Spectacular, Spectacular..

Newman argues, “In the case of indie cinema, depending on the nature of a given festival, its selection committee has the power to nominate films as indie or, more importantly, to establish which indie films and artists will be considered exemplary.”

What I believe he means by this, is that the selection committee uses their own definition of indie to handpick certain films and call them indie. Then the chosen indie films get put up in the festival, where they compete for awards. The ones that receive the awards are put above the rest to be considered exemplary. The committee, by choosing what films are accepted into the festival, give the films a higher status.  By being specifically, selected to compete, the films become more indie.

I think Newman’s point in all this is that the selection committee has the power to decide what films become exemplary because the festivals are so highly thought of.  Take for example the Sundance Film Festival, the site Total Films has a list of the 50 Best Sundance Films and after reading through the list, which notes what happened with the film and artists after Sundance, I began to see a pattern. Most of the films on the list received oscar nominations or awards after showing at Sundance. In some cases the actors grew in fame and crossed over to mainstream cinema. The film did not have to win the competition. They just needto be selected and shown in the Sundance festival for people to take notice. Here are some examples:

  • Primer (2004); Hedwig And The Angry Inch (2011) — became cult sensations
  • Welcome to the Dollhouse (1995) — Todd Solondz grew in reputation as a director
  • Brick (2006) — Director Rian Johnson was able to crossover to mainstream cinema
  • Napoleon Dynamite (2004);  Secretary (2002); Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994); Winter’s Bone (2010) — helped the main actors (Jon Heder, Maggie Gyllenhall, Hugh Grant, and Jennifer Lawrence) break away and gain success in Hollywood.

The Sundance Festival helps establish these artists just by having them in the competition.  The reputation of the Sundance festival helps launch the films forward.


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