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here. I'll be around and hope to meet a bunch of you.It's fall (almost). Things are starting up again. Toronto is around the corner (I'm looking forward to the new Aronofsky as well as the day-long event opening the new Bell Lightbox). The IFP Filmmaker Conference is approaching too, and this year it kicks off with a day-long series, "The Future of Film." (I'll be doing a panel later in the week with some of our "25 New Faces" and agents exploring the question of whether young filmmakers need agents and, if so, how to get them.) If you haven't registered yet, you can do so
As we move into September we'll be launching some new columns on the site. Look for them to roll out in the coming weeks.
Speaking of the new, moments ago I activated my Google Priority Inbox. It's too soon to tell whether or not I like it. I already have my email filtered and sorted pretty well, with a lot of it bypassing my in-box to be sorted later when I have time. Still, the shift away from a time-based system (your email appears in the backwards order it was received) to one-based on an intelligent filter could lead to unexpected consequences. Writes Koo at his increasingly essential No Film School blog, "For filmmakers, who often send mass emails about a new release or fundraising initiative, I wonder what effect Priority Inbox might have on open rates, click-through, etc. In general I assume Priority Inbox is going to assign the greatest weight to personal emails, which could have some interesting implications for email marketers. Which is to say, if your emails find themselves most often grouped among other newsletters and impersonal material, will they be viewed as much as they are now, when they are grouped in with notes from significant others?"
The first email to make it into my Priority In-box top tier was from Harmony Korine with the link to his new short, "Act Da Fool." You can check it out here.
What Google is doing with Priority Inbox is moving to the forefront communication from people you trust. People you have a relationship with. The rest won't be spam, but it will be second-class communication.
Yesterday Steve Jobs took the stage in Cupertino, California to announce Apple's annual iPod product refresh as well as a couple of new things. One was the refreshed Apple TV, the company's much-anticipated assault on the living room. Except, as Khoi Vinh points out at his Subtraction blog, it's more of a landing party than a full-scale attack. More significant may be the other announcement: Apple is launching its own social network, Ping. Yes, it's like other services that have come before, like Last.fm and Zune's social network. And Facebook's march towards world domination seems unstoppable. So why do I think Ping may be significant? Because I will never, ever give Facebook my credit card. After years of resetting my privacy restrictions every time Facebook rolls out a new service, I simply don't trust them with anything tied to my finances. Ping is a social network built solely around a commerce solution many people already use. It's only about recommending stuff to other people -- stuff they can buy. You can grumble about Apple if you want, but they've spent years developing products backed by top-rated customer support, and non-tech, everyday people trust them.
People you trust and services you trust. Both have always been important. But now technology figures out who those people are for you, making it a little harder to discover the rest. At least for me, Google knew enough to prioritize "Act Da Fool." To be continued...
See you next week.
Editor INDEPENDENT FILMMAKER CONFERENCE FEATURES DAILY CASE STUDIES How did they do it? Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but the real goal of the popular case studies featured daily at the Filmmaker Conference is an in-depth examination of what creative and practical decisions brought these buzzed about projects to fruition and how the filmmakers continue to marshall their efforts as their films begin to reach audiences. The teams behind this year's Tiny Furniture, Winter's Bone, Restrepo, Cyrus, and Life 2.0 will reveal what they've learned -- every day at 2:30 p.m. during this year's IFP Filmmaker Conference, September 19 - 23. And a reminder: this Friday 9/3 is the registration deadline for Filmmaker Conference pass-buyers who wish to qualify for a chance to pitch their film, TV or new media project to execs live at the conference as part of the PITCH YOURSELF panel on Thursday September 23rd. For updates, schedule, and to purchase passes go here. Our Forums page is new and improved! Check out the new categories: how to make films, discuss the current trends in the business, job opportunities and look out for guest filmmaker moderators. Click here to get started.
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Last Train Home
A Woman, A Gun, and a Noodle Shop
The Winning Season
Prince of Broadway
Lixin Fan, Last Train Home
IFP: Filmmaker Conference Features Case Studies
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LAST TRAIN HOME Last Train Home, from documentary filmmaker Lixin Fan, has had an impressive streak at the past year's major film festivals. The film spans two years in the lives of the Zhengs, a working-class couple who are two of the 130 million Chinese migrant workers who currently work in the factories of China's major cities, leaving the countryside (and their families) for opportunity and economic growth. They can go home only once each year on Chinese New Year's Day. The pandemonium that erupts when these workers scramble for hard-to-obtain rail tickets home is a sad commentary on the cycle between poverty and overpopulation in cities. Interviewed for this week's Director Interviews, Fan talks about what he got from exploring the film's subject, the Zhangs family. "The family drama that was to come in the next few years really helped us explore the core of this migration," he explains, "how the economic reforms impacted individuals on a personal level, and how it changed the family structure and their social values." Read our interview with Fan below. A WOMAN, A GUN, AND A NOODLE SHOP A Chinese remake of the Coen brothers' noir classic Blood Simple, Zhang Yimou crafts a completely re-imagined view of the story, set in a small desert town in China (instead of the Texas setting of the original film), where a man named Wang runs a noodle shop. His wife sneaks around seeing his employee Li. But Wang is onto their affair, and wants them both dead. A mix of comedy, suspense and gorgeous cinematography of the desert landscape, Noodle Shop takes the Coens' classic and puts it in a whole new and intriguing direction. THE WINNING SEASON James C. Strouse (Grace is Gone) returns with The Winning Season, a dark comedy starring Sam Rockwell as a down-on-his-luck high-school girls basketball coach. Through the season he finds redemption while getting to know and understand his players, a motley assortment played by such up-and-coming talents such as Emma Roberts, Shareeka Epps, and Rooney Mara. PRINCE OF BROADWAY Nominated for the John Cassavetes Award at the Independent Spirit Awards, as well as a winner at multiple film festivals, Prince of Broadway, directed by Sean Baker (co-creator of Greg the Bunny) and presented by Lee Daniels, is a drama about a Ghanaian street hustler named Lucky (Prince Adu) who sells knockoffs on the streets of New York. Though the business is tough, he ekes out a living. However, things get harder when a woman hands him a little boy, telling him it's his son. This week on the blog, producers Amy Lo and Rachel Libert (pictured left) give their reports from the Sundance Producer's Lab; sci-fi writer Norman Spinrad offers a challenge to filmmakers; and Scott Macaulay rounds up the best in his Sunday Morning Links.
To read more posts from our blog, click here.
LIXIN FAN, LAST TRAIN HOME By Damon Smith
Not many first-time independent filmmakers land a coveted spot in the Sunday arts section of The New York Times and an interview on The Leonard Lopate Show. But 33-year-old Lixin Fan, a Chinese-born Canadian immigrant who splits his time between Montreal and Beijing, has generated a lot of interest among editors at major dailies and business publications alike for his documentary Last Train Home, a film about the annual New Year's pilgrimage of 130 million migrant workers from Guangzhou province to their homes and seldom-seen families in the rural provinces. read more
Sundance Film Festival
Regular Deadline: Sept. 3
Late Deadline: Sept. 24
Festival Dates: Jan 20-30
Omaha Film Festival
Regular Deadline: Sept. 10
Final Deadline: Nov. 5
Festival Dates: March 3-6
Tribeca Film Festival
Submissions Open: Sept. 13
Early Deadline: Nov. 5
Final Deadline: Dec. 10
Festival Dates: April 20-May 1