The tidings don't get any bigger -- or better -- than this for Bay Area moviegoers and filmmakers: KQED debuts a weekly half-hour magazine-style show on Friday, Nov. 5, devoted to independent film, video, and electronic media. Dubbed Independent View, the locally produced program will offer interviews with resident and visiting filmmakers as well as a variety of features, including "Tools of the Trade," an irreverent look at the technical side of filmmaking. The show's about-to-be-named hosts will be augmented by guest commentators, critics, and correspondents.
Independent View underscores KQED's commitment to the "Independent Initiative" announced earlier this year by the public TV station (Reel World, June 23). That strategy aims to increase and spotlight the contributions of indie filmmakers to KQED's programming mix, attracting a younger audience in the process. From that standpoint, the new show is a huge momentum-builder.
According to my sources, KQED hopes to syndicate Independent View to PBS stations around the country -- a savvy scheme to regain some of the national prestige ceded over the years to Boston's WGBH. The first order of business, of course, is getting the show up and running, and producer Jennifer Maytorena Taylor and executive producer Jack Walsh are racing to meet the deadline for their air date even as we speak.
Big Wednesday Regret to Inform, the Academy Award-nominated documentary about life, death, and Vietnam by East Bay filmmaker Barbara Sonneborn (Reel World, Jan. 13), has been slated for a high-profile PBS broadcast on Jan. 24. The film opens this Friday at the Lumiere as part of a 15-city limited theatrical run that ends in Seattle and Washington, D.C., in November. The hitch is that any press Sonneborn generates to sell movie tickets now translates into less coverage of the TV premiere. "We're in an odd situation," admits producer Janet Cole, who joined the project in 1997 to spearhead the crucial last stages of fund-raising and postproduction. "We love it best for people to see the film on screen. But PBS has a legitimate concern about us using up all the possible publicity between now and January. Of course, more people will see it on TV than any other way."
Since the success of Regret to Inform, Cole has been bombarded by filmmakers trying to enlist her skills and experience on their documentary projects. She chose to go with rising Stanford talents Charlotte Lagarde and Lisa Denker and their film about the legendary, courageous Rell Sunn, "the first face of surfing and the first face of breast cancer in Hawaii." Why did Cole catch this wave? "Charlotte's filmmaking talent -- and the chance to negotiate contracts in Hawaii."
The Straight Story
Check out Nov. 6 on your Castro calendar and you see "Theater Closed." Isn't Saturday the biggest day of the week in the theater biz? Yup, but Pixar plunked down a wad to rent the house for a Toy Story 2 cast and crew screening and party. ... Doc icon Jeffrey Friedman, producer Tom Luddy, and George Lucas (reportedly espied savoring an AMC Kabuki hot dog) made the scene at last week's American Beauty screening and reception. Forget those other guys -- Friedman and Rob Epstein are busy finishing Pink Triangle for Sundance, HBO, and a potential theatrical release. A television version aired last month on Britain's Channel 4. ... The first film festival of the third millennium will be the second S.F. Indiefest, screening hereabouts Jan. 6 through 13.