Monday, January 20, 2014

My Answer to the Latest Criticwire Survey: Independent Film

Q: The Sundance Film Festival played a key role in popularizing the notion of American independent film, but with the festival celebrating its 30th year and the landscape more fractured then ever, does "Independent Film" still mean anything?

I really don’t know what “Independent Film” means at this point – and I don’t think too many other people do either. Just look at the so called “Independent Spirit Awards” this year for a good example of what the term means or doesn’t mean at this point. Their list largely looks like the Oscar list in many cases. Yet, there are still “Independent” films being made aren’t there? My second favorite of 2013 – Shane Carruth’s Upstream Color certainly qualifies doesn’t it – he wrote, directed, shot, edited, scored, acted in, promoted and released the film himself as almost a one man band. And I know there is a lot of work being done on an even smaller scale than that – most of which I never hear about, and neither do most people. Perhaps that changes in the coming years - the means of production have never been cheaper, and there are avenues to get your films seen by audiences that do not require film festivals or even theaters, aren't there?

Does it really matter though? Does it matter if Inside Llewyn Davis, Nebraska or Her are “Independent” are not? Isn’t it the quality that matters? To be honest, I don’t spend much time thinking about it. I try to see the films I think will be good, regardless of what label we put on them.

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