught high school history and admired her students’ amazing manicures.
There Is No Other Hand: Inclusive Design & Kids
Speakers: Jordan Reeves (Born Just Right), and Jen Lee Reeves (Born Just Right)
A blast of glitter from a kid-invented, 3D-printed unicorn horn shaped prosthetic arm is helping change how we think about disability and inclusive design. 11-year-old Jordan Reeves and her mom, Jen Lee Reeves, share how Jordan’s opportunity to enhance her limb difference with a creative design has pushed the tween forward as a spokesperson to help reshape how we think about disability and inclusive design. The two will share the path they are taking to change attitude and industry.
Cyborg Pride – An Introduction To Cyborg Identity
Speakers: Richard MacKinnon (BorgFest Human Augmentation Expo), and Kevin Welch (EFF-Austin, Digital Arts Coalition)
Come and celebrate Cyborg Pride with Borgfest and EFF-Austin! Borgfest director Rich MacKinnon and EFF-Austin president Kevin Welch will talk about their collaboration to create the world’s first Cyborg Pride parade to raise visibility for this emerging population of humans and to increase awareness of the civil rights issues that surround being a cyborg. With Cyborg Pride, they hope to give cyborgs, cyborgs-in-waiting, and their allies a place to celebrate cyborg identity.
Crossover Track Recommendations
Explore topics outside of your focus area and learn from SXSW sessions across all 24 Tracks of Conference programming. These recommended sessions are outside of the Food Track but will interest any SXSW attendee.
What About Us: Ableism and Disability in the Media
– Kristen Parisi (Writer)
Track: News & Journalism
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Purchase your SXSW Badge and reserve your hotel today to experience these sessions along with 10 days of screenings, showcases, exhibitions, networking, and more this March 9-18 in Austin, TX. Take the Tracks Quiz to discover which badge will suit your needs.
Teaser Photo by Jon Currie
The post Nail Art, Inclusive Design, and Everyday Ways to Fight Oppression: Social Impact Track Sessions For SXSW 2018 appeared first on SXSW.
Source: SxSW Film
January 29, 2018
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Visual Storytelling Today show:
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You can also listen to my audio podcast of this episode.
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With all the latest talk about Facebook changing their newsfeed’s algorithm and the inevitable comparisons to Instagram (aka maximal vs. minimal design approaches), I’d like to focus our upcoming Visual Storytelling Today show on Instagram and how visual storytellers like you can take advantage.
As Alexis C. Madrigal aptly defines Instagram in a recent article on The Atlantic:
“Instagram does not pretend to be part of the public sphere. It is not the natural home of #theresistance. It’s a place for the Sunday’s-best version of your personal life to have space on the internet.”
Instagram is one of the fastest platforms that experienced a tremendous growth in recent years. With over 800 million users as of September 2017 – that translates into 1 out of 3 US Adults have an Instagram Account.
And marketers did take notice. In fact, 70.7% of US businesses are using Instagram in 2017, exceeding Twitter for the first time.
According to a recent New York Times article:
“One study, published by researchers at the University of Oregon in 2016, found that the use of image-based platforms like Instagram and Snapchat was associated with lower levels of loneliness among users, and higher levels of happiness and satisfaction, while text-based platforms had no correlation with improved mental health.”
So, if you find yourself using Instagram more as a way to unwind vs. text-based platforms like Facebook and Twitter, then there is some truth in these research findings.
With this in mind, our upcoming guest is Julie Cabezas, a co-founder of The Ideal Marketing Agency based here in South Florida. Julie has loads of expertise transforming brands into what she calls “Little Black Dress Brands” on Instagram.
Here is a sneak preview of what we’ll cover in our upcoming chat:
How would you pitch the benefits of Instagram to business leaders?
Instagram is all about relevancy. Instead of visiting a company’s website, many consumers now check Instagram to get a feel for the company’s worldview. Instagram shows customers in a very real way, how the brand relates to your customer’s life.
What are the typical business objectives marketers could use Instagram for?
People really don’t want to see brand information on Facebook. The culture is about family and friends – hence the radical shifts Facebook is making to their algorithms. On Instagram, it’s completely the opposite. That’s where we want to keep up with our favorite brands. On Instagram, your brother’s trip to Mexico is actually slightly less interesting than the content your favorite brands and celebrities are posting. So I think Instagram, and platforms like it, are the future of the brand-consumer connection.
Where do you see the future of Instagram storytelling headed?
Instagram storytelling is going to be – not only the visual pulse of the world – but the new wave of publishing. I’m not sure why anyone would buy a magazine these days when you can follow your favorite magazines on Instagram and get much fresher content.
Ready to become a Pro Instagram Storyteller?
Transform your marketing results with our Instagram storytelling workshop.
Schedule a complimentary discussion today!
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Source: Visual Storytelling
January 28, 2018
What makes a documentary suited to a theatrical release—and all the expense and effort associated with it? And when are they more appropriate for smaller screens? After several straight months of disappointing box-office sales for most nonfiction films, including several hits from last year’s Sundance, this question would seem to be a pressing one out of this year’s film festival. But the answer—as evidenced by the few distribution deals that closed before and during Sundance, those that are still pending, and those that should be—isn’t so easy to nail down, though some combination of topicality, celebrity or artistry certainly comes into play.
Before Sundance kicked off, Oscar-winner Morgan Neville’s Mister Rogers film “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” was one of the few documentaries to already have a major theatrical distributor (Focus Features) behind it—and its rapturous Park City unveiling appeared to justify it. Unlike its description might suggest, the film transcends the standard bio-pic format to become a highly resonant and timely look at America’s culture wars. Who would have thought that a Republican cardigan-wearing Presbyterian-trained minister with a message of tolerance and civility could be our best response to the current President? Set to ignite political debate at the same time as it soothes liberal arthouse audiences, it was one of the festival’s most uniformly embraced docs.
Magnolia Pictures’ mid-week acquisition of “RBG,” a lively, though conventional portrait about Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, is also instructive. While the film offers a straightforward and hagiographic account of the judge’s rise through the ranks of America’s patriarchal institutions and her close marriage with Martin Ginsburg, there’s nothing particularly captivating here—except for the fact that it’s a rousing activist cry for one of the year’s most significant issues: Women’s rights. If Magnolia’s release of “I Am Not Your Negro” was able to capture last year’s “Get Out”/Black Lives Matter zeitgeist, “RBG” will only become more relevant as Trump continues to attack her and search for her replacement—a fact that makes this documentary one of the festival’s most timely.
For a more punk-rock feminist portrait, there was the Joan Jett film “Bad Reputation,” another chronological survey of a life’s upswing within a male-dominated system. Though likely to play better to the musician’s fan base, the rock-doc also taps directly into the contemporary women’s power movement, showing the life of Jett as a female trailblazer who didn’t give a damn and paved the way for women in the music industry.
There were many—probably too many—other profiles of famous people, including “Jane Fonda in Five Acts” and “Robin Williams: Come Inside My Head,” both set for HBO broadcast, as well as traditional portraits of director Hal Ashby (“Hal”)) and artist Yayoi Kusama (“Kusama – Infinity”). What makes these nonfiction films more befitting a night out at the movies versus cozying up with them on the couch?
Among the best of the HBO docs, “King in the Wilderness,” a compelling and astutely constructed archival-driven look at the last contentious years in the life of Martin Luther King, Jr., stands out precisely because it’s not biographical tribute, but a focused chronicle of a combustible time when the stakes reached a fever pitch for the Civil Rights leader. But while “King in the Wilderness” is riveting and relevant to the persistent struggle for racial equality, its historical framework may limit its theatrical prospects.
On the other hand, “Three Identical Strangers,” purchased by Neon mid-week, reflects what it takes to make a film break out without celebrities or timely issues. Reminiscent of last year’s Sundance true-conspiracy docs “Tickled” and “Icarus,” “Strangers” has that WTF-mystique built into its sensationalistic narrative of triplets separated at birth who only learned of each other when they were 19-years-old. But what begins buoyantly, full of fun ‘70s reenactments and archival footage of their brief time in the limelight (they appeared briefly with Madonna in “Desperately Seeking Susan”), eventually turns darker and, as a result, becomes a more enriching and emotional experience about fathers and sons, nature versus nurture.
Courtesy of Sundance Institute
This year’s U.S. Documentary Competition, as always, had its fair share of straight-up advocacy docs (“Inventing Tomorrow,” “Dark Money,” “The Devil We Know,” “Kailash”), all of which will find their niche audiences. But the future of the section’s most cinematic docs is uncertain: Robert Greene’s “Bisbee ‘17,” an elegiac and captivating journey into American history, identity, and division, as enacted by a small Arizona town; RaMell Ross’s “Hale County, This Morning, This Evening,” a strikingly photographed, impressionistic study of black rural Southern life; and Michael Dweck’s “The Last Race,” an operatic Gates of Heaven-inspired look at stock-car racing and its fading Long Island community.
If any of this year’s non-fiction achievements should be experienced on the big screen, it’s these. You can also add in Sandi Tan’s World Documentary Competition title “Shirkers,” a film critic’s darling, which features cineastes and lots of classic film clips, as it follows the filmmaker’s quest to uncover the truth behind her mentor, and the unfinished independent movie he stole from her years before. But it’s unclear if theatrical distributors will take a risk on this type of film. Is aesthetic creativity and mastery enough to propel it into cinemas?
There were other competition docs that shrewdly combine sensitive observational filmmaking with larger social agendas, such as the excellent “On Her Shoulders,” “Crime + Punishment,” and “Minding the Gap.” In each case, the filmmaker takes a central issue and deepens it with penetrating explorations of character. In “On Her Shoulders,” director Alexandria Bombach tracks ISIS victim-turned-activist Nadia Murad in her campaign to raise awareness for her ethnic group’s devastation, but the film’s quieter in-between moments and intimate portraiture powerfully expresses the painful slog and personal psychological toll of making social change.
Similarly, Stephen Maing’s “Crime + Punishment” is an essential investigative documentary about corruption in the NYPD department, whose illegal quota policies continue to disrupt communities of color, but the film comes alive with its empathic look at its whistleblowing cops, particularly Edwin Raymond, a well-spoken officer who eloquently speaks truth to power. Bing Liu’s “Minding the Gap” also skillfully balances social issues with compelling characters as it follows several years in the lives of a group of skateboarding male friends in the Midwest as they grapple with the legacy of family abuse. In previous years, the strength of content in these three films may have been enough to push them into wider distribution, but nowadays, it may not be enough.
Courtesy of Sundance Institute
But maybe the definition of “theatrical” matters less these days anyway. Consider that two of the biggest nonfiction productions at Sundance, hailing from Oscar-nominated filmmakers Matthew Heineman and Steve James, respectively, are TV projects. Heineman’s multi-faceted expose of the opioid crisis through the eyes of the growers, addicts, cartel bosses and law enforcement officials will premiere on Showtime on February 2. And in the largest documentary deal of Sundance, Starz reportedly paid $5 million to acquire James’ 10-part series “America to Me,” a binge-worthy longitudinal study of race—and racial disparities—in education as seen through the microcosm of one large suburban Chicago high school, and its cast of eminently engaging students and teachers. If Heineman and James don’t need theaters, maybe the rest of Sundance’s doc-makers don’t, either.
Source: IndieWire film
January 28, 2018
‘Blaze’ Review: Ethan Hawke Directs a Gonzo Indie Country-Western Opera About an Unsung Legend — Sundance 2018
Some people never get to realize their full potential, or stick around long enough to do what they were so clearly put on this Earth to do. Maybe they die young, or maybe they just keep getting in their own way. Or maybe, if they’re anything like singer-songwriter Blaze Foley, they find a way to do both, burning out like stars that leave their light behind. But Foley never wanted to be a star, shining only for itself. He wanted to be a legend, and live forever. Thanks to Ethan Hawke’s slippery, whiskey-soaked biopic of the late musician — and newcomer Benjamin Dickey’s casually spellbinding lead performance — he’s closer than ever to getting his wish.
Described by its director as a “gonzo indie country-western opera,” “Blaze” is sleepier and more bittersweet than Hawke might have you believe, less of an opera than an acoustic requiem for a ramblin’ man. Flowing backwards and forwards through time like a set list, this languid tribute might frustrate anyone hoping for a conventional portrait in the style of “Walk the Line,” but there’s something ineffably honest to Hawke’s freeform approach. The contours of Foley’s legacy were as soft and imprecise as the contours of his body, and there’d be no way to measure his life in ticket sales, venue sizes, or the handful of unforgettable live recordings he committed to tape before he was killed in 1989.
So Hawke wisely decided to ditch the womb-to-tomb approach and re-imagine Foley’s journey as a fragmented story of paradise lost. Lucinda Williams once said that “Blaze Foley was a genius and a beautiful loser,” and co-writer Sybil Rosen is the living embodiment of what he lost (this movie was adapted from her memoir). Played by a tender and emotionally limpid Alia Shawkat, Rosen meets Foley at a theater program somewhere in Arkansas, and the unlikely romance that develops between the petite Jewish girl and the hulking singer from the Deep South forms the most important and involving of the film’s various threads.
Draped in shades of autumnal brown and left to unfold with the gentle patience of domestic bliss as Foley and Rosen squirrel themselves away in the woods, these scenes are the heart and soul of a movie that does a better job of illustrating love than loss. Dickey and Shawkat have a relaxed and lived-in vibe together — his voice drawls out in deep scoops of countrified wisdom, and she curls up inside them — and their relationship is the kind that somebody sings about for the rest of their days. It’s the strongest part of a life that’s held together with duct tape (Foley’s adhesive of choice), and it’s genuinely painful to watch it pull apart.
The film’s other two points of focus are both located after that split, though Hawke cuts between all three of them with increasingly little rhyme or reason. One is set some years later in the back of Austin’s Outhouse bar, where a gloriously bearded Foley plays his most famous show to an empty room in the middle of the day. Every song triggers another memory, most of them taking us back to the woods. These scenes feel more like a seance than anything else, as Dickey so completely disappears into the role that it feels like Foley has come back to life for another devastating rendition of “Picture Cards Can’t Picture You” (it’s such a remarkable feat of reanimation that it makes Gary Oldman’s performance in “Darkest Hour” look like an “SNL” sketch). These scenes are drunk with sadness, Foley in particular, and provide Hawke’s story a beacon to return to whenever the telling gets a bit too unmoored.
The final thread finds two of Foley’s closest pals— musicians Zee (Josh Hamilton) and Townes Van Zandt (a perfectly cast Charlie Sexton) — conducting a posthumous radio interview for their late friend. The interviewer has never even heard of Blaze, and so Zee and Van Zandt begin spinning some yarns of their own. This is how the movie allows for a hazy subplot in which Steve Zahn, Sam Rockwell, and Richard Linklater(!) play a trio of dumbass cowboy record executives — it doesn’t amount to much, but it sure is fun to watch.
Shambling on for more than two hours of disjointed memories, “Blaze” isn’t in much of a hurry to put the parts of a life together. The film isn’t a jigsaw puzzle, where every piece neatly fits into a greater whole; it’s more like a drunken night of people sitting around and remembering their old friend, warts and all. The upside of this impressionistic approach is that it allows for a kitchen sink kind of storytelling, paving the way for all sorts of detours, like a one-scene cameo from Foley’s senile dad (played by Kris Kristofferson, of course) and a handful of long jokes that all add some real texture to a bygone era of outlaw folk.
The downside is that Foley tends to slip away from us as the movie goes on. We can see that he’s living like he’s not going to be alive much longer, but the slipstream narrative keeps us on the outside — just like everyone else — desperate to understand how he could be so sweet and self-destructive all at once. Hawke keys in to the banality of Blaze’s behavior, the world shrugging this guy off this mortal coil in the end, but the film leaves us with almost as little as he did: just a few great songs, some scattered moments of sullied joy, and the unfulfilled wish that it had all come together in a more meaningful way.
“Blaze” premiered in the U.S. Dramatic Competition at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival. It is currently seeking distribution.
Source: IndieWire film
January 28, 2018
On opening night of Sundance 2018, writer-director Tamara Jenkins premiered her new film “Private Life” to rave reviews. The New York drama was headed for derailment when she submitted it to Netflix Indie Content directors of content Ian Bricke and his lieutenant Matt Levin; they loved her script about an infertile middle-aged couple (Paul Giamatti and Kathryn Hahn) desperately trying to have a child by any means necessary. The drama turned out so well that Netflix is holding it for the fall festival circuit.
Among those in Eccles Theater seeing “Private Life” for the first time was Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos. That’s because if a film is budgeted under $10 million, he delegates full greenlight authority to Bricke, who pushed the $9 million “Private Life” into production and approved the last-minute casting of unknown actress Kayli Carter.
Netflix Indie Content is also bringing (if not to a theater near you) Charlie Kaufman’s adaptation of Iain Reid’s bestseller “I’m Thinking of Ending Things,” which he will direct. They’re also preparing to release a new collaboration with “Green Room” director Jeremy Saulnier, the father-daughter story “Hold the Dark,” starring Alexander Skarsgard and Riley Keough.
Clearly, Netflix is leaning into under-served audience segments. In the NIC 2018 pipeline are five features from female filmmakers: Nicole Holofcener’s suburban mid-life crisis dramedy “The Land of Steady Habits,” starring Ben Mendelsohn and Connie Britton; Haifaa Al-Mansour’s African-American self-discovery dramedy “Nappily Ever After,” starring Sanaa Lathan; Lauren Miller Rogen’s comedy “Like Father,” starring Kristen Bell and Kelsey Grammer; writer-turned-director Marja-Lewis Ryan’s heroin drama “6 Balloons,” starring “Broad City” star Abbi Jacobson and Dave Franco; and Olivia Newman’s Sundance Labs project “First Match,” set in the world of a New York girls’ high school wrestling team.
There’s also “The Raid” director Gareth Evans’ return to Wales with crazy period horror thriller “The Apostle,” and “Eggplant Emoji,” which Bricke described as an “outrageous boy comedy, ‘Superbad’ with a severed penis,” he said. “You can be successful by being specific, without the P&A risk.”
Sarandos has placed Indie Content under the supervision of Original Films head Scott Stuber, who oversees such bigger-budget films as Will Smith-starrer “Bright,” Angelina Jolie’s “First They Killed My Father,” Bong Joon-ho’s “Okja” and Martin Scorsese’s “The Irishman.” Stuber approves Indie Content films over $10 million and carries his own greenlight authority.
“We saw there was a real audience for all shapes and sizes of movies,” said Bricke, “even modestly budgeted films in the Duplass zone. The economics of buying after-market from distributors tends to drive up the cost, and we had a challenge getting access on a worldwide basis. So we said, ‘Let’s engage early to help the movies get made, and have access to all rights.’”
Being able to acquire worldwide rights isn’t always easy. Which is why over the past few years, Netflix has slowly increased the number of its in-house productions. At about 20-25 films a year, Netflix’s Indie Content division produces more than a major studio; however, few of these titles surface at film festivals or theaters. (Some might define these programmers as TV movies.)
For example, the Duplasses produced Hannah Fidell’s 2015 romance “A Teacher,” starring Taissa Farmiga; Mark Duplass produced, wrote and starred in Alex Lehmann’s “Blue Jay” (2016) with Sarah Paulson; dystopian “Io” (2017) starred Margot Qualley as a girl deciding whether to remain on an abandoned Earth; and Josh Charles plays a coach in “Amateur” (2017), starring Brian White as a basketball star, among countless small Indie Content titles most of Netflix users have never heard of.
The only way Bricke and Levin’s small staff (which gets support from the larger motion picture operation) can handle this volume is by paying close attention to development — and then letting things go. Their chief of physical production, indie producer Jeremy Walker (“Half Nelson, “Sugar”) is also on the case. Clearly, Sarandos has to delegate to his TV and film teams to keep the content churning through the system, as the level of production keeps rising, year after year.
In any case, Netflix acquisition czar Matt Brodlie did not end up buying anything at Sundance 2018, partly because he didn’t have to.
The rules of engagement at Netflix Indie Content are the same as any specialty studio: Match the budget to its audience. Of course, Netflix doesn’t have the friction of luring people to a brick-and-mortar cinema, and they boast the ability to reach multiple niche audiences via targeted, sophisticated marketing and those mysterious algorithms, created by some 1,500 engineers.
“You present a movie to an audience in personalized ways based on viewer behavior,” said Levin. “When creating artwork for the platform, we have 15-20 pieces leaning into different thematic and graphic elements. It lets you talk about the movie in different ways.”
How did these films do? Some suggest that movies get lost in the ether when they disappear into the endless Netflix content maw. To the contrary, says Bricke, these films have a long tail, pulling viewers long after they first appeared on the site. “We keep finding pockets of audience for movies,” he said. What that means, of course, is anyone’s guess: We will never know the numbers.
At Sundance 2016, writer-director Macon Blair pitched Bricke and Levin the dark romance “I Don’t Feel At Home in This World Anymore,” which swiftly went into production that February. Less than a month after the film won the Grand Jury prize at Sundance 2017, it was on the streaming service. “Normally film fans all around the world hear about a new Sundance discovery and want to see that movie,” said Levin, “and have to wait six months [or more] to see it in that territory, missing out on the window when it was in the zeitgeist.” (They claim the film was a huge success.)
The other NIC titles at Sundance 2017 were Gerard McMurray’s black-college fraternity story “Burning Sands,” Sydney Freeland’s teen heist comedy “Deirdre and Laney Rob A Train,” and Charlie McDowell’s sci-fi thriller “The Discovery,” starring Robert Redford, Jason Segal, and Rooney Mara.
This year, Netflix brought another four titles to Sundance, two from NIC: Joshua Marston’s African-American drama “Come Sunday,” starring Lakeith Stanfield, Jason Segel, and Chiwetel Ejiofor and David Wain’s National Lampoon biopic “A Stupid and Futile Gesture” starring Will Forte and Emmy Rossum; both earned mixed reviews. Netflix Original Documentaries’ Lisa Nishimura brought series “Wild Wild Country” and the feature “Seeing Allred.” By the very next weekend, true to pattern, “A Futile and Stupid Gesture” was available on the site and in a smattering of Netflix partner iPic theatres.
The Netflix advantage extends to presenting their movies simultaneously around the world in 190 countries, with subtitled and dubbed versions in 30 languages. “We knew we could find an aggregated audience all over the world for movies that felt small or specialized that wouldn’t necessarily get to travel in the conventional distribution system,” said Bricke. “Maybe the audience for a Duplass film in Scandinavia is small, but it’s there.”
Netflix also says it doesn’t have to cater to the tastes that drive foreign sales companies. Among the hits Bricke and Levin cite from last year were two Stephen King movies that debuted at Fantastic Fest’s 2017 edition: “Gerald’s Game,” starring Carla Gugino as a woman trapped in a room after husband Bruce Greenwood suddenly dies, and “1922″ starring Thomas Jane. “Mike Flanagan wanted Carla Gugino,” said Levin, about the director of “Gerald’s Game.” “It’s about casting the actor meaningful to the audience it’s for, like an actor from Doctor Who that’s resonant in that market. Compromising creatively is not a great way to make a movie.”
Clearly, Netflix is betting heavily on Indie Content, and is only going to keep ramping up the volume and budgets under ex-studio player Stuber’s direction. How he manages quality control and marketing and branding these titles — which can’t all go to festivals — is the major question going forward.
Source: IndieWire film