I'm no expert, but we seem to be experiencing a resurgence of independent filmmaking with more quality documentaries and small-budget movies being produced than ever before. The traditional challenge with indie filmmaking has been how best to distribute the movie after it's been made and how, without a massive ad budget, to get people to watch it even after if it gets into theaters.
But the internet has made it possible for movies--and books, as Chelsea Green proved last fall with George Lakoff's best-selling Don't Think of An Elephant--to bypass traditional methods of distribution and find new audiences for their work, often those who are most engaged by the film's themes and who will thus work mightily to get the word out about a particular new feature.
Robert Greenwald's new film on Wal-Mart, The High Cost of Low Prices, is working this model adroitly, bringing in numerous organizations, including The Nation, to help promote the film to their own constituencies and asking the public to set up house parties where people will show the film to their friends, family and colleagues in their own living rooms.
Now, a new progressive film club called Ironweed advances the project with an innovative new effort that offers movie buffs easy access to independent films that are frequently unavailable outside of New York City, San Francisco, a handful of artsy college towns and a couple of high-altitude ski resorts.
The process is simple: Sign up for the club and every month you'll receive a special package containing an award-winning independent feature film on DVD, a short film, and free extras--all which you can keep. If you subscribe before the end of the year, you'll also receive a free, one-month trial. If you don't think the films are great, you can cancel with no hassles.
Ironweed sends you movies like Power Trip, the tragi-comic film that follows an American company that buys the energy system in the former Soviet Republic of Georgia and sends two bungling Americans to make the Georgians pay for power. The film won the jury prize at the Berlin Film Festival and Best Documentary at the Independent Spirit Awards, but you can't see it anywhere except through Ironweed.
Or Wetback, the touching award-winner that follows two friends who leave Nicaragua to find their fortune and experience the untold story of American immigration as they face vigilante Minutemen on the Arizona border.
Ironweed also provides resources to help members build progressive film clubs and facilitate special filmmaker events. Just as conservatives have strengthened their movement by tapping into social organizations like churches and civic groups, Ironweed charts a path for building local networks through independent film clubs. Click here for more info. Membership in the progressive film club also makes a great holiday gift. And The Nation is partnering up with Ironweed, so joining the club also helps America's oldest weekly magazine.
Green Planet Films is rolling out another innovative way to secure DVDs. Aiming to create and maintain a nature and environmental film library, which offers easy access for DVD rentals or purchases, GPF will mail you as many DVDs as you'd like with a 15 day borrowing period. You can also become a GPF member and borrow DVDs at cost. If you're looking for innovative movies like Building with Awareness or other green-oriented films, Blockbuster ain't gonna help much. So click here for info.