Letter From the Editor – July 2006

Dear Readers,

One day in early April I walked into the office to find four large burlap bags of mail. Hundreds of AIVF members, responding to our email request, had sent in their films for review—everything from a “romantic skamedy” to “a fantastic rendition of WeWe’s crusade to preserve African culture.” I was amazed, thrilled and then immediately sad—not so much because of WeWe’s struggles, (actually that one turned out to be a comedy)—but because the Miracle on 34th Street-sized delivery was proof that our membership was not only very talented, but also still very dedicated to AIVF.

It was a time when AIVF was facing major financial and ideological hurdles, and as this issue goes to print, we are still uncertain of the organization’s future. What we do know is that the organization needs to reorganize and relaunch in order to go forward, and that plans are underway to continue publishing The Independent—whether or not AIVF survives. [See AIVF Board Letter on page 51.] Regardless of that turnout, however,we decided this was a perfect time to reflect on a tremendous 30-year institution, which, as the following pages show, changed a lot of lives.

For the AIVF Tribute (pages 25-50), we asked those who have been intimately involved with the organization to reflect on its rise, influence, and politics since its inception in the early ‘70s. We also asked policy experts in the industry to explain some of the crucial issues facing independent filmmakers today—including copyright law, internet regulation, and new distribution practices. Our hope is that somewhere in the juxtaposition of these two, there is some explanation of how we got to where we are.

For a clearer perspective on the The Independent’s evolution, we scattered our archives all over the floor. The mess turned into a visual timeline, which we tried to share by scattering excerpts from some of those issues throughout this one.

In addition to the special section, there’s a good dose of the regular Independent here. The Doc Doctor is in the house, as are Steven Bognar and his wife Julia Reichert (who founded New Day Films not long after AIVF launched). The makers of A Lion in the House wrote a very moving production journal about the moment their documentary about kids with cancer became personal. For the Q&A, Erica Berenstein spoke to the legendary D.A. Pennebaker, Chris Hegedus, and Nick Doob about their journey from The War Room to Al Franken: God Spoke. And although it took us weeks, we opened, and stacked and sorted and watched all those DVDs, and finally, after much grueling deliberation, we are pleased to recommend some of our favorites.

Enjoy, thanks for reading The Independent, and please stay tuned,
Shana Liebman