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For some good reading on money and its bankers see this

In today’s New York Times there’s yet another article on the now decades-old seemingly endless story of the American “Independent” film, it’s ups and downs, and how it copes with the shifting sands, primarily fiscal, of new times.   I have been hearing/reading about this story since the early or mid-1970’s, as it mutates in name from things like “New American Cinema,” “American Independent” and numerous other appellations, some of which don’t use “independent.”  Excluded from the category are “experimental” since in virtually all discussion of “independent” film-making the  a priori assumption is that we are talking about fictional narrative films.  Once, though it would be difficult to say just when the shift occurred, the assignation “independent” or some equivalent meant the film was either aesthetically different than normal American films from Hollywood and/or was politically so in being usually to the left side of the spectrum.  Now it primarily means only that the film wasn’t made in or by Hollywood though in all probability its aesthetics and content could just as easily be from there.  Perhaps a small wriggle in the narrative form, or a shift to improvisation in the acting suggest it is not LA-made, though these days some Hollywood product does that.    Any steps towards really messing with the standard narrative fiction formula is instantly deemed “experimental” and condemned to some far away esoteric corner of festivaland or the odd museum screening.   By current standards a large swath of foreign films of the 1960’s – 1980 would be sent off to obscurity, and a number of “great” directors of those times would have found themselves either bending to the money-minded terms of today, or consigned to making whatever they could on zero support:  Bergman, Fellini, Godard, Antonioni, Tarkovsky, Rocha, Ozu, and a small army of others simply would have gotten nowhere in today’s cultural straight-jacket.   Just ask the corpse of John Cassavetes, whose work only strayed from normal conventions in its improvised nature.

So for 4o years this dubious animal, the “American Independent” film has been analyzed, dissected, and tossed around like some laboratory test case, perhaps to fathom something about America itself.  What we find out is a very old saw, “the business of America is business.”

The NYTimes article simply confirms the obvious: so-called “independent film” in America is simply a business proposition.


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