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Image conscious 

In fact or fiction, movies exposed our national character

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Indie Film Scene Musical Chairs

At the end of this year's Atlanta Film Festival, with the newly christened Festival Director Jake Jacobson out the door after less than a year and no executive director in place, the 31-year-old IMAGE Film and Video, like so many independent media centers across the country, appeared to be in trouble. Thankfully, a new executive director (Gabriel Wardell) was hired in September, and a new festival director (Dan Krovich) soon followed, stabilizing an important local film resource. Atlanta filmmakers also contributed to a feeling that the city was experiencing a promising indie-film rebirth. The anthology film The Signal, directed by Dave Bruckner, Jacob Gentry and Dan Bush, was chosen for the highly competitive 2007 Sundance Film Festival. Milt Thomas, another well-regarded local filmmaker, was tapped for his second Sundance honor after winning a coveted spot along with co-screenwriter Kristen Gorell at the Screenwriter's Lab workshop with a Director's Lab workshop spot to further develop his film Uncloudy Day.

She's Up ... She's Down ...

Nobody can appreciate the roller coaster ride of politics more than the pride of DeKalb County, Cynthia McKinney. Despite literally being the star of the show in the Sundance Film Festival favorite, director Ian Inaba's American Blackout, the U.S. representative was bounced from office by the electorate for the second time. (She lost in 2002, only to get back in in 2004.) The good news for McKinney, who stirred up still more controversy for striking a Capitol Hill police officer when he failed to recognize her entering the Capitol: '08 is only two years away.

American Blackout was released on DVD in early October.

Robert Altman, R.I.P.

As astounding American director whose rambling style and subversive content defined our national film character, Robert Altman worked up until the end, dying after five decades in the business, at age 81. Proving beyond a doubt that creativity was his lifeblood, despite suffering from cancer Altman had most recently created a typically layered ensemble piece, A Prairie Home Companion. His masterpieces were many -- M*A*S*H, Nashville, Gosford

Park, McCabe & Mrs. Miller -- but even his disappointments -- Cookie's Fortune, Dr. T & The Women -- only served to illuminate a man who took chances and had a desire to peek into a variety of subcultures, from the fashion trade to moneyed Southern suburbia, and whose identity was always wrapped up in the aura of a 1970 rebel bucking the Hollywood system. Long tracking shots, documentary-inspired naturalism and overlapping dialogue were all Altman trademarks, along with enormous ensemble casts. Though nominated five times, Altman never won an Academy Award though he did receive an Honorary Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2006.

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