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The What’s New & Next Photo Journey: A look back at the winners of the John Cassavetes Award

The What’s New & Next Photo Journey: A look back at the winners of the John Cassavetes Award (photo)

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John Cassavetes, an accomplished actor, director and screenwriter, is considered by many to be the spiritual father of American independent filmmaking. At a time when Hollywood was pre-occupied with the notion of the impressionist director, Cassavetes went in the opposite direction and created films that felt closer to real life in both style and execution.

Cassavetes’ approach to performance, both his own and the actors under his direction gave the impression of improvisation due to its spontaneous appearance. When serving as the director, Cassavetes favored hand-held shooting and general lighting so that his actors could move more freely and perform on screen in a manner that was more genuine than something perfectly rehearsed. As a producer, Cassavetes went to great lengths to preserve the integrity of his original vision, even mortgaging his own home to finance his films rather than risk interference from any investors.

In 2000, 11 years after John Cassavetes passed away, Film Independent introduced an award named after the filmmaker which is given to a movie made for a budget under $500,000 and that mirrors the principals that Cassavetes’ work embodies.

The films that have won the John Cassavetes Award embrace new approaches to film making and at the same time elevate story telling to the next level. From the unconventional narrative built around “fictionally found” video camera footage in “The Blair Witch Project,” to the improvisational comedy of two straight men trying to make an amateur gay erotic film in “Humpday,” the core values of John Cassavetes’ approach to the medium remain alive and well.

As the Spirit Awards begins a new decade of honoring the filmmakers that continue to pioneer new avenues with limited resources, join us for a look back at the 11 films that have achieved this honor.

[Click the thumbnails to see the images full size.]





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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