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Billy Gil graduated from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism and has worked for People and Daily Variety. He is the editor of the Pipeline section and IndieFile, both of which highlight independent films on DVD. For IndieFile tips and inquiries, email bgil@questex.com. For inclusion on IndieFile's Feedroom channel, contact Renee Rosado (rrosado@questex.com). Follow IndieFile on Twitter, at Twitter.com/IndieFile.


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18 Aug, 2009

Docurama Reveals ‘Secrecy’


Street Date: 9/29
Prebook Date: 8/ 25
Studio: Docurama
Price/Format: $26.95 DVD
Reserve on Amazon
Reserve on Netflix

Docurama will release on DVD a film about government secrecy called, well, Secrecy. It uses interviews with former CIA agents as well as everyday folk who’ve been affected by secret government programs. There’s also some animation and installations involved. It premiered on Sundance channel already, so some may be familiar with it already. Judging by the description and Docurama’s reputation, it sounds fascinating.

Secrecy trailer can be viewed here, on the official film site.
 

By: Billy Gil


17 Aug, 2009

Spike Lee Joint Sets Off ‘Sundance Selects’


Thank you, Robert Redford. Rainbow Media, which bought Sundance Channel last year, is starting Sundance Selects Aug. 26 to offer Sundance favorites on demand, bowing with Spike Lee’s Passing Strange The Movie, which is based on a musical developed through Sundance and premiered at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival. Comcast, Cox and Cablevision are among the cable companies offering Sundance Selects, which is offering one film a month at first, and two films a month later on.

Future films offered that premiered at Sundance will include Alexis Dos Santos’s Unmade Beds (Sept. 9); Academy Award-winner Adam Elliot’s animated Mary and Max, which opened the festival (Oct. 14); and Chris Wiatt’s documentary A Complete History of My Sexual Failures (January 2010). Other films include two more documentaries: Kief Davidson’s Kassim the Dream, which premiered at the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival (Nov. 4), and Tom Thurman’s Nick Nolte: No Exit (Dec. 16).

“The hallmark of the Sundance brand is creating an environment of discovery, for both artists and for audiences,” Redford said. “Sundance nurtures new, independent voices in the creative realm, and is committed to bringing their work to larger audiences in new ways. Sundance Selects is a perfect complement to this mission and I am really energized about working with Sundance Channel and Rainbow Media on this new venture.” 

Lee had this to say: “It makes sense that Passing Strange The Movie will launch Sundance Selects, as Stew and Heidi Rodewald, the original musical’s co-creators, developed the project at the Sundance Theater Lab and Director Lab.  I’m pleased to work once again with Robert Redford, and with the Sundance Channel, on the launch of this new service.”

Folk like me without the funds to fork over for premium cable are lovin’ it like McDonald’s. This is probably the coolest thing Robert Redford has done since Indecent Proposal.

By: Billy Gil


17 Aug, 2009

Sony Slates William Castle, Samuel Fuller Collections


Sony Pictures Home Entertainment is giving cult-film fans two reasons to celebrate, come October.

Ballyhoo master William Castle gets the boxed-set treatment Oct. 20 will The William Castle Film Collection. The $80.95 set includes new-to-DVD films The Tingler (1959), 13 Ghosts (1960), Homicidal (1961), Mr. Sardonicus (1961) and Strait-Jacket (1964), along with previously released Zotz! (1962), The Old Dark House (1963) and 13 Frightened Girls (1963). 

Meanwhile influential director Samuel Fuller, who is said to have helped inspire the likes of Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino and Jim Jarmusch, will have his films released in The Collector’s Choice: Samuel Fuller Film Collection at $79.95.  It’s the third release under the partnership between SPHE and Scorsese’s The Film Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to film preservation. DVD debuts in the set include It Happened in Hollywood (1937), Adventure in Sahara (1938), Power of the Press (1943), Shockproof (1949), Scandal Sheet (1952), The Crimson Kimono (1959), and Underworld U.S.A. (1961). Special features include “Martin Scorsese on Underworld U.S.A,” “Curtis Hanson: The Culture of The Crimson Kimono,” and “Sam Fuller's Search for Truth with Tim Robbins” and “Sam Fuller Storyteller.”

By: Billy Gil


17 Aug, 2009

First Run Celebrates 30 Years With Film Screenings


The Film Society of Lincoln Center gives a tip of the hat to venerable indie First Run Features and its president, Seymour Wishman, celebrating the distributor’s 30th anniversary with the film series “Keeping the Independent Flame: 30 Years of First Run Features.” Nineteen films will screen between Aug. 26 and Sept. 4 at The Walter Reade Theater in New York.

Films screened will include Before Stonewall, the “Up” films, films from French director Claude Chabrol and documentaries from Ross McElwee. Filmmakers present will include Oren Rudavsky and Menachem Daum (A Life Apart); John Scagliotti, Greta Schiller and Andrea Weiss (Before Stonewall); Radley Metzger (The Cat and the Canary); Farhad Zamani (Googoosh: Iran’s Daughter); Godfrey Cheshire (Moving Midway), and Manny Kirchheimer (We Were So Beloved). 

Check out the schedule and buy tickets here.
 

By: Billy Gil


13 Aug, 2009

Metromix Picks Best Movies of 2009 So Far

<i>Sugar</i>
<i>Sugar</i>

Culture and entertainment guide Metromix has picked its favorite movies of 2009 so far. Several indies and Star Trek (out on DVD/Blu-ray Nov. 17 from Paramount) made the list. My favorite film this year, Up, didn’t make the list; they instead picked Coraline (available now from Universal). Indies on the list coming to home video soon include Sugar (out Sept. 1 from Sony Pictures, reserve on Amazon and Netflix), Tulpan (out Sept. 22 from Zeitgiest, reserve on Amazon and Netflix), and Anvil! The Story of Anvil (out Oct. 6 from MVD, reserve on Amazon and Netflix),  Did your picks make the list? Check it out.

By: Billy Gil


13 Aug, 2009

Retro Dance Class Could Spawn DVD

A friend just sent me this from the New York Times: A dance class here in Los Angeles (well, Silver Lake, more specifically) in which participants don Lycra, legwarmers and headbands and dance to ’80s, electro and indie tunes may end up as a DVD.  Hey, sickly hipsters need to maintain their svelte physiques, too.

The class, Sweaty Sundays, is taught by choreographer/dancer/designer Ryan Heffington and takes place at Foresight Studios every Sunday around 11:40 a.m. The class attracts the likes of artists, photographers and others who need every last part of their lifestyle to be a “thing.” This reminds me a little of the Never Mind Aerobics Here's Punk Rope DVD E1 Entertainment recently released.

Don’t laugh: Fitness titles are one of the cornerstones of this industry. And I’m glad it’s coming out on DVD — with only 50 slots a class, it’s doubtful most of us in the area will ever snap on the spandex and get a chance to show our stuff.

Read the story (and see pictures) here.

By: Billy Gil


12 Aug, 2009

Factory 25’s Upcoming Music DVDs

New film and music label Factory 25 is something to celebrate — their inaugural lineup includes DVD and vinyl (!) combo packs tailor-made for the hipster (and aging hipster) set.

First up: Sept. 29 brings Frownland on DVD at $24.95 (reserve on Netflix and Amazon). The film about a socially awkward door-to-door salesman from director Ronald Bronstein is dark, manic and steadfastly independent. Apparently this movie really pisses off some people and others really love it, which usually means you should see it for yourself. The limited edition LP/DVD is listed at $34.98 and includes the soundtrack, as well as a comic book, film poster and DVD features such as deleted scenes. This trailer has French subtitles, so you can learn/practice a little French while you’re at it:

Also coming Sept. 29 is Damon & Naomi’s 1001 Nights (DVD $24.97, reserve on Amazon; LP/DVD $34.98). I haven’t really listened to Damon & Naomi, but I should since I love Galaxie 500 and Damon Krukowski and Naomi Yang are from that band. Also this anthology of videos and live performances from 2001-2009 includes a rare live performance of Galaxie 500’s “Blue Thunder” — yummy. Here’s a nice performance available on the DVD:

Oct. 27 releases You Weren’t There: A History of Chicago Punk 1977-1984 (DVD $24.95, LP/DVD $34.98, reserve the DVD on Amazon); High School Record, starring members of Los Angeles noisy people No Age and Mika Miko, in a film about awkward teens playing guitar and trying to have sex in the science room (DVD $24.95, reserve on Amazon); and All The Way From Michigan Not Mars, with folk stars Rosie Thomas and Sufjan Stevens (DVD $24.95, LP/DVD $34.98, reserve the DVD on Amazon).

YOU WEREN’T THERE

HIGH SCHOOL RECORD (beware, lots of swearing)

Cute Cover of R.E.M.’s “The One I Love” with Rosie/Sufjan

By: Billy Gil


11 Aug, 2009

Warner’s Indie Digital Expansion is Encouraging

<i>Wendy & Lucy</i>
<i>Wendy & Lucy</i>

Studios expansion into the digital realm doesn’t exactly always register on my radar. Personally, I don’t see second-run, second-tier titles being offered every which way as exactly forward-thinking. So Warner’s recent steps to offer well-made, decently publicized independent films, from other companies, digitally, is quite exciting to me. The studio does well by consumers by partnering with Adam Yauch’s Oscilloscope Laboratories to offer excellent films such as Wendy & Lucy and The Garden, along with other goodies like the documentaries Crips and Bloods: Made in America and Valentino: The Last Emperor that wouldn’t otherwise get as much exposure. I’m not sure what Warner gets from something like this. My guess is not much. It might just be an experiment, but its one I think works for film fans because the focus seems to be on offering quality films from various distributors, rather than shoving subpar titles into whichever delivery method possible. Read the story here, and check out www.warnerbros.com for more information.

By: Billy Gil


11 Aug, 2009

Wolfe Acquires Four Film Fest Titles

<i>Hollywood je t’aime</i>
<i>Hollywood je t’aime</i>

Wolfe Releasing keeps the gay/lesbian film pipeline going with four new acquisitions that sound a bit like gay versions of existing films.

Mr. Right is directed by Jacqui and David Morris and sounds like a gay, British “Sex & the City” (I think that’s the second time I’ve described something that way this week) with four couples: a soap star and an ex-rugby player; a reality TV producer and a struggling actor; a studly model and a sugar daddy artist’ and a girl whose boyfriend seems all-too-comfortable around his gay friends. Stereotypey much? Maybe, but I’m guessing many will read “rugby player” and sign on anyway.

Hollywood je t’aime is directed by Jason Bushman and is about a young gay Parisian who impulsively books a trip to Los Angeles (sounds a bit like a gay version of Kate Winslet/Cameron Diaz in The Holiday). The film was a Dramatic Competition film at the Los Angeles Film Festival and was acquired after it screened at Outfest.



And Then Came Lola is a lesbian romp directed by Ellen Seidler and Megan Siler. It’s inspired by Run Lola, Run: A talented, busy photographer could lose it all — her job, her girlfriend — if she doesn’t make a meeting; she has three chances.


Boy, directed by award winning Auraeus Solito, sounds like the most original of the bunch: A teenage sells his comic book collection to be with a rent boy he falls for. It was recently banned by Singapore censors for “romanticizing” gay sex, and is part of what is called the “Filipino macho dancer” genre. The film sold out festival screenings in San Francisco, Philadelphia and Los Angeles.

Wolfe Video will eventually release the films on DVD simultaneously with VOD.
 

By: Billy Gil


11 Aug, 2009

IFC Films Continue to Screen On Demand This Summer

<i>Five Minutes of Heaven</i>
<i>Five Minutes of Heaven</i>

Independent film fans: Are you sad the recession has left you without the means to travel to your favorite film festival? IFC continues to make it easy to hold film-festival screenings in your living room, provided you subscribe to a major cable provider. Providers such as BrightHouse, Cablevision, Charter, Comcast, Cox, Insight and Time Warner are among the participants, with Comcast and Cablevision showing films in high-definition.

The IFC in Theaters VOD platform offers critically acclaimed independent movies on demand at the same time they premiere theatrically. Movies this month include Five Minutes of Heaven, from Sundance (starts Aug. 19 on demand, in theaters Aug. 21), starring Liam Neeson in a thriller about a reformed killer in Northern Ireland who meets the father of his victim on a TV show (watch the trailer here: http://www.ifcfilms.com/videos/five-minutes-of-heaven-trailer); and Still Walking, from the Toronto Film Festival (starts Aug. 26 on demand, in theaters Aug. 28), a family drama from director Kore-Eda Hirokazu (After Life, Nobody Knows) (trailer: http://movies.nytimes.com/movie/453472/Still-Walking/trailers).
 
IFC Festival Direct is an electronic film festival, meaning that on-demand viewers get to see up to six films that have recently premiered at major film festivals. New films this month include Someone Else (now playing), a British romantic comedy from the Edinburgh Film Festival about a man torn between his safe girlfriend and a crazy, sexy crush (see the trailer here: http://www.ifcfilms.com/videos/someone-else-2); The Undeserved (starts Aug. 12), a psychological drama from the Mill Valley Film Festival about a quaint New England college town loaded with secrets; Cass (starts Aug. 5), a crime drama inspired by the true story of a boy who grows up to become a British crime boss (see the trailer here: http://www.ifcfilms.com/videos/cass-2); and Quiet Little Marriage (starts Aug. 19), from the AFI Film Festival and Slamdance, about the travails of young matrimony.
 
IFC Midnight collects new action, horror, sci-fi and genre independent films. New films include I Sell the Dead (starts Aug. 12), from Slamdance and the LAFF, about two bumbling grave robbers dealing with the undead, starring Dominic Monaghan, Ron Perlman and Larry Fessenden (see the trailer here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=psfPNVTZjzc).
 
Here’s where the films are available:

·       BrightHouse: Movies on Demand > IFC In Theaters

·       Cablevision: Movies On Demand > Independent Films > IFC In Theaters or Festival Direct

·       Charter (IFC IN THEATERS ONLY): Movies On Demand > Channel 1 > Movies > IFC In Theaters

·       Comcast (IFC IN THEATERS): Channel 1 > Movies & Events > Same Day as Theaters

·       Comcast (IFC FESTIVAL DIRECT): Channel 1 > Movies & Events > IFC In Theaters or IFC Festival Direct

·       Cox: Channel 1 > Movies On Demand > IFC In Theaters

·       Insight (IFC IN THEATERS ONLY): Channel 1 > Movies On Demand > IFC In Theaters

·       Time Warner: Movies On Demand > IFC In Theaters
 

By: Billy Gil