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The Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival from the interns' point of view
Friday, April 15, 2011
Blog posting by Brian McCormick, Film & Photo '12, FLEFF Intern, Wilbraham, MA
I'm currently in Park 220 for an ongoing meet up with FLEFF guests. Come for any of these presentations -- it's FREE!
Here's the line-up: 10am --Rodrigo Brandão, Kino Korber Films 11--Helen De Michiel, Lunch Love Community, 1--Philip Mallory Jones, new media artist 2--Franklin Lopez, media activist , moderated by John Scott 3--Danny Schecter, moderated by Todd Schack
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Rodrigo Brandão is the first FLEFF guest. He graduated in 2001 from Ithaca College, with a double major in Cinema/Photo and Art History. He is director of publicity at Kino Lorber films.
Brandão starts off by going around the room letting everyone introduce their majors and interests in order to gauge the discussion. I'm seeing that there is a large range of guests -- graduates and undergraduates and professors, from IC, Cornell, UCLA, and more -- all with general interests in film and media studies.
His company specializes in silent films and foreign films -- 90% of their catalogue is foreign cinema. This is all considered Art House cinema. He identifies challenges of distributing these art house films -- how do you get people to go to the theaters or rent foreign films on Netflix? Even, why are they considered Art films? How can kids be educated to read subtitles?
He acknowledges that DVD sales for Art House films are going down. In addition, less theaters are showing art house films.
One of Kino Lorber's film was "Dogtooth", it was a big winner at Cannes Film Festival. After showing it in NY, but they tried to get LA bookers to show it, they said no because it was "too weird." Critics complained, and it ended up receiving an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Film. A good example of how you must push and push to make things happen.
He talks about how you don't have that sense of loyalty anymore with film critics, partly result of newspapers going out. Now you need to find the critics who write about what you're showing, so it's a bit more complicated nowadays knowing where to direct your efforts. For every film, there's someone who has a little bit more authority on it.
Next he shows growth rates of where audiences are going for press, and the only place where there is a growth rate is online. Everywhere else -- TV, newspapers, audio -- are going down. It's a very telling graph. This means, when people are looking to find information about what films they want to see or might want to see, there's a big chance they'll be looking on the web.
The dependency of online is even creating problems for small businesses -- now popularity depends on millions and millions of hits. There isn't much space for small businesses and communities it seems on the internet.
One shocking statistic he gave: Over 20% of Americans don't use the internet. That's roughly 50-60 million people. This is largely a rural-urban divide, as it's difficult to get Broadband access to rural areas.
There's a wealth of ideas disseminating throughout this group: one audience member who is a theater critic discusses the diminishment of newspaper reviews, and how critics strive to continue their dialogue about films, for free, because of their dedication and love to doing it. Additionally, Brandão says how one critic's review can be reprinted and reprinted, which destroys the dialogue.
Helen De Michiel -- who will be presenting next! -- talks about the small, crumbling exhibition spaces in the area, in contrast to viewing spaces in other parts of country. "I'm looking forward to when exhibitors are going to have to change," she says.
Wrapping up, Brandão talks about how NGOs are entering the exhibition market, and how festivals like FLEFF are saying: "We are going to exhibit these films, we are going to curate them here." These festivals get and show films that otherwise would never be shown.
When asked how Kino Lorber deals with the change in marketing, Brandão responds how his number of outlets has increased, but there is also more of a challenge of how to categorize all of these critics. "We have to create more subcategories and kind of filter things out." At Kino Lorber they are looking to hire people that are not only good markets, but even those who speak multiple languages, know extensive film history, and have great programming skills.
Much of FLEFF is owed to Kino Lorber, the distributor responsible for bringing the silent films to FLEFF!
The first of those films is showing TONIGHT: 7 p.m. @Cinemapolis, The Last Laugh, silent film with live music by John Stetch, jazz piano
Hang around for updates on the next presenter, or come down to Park 220 to hear from them yourself!
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Blog posting written by Shawn Steiner, Film and Photography ’14, FLEFF Blogger, Elkridge, Maryland
Welcome back FLEFFers. Here is a new FLEFF scoop!
I had the opportunity to talk to Rodrigo Brandão, the director of promotions for Kino Lorber Inc., an international film distributor. He also happens to be an Ithaca College alum.
Shawn Steiner: How did you enjoy your experience at IC as an undergrad? Especially your time spent as Dr. Zimmermann’s projectionist.
Rodrigo Brandão: My experience at IC was truly fantastic and not simply because I was living abroad for the first time in my life. The idea that all of sudden (and with relative ease), I could take classes in several departments and also explore different theoretical practices, technologies and fields was completely new to me. And it really changed my relationship with work and cinema.
Luckily, I was able to transfer some credits from my college time in Brazil, and that gave me the liberty to reach for a double-major (in Cinema and Art History) and also take several film production and film theory classes. So I feel like I made the best out of that experience.
And on top of that, I got that great projectionist gig right on my first year... It was just great to have an excuse to see Battleship Potemkin, Buster Keaton's The General and all those Chris Marker films again and again and again.
Repetitive viewing is how you really connect to some of these dense works, and I have to thank Patty Zimmermann for trusting me to work for her during those years.
SS: What company do you work for and what do they do?
RB: I work for Kino Lorber Inc, a film distribution company based in NY that specializes in foreign films, classic titles and some avant-garde work.
I am responsible for the company's publicity and communications departments, and on top of that, try to attend some US and International film festivals (as much as possible) to help my bosses find new and exciting works.
It's a challenging job, especially because I'm often responsible for how our films are perceived in the media - and specially, among critics. And I am always dealing with indie filmmakers too, and I see up-close how they pour their hearts onto these films.... So I feel a certain degree of responsibility towards them.
But frankly, I wouldn't want to see films just as products...
SS: As a distribution company would you feel that your role is extremely important to the current film industry?
RB: The role of the "film distributor" is changing violently these days, and even more rapidly now than five or eight years ago.
So, I do feel that the role of the distributor is important, but I also feel like more and more, we are being asked to re-invent ourselves-- and also, to justify our roles and choices as gatekeepers.
The economy is making people re-think their spending habits, old networks of distribution are falling apart, new technologies are resisting old forms of monetization, and what may be the most important point here, our relationship with cinema and media is changing.
The ways in which we create value around our films are different now, and the whole relationship among critics, academics, industry and audiences is so different than it used to be.
The questions of how we create value, and then, how to communicate the importance of these works to different audiences, has never been more important. And frankly, sometimes we learn by mistakes.
SS: What have you done recently that you can talk about?
RB: Well, I am doing a lot of different things right now, but maybe the hardest thing I am "doing" right now is to sort of re-invent my job.
I used to have this script about how to promote a film, that usually started with a film getting a modest theatrical release and then, expanding to other markets and finally, ending up on DVD. Now, there are dozens of ways to release a film in the market, and the press has also become less scripted.
Different outlets now have different interest and priorities, and new technology is becoming such a major part of my job... So, I often find myself having to re-invent the wheel---as I'm driving the car!
I just came back from SXSW and frankly, it's always amazing to see how new media, cinema, coding, design, and music are fusing into these hybrid artistic and commercial forms.
SS: What film(s) are you currently promoting?
RB: Right now, I am promoting a Danish war documentary called Armadillo, a German film about a famous Spanish restaurant called El Bulli, and a Chinese film about the raping of Nanking called City of Life and Death.
SS: Having been to FLEFF before what do you think of the programming/topic for this year?
RB: I like that FLEFF thinks outside the box when it comes to its categories, especially because this way, the categories themselves (and the context in which the films are presented) become part of the film experience. That way, we already walk into the theater asking questions.
In a much less exciting and daring way, that's kind of what I do at Kino Lorber: I'm always trying to push audiences to interpret, discuss and engage with our films. I also think that the idea of checkpoints evokes a multitude of feelings, from reflection to resistance and struggle.
It's both a powerful image and crippling idea, and one that makes us realize the collective and constantly shifting nature of our modern lives. It makes me think that "stopping" is sometimes important and necessary.
And yet, it reminds me that "checking," or even simply naming and categorizing, can be a powerful form of oppression.
SS: Are you excited for FLEFF? Anything specific?
SS: Will you be in attendance for FLEFF 2011?
RB: Yes! And I can’t wait!
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I would like to thank Mr. Rodrigo Brandão for his time.
This very modest man does a lot in the film world. I am glad he was able to spare some of his knowledge with us. He raises some incredible points. I hope that you enjoyed reading these responses as much as I did.
And better yet. He will be joining us at FLEFF!
There was one point Mr. Brandão made that I would like to talk about. He said he “wouldn’t want to see films just as products.” Do you think that currently we are moving in a direction where film is becoming more of a product and less of an art?