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by Brian Brooks
September 7, 2005 6:09 AM
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IFP Eyes The Public with New "Independent Film Week"

Elpidia Carrillo in Rodrigo Garcia's "Nine Lives." Courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.

With just weeks to go before the annual IFP Market & Conference, the Independent Feature Project (formerly IFP/New York) has announced a new initiative that will re-brand its yearly event, while targeting some of its efforts toward stimulating public interest in independent film. Now called Independent Film Week, the event will contain the annual IFP Market and consumers will be encouraged to see more films at first-run independent theaters. Launching the initiative is the New York premiere of Magnolia Pictures' "Nine Lives" by Rodrigo Garcia on September 19 at the Cleaview Beekman. In a separate announcement, IFP has also said it will honor actor Matt Dillon ("Crash") with a Gotham Award at its 15th annual event on November 30th.

"Nine Lives," starring Kathy Baker, Glenn Close, Holly Hunter, Aidan Quinn, Amanda Seyfried and Sissy Spacek, tells of the "individual experiences of nine women as told through nine single unbroken camera takes. Cast members as well as Garcia, who wrote and directed the film, will attend the invitation-only event.

Open to the public are a host of events throughout the five-day Independent Film Week that will coincide with the traditional IFP market and conference in downtown Manhattan, although that event will remain exclusive to invited industry professionals. Independent theaters participating in the consumer promotion include the Angelika Film Center, Cinema Village, IFC Center, Quad Cinema, Pioneer Theater and the Paris theater in Manhattan as well as the Brooklyn Heights Cinemas and Cobble Hill Cinemas in Brooklyn, and the Kew Gardens Cinemas in Queens.

"I don't think there's been [an event] where all these venues have come together," Michelle Byrd, executive director of IFP told indieWIRE Tuesday afternoon. "We haven't done a lot of [work] directly targeting the consumer [but] we had the idea bout a month ago, and put it together pretty quickly. We already had [much of] the infrastructure in place to pull off a marketing campaign like this."

Stimulating viewer interest in independent film directly is a mostly new platform for the New York office of IFP. "We would like it to evolve into a ‘Restaurant Week' for independent film, perhaps with discounted tickets," added Byrd in reference to New York's annual restaurant event that provides consumers with specials at participating eateries citywide. Byrd indicated that IFP will meet with New York City's official marketing and tourism group, NYC & Company in October, which, according to its website, receives half of its $16 million budget from the city.

"Independent film [as a whole] doesn't brand itself the way Broadway or other industries do," added Byrd, who said she hopes to leverage the cooperation of exhibitors and distributors in the city to evolve this year's consumer push into a broader event like other entertainment industries in the city. "When marketing in tandem, one can get more official support than possible [individually]."

Tackling this year, IFP is working with Moviefone, the Village Voice, and the New York Observer and others as well as participating theater venues. Additionally, IFP plans to "hit the pavement" to drive audiences to Independent Film Week. "We're printing 50,000 5X7 postcards that will be handed out by street teams," said Byrd. "It's a guerilla effort that energizes us a lot here."

Other than the re-brand and listings of events taking place around the city, this year's participants in the market and conference sections of Independent Film Week will notice little difference in their daily activities, centered around the Puck Building and Angelika Film Center in Manhattan. "The market participants will notice the added component in their materials. [But] the market will remain exactly what it is [and] the only people involved with it are professionals," said Byrd.

Planned free public events this year include a Slamdance staged screenplay reading; a conversation with actor Matthew Modine on his experience starring in Stanley Kubrick's "Full Metal Jacket" at the SoHo Apple Store; a discussion with actors who balance between consumer projects and independent films; a conversation with "Nine Lives" director Rodrigo García and director of photography, Xavier Pérez; and a conversation with Norman Jewison on his new book, "This Terrible Business Has Been Good to Me" followed by a book signing.

Closing the public part of Independent Film Week is "'Fatal Attraction' and An Evening with Glenn Close" at the Museum of the Moving Image ($18 public/$12 Museum and IFP members). The evening will begin with a screening of the film by Adrian Lyne, which earned Close an Academy Award-nomination, followed by a dialogue with Close about her career.

In separate IFP news, the organization said it will honor Matt Dillon with a Gotham Award at the 15th annual Gotham Awards on Wednesday, November 30th. The event will be a departure from recent years in that Dillon will be the only individual feted for a body of work during the show. The ceremony will also include six competitive awards honoring films and talent.

Founded in 1979, IFP is a non-profit membership organization that works to create infrastructure supporting independent filmmaking. IFP also has chapters in Austin, Chicago, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Santa Fe, and Seattle.

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