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ReelPolitik

Why Monopolies Are Bad: Withoutabox's Film Fest Stranglehold

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • May 3, 2012 3:54 PM
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  • 6 Comments
No one likes a monopoly. Even an anti-capitalist like me knows that a lack of competition leads to higher prices as well as less freedom and innovation for everyone in the marketplace. That's why the story of Withoutabox, the film festival submission system that is the undisputed standard for the indie film industry, caught my attention, and why I've reported on the company for this Indiewire story, "Why Withoutabox Has 400,000 Indie Filmmakers, 1,000 Film Festivals -- and Frustrated Customers."

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).

Is "The Hunger Games" Anti-Capitalist Cinema for the 99%? Or Anti-Gov't Agit-Prop?

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • March 16, 2012 9:58 AM
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  • 4 Comments
While I'm loathe to promote a pop cultural event such as "The Hunger Games," it'll be interesting to see where the culture wars take positions on the new teen fantasy franchise, which according to early reviews, is going to be seen by lots and lots and lots of people. I'm not familiar with the books, and my only interest in the film is its politics, not its entertainment value, but the very premise suggests an attack on much of what our infantile culture worships: reality TV, celebrity, fame and material wealth. And sure, this baby is all about making money for studio Lionsgate and the other investors in the film, but I do believe it is possible--though rare--for a corporate film to have its capitalistic cake and choke on it, too. See "V For Vendetta" or "FIght Club."

Indie Theaters Left in the Dark by 3-D Boom

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • January 11, 2012 9:40 AM
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  • 0 Comments
With the releases of 3D documentaries "Cave of Forgotten Dreams" and "Pina," and an increasing number of auteurs considering the format, the question inevitably arises: Can arthouse theaters accomodate the expensive new digital projectors, and if they can't, will they be further left in the dark as the industry propels forward? There's a story in Variety today (behind the paywall) that addresses this issue, which I think is a worthy one to explore. Shouldn't independent theaters be able to benefit from higher ticket prices and a new wave of 3D art projects?

When Movie Outlets Become TV Networks, Indie Filmmakers Lose Out

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • December 14, 2011 12:25 PM
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  • 1 Comment
In September, I wrote an article for Indiewire about how Netflix was shutting out smaller independent films from its service, abandoning its indie roots in order to become an even bigger media player. "Is Netflix cutting off its long tail," I also asked on this blog. I consider the story one of my most important reported pieces this year, and its 37 comments suggest it touched a nerve. Since that time, Netflix has only gone further astray, with a further push into original programming arguably at the expense of the wide variety of indie films that one drove a large part of its business. And the company isn't alone.

Michael Moore: "How Capitalism is Killing the Movies"

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • December 14, 2011 9:47 AM
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  • 1 Comment
Last night, Michael Moore went on a Twitter spree, disparaging mainstream exhibitors for ruining the moviegoing experience with poor quality projection. "Has anyone else but me noticed that movies projected in theaters these days appear darker on the screen than usual?" he asked, posing a series of rhetorical questions and taunts to his nearly 1 million followers. "Have all these digital projectors wrecked the movie-going experience? Are they using the cheaper lamps to save $$?"

UPDATED: Is San Francisco's Castro Theatre Finished as a Movie Venue? Not So Fast?

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • December 9, 2011 9:42 AM
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  • 4 Comments
Earlier this week, it was reported the famous Castro Theatre, long a cinematic home for the queer community, art-house gems and one of San Francisco's classic movie palaces (built in 1922), was finished as a movie theatre, according to the blog, the Petrelis Files. Many staffers were fired, it was suggested, and next year, it would no longer regularly book films. But according to a new report at BayCitizen.org, the Castro isn't fading to black. Or is it?

Boycott Cinemark? Theater Chain Blocks "Shame"

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • December 1, 2011 3:57 PM
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  • 21 Comments
Cinemark, the nation's third largest theater chain, is crippled by an old-fashioned conservative ideology that doesn't seem fitting with its function to screen the seventh art. According to the Los Angeles Times, Cinemark won't be booking Steve McQueen's blistering new film "Shame," because it has an NC-17 rating.

The Perils of VOD, or Why "Melancholia" Should Be Seen on the Big Screen

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • November 30, 2011 12:54 PM
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  • 4 Comments
There are compelling reasons why VOD is a great new weapon in the arsenal of indie filmmakers and distributors. As recounted in a solid new reported piece at The Wrap/Reuters, "the indie film industry has found a life preserver" in day-and date theatrical and video-on-demand simultaneous releases. But I can't help try to pop a hole in the preserver--or at least let out some of its air--because, come on, aren't movies better when seen on the big screen? The article cites recent successes, such as "Margin Call," which is expected to double its $4 million domestic box office through on-demand rentals, and Lars von Trier's "Melancholia," which the story reports is on pace to gross $2 million via VOD.

Are Big Marketing Pushes A Good Model for Arthouse film?

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • November 14, 2011 2:00 PM
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  • 1 Comment
Are aggressive film distributors like Relativity, FilmDistrict, Fox Searchlight and others doing a disservice to independent films, making them seem bigger than they are in promotional materials, or are they indie filmmakers' most valuable supporters, helping small films compete in an increasingly competitive marketplace?

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