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ReelPolitik

"12 Years A Slave" Wins Gotham Awards

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • October 24, 2013 10:43 AM
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  • 3 Comments
As much as I enjoy the Gothams, New York's independent film awards ceremony and IFP fundraiser, the actual winners are rarely, if ever, a surprise. While the Gothams don't take place for another month, it's safe to say that "12 Years A Slave" will win the big prizes, increasing its momentum as it heads to the Academy Awards next year.

New York Indie Film Loses its Focus

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • October 3, 2013 9:06 AM
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  • 8 Comments
With every well-heeled film institution or corporation that abandons New York City, the once indie film center loses some of its capital. And in the capital-intensive world of the film business, that's not a good thing for adventurous filmmakers who need adventurous financiers. It's bad enough that Focus Features, the longstanding Universal subsidiary that once supported Gotham auteurs like Jim Jarmusch ("The Limits of Control"), Noah Baumbach ("Greenberg") and the Coen brothers ("A Serious Man"), lost its main art-film advocate James Schamus, who balanced a shrewd knowledge of overseas playability with bold aesthetics, but the real nail in the coffin is the company's shuttering of its New York offices.

"Manuscripts" Travels; Rasoulof Can't; Iranian Filmmaker Held in Iran

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • October 2, 2013 2:46 PM
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  • 0 Comments
Ever-evolving human rights violations in Iran against its filmmakers is often difficult to grasp. One moment, there appears to be liberalization and rejoicing; the next there are crackdowns and arrests. Is it clear to anyone what exactly Jafar Panahi's situation within Iran is at the moment, given that he has continued to make movies when he's been banned from doing so? His compatriot, Mohammad Rasoulof, who was arrested around the same time, has always appeared to be in a better position with the authorities, but recent news to the contrary suggests he is facing a pushback from the new Iranian regime.

My Best and Worst from Toronto 2013

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • September 11, 2013 9:31 AM
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  • 0 Comments

The False Liberal Promise of "Elysium"

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • August 11, 2013 11:17 AM
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  • 6 Comments
Of course, Neill Blomkamp's "Elysium" is political, but news pundits, never exactly attuned to the subtleties of narrative and ideology, miss the big picture. Critics and observers have endlessly recycled the idea that the film is some kind of sci-fi epic for the Occupy movement, in which the 99% rebel against the 1%. And yes, while this may be the case on the film's dystopian surface, "Elysium" fails as the kind of liberal "political propaganda" that some conservatives have labeled it as.

A Business of Ignorance: 6 Lessons from the New Digital Distrib Universe

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • July 23, 2013 3:06 PM
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  • 2 Comments
What's the next trend in indie filmmaking thanks to the digital universe in which we live? Tween TV stars. Yes, that's right. Turns out Harmony Korine was ahead of the curve with his casting of Disney TV ingenues in "Spring Breakers." In my latest Industry Beat column for Filmmaker Magazine, I looked into the latest developments in digital distribution, including new strategic casting decisions, and I'm still not sure whether digital and VOD distribution is good or bad.

The Most Daring Film of the Year

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • July 17, 2013 10:08 AM
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  • 1 Comment
Economists and forward-thinkers are all about "creative disruption" as a means to move our lackluster global economy forward. It's the idea that innovation is the answer, the best way to revitalize our moribund industries. If Hollywood is doomed, recycling itself into career suicide, then the only way out of this mess is to focus on the new, the novel and the daring, whether that's Christopher Nolan (love him or hate him, at least he's experimenting with form) or at the other end of the spectrum, Andrew Bujalski, whose latest film "Computer Chess" goes back in time to boldly go forward where no film has gone before.

Privacy is Dead, According to New Round of Nonfiction

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • July 11, 2013 10:20 AM
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  • 0 Comments
A recent "Daily Show" report on the N.S.A. PRISM scandal was titled "Good News! You're Not Paranoid," which seems like an apt tag-line for a number of recent documentaries, from Cullen Hoback’s Terms and Conditions May Apply, which opens in New York on Friday, to Ben Lewis’ Google and the World Brain and Alex Gibney’s We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks. If everything we do is being tracked, recorded and filed for possible Pre-Crime indictments, what you going to do about it?

After PBS Controversy, "Citizen Koch" Filmmakers Turn to Kickstarter

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • July 9, 2013 10:05 AM
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  • 0 Comments
"Citizen Koch,” the documentary film about Wisconsin politics and the Citizens United decision, is turning to Kickstarter to cover the costs of music licenses, footage licenses, editing costs and other fees associated with readying the film for distribution. Problems with the film's distribution on PBS first circulated after The New Yorker published a damning story that strongly suggested that rightwing billionaire David Koch, who was a member of the Board of Directors of WNET in New York and WGBH in Boston at the time, may have had something to do with PBS pulling the plug on the film's broadcast.

Los Angeles Red Squad: The Communist Situation in California

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • June 28, 2013 9:39 AM
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  • 0 Comments
Travis Wilkerson, one of the more radical and exciting nonfiction cinema essayists working today ("An Injury to One"), has a new feature-length documentary, "Los Angeles Red Squad: The Communist Situation in California," which is having its world premiere at the International Film Festival of Marseilles. I've been a big fan of Wilkerson's ever since "An Injury to One" blew my mind in 2003, having written about the film here and here. The new film, with a running time of 70 minutes, looks to follow in the aesthetic footsteps of "Injury to One," with a idiosyncratic mix of narration, history, and digitally manipulated archival images.

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