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Too Many Movies; Too Few Screens: An Indie Pain in the Ass

by Anthony Kaufman
August 28, 2007 10:45 AM
3 Comments
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My return to the Village Voice's pages this week (for an article titled "Cutthroat Competition for Indie-Distributors") comes with some ambivalence: Just last week, Village Voice Media fired one of the few remaining Voice film critics who are actually true cinephiles with both the knowledge and political acumen that we once associated with the Voice's pages: City Pages' Rob Nelson (who like many of those fired at the Voice was an award-winning writer; I believe you can still read his work at Mother Jones).

Anyway, it's a shame, and I felt like it had to be addressed, considering how much I've lambasted the New Voice ever since it was purchased, and this just continues the negative trend.

But we struggling freelancers need to eat, especially those with budding families, so I've taken the gig and hope to bring some politics back to the Voice, if at least one little article at a time. For now, there's this New York exhibition/distribution story, which I think is pretty fair to the specific parties involved (namely IFC Center and the Film Forum). If there are those who don't agree with the article's tenets (or my return to the Voice), please take it up with me here or via email.

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3 Comments

  • Thom Powers | August 29, 2007 5:10 AMReply

    I'm a biased observer since the IFC Center has been the home to my Stranger Than Fiction series for four seasons (returning Sept 25). But this article feels like a lot of smoke without much fire. IFC First Take will have hits and misses like any distributor. And judging the films they're bringing to TIFF, that ratio seems to be improving dramatically. As a filmgoer, the presence of the IFC Center feels like a total net gain.

  • Doug Block | August 29, 2007 4:29 AMReply

    Ditto what Matt said. Look forward to more of your smart analysis in print, even in the devil's own.

    I'd add one vastly overlooked theater to your list of viable NYC indie venues, the Cinema Village. With 3 theaters of varying sizes, 2 of which with terrific video projection, it allows for word-of-mouth to build by giving films a chance to move over to the smaller theater rather than getting bumped. 51 Birch Street wound up playing there for 9 weeks, the last 4 without any ad support whatsoever, because of that flexibility.

    The unspoken culprit in this discussion is, ironically, also the filmmakers godsend - digital video. With all these films being made, it's tougher and tougher to stand out once you open theatrically no matter how well it's done on the festival circuit. Proof in point: check out the NY Times last Friday and you'll have seen close to 10 reviews reduced to microscopic capsules by no-name stringers (apologies to Matt Zoller Seitz who's actually a terrific critic).

  • Dentler | August 28, 2007 11:26 AMReply

    nice article, look forward to more at the Voice.

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