January 2009

10 Filmmakers to Watch In 2009

The Independent's list of 10 filmmakers to keep an eye out for in 2009.


A still from Joquin Baldwin's animated short, "Sebastian's Voodoo", nominated for a 2008 Annie Award.

Even the great directors had to make their start somewhere, and that meant working on short films, applying for grants and filming out of their own pocket all to gain recognition in the film community. This month, The Independent acknowledges 10 filmmakers who have stood out among the crowd. Compiled from a list of suggestions made by critics, peers and organizations, these filmmakers all have projects coming out in 2009 and represent everything from animated shorts to feature-length narratives.

From first-time directors to Fulbright Scholars and Oscar nominees these filmmakers should not be missed in 2009. With a flood of suggestions from peers, film scholars, critics and organizations such as the Sundance Institute and the Alliance of Women Film Journalists, The Independent has compiled a list of "10 filmmakers to watch" with films slated for a 2009 release.

The View From the Red Carpet: An Interview with Oscar-Winner Ari Sandel

Independent filmmaker, Ari Sandel, talks about the night he found himself walking the red carpet and the projects he's been working on since then.


Ari Sandel, picking up his Oscar for his short film, "West Bank Story," in 2006.

Ari Sandel, director of West Bank Story (view the trailer here), shares with Independent writer John McMahon, the path that led an independent filmmaker to walk the red carpet at the 78th Annual Academy Awards, where he won the Oscar for Best Short Film, Live Action. He talks about the projects he's taken on since then, including feature-length documentary Vince Vaughn’s Wild West Comedy Show and the script Brad Cutter Ruined My Life…Again which will be a film through Fox Atomic.

Ari Sandel was nervous and excited when he arrived at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood on the evening of March 5th, 2006 for the 78th Academy Awards that, for a moment, he forgot to breathe.

2009 Oscar Preview: The Shortlist

A look at the fifteen documentaries chosen for the 81st annual Oscar shortlist.


A still from Carl Deal and Tia Lessin's "Trouble the Water," which made the Oscar documentary shortlist.

OK, so the Academy Awards don't exactly scream "independent." Nonetheless, independent filmmakers have a place at this red carpet event and, this year, the Oscar's documentary shortlist includes several independent films both from well-established directors and up-and-coming names. Selections include Werner Herzog's Encounters at the End of the World (view trailer here) and Ellen Kuras's The Betrayal (Nerakhoon) (view the trailer here).

After three-quarters of a century of recognizing excellence in cinema achievement, the Oscar Awards presented annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, needs little introduction.

2008 Awards Roundup for Independent Film

A overview of the nominees and winners of some of independent film's most prestigious awards.


A still from Werner Herzog's "Encounters at the End of the World" nominated for a Gotham Independent Film Award.

A one-stop update on independent film awards for 2008, including a roundup of winners from the Gotham Independent Film Awards, The Alliance of Women Film Journalists: The EDM Awards, Film Independent's Spirit Awards and a list of the nominees for The Cinema Eye Awards. Some standout films among the list include Courtney Hunt's Frozen River (view trailer here) and Carl Deal and Tia Lessin's Trouble the Water (view trailer here).

Each winter as the calendar prepares to turn a new year, the independent film community takes stock. From the vast array of new and established film festivals and theatrical releases large and small, 2008 was a vibrant year in independent film. There is much to celebrate this New Year as the much-anticipated awards season has already kicked off.

The Doc Doctor's Anatomy of a Film: "Twelve Disciples of Nelson Mandela"

The Doc Doctor profiles the making of Thomas Allen Harris's latest documentary, "Twelve Disciples of Nelson Mandela."


The subjects of Thomas Allen Harris's documentary, "Twelve Disciples of Nelson Mandela."

This month, Doc Doctor Fernanda Rossi, breaks down the making of Thomas Allen Harris's latest documentary, Twelve Disciples of Nelson Mandela (view the trailer here), which explores Harris's journey to South Africa to confront the death of his stepfather who, with his eleven comrades, spoke out against the apartheid system and helped raise support for Nelson Mandela in the 1960s.

About this column: Many filmmakers ponder in anguish, How do other people—celebrated people—do it? Am I taking too long to make this documentary? Does everybody spend as much money as I am spending, or am I spending too little? And when filmmakers share their lessons learned in interviews in the glossy trade magazines, their tales seem to follow the arc of otherworldy heroes rather than real documentary makers, i.e. human beings like you and me. So each month, the Doc Doctor will go out into the world (this real world) of filmmakers who are successful and find out how they made it. The "Anatomy of a Film Column" is a chance to learn from filmmakers' hits and misses in real life examples. —Fernanda Rossi, story consultant a.k.a. the Documentary Doctor

Making the Decision to Re-Release

Carolyn Strachan discusses re-releasing her 1981 documentary, "Two Laws," on DVD.


Strachan (left) listens to one of the many "directors" of "Two Laws."

After 26 years on 16mm, a groundbreaking documentary becomes available on DVD. Filmmaker Carolyn Strachan recalls the making of Two Laws/Kanymardra Yuwa, about an Aboriginal land rights struggle, and how her ongoing desire to find an audience that appreciates its use of wide-angle lens and community-driven storytelling prompted the re-release.

In 1981, filmmakers Carolyn Strachan and Alessandro Cavadini received acclaim for Two Laws/Kanymardra Yuwa, a documentary about the struggle for Aboriginal groups from the Northern Territory to live within both their own and Australian law.

Sebastian's Voodoo