lux film prizeGiornate degli Autori - Venice Days

05 September, 2010

Independent American Cinema

Today's topic of our panel discussion was 'What has happened to independent American cinema'. We were joined by Paul Gordon, writer and director of the independently produced film The Happy Poet. We were also joined by Stephen Gaydos, producer and film critic.

Giorgio started, explaining how American cinema has changed, and there is no more real independent cinema. After a revival of American independent cinema in the mid 80's, it can now be argued that American independent filmmaking is dead, because there is no more money in it. In Europe, independent filmmaking is very much alive, thanks to governmental and public funding.

Then Stephen explained how in his opinion there is no real independent cinema or commercial cinema, because the boundaries have blurred and every film is essentially commercial. Of course every film is commercial, in a sense that every film costs (a lot of) money to make. But when we talk about art, we feel that there is an importance differentiating between films that are produced by studios and those that aren't. Independent and studio filmmaking differ slightly in their methods and therefore there is an importance acknowledging the context of the production. Also, independent filmmakers, like in Europe, have more freedom creating films. Paul Gordon explained how a filmmaker always needs to commercialize his film in a certain way to get it produced by a company, and that this is a problem he sometimes struggles with. For independent filmmakers, there is always a tension between commercial factors and individual freedom.

We feel that, besides commercial factors and individual freedom, there is a third factor that has to be taken into account: the ability to be critical. In a lot of European countries, independent filmmakers are the ones who are able to be critical of current society. This is a big and important responsibility for filmmakers. In Hollywood, this factor might be troubled by commercial factors. American Independent cinema is therefore very important, not only to be critical of society, but also of Hollywood itself.

Mirjam van der Veldt and Conall Ó Duibhir

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