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Impact Partners Executive Director Jenny Raskin on Financing, Fellowships, and Following the Filmmakers’ Lead

On the Record (Courtesy Sundance Film Festival)

From 2018’s feature doc Oscar winner Icarus, to 2019’s Independent Spirit Award for Best Documentary recipient Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, to the Sundance Grand Jury Prize nabbing Of Fathers and Sons and Dina (in 2018 and 2017, respectively), Impact Partners has been behind some of the most critically acclaimed nonfiction work of recent years. The company’s winning streak, however, actually goes back a decade, all the way to 2010’s Academy Award for Documentary Feature recipient The Cove. And Impact Partners itself goes back even further. Founded in 2007 by Dan Cogan and Geralyn Dreyfous with a mission to bring about social change through cinema (and without sacrificing artistry), Impact Partners recently raised veteran doc producer and director Jenny Raskin to…  Read more

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Art House Convergence 2020: Transparency and Crisis

małni – towards the ocean, towards the shore (courtesy of Sundance Institute)

Despite looming industry crises such as the DOJ moving to end the Paramount consent decrees, years of slumping box office sales and the ongoing proliferation of streaming giants offering consumers content in their own homes, arthouse cinemas and independent festivals appeared to be thriving—if one looked only at the surface of Art House Convergence. Now in its 15th year, the annual AHC convenes representatives from art house cinemas, film festivals, service providers and independent distributors for three and a half days in Midway, UT, right before Sundance. Most of the attendees are representatives from US-based organizations. Though they comprised a wide range from single-screen “jewel boxes” to screening series to venerable NYC institutions, AHC itself was visibly going through a…  Read more

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Sundance 2020 Dispatch 1: Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets; Epicentro; Olla

Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets (courtesy of Sundance Institute)

There will be time and occasion, I'm sure, during this year's Sundance Film Festival to go big picture: to attempt to take the temperature of independent film in 2020, once again fuss over what that designation could possibly mean at this point and so on. But let's skip that for now: for this year's first dispatch, I have the rare of pleasure of leading with enthusiasm, and I'd like to lean into that. Barflies mistranslate William Blake's exhortation to see the world in a grain of sand as "study the human condition through endless hours sitting at the bar"—if in vino veritas, then more wine must equal more truth, right? Bill and Turner Ross's Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets is a day-night-day portrait…  Read more

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14 Films Not to Miss at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival

Time directed by Ursula Garrett Bradley

Always a bellweather for the health — artistic as well as business — of the American independent film scene, the Sundance Film Festival began yesterday in Park City, Utah, preceded by more than the usual amount of pre-fest news and drama. On the positive front, Sundance 2020 is something of a launch party for a new documentary financing and production company, Concordia, formed by filmmaker Davis Guggenheim and former Participant Media production president Jonathan King, in partnership with Laurene Powell Jobs's Emerson Collective. One quarter of the Documentary Competition slate boasts the Concordia logo. And then distressingly there’s Oprah Winfrey’s withdrawal as a producer from Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering's documentary on On the Record, about sexual abuse allegations against hip hop…  Read more

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The Sundance Question: What Prop or Piece of Set Decoration is Particularly Integral to Your Film?

Photo: Kelsey Doyle

Each year Filmmaker asks all the incoming feature directors at Sundance one question. (To see past years’ questions and responses, click here.) This year’s question: Whether capturing or creating a world, the objects onscreen tell as much of a story as the people within it. Whether sourced or accidental, insert shot or background detail, what prop or piece of set decoration do you find particularly integral to your film? What story does it tell? (Check back daily during the festival — new answers are uploaded each day throughout the festival.) "A Dream Refusing Deferment": Garrett Bradley | Time "When I Was a Kid, I Thought That Being a Psychiatrist Meant Getting to Sit in the Most Comfortable Chair in the World": Kirsten Johnson | Dick…  Read more

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“Since My Background was from Journalism I Had to Learn Film Language, and Relearn What I Thought About Storytelling”: Benjamin Ree on His Sundance Doc The Painter and the Thief

The Painter and the Thief

Spectacularly cinematic and employing a risk-taking structure that keeps the viewer as off-balance as the film’s emotionally fragile protagonists, The Painter and the Thief is the second feature-length doc from Norwegian director Benjamin Ree. (Ree’s prior film Magnus, a coming-of-age tale about the chess prodigy Magnus Carlsen, premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2016.) The film follows the stranger-tha- fiction story of Barbora Kysilkova and Karl-Bertil Nordland, the former a Czech naturalist painter living in Oslo, the latter a Norwegian ex-con struggling with drug addiction. Their worlds collide when Nordland and an accomplice steal two of Kysilkova’s artworks from a local gallery, resulting in the men's fast apprehension but not the recovery of the paintings. Instead of leaving things to the authorities, however, the…  Read more

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