Movie Magazine International

Indies Rock

Special Report By Monica Sullivan

There are few things that drive sheer terror into my bones as much film festivals. There. Having admitted that publicly, I'll probably have nightmares for a week. Even so, film festivals are absolutely crucial to film diversity as we know it today. Where else can we see movies that haven't been dumped into a demographic blender ensuring that every rough edge has been crushed to a pulp? Where would Hilary Swank's career be without indies? Or Spike Lee's? Or Jane Campion's? Or John Cassavetes'? Or Julie Dash's? Or Oscar Micheaux's? If the eyes and ears and voices of emerging filmmakers who see the world as no one else does have no format in which to share the truth as they see it, we all would lose.

In its 77 year history, Time Magazine has never been richer or more smug. On page 20 of the February 7, 2000 issue, Time columnist Joel Stein whines about how he solicited the assignment to cover the Sundance Film Festival and then, without discussing a single film, slides into the role of the party trasher: "Indie means rich kids who spend their parent's money...sure a few talented directors made edgy films...but the vast majority...suck." As opposed to the films made by Time Warner which never suck...As opposed to the talented directors who go through traditional channels & become industry buzz opposed to simpering columnists who toe the line with the Time philosophy that "Time knows what it knows." And Heaven help what Time doesn't know: It's doomed to mainstream obscurity until it makes megabucks and Time is forced to notice it and even put it on the cover, as it did with "The Blair Witch Project." If ITS filmmakers had gone through channels, Time might have got around to them with a ten-word obit in the mid-2lst century. But let them sell $220 million worth of tickets, & Time HAS to put them on the cover. Because its directors are so talented and "Blair" doesn't suck? Nope. Let me say the magic words again: $220 million. For Stein to attack the incomes of indie filmmakers when he's scrounging for a free pass to Sundance from one of the biggest corporations on the planet, sounds like what it is: Sour Grapes. Or maybe he's just miserable because Time writer Jay Cocks gets to make movies with Martin Scorsese & he doesn't. Tough. If you don't like the game, Baby you can always go to another table. But I suspect that Joel Stein would cry like a baby there, too.

© 2000 - Monica Sullivan - Air Date: 2/2/00

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