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Two Shot: The State Of Independent Film, The Obscure Spirits Lineup, And Can Indies And The Theatres That Show Them Be Saved?

By Pete Hammond, Todd McCarthy

Two Shot

Editor’s note: Deadline presents the 11th episode of Two Shot, a video series in which Pete Hammond and Todd McCarthy tackle the artistry of films. Each has reviewed and written about the craft for decades and built a remarkable breadth of knowledge of films past and present. What we hoped for when we asked them to do this was a concise, mature and thoughtful conversation comparable to what we saw from Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel.

In today’s Two Shot we look, in advance of Sunday’s annual Indie Spirit Awards, at the sad current state of independent film and hope for its recovery post-pandemic. The return to the arthouse has been a slow one for the key audiences who used to flock to smart and much-discussed independently made movies, but now at best it is streamers who have taken over the space, with the traditional indie begging for distribution and so often not getting it.

Looking at the lineup of nominees for the Spirits, we wonder just what some of these movies even are? The Indie Spirits changed its traditional day-before-Oscars date this year to three weeks earlier in order to have more direct influence on Oscar voting, but the lineup chosen by committees is so deeply indie it will have little of their desired effect — ironic since they have actually matched Oscar’s Best Picture six times out of the last 10 years. Is the indie film success we know and love vanishing before our eyes?

Our discussion goes further to talk about major studio abandonment of their specialty divisions, the plight of arthouses like Landmark and the beleaguered Arclight who play these movies, the lack of marketing muscle and the number of movies getting made but not getting traction, and so much more in our episode “The State of Independent Film.”

Check out our conversation in the video above.

Hammond has been Deadline’s Awards Columnist for the past decade, covering what now seemingly is the year-round Oscar and Emmy seasons. He is also Deadline’s Chief Film Critic, having previously reviewed films for MovieLine, Boxoffice magazine, Backstage, and Maxim, as well as Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide, for which he was a contributing editor. In addition to writing, Hammond also hosts KCET Cinema Series and the station’s weekly series Must See Movies.

McCarthy is a veteran trade publication film critic, columnist and reporter who has also written several acclaimed books and documentary films. He served two stints on the staffs of Variety and The Hollywood Reporter and extensively covered film festivals internationally for both publications. His film Visions of Light: The Art of Cinematography won the best documentary prizes from the New York Film Critics and National Society of Film Critics associations, and he won an Emmy for writing the documentary Preston Sturges: The Rise and Fall of an American Dreamer. He also directed the documentaries Man of Cinema: Pierre Rissient and Forever Hollywood.

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