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ReelPolitik

"#whilewewatch": First Definitive Doc of #OccupyWallStreet Emerges?

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • April 26, 2012 9:57 AM
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Tonight, at 8pm EST, a documentary calling itself "the first definitive film to emerge from Zuccotti Park," "#whilewewatch," will have its world premiere online at SnagFilms.com (Indiewire's parent company). Made with "full access and cooperation from the masterminds who made #OccupyWallStreet a reality," according to a press release, the film was directed by Kevin Breslin (“Living for 32") and includes interviews with Priscilla Grim (a journalist with The Occupied Wall St Journal); Justin Wedes (an educator and activist), journalist and technologist Tim Pool and Jesse LaGreca from Daily Kos--who will also be on hand for a conversation at the Paley Center in New York. Though the trailer gives little insight into the film beyond the chaos of protest and police crackdowns, it looks like it will be a largely flattering portrait of the movement.

Doc Filmmakers Win Fight Against I.R.S.; Work Not Hobby, But Profit-Losing Biz?

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • April 22, 2012 11:44 AM
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It's a pyrrhic victory for documentary filmmakers eveywhere. Last Thursday, a U.S. Tax Court judge ruled that filmmaker Lee Storey could write off hundreds of thousands of dollars in losses from the making of her film "Smile `Til It Hurts: The Up with People Story" (see picture below). Documentarians--including some who are currently under audit by the I.R.S.--were watching the case closely, as the outcome severely impacts their bottom line. But while the Storey case has effectively shifted the government's view from considering the profession a mere hobby, which would not allow a right-off, it also highlights the money-losing nature of the form.

Does the NEA Think Documentaries Are Irrelevant?

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • April 12, 2012 9:17 PM
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  • 3 Comments
Earlier this week, when it was announced the National Endowment of the Arts was slashing more than a $1 million from funding PBS shows, including major cuts to important (and embattled) documentary programs "Independent Lens" and "P.O.V.," documentary filmmakers were rightly outraged. Part of their frustration and rancor lead to some interesting back-and-forths on Twitter, involving NEA media arts director Alyce Myatt, a former PBS programming executive, who oversaw the cuts.

The War on Indie Docs: After Surviving PBS Debacle, NEA Slashes Doc Program Funds More Than 60%

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • April 10, 2012 9:25 AM
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  • 1 Comment
I'm beginning to wonder if there's a conspiracy afoot. After PBS' highly controversial move to re-schedule its independent documentary shows, Independent Lens and POV, damaging their playability and reducing their audiences, here comes the news that the National Endowment of the Arts is stripping more than $1 million in federal aid from PBS shows, effective April 25, including drastic cuts for “Independent Lens” from $170,000 to $50,000, and at “POV," from $250,000 to $100,000.

Homeland Security Interrogates and Harasses Oscar-Nominee Laura Poitras During Making of New Doc

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • April 9, 2012 10:00 AM
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  • 3 Comments
Laura Poitras, the Oscar-nominated director of "My Country, My Country" and "The Oath," has suffered extreme harrassment at the hands of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Customs and Border Control (CBC) while making a new film on America's "War on Terror," according to a must-read report in Salon.com.

Van Sant and Damon Attack Fracking with "The Promised Land"

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • April 9, 2012 9:32 AM
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  • 6 Comments
I normally wouldn't write a post on a production announcement, but this one is making major political waves in the mediasphere: Turns out Gus van Sant and Matt Damon's new film "The Promised Land," is being dubbed an "anti-fracking movie," and will likely bring the controversial drilling practive into the public sphere, far more than Josh Fox, director of Oscar nominee "Gasland," could ever have hoped.

The Secret World of Video on Demand Sales; Conspiracy or Just Corporate Practice?

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • April 4, 2012 1:38 PM
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  • 3 Comments
If Video on Demand is saving the world of independent film, how come no one knows anything about it? I've been covering the VoD business for the last six years, ever since HDNet's release of Steven Soderbergh's "Bubble" and IFC launched its day-and-date program. And every time I set out to try to learn how many people are watching movies on demand, I often get a friendly response from distributors and yet no specifics. So rather than try to get VOD numbers, why not discover why VOD numbers are so hard to get? For Indiewire, you can read about "6 Reasons Why You Don't Know More About VOD Numbers," my latest survey of the industry. But there's a couple of points I wanted to highlight here.

Robert Redford's Political Action Cinema; Revisits Watergate and Weather Underground

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • April 3, 2012 9:34 AM
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  • 0 Comments
Robert Redford is revving up his activist pursuits with a spate of political-minded projects, from "The Company You Keep," his political thriller starring Shia LaBeouf, which could premiere at this year's Toronto International Film Festival, to a new slate of TV projects, including "All the President's Men Revisited," a 2-hour documentary for the Discovery Channel about the Watergate scandal to be directed by Peter Schnall.

Activist Filmmaker Robert Greenwald Attacks Koch Bros, "Worst of 1%"

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • March 30, 2012 9:37 AM
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  • 0 Comments
Robert Greenwald's documentary resume now offers a near complete litany of right-wing scourges: He's gone after, most famously, Fox News ("Outfoxed"), the Iraq War ("Iraq for Sale: The War Profiteers"), and Wal-Mart ("The High Cost of Low Price"), and he's just released his latest liberal piece of agit-prop: "Koch Brothers Exposed," which according to Alternet.org, weaves together a series of short films that examines the principals of Koch Industries, one of the nation's top polluters and infamous for their funding of think-tanks that aim to deregulate business and scale back government programs such as Social Security, Medicare and the new healthcare reform law. (The DVD is available here).

Christine Vachon and Rubba Nadda Tackle Syrian Repression with "Inescapable"

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • March 29, 2012 9:43 AM
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  • 0 Comments
On a recent episode of "The Daily Show," there was a sketch involving the viral video hype raising awareness for the atrocities of Ugandan guerilla fighter Joseph Kony, and whether a similar hipster video could do the same for the injustices happening in Syria right now. I don't think Killer Films' Christine Vachon and Canadian filmmaker Rubba Nadda had that in mind with their new film "Inescapable," which recently wrapped shooting in South Africa. But the subject matter suggests it could help reveal life under the totalitarian regime, which has most recently massacred dozens of women and children in the Syrian city of Homs.

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