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Selling “Skin” the old-fashioned way.

Selling “Skin” the old-fashioned way. (photo)

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Marketing can make or break an opening weekend — if no one’s heard of your film, no one’s going to see it. Sans trailer, TV ads, posters or billboards, the Sophie Okonedo apartheid drama “Skin” was dying in limited release in London. As director Anthony Fabian put it on the film’s blog, “It’s hard to know, apart from the editorial, how anyone could possibly know the movie’s out there.”

The trouble actually started earlier, in production, when, as he informed the Independent, “I was told by a respectable distributor in Britain that it would not distribute a film with a black cast… These films are perceived not to make money.” (Shades of Bob Weinstein’s truism in the Weinstein brothers’ big NYT profile, ruing the money lost on “Soul Men”: “For an African-American movie, there’s no foreign business.”)

And so Fabian, the film’s composer Hélène Muddiman and others, including a member of the cast, took to the streets, chatting up random pedestrians, handing out fliers and generally acting like someone trying to get you to join the ACLU. Instead of being annoyed, people were apparently charmed. The movie’s now in its fourth week at a theater it was nearly booted out of, and a few viewers liked the movie so much they’ve been willing to join the Fabian and co. to march down the street and chant about it. As far as marketing tactics go, it’s not a strategy easily replicable for general use: after you rope people into seeing your movie, they’ll be so blown away by its importance and quality that they’ll work for free to get others in! Here’s the footage, equal parts cringe-inducing and admirable:

As for the film itself, it’s nearly impossible to tell if it’s any good at a distance — the reviews so far are all clouded with the respectfulness with which any apartheid movie is going to be treated. And while the words “Based on an extraordinary true story” can awaken dread in any film fan, “Skin” does have the fascinating real-life source of a young girl of dark skin born to white Afrikaaner parents whose legal racial status was constantly challenged. It opens in New York and L.A. on October 30th — whether they’ll be marching remains to be seen.

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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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

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