Netribution was set up at the end of 1999 by three friends to explore how the web could help independent filmmakers. The site had two main periods of activity:

  • 1999-2002: web 1 & dotcom crash. From the first issue on December 31st 1999, with the news of the AOL-Time Warner merger, Netribution was an extensive free resource of contacts, statistics, festivals, links, classifieds and funding info, alongside a weekly magazine that ran for 100 issues, with a combination of news, big name interviewsguides, essays, new talent profiles and comedy blogs. Edited by Tom Fogg and Nic Wistreich, and running against the first dotcom crash, the pure html 3,000+ page site never made a penny and stopped updating at the start of 2002 when poverty finally triumphed.
  • 2006 - 2010: web 2.0 & web video. Following a successful stint helping Shooting People relaunch as a paid-subscription service and the sell-out publication of a co-published funding book - and following a few false starts - Nic relaunched Netribution at the start of 2006 on an open-source CMS to let anyone contribute articles (artwork, right). Against the backdrop of the growth of social media and web video, the new site had dozens of articles being contributed each week from exclusive a-list interviews to popular essays. After the publication of the third edition of the film funding book, and with no revenue model for the site, increasingly dominated by PRs and link-farms, it began to wind-down to the occasional whisper of a blog it is today.

 

HUSH YOUR MOUTH Double Win

UK urban drama HUSH YOUR MOUTH was awarded top prizes at Festival Bragacine in Portugal. At the Augusta Awards 2010, HUSH YOUR MOUTH was awaded the Grand prize for BEST INTERNATIONAL FEATURE FILM and director TOM TYRWHITT won the award for BEST DIRECTOR.

This gritty micro-budget drama featuring a largely young cast of talented new-comers has been described by critics as "a seething, stylish and raw piece of cinema".

Discovering Latin America Film Festival will shine bright in London this month

From the 18th to the 28th of November the Discovering Latin America Film Festival (DLAFF) will reach its 9th edition exhibiting a compilation of the best recent film productions from Latin America. Award-winning films such as Argentine feature The Secret in Their Eyes (2009) and Costa Rican Cold water of the Sea (2010) will be exhibited in participating venues throughout Central London such as Odeon Covent Garden, Odeon Panton Street and Tate Modern.

The Discovering Latin America Film Festival (DLAFF) is the largest of its kind in the United Kingdom and for the ninth year promises to present the city of London with a wide variety of brilliant feature films and shorts, as well as exciting documentaries spanning the whole political spectrum, thrilling retrospectives, thought-provoking master-classes, enthralling discussions with film directors and many other events.

A chance to meet the ‘Argentine Woody Allen’ in person

One of this year’s star guests will be renowned Argentine director Daniel Burman, whose introspective style has often been compared to that of Woody Allen. Brother and Sister (2010), the most recent of Daniel’s films, will be featured in the fourth of the festival’s gala nights on Tuesday 23rd of November. Daniel will be present at the screenings to discuss his work and show his support for the Discovering Latin America Film Festival’s (DLAFF) cause.

Revenue from ticket sales will help a community project in San Salvador

Part proceeds from the 9th DLAFF ticket sales this year will benefit the Salvadorian Children’s Earthquake Trust (Salcet), a UK registered charity established in 2005 in response to the emergency and long term rehabilitation needs of children affected by earthquakes and other natural disasters in El Salvador and other vulnerable countries. The grant awarded to Salcet by Discovering Latin America (DLA) will be used to fund the construction of a sewage and drainage system for the San Carlos municipality, located in the northern outskirts of San Salvador.

Pepsi 'Max It' Film Competition

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  • £30,000 film production budget

  • Screening at the opening night of Raindance Film Festival 2011

  • VIP trip for 2 to Cannes Film Festival 2011

On Monday 15th November Pepsi Max launched the Pepsi ‘MAX IT’ Film Competition.  They are challenging film makers to create a short film and upload it to their website maxitlegends.com for the chance to win some amazing prizes.

All of the films will be viewed by the Pepsi ‘MAX IT’ judging panel which will include Elliot Grove the founder of Raindance Film Festival and the British Independent Film Awards.

The judge’s favourite film will win a £30,000 film production budget, a screening at the opening night of the Raindance Film Festival 2011 and a VIP trip for 2 to the Cannes Film Festival 2011.  The Judge’s shortlist of 10 films will all receive Premium Raindance Memberships.

Plus the 6 top rated films in the public vote at maxitlegends.com will win a Flip HD Camcorder.

What’s more Pepsi has teamed up with Netribution to offer a special prize!  The entry from Netribution which is ranked highest in the public vote on maxitlegends.com will win a £100 Amazon.co.uk gift certificate.  For the chance to win this Netribution exclusive prize just upload your video with Netribution in the description and get everyone you know to vote!

EIFF Submissions GO LIVE!

Submissions for the 65th Edinburgh International Film Festival, 15 - 26 June, have now opened.

Accepting films of all genres and lengths as longs as they are no older than 12 months and have not been screened in the UK before our festival in June.

Earlybird Deadline - Mon 13 December 2010

Regular Deadline - Mon 31 January 2011

Late Deadline - Mon 14 February 2011

For information on how to submit go to www.edfilmfest.org.uk/submissions

What Happened? Sandip Mahal on stereotypes in British TV

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For me television (and the 90’s) really started with Buddha of Suburbia, which had fully developed Indian characters that weren’t stereotypes to cringe at. Yes shopkeepers and arranged marriages were in there but it was done in a funny demented way that wasn’t patronising. I know there was My Beautiful Laundrette before it (from the same writer no less) but this was better. Add My Son the Fanatic which was years ahead of it’s time in terms of it’s subject matter, East is East (not my favourite but popular nonetheless) and then the ground breaking Goodness Gracious Me and after that…. Er that’s it.

We seem to have gone backwards again with Curry urchins on Eastenders, corner shop owners on Corrie (aka Currie?) and an ITV Call Centre comedy that seems to evoke Mind Your Language seeing as the latter had an LWT weekend slot. All this slow progress and progressive work has suddenly gone into reverse. Granted, we have Gurinder Chadha flying the flag but she is all alone out there and not much is being done to pan out the television schedules to reflect the diversity of the United Kingdom and when they do it’s with a resounding commercial and critical thump. I would estimate that we are 20 years behind American television we need to close the gap.

We need characters like the ones written for the screen by Hanif Kureishi rather than the caricatures in Eastenders and Coronation street. This can only be done by true talent spotting rather than diversity nights that the channels seem to be doing to ‘feel clean’.

Actors of colour like Dev Patel and Adrian Lester have already disappeared to America where characters are stronger, can we afford to lose more like them?

Special Edition # 44

We’ve just passed Halloween which means that it’s horror movie a-go-go as we have more remakes of classic scary movies (which, alongside the fact that Scream 4 has been announced, seems to indicate that the horror genre has run out of ideas entirely) and one film that is so disgusting that I think that I may not be able to eat for quite a while. Still, nothing’s as scary as George Osbourne. Special Edition # 44 has survived a cut in funding and I’m here to give a rundown of what to buy over the coming month. That’s assuming that you’ve got any money left.

Jackie Earle Haley gets pizza smeared all over his face (OK, I am sure that the make-up job is a bit more elaborate than that) as he takes on the iconic role of Freddy Kreuger in the remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street (Warner Brothers Home Entertainment). For those of you not familiar with Wes Craven’s 80s terrorfest, the film follows Krueger, a child molester turned evil demon, who is capable of killing people in their dreams. A group of teenagers must fight him whilst resisting the urge to succumb to sleep and enter the world in which Freddy has control. Whilst the film takes the character of Freddy back to his darker roots (losing the one-liners and bringing his background as a paedophile more to the fore) it all feels rather by the numbers and seems constrained by the history of the franchise even though it’s ostensibly a reboot. Hayley seems almost pantomime as Krueger whilst the young cast of victims do nothing to distinguish themselves from the usual cast of cannon fodder that horror films love to line up. Ultimately it’s another limp attempt at starting all over again. Why can’t people do something original...

 

Marwencol, The Arbor and Life in Day – Sheffield Doc/Fest draws to a close

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Sheffield Doc/Fest wound up on Sunday night after 5 full-on days. Capturing a flavour of the event overall did mean sacrificing time spent in screenings, but I caught two films up for a Special Jury Award; Clio Barnard’s The Arbor (premiered at London Film Festival in October) and Jeff Malmberg’s Marwencol (premiering in the UK at Sheffield).

Neither won, although Barnard’s film did get the Innovation Award also on offer. Being a fusion of doc and drama exploring the life of playwright Andrea Dunbar, it was fascinating and effective in its lip-synch acting device. But it didn’t have me seeping tears during the Q and A as Malmberg’s Marwencol did.

Every frame of this beautiful film locks you into the delicate, inspired and utterly novel world of its protagonist Mark Hogencamp, a man who was beaten so badly outside a bar in Kingston, New York state, the resulting brain damage largely knocked out memories of his life prior to the attack.

After scant rehabilitation – the reality of US health insurance - Mark builds a miniature Belgian town, ‘Marwencol’, which becomes the site of a WW2 fantasy-scape populated by Action Men and Barbies. He creates and photographs endless scenarios, including SS sieges and Barbie cat-fights in the local bar (called Hogencamp’s of course). The dolls here represent Mark and the people in his life, including his attorney and the married neighbour he has a crush on, Colleen, whose name he utters in sighs. Meanwhile, his mother is a James Bond Pussy Galore doll, and it is this suspension of reality and its simultaneous connection to the narrative of Mark’s new life that makes his story a fabulous balance of creativity as therapy and the sublimely cockeyed. This Action Man- scaled world isn’t surreal and it isn’t ironic; instead we’re witnessing play as a life-affirming force. And it is the compassion the film brings, with humour and a deep respect for Mark, resurfacing into the ‘real’ world disabled and managing PTSD, that tilts Marwencol into the realm of the rather special.

Rather than extraordinary lives, it is the very ordinary that director Kevin Macdonald is seeking for his Life in a Day project, inspired by the 1930s Mass Observation social research organisation. However, this time it’s the entire planet, not just Britain he’s hoping to get on board. As a crowd-sourced movie it confounded expectations around user-generated content on a couple of levels. A million dollars isn’t exactly budget documentary, but it was all needed. With footage from 197 countries, it turned out to be the Byzantine admin and huge translation costs which were the main budget-munchers.

And the quantities of everything involved are eye-watering: 81,000 video clips making up 4,500 hours of footage shot in 60 different frame rates. Tackling this were 24 ratings deciders who whittled down the work pain passed on to Macdonald. He saw a couple of hundred hours of footage (only the 4 or 5 star stuff) but Joe Walker, his editor, saw it all. It’s a web project all right, but not the hand-knitted, cottage industry endeavour You-tube - sponsored by LG to host the project - is normally used to.

They also concede content was pretty US-centric as that’s where they got most clips from. Even spending £45,000 on 470 cameras for poorer countries still didn’t get round the problem of people not conceptually getting the film-yourself narrative.

"Us westerners might think we’re endlessly fascinating, but not all cultures share the west’s capacity for online narcissism."

Sheffield Documentary Film Festival 2010: Joan Rivers, Kevin MacDonald + the MeetMarket

If you want to meet documentary filmmakers from around the globe, Sheffield Documentary Film Festival is the place to be. The 17th year of the event kicked off on Wednesday evening with the UK premier of Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work. Interviewed yesterday by the chair of the Festival, Steve Hewlett, Ms Rivers replied to the loaded question - ‘why did she make the film?’ – with the pithy, ‘because they asked me to’. La Rivers acknowledged herself she will grasp the opportunities for exposure whatever their form, and, as the subject of a documentary film, sanctioned the all-access  footage of her life now available for an audience.

If access to Joan Rivers was a key element of that film’s success, it is also one of the defining USPs of this Sheffield event. However, filmmakers are here for access , not to celebrities, but to the people who commission, distribute, fund, buy and sell documentaries. The Who’s Who session on day one was an opportunity to ‘meet’, in a panel formation, the people coming from around the globe (24 different countries) seeking documentary fodder to develop, co-produce or buy.

This event, lasting an hour and a half, was a fast-paced, minute-per-speaker intro to these Decision Makers, all available between 9am and 6pm over the course of the festival (which winds up on Sunday) for chats, pitches and ear-bending. Delegates were cutely but firmly warned no pitching or chasing of decision makers outside hours or in the loos. Each ‘turn ‘ succinctly  informed the crowd of what they did precisely and what they were looking for. Delegates were advised to do their homework and target their proposals to the appropriate person.

Beyond the stats of the £14million in sales negotiated at last year’s MeetMarket - where pre-selected projects are offered scheduled meetings with financiers and mentors - a reason to be at Sheffield if you’re not quite at the deal-cutting stage is the nature and feel of the event. Consensus (from a well-researched pool of two) was that Sheffield works for documentary filmmakers because of the culture it operates within: welcoming, casual, sociable. It’s easy to approach people, and the vibe is one of access and connection. Even one of the decision makers at the Who’s Who made a plea for a relaxed approach to pitching and project schedules. The implication is, even if deals are not cut here and right now, there’s still time. And as the Festival shifts to a June slot in 2011, it won’t be such a wait to update what may get off the ground here between the 3rd and 7th of November.

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