#ITVSSXSW: A Preview

By Elisabeth Copper
ITVS Social Media Manager, @eacopper

altthumbITVS is packing up and heading out to Austin for what is going to be our busiest and most memorable SXSW yet! We’ll be in the Lone Star state on Thursday to meet with filmmakers, innovators, and storytellers, as well as eat some BBQ… lots and lots of BBQ.

If you have a film or interactive badge, you won’t want to miss the first of our Saturday panels, “New Narratives: Building an Interactive Storyworld.”  ITVS, Murmur, Storycode, and Ted Hope will be on hand to discuss the emerging genre of interactive narrative film, as well as provide attendees with ways to create immersive storyworlds.

Our second Saturday session, “Meet the Insiders: Funding and Special Organizations,” will provide independent filmmakers with a plan of action to help get their passion projects funded. Expert panelists – featuring Independent Lens Series Producer Lois Vossen and ITVS Senior VP of Content Jim Sommers – will present best practices when trying to get your project off the ground, review funding options, and shed light on what makes a funding proposal really stand out.

For filmmakers in town on Monday, don’t miss the chance to join Vossen at the “Meet the Mentors: Distribution, Documentary” event. She will be on hand to give advice and answer your questions about distribution for documentary films.

The ITVS crew will be around for the duration of the festival, so if you see us at the SXSW Film Opening Party or chowing down at Stubbs, make sure you stop by and join in on the fun. We’ll be sharing all things Austin on Instagram and Twitter, so if you aren’t already, be sure to give us a follow!

Celebrate Women’s History Month with #SheDocs!

March kicks off the second annual #SheDocs, an online film festival showcasing 12 documentaries highlighting extraordinary women and their accomplishments in celebration of International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month. The festival is presented by ITVS’s Women and Girls Lead campaign and sponsored by Eileen Fisher, Inc.

Female protagonists in film are few and far between. According to the Annenberg Public Policy Center, women have been consistently underrepresented as main characters for at least six decades. In 2013, females accounted for only 33% of all characters in the top 100 grossing films and only 11% featured women in leadership positions.

Women and Girls Lead is proud to combat these gender stereotypes and misrepresentations with the second annual #SheDocs online film festival, a collection of 12 documentaries highlighting extraordinary women working to close the gender gap and fight inequality. This month-long, free event presents films by prominent independent filmmakers and shines a spotlight on women who are working to transform their lives, their communities, and the world. Continue reading

Fundraising in a New Media Landscape: Three Lessons From Sundance

This year, three ITVS-supported films premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. Filmmaker Thomas Allen Harris showcased both his feature film and transmedia project as a part of New Frontier, a program that showcases multi-media storytelling. These projects inspired ITVS to create a panel focusing on the challenges of fundraising for documentary and transmedia projects.

Kamal Sinclair, Sr. Manager Sundance New Frontier Story Lab; Jim Sommers, Sr. Vice President of Content at ITVS; N'Jeri Eaton, Programming Manager at ITVS; Thomas Allen Harris, Through A Lens Darkly and Digital Diaspora Family Reunion; Shukree Tilghman, More Than A Month and More Than A Mapp app; Kay Shaw, Director of Public Media Corps at NBPC

Pictured (L-R): Kamal Sinclair, Sr. Manager Sundance New Frontier Story Lab; Jim Sommers, Senior Vice President of Content at ITVS; N’Jeri Eaton, Programming Manager at ITVS; Thomas Allen Harris, Through A Lens Darkly and Digital Diaspora Family Reunion; Shukree Tilghman, More Than A Month and More Than A Mapp app; Kay Shaw, Director of Public Media Corps at NBPC

The panel marked ITVS’s first event with the Blackhouse Foundation. For the last seven years, Blackhouse has held a venue at the Sundance Film Festival as a place that both celebrates Black cinema and provides networking opportunities for filmmakers.

The panel was packed with experts in the field who could speak specifically to the challenges facing filmmakers. Panelists included Director of Public Media Corps Kay Shaw from the National Black Programming Consortia; Senior Manager Kamal Sinclair from the Sundance New Frontier Story Lab; filmmaker Thomas Allen Harris of Through a Lens Darkly and its transmedia component Digital Diaspora Family  Reunion, and myself.  The panel was moderated by filmmaker Shukree Tilghman, who also went through the film/transmedia funding gauntlet with his film More Than A Month and the related phone app More Than A Mapp. Continue reading

Vote for ITVS with the SXSW Panel Picker!

Public voting for SXSW Interactive 2014 is well underway. Check out ITVS’s two panel proposals and vote for your favorites – hurry, voting closes September 6th!

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ITVS is proud to to be part of two proposed panel discussions for next year’s SXSW festival in Austin. We may be biased but we think both our panels are very worthy of inclusion in SXSW programming, and we could use your vote. So sign up and give us a thumb’s up!

First off is the “New Narratives: Building An Interactive Storyworld” panel that ITVS and some of our partners (Storycode, San Francisco Film Society) are doing around interactive fiction film (e.g. the new Futurestates, some upcoming hackathons, etc.), its emergence as a new and untapped genre, and why it’s important for feature makers.

“This is such an exciting time to be working in digital content – interactive documentaries are everywhere, changing people’s notions of how to tell a story,” says Karim Ahmad, Senior Programming Manager at ITVS. “But when you think about the implications of these new platforms for fictional storyworlds, the possibilities are literally limitless. What does an interactive fictional film or web series look like? How do you build one? Why would you even want to build one? These are all the things we’re going to explore in our panel.” Continue reading

LA Film Festival and ITVS Presents: Brothers Hypnotic

The 2013 Los Angeles Film Festival, June 13-23 at L.A. LIVE, will screen a diverse slate of nearly 200 feature films, shorts, music videos, and documentaries from around the world.  Don’t miss 10 days and 11 nights of red carpet premieres, conversations, live music, free outdoor screenings, and films from around the world.  

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Filmmaker Reuben Atlas’ upcoming Independent Lens documentary, Brothers Hypnotic, will screen on Sunday, June 16th and Wednesday, June 19th as part of the Los Angeles Film Festival, co-presented by ITVS.

Some of the most energetic, riveting, and symphonic sounds in jazz today emanate from the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble. The band, consisting of eight brothers–all sons of jazz legend Phil Cohran–who were raised on Chicago’s South Side and have been practicing as a family since they were kids.

Whether playing on the streets of New York City or performing alongside Prince, when the brothers raise their horns, they create a music that looms large in the imagination. As the brothers come of age on the world’s stage, brotherhood becomes more than just a biological fact. It becomes an ideal, even when it clashes with their future dreams. Continue reading

Vote for Your Favorite #SheDoc by March 31st

Throughout March, we’ve been watching the 10 free films in the #SheDocs Online Film Festival for Women’s History Month. Now, with only one week to go, we’re asking you – our #SheDocs fans – to vote for your favorite festival film. Here is your chance to tell the filmmakers and the women and girl film stars that you appreciate them! Vote for your favorite #SheDoc until March 31st.

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Use your vote to tell us which story inspired you to do something, learn more, or take on a new challenge. Perhaps Cheryl Haworth motivated you to hit the weight room or Chahinaz compelled you to ask more questions. Maybe Jessie Little Doe gave you a new appreciation for language, Barbara Smith Conrad sparked a love for opera, or Rafea convinced you to take up tech. Or perhaps you learned something new about Patsy Mink, Leymah Gbowee, or Gloria Steinem.  It’s quite possible you even cheered out loud when Starr’s baby was born or when Sabere declared, “I will never bring tea to you again!” If our #SheDocs moved you in anyway, then vote! We’ll announce the winner on the Women and Girls Lead Facebook page on April 1st.

Although March is almost over, we think every month deserves an empowering selection of documentary films about women and girls. We plan to keep the #SheDocs page and Twitter hashtag live as a destination to find the latest documentaries from the Women and Girls Lead campaign available to watch temporarily online. Bookmark itvs.org/women-and-girls-lead/shedocs and visit us every month to find new films streaming online for free.

#SheDocs in Numbers: A Look at Women in Media

Each year, the Center for the Study of Women in TV & Film releases its research on the status of women and girls behind the scenes and on screen in mainstream media. The 2012 results revealed that 33 percent of characters in Hollywood films were female, while only 11 percent of them were the film’s protagonists. What is more astonishing is that the number of female protagonists on screen decreased from 16 percent in 2002. So what do we do when the media industry represents 50 percent of the population only 33 percent of the time? We host the #SheDocs Online Film Festival!

#SheDocs is streaming 10 free films about real women and girls online from March 1-31st during Women’s History Month. Nearly 10,000 people have already logged on to watch our all-star lineup of female protagonists taking the lead in their own lives.

shedocs_meme_stats_05A copyHere is what our viewers will find:

10 free films

50 female characters

18 female protagonists

12 women filmmakers (and 4 male filmmakers who represent women well!)

11 countries/nations

8 languages (including one that hasn’t been spoken in 6 generations)

12 days left to watch

We’ve been so inspired by the #SheDocs fanfare that we’re thinking of making it a 24/7, 365 day-a-year destination to find free films about women and girls temporarily available to watch online. Until then, don’t miss the Women’s History Month films online until Sunday, March 31st at http://bit.ly/SheDocs.

ITVS Co-Presents Two Films at CAAMFest!

For the next 10 days, the Center for Asian America Media presents CAAMFest, a celebration of film, music, food and digital media form the world’s most innovative Asian and Asian American artists.

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Yesterday marked the beginning of the 2013 CAAMFest, formerly known as the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival, and ITVS could not be more excited to co-present two of the films featured in this year’s festival, The Mosuo Sisters and Xmas Without China.

This year, in an effort to transition away from the traditional film festival, CAAM has embraced new forms of artistic expression with a spirit of curiosity and adventure. Come celebrate the festival through various live events, multimedia performances, and expanded ventures into the music and culinary worlds. With such a wide variety of entertainment to choose from, Bay Area participants will be able to enjoy Asian American media in all its various forms.

Be sure to check out the trailers (after the jump)! Continue reading

Adrian Baker on Animating Native American Oral History

By Rebecca Huval
Originally posted on the Independent Lens Blog

Sometimes, the shameful chapters of our past deserve to be excavated through an animated short, the form du jour for oral history projects such as StoryCorps. From the PBS Online Film Festival, the short documentary Injunuity: Buried features the story of a Native American burial ground and shellmound recently built over by a Bay Area mall.

Adrian Baker, director of Injunuity, one of 25 short videos in the PBS 2013 Online Film Festival

Adrian Baker, director of Injunuity, one of 25 short videos in the PBS 2013 Online Film Festival

Buried will be available on the PBS Online Film Festival webpage and the rest of the shorts will soon be available on the Injunuity website. The series captures field recordings of Native Americans who dissect issues such as Native American language preservation and education, remixed as three-minute animations in a variety of styles. The 25 films in the overall festival will be available between March 4 to 22.

Director Adrian Baker shared with us the inspiration for his cinematic collages and animations that capture modern-day Native American issues, as well as the stories of our shared past.

1. Why did you structure these stories in three-minute shorts?

There are so many issues to talk about and discuss, so many problems that need our attention. So rather than setting out to solve all of these issues or come to hard and fast conclusions, instead, I wanted to create starting points for discussions more than anything else. In three minutes you can create that foundation that’s necessary to begin meaningful dialog, but where it goes from there is up to the viewer, or the teacher who watches it with their classroom, or the parent who watches it with their child.

I also wanted to create pieces that fit into today’s quick twitch lifestyle where more media is being consumed in shorter amounts of time. The fixed running time model that we have for television is being replaced by the free form of the web, where time length isn’t dictated by commercial concerns or by what comes on before or after. And really, all you have to do is take a look at anyone’s Facebook feed to see that there are more and more shorter pieces of content being passed around and shared. Today’s viewer is on the go, watching a smart phone for ten minutes on BART [the Bay Area's commuter rail service]. So there is a growing market for shorter content. But what may be the best thing about the three-minute short is that, even if the viewer doesn’t like it that much, no matter where you are in the piece, even if it’s just beginning, it’s almost over. Continue reading

Women and Girls Star in the SheDocs Online Film Festival

If the Oscars were any indication, we know Hollywood is lagging behind on representing women and girls in all their diversity on the big screen. In fact only 11 percent of protagonists in Hollywood films are female, according to a 2011 report from the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film. Women and Girls Lead has turned to the little screen to offer a refreshing selection of films starring women and girls as leaders in their own lives. The #SheDocs Online Film Festival will run from March 1-31 and feature 10 documentary films to watch online all month long in celebration of Women’s History Month. We promise you’ll be inspired by these protagonists! Start watching at today!

Catch up on all the #SheDocs related conversations after the jump!  Continue reading