Friday Links: Fests, Blogs, Downfall, and More

Feeling a bit out of the loop because of the end of the semester, but here are some of the things I’ve been reading an watching over the last few days:

  • David Bordwell draws from his experience at this year’s Ebertfest in order to make a case for “repertory film festivals.”  Repertory theaters, for the uninitiated, are those that would revive classic films, in many cases offering themed film series (Hitchcock films, film noir, French New Wave, etc).  In addition to reminding me of how much I enjoyed my limited experience at Ebertfest (and making me wish I could get back there at some point soon), Bordwell makes a strong case for how screenings of classical films, such as Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now Redux, can serve as a valuable (and sometimes profitable) means for fostering the preservation of film history and for reminding audiences of how viewing well-crafted films can be an “event.”
  • On a related note Saskia Wilson-Brown discusses the changing role of film festivals in the new indie film economy.  Wilson-Brown emphasizes the need for fests to develop alternative (online) distribution strategies, such as the Sundance and Tribeca deals.  She also encourages festivals to offer open-access panels that help to educate filmmakers and audiences about making and distributing their movies.
  • The New York Times offers an account of a “rebuilding” independent film industry, one characterized by tinier budgets for both production and marketing.  Of special interest to my mind is the discussion of the role of video on demand (VOD) not necessarily to drive profits but to encourage sales of the film in other media and formats.
  • Farhad Manjoo asks whether Blockbuster Video can survive.  The answer for now: maybe, especially if Blockbuster can capitalize on its advantage of having DVDs 28 days prior to Redbox and, in some cases, Netflix.  I’m a little skeptical, especially given that the launch of a new DVD or video seems less like an event than it did just a few years ago.  In The Business of Media Distribution, Jeffrey C. Ulin briefly describes how studios were successful in building cultures of anticipation around the release of new movies in video stores and retail outlets.  But in our “post-retail” moment of ubiquitous access, the initial release date seems like less of an issue (especially when you can pay a dollar for the same movie just a few weeks later).
  • Tama Leaver links to a Rocketboom/Know Your Meme public service announcement that addresses the recent copyright claims that have led to a large number of “Downfall Meme” parodies being taken down from the web.  What’s especially cool is that the video offers a clear step-by-step process on how to contest the copyright claim in order to have your video restored.  A very smart, funny, and helpful video.
  • The Hollywood Reporter has a great discussion of how the World Cup is wreaking havoc with the summer movie schedule, especially in Europe.  The end result: many movies, including Iron Man II, will debut overseas several days before they play widely in the US.
  • Finally, Todd McCarthy, former Variety critic, has launched his new indieWire blog, adding to their impressive collection of writers and critics.

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