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DAILY NEWS: Grand Marnier Fellowships; MoMA Strike Ends; Letter From AtomFilms

DAILY NEWS: Grand Marnier Fellowships; MoMA Strike Ends; Letter From AtomFilms

DAILY NEWS: Grand Marnier Fellowships; MoMA Strike Ends; Letter From AtomFilms

by Eugene Hernandez/indieWIRE

>> BRIEFLY: Grand Marnier Announces Fellowship Recipients

(indieWIRE/ 9.28.00) — The Grand Marnier Film Fellowships, three awards given to graduate film
students honored for expertise in filmmaking, film criticism, and video were
announced during the 38th New York Film Festival by Juli Falkoff, V.P. of
Grand Marnier and Richard Pena, Chairman of the 38th NYFF Selection
Committee. NYU’s Brett Vapnek won the film fellowship for her 13-minute
short “Dream Machine,” while Kristie Drew from the Art Institute of Chicago
won for her video, “Displaced Artifacts Of A Clockwork Self.” Finally,
Columbia University’s David Heinemann was recognized for his critical essay,
“Eric Rohmer’s ‘Tales Of The Four Seasons:’ Freedom, Faith and the Search
for the Grail.”

The winning film and video will be screened at the Walter Reade Theater at
an Independents Night screening in 2001, while “Tales of The Four Seasons”
will be published in “Film Comment’s” November/December issue. [Brian

>> MoMA and UAW Reach Agreement on Four Month Old Strike

(indieWIRE/ 9.28.00) — In a statement released earlier this month, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) announced a new agreement with the United Auto Workers Union, which represents some museum employees, concluding a more than four month strike.

In a statement, MoMA indicated that both sides compromised in reaching the agreement, increasing workers salary by 17.5% over 5 years, job security and a severance package for employees laid off when the museum closes for renovations, an improved pension plan and an improvement in dental coverage.

A retrospective of work from First Run Features that was to have taken place this summer was halted when the company decided it would be inappropriate to conduct the series with the museum employees on strike. Other programs and series were also affected when participants bowed out in respect for the striking workers. The strike began on April 28, 2000.

Senior film & video publicist Harris Dew, a familiar face in New York’s indie community, resigned from MoMA after the strike was resolved and has taken a position at New York’s Film Forum. [Eugene Hernandez]


+ First Run Features Retrospective Halted by MoMA Strike

>> IN RESPONSE TO: A Letter Regarding: AtomFilms and VW Open Doors For Makers of Online Film…and They Take a Road Trip

Dear indieWIRE:

AtomFilms recently announced an unprecedented partnership whereby 60 Atom short films will be streamed on the Volkswagen website Volkswagen is also co-sponsoring, with AtomFilm’s, “The Journey Tour,” a cross-country tour of college campuses featuring shorts, storytelling and the music of Edwin McCain.

Following the announcement, filmmaker Tom Gilroy responded with an open letter to indieWIRE wherein he disagreed with just about everything. Below I try to answer some of his points.

Tom: “Let’s drop this moronic self-delusion and actually own up to what we’re talking about here; ads for Volkswagen… it’s not art.”

With all due respect, my friend Tom Gilroy is way off base. What we are talking about here is a website that is paying 60 filmmakers for the right to show their short films! Does Tom believe that his wonderful feature, Spring Forward, will stop being art if it is shown on the conglomerate Cablevision (which happens to own IFC, his film’s distributor)?Are short films on HBO merely ads for its parent, Time Warner? Are operas no longer artistic on Texaco’s radio program? What we are talking about here is this: VW is paying for 60 films from the AtomFilms catalog to stream from their website. This is not moronic, this is money to artists for their short films.

Tom: “Absolut Warhol is not art.”

I agree! Paying artists to create advertising is very different than underwriting art. Absolut pays artists to create cool ads, not art. My favorite directors, Spike Lee and Spike Jonze, do the same for Nike. Why not leave it to the Artists to decide if and with whom they wish to work? AtomFilms is providing incredible exposure and exciting new opportunities for our filmmakers. It’s not surprising that companies with an eye for talent have come to AtomFilms and offered to provide incredible exposure for their art. VW is not using Atom filmmakers to create ads. If they do in the future, more power to the filmmaker if exposure through Atom provides them with the opportunity to work!

Tom: “What about the crews that worked for nothing to help this filmmaker ‘pursue his/her artistic vision’?”

As a former crew member who worked for nothing to help filmmakers pursue their artistic vision, I know firsthand what you mean. One film I labored for free on was “Spring Forward,” directed by Tom Gilroy.

Tom: “I’d like to see the percentage of money that actually goes back to the filmmakers.”

Since W.K. Laurie Dickson produced the first short, 110 years ago at Edison’s Black Maria Studio, less than 1% have recouped their cost, much less made a profit. AtomFilms, in less than two years time, has sold hundreds of short films to an impressive array of worldwide partners including: HBO, Sundance Channel, Canal Plus, 22 airlines, broadband networks, European and US theatres and other premier websites, including VW. Atom filmmakers share in our growing success through royalty . Many of our short films, which were made with no reasonable expectations of profits, have given filmmakers not only worldwide exposure but money as well. I saw Tom’s exceptional short, Touch Base, and have read his treatments for additional shorts. AtomFilms would love to have the opportunity to give his work worldwide exposure across multiple platforms and enjoy the royalties that come from these sales.

Tom: “Are we really that much like our grandparents? Have we really not progressed at all? Are the nose rings, skateboard clothes and tattoos just the business suit of our era? It sure looks like it.”

I totally disagree. In my opinion we are on the threshold of an incredible creative revolution. New technologies, including digital cameras, the internet, wireless platforms, etc., are empowering Artists regardless of thier tax brackets or tattoos. Furthermore, our generation is savvy enough to distinguish between Art and ads. We are realistic enough to know that companies want something for their money. We are smart enough to choose. Our grandparents could only see the films Hollywood chose. By utilizing these innovations, companies like AtomFilms are blowing this model apart- right now. I encourage Tom Gilroy, and any other filmmaker who is skeptical about the fundamental changes taking place, to call or email me with their questions. (And please go see “Spring Forward” starring Liev Shreiber and New Beatty, coming soon to a theatre near you!)


Patrick Long
Acquisitions Executive
AtomFilms, New York

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