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A small festival buzzkill.

A small festival buzzkill. (photo)

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According to a widely cited number from I can’t actually find on their site, American distributors will release 40% fewer films this award season, compared to last year. (This figure presumably doesn’t take into account the five-plus niche releases flooding New York and LA — and nowhere else — every week.) For those lucky enough to be able to attend this fall’s film festivals, you can make up the drought there; the rest of us are left reading along in order to see what we have to look forward to, maybe.

And even then, as Richard Porton spells out in a grim piece in Moving Image Source, festivals aren’t exactly for The People — even if those people are members of the increasingly niche market for hardcore arthouse films. Porton points out that most festival attendees are “distributors, programmers, and sales agents,” not “freelance film lovers.” (I’d add journalists and jurors to that list.) Movies that once might have seen a small release before landing on DVD are now tougher to see theatrically unless you have the time and money and/or professional excuse to attend festivals.

Porton’s alludes to Mark Peranson’s Cineaste 2008 inside-dirt chronicle, “First You Get the Power, Then You Get the Money: Two Models of Film Festivals,” in which Peranson detailed how much control sales agents have over major festivals. They bundle the worthy and unworthy together, forcing festivals as big as Cannes to take backroom deals where companies like Wild Bunch negotiate their more troublesome films into slates as a quid prop quo for what the programmers really want. (A friend has theorized that this is the only way to explain how Paolo Sorrentino keeps showing up at Cannes.) And Porton also reveals the existence of “film festival studies,” the newest academic discipline I would’ve never dreamt up.

It’s a fascinating read, and a sobering reminder that these days, it’s not so clear what festivals do anymore. Curate the best in world film? Launch films from festivals into the arthouse? None and all of the above, depending on who’s asking. But that doesn’t mean I’m not about to enjoy attending (and covering — for you!) the 2009 New York Film Festival. In these uncertain times, being press does have its perks, just not necessarily financial ones.

[Photo: Glamorous film festival life as shown in “Like You Know It All,” Hong Sang-soo, 2009]

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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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