Thursday, December 24, 2009

A Year End Letter from IFP's Interim Executive Director - Happy Holidays All!

Dear IFP Member or Friend,

It has been a time of many changes in the independent film scene; both scary and exciting. Through it all, independent filmmakers of all stripes keep pushing forward, making great work that moves, inspires, and amuses countless people around the world.

It has been a year of changes at IFP as well. After 12 years at IFP's helm, Executive Director, Michelle Byrd, stepped down to pursue other ventures, and I happily stepped in, after four and half years as a Board member, as the Interim Executive Director. As I reflect on this past year, I am delighted with the way that the IFP served our community. In 2009, the IFP produced the 31st annual Independent Film Week and 19th annual Gotham Independent Film Awards, successful Script to Screen and Independent Filmmaker Conferences, and helped emerging and mid-career filmmakers through the Independent Filmmaker Labs, Fiscal Sponsorship, and Made in New York programs, among numerous others. Tom Quinn, director of The New Year Parade, writes that he "shuffled into the IFP Rough Cut Lab with a 40-minute cut and an overwhelming 180 hours of raw footage, totally green and lacking the confidence or know how to push the film forward. Throughout the Lab we were given so much amazing advice, and with it came the confidence to make the film we had set out to create. Since then the IFP staff, and everyone at Filmmaker have continued to be a tireless support system - a wind at our back and a map toward things ahead." The New Year Parade went on to win the Slamdance Film Festival's Grand Jury Prize, receive uniformly stellar reviews, get a small theatrical and large DVD release, and now, is nominated for the Independent Spirit Awards "John Cassavetes Award" 2010.

On the nonfiction side of things, Independent Film Week's Spotlight on Documentaries 2008 alumni The Way We Get By (directed by Aron Gaudet and produced by Gita Pullapilly) premiered at the SXSW '09 Festival, where it took the Documentary Feature Honorable Mention. The film was selected as a special end of season presentation for PBS' P.O.V., who the filmmakers had met with while at Film Week. Also at Film Week, they met with ITVS, which ultimately provided significant funding for the project. The film had a theatrical release at New York's IFC Center and other cities via the International Film Circuit, and the DVD began self-release in November. It went on to win the IFP Fledgling Fund Grant for Documentary Outreach and has been nominated for a 2009 Cinema Eye Honors for Outstanding Achievements in Debut Feature.

IFP is the nation's oldest and largest non-profit organization of independent filmmakers. Since its start, we have supported the production of 7,000 films and provided resources to more than 20,000 filmmakers' voices that otherwise might not have been heard. IFP believes that independent films broaden the palette of cinema, seeding the global culture with new ideas, kindling awareness, and fostering activism. Through our 30-year history, we have helped projects ranging from Michael Moore's Roger and Me to Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck's Half Nelson get off the ground.

In 2010, IFP will continue to support our thousands of members all over the world with year-round events, conferences, labs, networking opportunities, and resources. We couldn't do any of this without the kind and generous contributions of supporters like you.

So, give the gift of support to independent filmmakers.


Or simply join IFP now - or sign up a friend - for a year of free screenings, networking events, vendor discounts, a subscription to Filmmaker Magazine, and much more.


Warm regards,

Joana Vicente

Thursday, December 17, 2009

IFP'S 2010 INDEPENDENT FILMMAKER LABS ON THE HORIZON - Start working on your applications over the holidays!

IFP’s Independent Filmmaker Labs is the only program in the U.S. supporting first-time feature directors with projects at the crucial rough cut stage, before they are submitted to festivals. The Labs are a free, week-long workshop in New York offering personalized feedback and advice on all aspects of the post-production process, audience building, and distribution strategies in the digital age, followed by continued support from IFP as the project premieres in the marketplace. More than half of Lab alumni have gone on to premiere at major festivals - including Berlin, Sundance, SXSW, Toronto, and Venice, and have enjoyed theatrical releases, been broadcast nationally, or released on DVD. Recent Lab projects have included Vanessa Gould’s Between the Folds, which premiered on Independent Lens this month, and Geralyn Pezanoski’s Mine, upcoming on Independent Lens in February; Tom Quinn’s The New Year Parade and Tariq Tapa’s Zero Bridge, both recently nominated for the John Cassavetes Award at the upcoming Independent Spirit Awards (and each a Gotham Award nominee in 2008 and 2009, respectively), and Zeina Durra’s 2009 Lab project, The Imperialists Are Still Alive!, premieres in the U.S. Dramatic Competition at Sundance 2010 next month. Lab applications will be available in January for both the Documentary and Narrative Labs which will take place in spring 2010.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Christina Beck's PERFECTION gets some love from the Adrienne Shelly Foundation

Looking through old programs from IFP's Script to Screen Conference today, I noticed that Adrienne Shelly participated in the 1996 conference devoted to the landscape for independent film and media writers. Devoted as she was to IFP's mission of advocating for and supporting independent filmmakers, it makes sense that the Adrienne Shelly foundation, the non-profit organization dedicated to the memory of writer/director/actor Adrienne Shelly, created a grant 3 years ago to support the work of female directorial alumni from the IFP's Independent Filmmaker Labs. The unrestricted, $5000 grant, called The Adrienne Shelly Director's Grant, went this year to Christina Beck’s PERFECTION, the story of Kristabelle, a woman in her thirties still living at home, who cuts herself to feel alive. She lives with her mother, who is also addicted to cutting through plastic surgery to maintain her youth. Through the help of a pot smoking young lover, a newly sober British comic and a little Chinese medicine, both women soon find that love can be more than skin deep. Pamela Cohn, at Still in Motion, reports that Beck, who she met at Independent Film Week in 2007, "will use this prize, in part, to release some developed film footage (donated by Kodak) that's been held in captivity at FotoKem in Los Angeles, where she resides."

According to the Foundation's website, "We know that Adrienne would like us to do everything possible to help young women pursue their filmmaking dreams, and to assist others in making the same leap from acting to writing and directing as Adrienne had done so successfully." IFP is delighted to be working with the Foundation to support talented female filmmakers like Christina achieve their dreams. The world needs many more of them.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

IFP Alumni Shine Among a Strong Sundance Lineup

At 3:59 pm this afternoon, one of my colleagues yelled out, "Sundance is up." Four of us, sitting in a row, frantically turned to IndieWire, where, although momentarily distracted by the fact that the photo of Howl shows the guy who plays Tripp on Gossip Girl, I perused the line-up in the Competitions of one of the world's most important film festivals. Altogether, a very strong program of lots of non-fiction and narrative indie heavyweights. However, we at IFP are most delighted to see our own alumni make such a strong showing in the line-up.

According to Rose Vincelli, IFP Program Manager and one of our master archivists, they are the following:

In the US Dramatic Competition, Blue Valentine, (Director: Derek Cianfrance; Screenwriters: Derek Cianfrance, Cami Delavigne and Joey Curtis) won our 2006 Chrysler Prize and was previously a 2003 No Borders selection. The Imperialists Are Still Alive!, (Director and screenwriter: Zeina Durra; Producer: Vanessa Hope) is our first IFP Narrative Independent Filmmaker Lab alumni (2009) to be in Sundance competition. While Howl (Directors: Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman; Screenwriters: Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman)—which apparently features the guy who plays Tripp on Gossip Girl and, more importantly, James Franco - was a No Borders selection in 2008. Also in this competition is Night Catches Us, produced by Jason Orans, one of our two producers selected to attend the Rotterdam Lab this year.

In the US Documentary Competition, we have My Perestroika, (Director: Robin Hessman), which won the IFP/Anthony Radziwill documentary development grant in 2005, and
The Oath (Director: Laura Poitras), a selection of Spotlight on Docs in 2008. Finally, A Small Act (Director: Jennifer Arnold), was in Spotlight on Docs this past September.

Indcidentally, 19% of the Sundance US Competition are IFP alumni. Congrats to them all!