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The Pros and Cons of Interactive Storytelling

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • June 25, 2013 8:58 AM
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  • 1 Comment
I am not a total convert, but I do see some benefits in the revolutionary new story spaces that go by various monikers, be it transmedia or multi-platform storytelling. That's my conclusion after delving into the new media world for this two-part investigative story for Indiewire: Part 1, "Transmedia is Sexy, But Who's Watching?" focused on several questions about audiences and the industry's interest in new media documentaries, while Part 2 "9 Tips for Interactive Media Producers" examines what makes a transmedia project successful.

"The New Black" and the Global Gay Rights Fight

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • June 19, 2013 1:53 PM
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  • 0 Comments
The American media likes to suggest that the gay marriage debate is just about over, and that civil rights for the LGBT community is basically a battle that has already been won. (The latest polls suggest that a slim majority of Americans, 51%, are in favor of gay marriage.) But tell that to black folks in many parts of America, or Africans in Uganda or Cameroon, and the reality is a far different and difficult story. In my Docutopia column this week, I examine several films that chronicle the experiences of gay and lesbian black Americans and African Americans.

Lefty Filmmakers Grapple with Left-Wing Backlash

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • June 12, 2013 1:28 PM
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  • 4 Comments
The left-wing sectarian debates fuming over Alex Gibney's "We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks," well-assembled and dissected by Andrew O'Hehir at Salon.com, is also taking place around "Pandora's Promise," Robert Stone's equally controversial and reasonably argued film about the benefits of nuclear power. Jeremy Scahill has also said he's receiving more hate-mail from liberals because of his criticisms of Obama in "Dirty Wars." Why so little love?

"Dirty Wars" Attacks Obama as Foreign Policy Debate Heats Up

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • June 5, 2013 9:55 AM
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  • 0 Comments
In a perfect world, one might believe that President Obama's recent foreign policy speeches, calling for an end to "America's perpetual wartime footing" and reopening the debate on the use of drones, came in response to the imminent release of Richard Rowley's timely doc "Dirty Wars," which is opening Friday and explicitly addresses these issues. Do documentaries have that much power? Probably not, but "Dirty Wars" couldn't have arrived at a better time.

Why Indie Films Must Resist Hollywood

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • June 4, 2013 11:06 AM
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  • 1 Comment
Back in the year 2007, the independent film world was in the grips of its new-found ascendancy, with huge successes like "Juno," "No Country for Old Men," "Atonement," and 2006's "Little Miss Sunshine." Just prior to its imminent collapse in 2008, the sky didn't seem to be falling; on the contrary, for Indiewood, the sky seemed to be the limit. It was at that time that I wrote a piece called "Why Indie Films Must Resist Hollywood" (at FilmCatcher.com, long defunct, which I recently found again in the vaults of the Internet Archive's WayBackMachine). I wanted to re-post the story, not only to reiterate its message, but also to suggest how some of its argument may be outdated.

A Breakout Year for Black Film? Not Quite.

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • June 3, 2013 9:23 AM
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  • 7 Comments
After chronicling the struggles of black independent filmmakers to get their movies made recently, in stories for Filmmaker Magazine and this blog, I was surprised to read New York Times reporter Michael Cieply's overly upbeat take on what he calls a "substantial new wave" of African American themed films, which seems to me like an irresponsible and overly rosy characterization of the number of black films in the U.S. marketplace.

5 Reasons Indies are Better than Hollywood Films

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • May 31, 2013 2:20 PM
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  • 4 Comments
Thanks again to the Internet Archive's WayBack Machine, I am reposting an old story that remains just as relevant today: the first of what was to be a series of articles called "5 Reasons Indie Films Are Better than Hollywood Film" (which had evaporated along with its now defunct home, FilmCatcher.com). Published in 2007, some of the examples may seem a little out-dated (do people still remember Maggie Gyllenhaal's debut?) but the sentiment still remains powerfully relevant. My first reason is below. Since reasons 2-5 were never written, I'm taking suggestions in the comments section. Herewith, the first reason:

"American Arab": Racism in the Post-9/11 Age

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • May 31, 2013 10:21 AM
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  • 0 Comments
From documentary powerhouse Kartemquin Films comes the news that Usama Alshaibi's new documentary "American Arab" is nearing completion, readying for festival screenings in late 2013 and 2014, which could mean a Toronto premiere or a fall regional fest appearance. I got to know Alshaibi's work when I profiled him for the Creative Capital Foundation a few years back. His 2006 doc "Nice Bombs" offered a refreshing new perspective on Iraq War, allowing Westerners to sympathize with an Arab perspective in a much deeper way. "American Arab" promises to do the same.

Against the Future of Film-Viewing: There is No Such Thing as Small Movies

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • May 30, 2013 12:59 PM
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  • 0 Comments
Thanks to Web.Archive.org's Wayback Machine, here is an article that never goes out of style, as indie filmmakers continue to seek online and other digital distribution avenues to release their movies: "Against the Future of Cinema: There is No Such Thing as Small Movies," originally published in 2008 at FilmCatcher.com.

Where are the second films from the directors of "Pariah" and "Medicine for Melancholy"?

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • May 30, 2013 9:34 AM
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  • 3 Comments
hey are among the most lauded young filmmakers to come out of the independent movie scene, but Dee Rees, the director of "Pariah" (2011) and Barry Jenkins, who made "Medicine for Melancholy" (2008), have not made follow-up features. Why? The reasons are numerous--with even institutional racism a possibility--and while the two have multiple projects in development, the fact is: No second feature.

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