Interesting Read: ‘What Is an “Independent Film” in 2013?’

via Flavorwire:


According to the Spirit Awards’ rules and regulations, the qualifications for inclusion are that a film runs at least 70 minutes, has either played a week in theaters or screened at one of six key festivals, and has a total budget of less than $20 million. (Guess the nominating committee called an audible over that last million.) Nowhere does it indicate that the film must be released by an indie distributor, which is how Matthew McConaughey won Best Supporting Male for the Warner Brothers release Magic Mike (“the bleak arthouse drama from noted outsider director Steven Soderbergh,” notes the AV Club, “that bravely gambled on its small audience of cineastes gravitating toward the grim symbolism of watching physically fit men take off their shirts”).

So what does “independent film” even mean anymore? Independent of what? For some time now, the label has been about as meaningless as “alternative music” (alternative to what?). Even a film like Beasts, which would seem the very definition of an indie (low budget, novice actors, young director) has studio money behind it; after Sundance, it was swept up for distribution by Fox’s boutique division, Fox Searchlight, which spent some of Rupert Murdoch’s money to not only advertise the picture, but campaign for its Spirit and Oscar nominations.

The lines have been blurry for a good long while now. [..]

As a result, “indie” became less of a distinction and more of a label — a way of classifying, and marketing, what was merely another tier of standard operating procedure. And that’s what it looked like on Saturday night. There’s no question that Silver Linings Playbook is a very good movie — it deftly traverses the tricky line between comedy and drama, treats mental illness seriously, has a satisfying ending that doesn’t feel like hackwork, and features some of the year’s best acting. But, despite the Weinstein Company imprimatur and the $20 million(ish) price tag, it’s not an indie. The Independent Spirit Awards might want to reconsider their qualifications, because right now, they’re just part of the Indie Marketing Machine. If they’re not careful, they’re gonna end up as much a forgone conclusion as the Oscars — and recognizing all the same movies.

read more of this article via Flavorwire.

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