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True/False 2009 and the point of panels

True/False 2009 and the point of panels (photo)

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When I tell people I only want to go to panels in which the speakers get into a fight, they usually laugh.

I do not join them.

I really do long to see a state-of-the-industry type discussion featuring some of the most serious of my colleagues build into a WWF-style, chair-throwing brawl, and by golly, someday my wish will come true, even if I have to heft that chair myself. Panels are the starchy side dish of film festivals and conferences, and they’re often informative and a little dry, because moderating is difficult, because topics are broad, and because people are generally nice and cautious and very aware of being on the record. Most panels could use some bodyslamming, or at the very least some strong disagreement.

I took in two of the best panels I’d seen in a while at the True/False Film Festival this past week, and while neither solved the life-threatening problem of panelists being polite and too smart to just shoot their mouths off, both avoided issues that often bog down these events.

The first featured Richard Parry and Robert King (above), the director and subject of war photographer doc “Blood Trail,” and “Operation: Dreamland” director Ian Olds. The topic was war journalism, and rather than delve into advice and background, the panelists went straight into anecdotes of shooting while getting shot at, a breakdown of the ethical issues of filming people dead or dying and an honest look at risk assessment in what’s, in the end, a job. That last aspect was the most interesting, that for all war journalists regularly put their lives on the line documenting conflict, that they also have to deal with the usual professional rivalries. Telling the story of a colleague who sniped a job from threatened him, King noted: “It all comes back full circle… unfortunately for him, [laughs] he got shot. Yeah, I must be a bit desensitized if I can make a tasteless joke like that.” It was only in the arm, he added.

03012009_tfpanel2.jpgAJ Schnack led another panel full of familiar industry folks — Women Make Films’ Debra Zimmerman, Channel 4’s Jess Search, filmmaker Kirby Dick, Spout’s Karina Longworth and Cinetic’s Matt Dentler are those in the photo — through a Fred Friendly-inspired exercise in which everyone advised on what they would do when confronted with a theoretical project, a prospective documentary from a first-time filmmaker with never-before-seen footage of the Hudson River plane crash. Would anyone be interested in financing it? Would festival programmers want it? At what point would members of the press find it worthy of coverage? I’m sure I’ve seen over half the speakers on panels in the past, but the theoretical angle turned out to be freeing, and I heard things from them that had never come up before, because it tends to take long enough for everyone to loosen up on these things that they near their end before getting good.

Worthwhile endeavors, both of these, and not a piledriver or headbutt in sight.

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Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.

Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…

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A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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GIFs via Giphy

Most people measure time in minutes, hours, days, years…At IFC, we measure it in sketches. And nothing takes us way (waaaaaay) back like Portlandia sketches. Yes, there’s a Portlandia milepost from every season that changed the way we think, behave, and pickle things. In honor of Portlandia’s 8th and final season, Subaru presents a few of our favorites.


Put A Bird On It

Portlandia enters the pop-culture lexicon and inspires us to put birds on literally everything.

Colin the Chicken

Who’s your chicken, really? Behold the emerging locavore trend captured perfectly to the nth degree.

Dream Of The ’90s

This treatise on Portland made it clear that “the dream” was alive and well.

No You Go

We Americans spend most of our lives in cars. Fortunately, there’s a Portlandia sketch for every automotive situation.

A-O River!

We learned all our outdoor survival skills from Kath and Dave.

One More Episode

The true birth of binge watching, pre-Netflix. And what you’ll do once Season 8 premieres.

Catch up on Portlandia’s best moments before the 8th season premieres January 18th on IFC.

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WTF Films

Artfully Off

Celebrity All-Star by Sisters Weekend is available now on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Sisters Weekend isn’t like other comedy groups. It’s filmmaking collaboration between besties Angelo Balassone, Michael Fails and Kat Tadesco, self-described lace-front addicts with great legs who write, direct, design and produce video sketches and cinematic shorts that are so surreally hilarious that they defy categorization. One such short film, Celebrity All-Star, is the newest addition to IFC’s Comedy Crib. Here’s what they had to say about it in a very personal email interview…


IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Celebrity All-Star is a short film about an overworked reality TV coordinator struggling to save her one night off after the cast of C-List celebrities she wrangles gets locked out of their hotel rooms.

IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Sisters Weekend: It’s this short we made for IFC where a talent coordinator named Karen babysits a bunch of weird c-list celebs who are stuck in a hotel bar. It’s everyone you hate from reality TV under one roof – and that roof leaks because it’s a 2-star hotel. There’s a magician, sexy cowboys, and a guy wearing a belt that sucks up his farts.


IFC: What was the genesis of Celebrity All-Star?

Celebrity All-Star was born from our love of embarrassing celebrities. We love a good c-lister in need of a paycheck! We were really interested in the canned politeness people give off when forced to mingle with strangers. The backstory we created is that the cast of this reality show called “Celebrity All-Star” is in the middle of a mandatory round of “get to know each other” drinks in the hotel bar when the room keys stop working. Shows like Celebrity Ghost Hunters and of course The Surreal Life were of inspo, but we thought it
was funny to keep it really vague what kind of show they’re on, and just focus on everyone’s diva antics after the cameras stop rolling.

IFC: Every celebrity in Celebrity All-Star seems familiar. What real-life pop personalities did you look to for inspiration?

Sisters Weekend: Anyone who is trying to plug their branded merch that no one asked for. We love low-rent celebrity. We did, however, directly reference Kylie Jenner’s turd-raison lip color for our fictional teen celebutante Gibby Kyle (played by Mary Houlihan).


IFC: Celebrity seems disgusting yet desirable. What’s your POV? Do you crave it, hate it, or both?

Sisters Weekend: A lot of people chase fame. If you’re practical, you’ll likely switch to chasing success and if you’re smart, you’ll hopefully switch to chasing happiness. But also, “We need money. We need hits. Hits bring money, money bring power, power bring fame, fame change the game,” Young Thug.


IFC: Who are your comedy idols?

Sisters Weekend: Mike grew up renting “Monty Python” tapes from the library and staying up late to watch 2000’s SNL, Kat was super into Andy Kaufman and “Kids In The Hall” in high school, and Angelo was heavily influenced by “Strangers With Candy” and Anna Faris in the Scary Movie franchise, so, our comedy heroes mesh from all over. But, also we idolize a lot of the people we work with in NY-  Lorelei Ramirez, Erin Markey, Mary Houlihan, who are all in the film, Amy Zimmer, Ana Fabrega, Patti Harrison, Sam Taggart. Geniuses! All of Em!

IFC: What’s your favorite moment from the film?

Sisters Weekend: I mean…seeing Mary Houlihan scream at an insane Pomeranian on an iPad is pretty great.

See Sisters Weekend right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib

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