Here’s a topic I have yet to tackle in this new blog — what is independent? But given my esteemed colleague Anthony Kaufman‘s rant on the subject, I thought I’d take a moment. In his post, Tony argues that “The Passion of the Christ” is not an independent film, writing:
“It’s not ‘independent’ when it comes with a staunch right-wing mission aimed at alienating some of America’s minorities and rousing the conversative powers that already control the United States.”
That’s a serious charge there. While I would concur that Mel Gibson has an ideological, even dogmatic, mission, I don’t agree that he represents “the system” or any sort of cinematic hegemony. And to imply that he speaks for the country at large, or “The Man,” just because his movie has made $350 million at the box office, is a dangerous assumption. Granted, this film speaks to a large group of people who: a) feel underserved by the entertainment industry and b) believe passionately in the life and teachings of Jesus. Yet, not all of those people share Gibson’s extreme religious beliefs. [I digress, but will say that I have seen the film and it didn’t speak to me.]
However, I hereby give Tony credit for creating a new litmus test to the “what is indie” debate: “Does the movie champion the under-represented?” I, for one, won’t be using that one. Hey wait, a minute. Anthony, what are we arguing about?! Aren’t you the one who argued — in the Village Voice — that independent film died on May 2, 2002, the day that Universal Studios acquired Good Machine to create Focus Features?