Indie Film

Indie Film - Salon.com Indie film is dying - unless it...

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Salon.com Indie film is dying -- unless it isn't Yes, distributors are closing, films are tanking and insiders are muttering that doom is nigh. But the best filmmakers always survive. Andrew O'Hehir Jun. 24, 2008 All winter and spring, people in the independent-film business have been murmuring politely behind their hands and pretending not to see the 800-pound walrus in the corner of the room: The indie industry is undergoing a sudden and largely unexpected meltdown, or in the business-speak recently employed by Sony Pictures Classics co-president Tom Bernard, "a periodic market adjustment." Nobody's ignoring it anymore, not after Saturday's address to a Los Angeles Film Festival conference by Mark Gill, CEO of the independent production and financing outfit the Film Department and former president of Miramax and Warner Independent. Gill's speech, entitled "Yes, the Sky Really Is Falling," was followed by a thoughtful Sunday column from the Philadelphia Inquirer's Carrie Rickey, cataloging everything that has gone wrong for small films, and the companies that make them, in the last six months. It's a short but bloody history: Warner Bros. shut down its Picturehouse and Warner Independent subsidiaries and slashed the staff of New Line Cinema by 90 percent. Paramount Vantage, another "studio specialty division" that was born just two years ago, is being reabsorbed by Paramount Pictures. ThinkFilm, a true independent distributor, is being sued by vendors who say they haven't been paid and is under fire from documentary filmmaker Alex Gibney, who claims the company botched the release of his Oscar-winning "Taxi to the Dark Side." Think's future is in doubt, as is that of Sidney Kimmel Entertainment, which has reportedly downsized itself by half. According to Gill, who ought to know, at least five other indie distributors "are in serious financial peril." (I could probably guess who three or four of those are, but it's indecent to speculate about other people's livelihoods.) At the big winter-spring marketplaces of Sundance, Berlin and Cannes, the apparent indie boom of the last few years turned awfully tepid, awfully fast. There were lots of terrific smaller- scale films at those festivals, but hardly anything that looked or felt like an international art- house hit on the scale of "Pan's Labyrinth" or "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" -- the movies that enable indie distributors like IFC or Miramax or Sony Classics to take chances on riskier fare. And as Rickey details, it's been a relatively weak year at the box office, with expected hits like "The Counterfeiters," "The Visitor," "In Bruges" and "Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day" failing to cross over to mainstream moviegoers (or at least not in sufficient numbers). Perhaps your heart does not bleed overmuch, amid the general economic and spiritual turmoil
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This note was uploaded on 03/24/2011 for the course COMM 102 taught by Professor Pike during the Spring '07 term at Rutgers.

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Indie Film - Salon.com Indie film is dying - unless it...

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