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The Independents

Provocative voices, niche players ... and the money

Over the past months, Variety has been fielding calls from a lot of people who consider themselves independents: From microdistributors to studio specialty labels, from completion bond companies to foreign sales agents.

Of course, it’s all about how one defines that pesky, ever-changing word. Some

define it in terms of financial pedigree (non-studio backing); others say it’s more about budget size (under $20 million); and many claim it’s about the nature of the material (non-mainstream).

Still, one agent insisted “Terminator 3” was an independent film, because its financier, Intermedia/IMF, bankrolled the film through completion. Others argued that Miramax, which now makes films with budgets topping $100 million, is a studio.

And purists continue to chant: You’re not a real indie if you have studio backing. Our take on it is simple. Like the founders of Dogma 95 were forced to do when they couldn’t manage the overload of requests from filmmakers seeking the group’s official seal of approval, we say: If you believe you work as an ndependent, you are.

In this issue, we’ve tried to define the independent world as we see it as well as identify some of the dedicated laborers who have made indie cinema their calling. To honor their tenacity and talent, over the following pages each section kicks off with profiles of those who we feel have made important strides in the past year, supporting unique voices as well as getting recognition in the marketplace.

Whether you agree or disagree with our definition, the business and art of

independent film continue to evolve and fiercely influence the industry at large.