Film Inside-Llewyn-Davis
By Tench Phillips, co-owner Naro Cinema

There are now plenty of warning signs that can inform us about large corporate hierarchies and how they have conquered democratic governments around the world. And how they are privatizing what’s left of the commons. Tried and true ways of challenging state and corporate power are proving to be impotent in an era where our government protects industry regardless of the environmental consequences and the human misery caused.

In reaction to this threat is a growing movement to re-localize our food production and marketing as well as to initiate and support locally-owned businesses.

But one of the most important factors contributing to a democratic society is the free-flow of information and ideas. Plus there is the need for competent journalism that investigates the corruption and abuses of the corporate state. On both of these accounts, the corporate media has fallen way short. But this is to be expected due to the inherent conflict of interest in running a for-profit press and so it’s never been a major objective.

Thus the vital importance of maintaining an open web that’s free of corporate control. And also to somehow gain back a form of privacy on the web that has been breached by the corporate state.

And so we would be wise to support our local media and the independent journalism in our area. These businesses include Veer Magazine along with the new web outlet produced by publisher Jeff Maisey along with Philip Newswanger, NorfolkMetro.com. It’s masthead reads “Your First Stop for Free, Independent, and Uncensored News.” That slogan is certainly a unique commodity in this day and age. And to provide this essential community service for free is remarkable when ad revenue has yet to be generated. It’s a real problem to figure out a business model on the web that allows journalists a small remuneration. Irregardless, there are e-magazines like AltDaily.com along with many blogs and social networks that are published locally.

But our lives are so limited if social media is only to be found in cyberspace. Small businesses where people can meet and socialize in the flesh are of course essential. In addition to many locally-owned coffee houses and pubs in our area, we have several indie media businesses. They include Prince Books in downtown Norfolk, Birdland Music in Kempsville, and the Naro Video and Naro Cinema complex.

The Naro Cinema books the smaller movies and documentaries that are produced outside of the large studio system. The term “indie film” defines these artist-driven movies made with an economy of means by filmmakers who embody independence and originality. Funding is found outside of the studio system and so film budgets are limited – although plots and themes are not. Free of the creative dictates and plot constraints necessary to compete in the international marketplace, indie movies are character driven and are made for a more mature movie-going audience. Big name actors and talent may work for scale in order to be involved in projects that they believe in. The film budgets are reined in and that allows for more creative risks in the filmmaking.

There are more films vying in the marketplace than ever before. The affordability of HD digital equipment has allowed most anyone to make a movie. The challenge now for filmmakers is to find an audience to view their movie. Film Festivals around the country can provide these audiences but after they play the festival circuit, only a fortunate few are able to strike a distribution deal that will allow the marketing and exhibition of their movie in cinemas.

The Naro has just made the conversion from 35mm film to digital projection. This expensive project was made possible by the community funded Digital Cinema Campaign that was supported by more than 400 patrons. In return for this generosity, we will be able to continue to bring the best in indie film to the area. And the newly initiated series “Truly Indie Tuesdays” allows for deserving smaller films to be showcased locally on the big screen.

The Independent Spirit Awards is an annual celebration honoring artist-driven films made with an economy of means by filmmakers who embody independence and originality. The Spirit Awards recognizes the achievements of American independent filmmakers and promotes the finest independent films of the year to a wider audience. The winners of the Spirit Awards are voted upon by Film Independent and IFP Members. Winners will be announced at the Spirit Awards on Saturday, March 1, 2014.

Listed below are this year nominees. These films premiered locally at the Naro with the exception of 12 Years a Slave which opened wide throughout Hampton Roads. Some of these titles including Inside Llewyn Davis and Nebraska have yet to show here and will open at the Naro soon.

2013 Nominees for Independent Spirit Awards

Best Feature
12 Years a Slave, All Is Lost, Frances Ha, Inside Llewyn Davis, Nebraska

Best Director
Shane Carruth, Upstream Color; J.C. Chandor; All Is Lost; Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave; Jeff Nichols, Mud; Alexander Payne, Nebraska

Best Screenplay
Woody Allen, Blue Jasmine; Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke & Richard Linklater Before Midnight; Nicole Holofcener Enough Said;Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber, The Spectacular Now; John Ridley, 12 Years a Slave

Best First Feature
Blue Caprice, Concussion, Fruitvale Station, Una Noche, Wadjda

Best First Screenplay
Lake Bell, In A World; Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Don Jon; Bob Nelson, Nebraska; Jill Soloway, Afternoon Delight; Michael Starrbury, The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete

John Cassavetes Award (best feature made for under $500,000)
Computer Chess, Crystal Fairy, Museum Hours, Pit Stop, This is Martin Bonner

Best Female Lead
Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine; Julie Delpy, Before Midnight; Gaby Hoffmann, Crystal Fairy; Brie Larson, Short Term 12; Shailene Woodley, The Spectacular Now

Best Male Lead
Bruce Dern, Nebraska; Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave; Oscar Isaac, Inside Llewyn Davis; Michael B. Jordan, Fruitvale Station; Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club; Robert Redford, All Is Lost

Best Supporting Female
Melonie Diaz, Fruitvale Station; Sally Hawkins, Blue Jasmine; Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave; Yolonda Ross, Go For Sisters;June Squibb, Nebraska

Best Supporting Male
Michael Fassbender, 12 Years a Slave; Will Forte, Nebraska; James Gandolfini, Enough Said; Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club;Keith Stanfield, Short Term 12

Best Cinematography 12 Years a Slave, Spring Breakers, Inside Llewyn Davi, All Is Lost, Computer Chess

Best Editing
Upstream Color, Museum Hours, Frances Ha, Una Noche, Short Term 12

Best Documentary
20 Feet From Stardom, After Tiller, Gideon’s Army, The Act of Killing, The Square

Best International Film
A Touch of Sin (China), Blue is the Warmest Color (France), Gloria (Chile), The Great Beauty (Italy), The Hunt (Denmark)