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Independent's Day Movie Review

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When media rags pick up on the bright lights of any arena, they usually give three white guys three full-color pages plus a lot of words, and women and minorities get “The Best of the Rest” sidebars. I once watched a verrry depressing documentary about Sundance; it looked like the Boy Scouts. I know it isn't because Sundance helps both male and female filmmakers, but that was the thrust of the documentary. Independent's Day is Marina Zenovich's view of Sundance, but it's more about the carnival atmosphere that surrounds the annual festival, where Everyone is simultaneously a Somebody and a Nobody. Neil LaBute talks about people who ask if he gets paid, how much he gets paid, if his movie was successful, and if it was as successful as The Brothers McMullen. (Etiquette note: Please don't ask your Filmmaker Friends these harsh questions. I never hear THEM ask people how much they're making at THEIR day jobs.) Steven Soderbergh makes refreshing sense; he keeps his focus on what most interests him and he does the best he can no matter what budget he has. Zenovich interviews actors and directors on the run, all of whom are afflicted with varying degrees of festival fever: Too Much to See, Too Little Time, and Is That What's-His-Name Over There? There's the usual Art vs. Business blather, as well as chatter about whoever “THEY” are. Filmmakers do all the Right/Wrong things and then they Fail/Succeed. Independent's Day is either free-form or shapeless, bustling or claustrophobic, depending on your mood when you see it. For casual viewers only; if you really want to be an independent filmmaker, you won't have the time and/or energy and/or inclination to watch documentaries about how Other People make indies. Independent's Day played at San Francisco's Indie Fest in 1999.

1997 54m/C Neil LaBute, Steven Soderbergh, Kevin Smith, Sydney Pollack, Roger Ebert, Greg Mottola; D: Marina Zenovich; W: Marina Zenovich; C: Laurent Basset, Neil Colligan, Ed Nachtrieb, Jeffrey L. Weaver.

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