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Notes from the Field: Karin Chien

Updated: Jul 28, 2021

In our 'Notes from the Field' series, we speak with artists, filmmakers, distributors, exhibitors, programmers, writers, and thinkers working across the spectrum of art and film, hearing about the ways in which they are working towards creating new ecosystems for the creation, circulation, and consumption of moving images. For this edition, Matt speaks with producer and distributor Karin Chien, an independent producer and distributor committed to bold voices and innovative forms that build radical practices of ethical filmmaking. Karin is the founder and president of dGenerate Films, a leading distributor of independent, contemporary Chinese cinema. Karin has produced 10 feature films starring women and people of color, including Circumstance, Stones in the Sun, The Exploding Girl, and The Motel. She was the recipient of the inaugural Cinereach Producing Award and the Piaget Independent Spirit Producers Award, and a four-time nominee of the Independent Spirit Awards. In 2020, Karin began a producing collaboration with Louverture Films. In this conversation, we spoke primarily about her work with dGenerate Films, as well as her work producing independent films in the US.

Sentient Art Film: Could you tell me how you started working in distribution, and how you became involved in distributing Chinese language film?

Karin Chien: My work in distribution came out of my work as a producer. It started on the first film that I produced, an Asian American science-fiction film called Robot Stories. This is a film that had an audience, that showed at a lot of film festivals, and that won a lot of awards, but when it was time for distribution the only offer we received was an offer with a term of 25 years that would automatically renew for another 25. That is a 50 year contract, with no money upfront. We made the film for very little, around $250,000, but I was lucky to have a good lawyer at the time. He said: “you will sign this contract over my dead body.”

Most filmmakers are taught to make the film and then give it over to someone else to distribute, but I was working with someone who was quite innovative: Greg Pak. He started the first Asian American film website and database, and he had success distributing his own short films online. This was in 2001, and he was making money every quarter from distributing shorts films online. So we decided to try distribution ourselves.

We had heard about a Filipino American film (The Debut) that had been successfully self-released. We worked with a publicist, Sasha Berman, and created a hybrid model between self-distribution and a service deal, which worked really well for the film. We raised some money, and broke even on a theatrical release. From that we picked up ancillary deals, and made our own international sales. Through that process I learned how distribution works, which was a gift for me as a producer. We also ended up self-distributing the third film that I produced, another Asian American film (Undoing). We did our own theatrical release hand in hand with the home video distributor.

Because of these experiences with self-distribution, when independent Chinese films crossed my path, I knew that there was a market for them. I knew where there could be revenue on the non-theatrical educational market. It's been a remunerative market for decades. So I thought, at the very least, if these films could not be distributed in their domestic market, we could distribute them in the US, and make some money for the filmmakers. I tried to give this idea away. I told everybody but nobody was interested. After a year of talking about it, people started to offer me the money to start this company instead, and offered to work on the marketing or the programming. So we formed a company.

That’s funny. People talk about having their ideas stolen or ripped off, but you couldn't give your idea away.

I couldn't, but when I got to China I did have the idea stolen by a woman that I hired to be my translator. My Mandarin wasn’t quite good enough for contracts, so that was her role. She had all the phone numbers of the filmmakers and our licence agreements because she was translating them. Then after I left, she took all of that information and formed a copycat distribution company before probably realising that there was little to no money in this game. I don’t think that company lasted longer than a year. I ran into her a few years later at the American Film Market in Santa Monica, and she had changed her name. She changed her whole identity and became a new person.

That is kind of crazy.

If we could wind it back a bit further, could you tell me how you got into film as you said you were already producing at this point? I’m interested in how you came to film Initially and how your engagement with the medium may have changed over time. I appreciate this is quite a large question, but how would you compare the sort of world in which you started out compared to the one in which you find yourself now working?

A lot has changed.In 2003, after we made Robot Stories, the director Greg Park had this fantastic Chinese romance western called Rio Chino, and I couldn't get that film made to save my life back then. Now you see top talent and powerhouse agencies behind this kind of material. The market conditions have changed completely.

Things that were a non-starter then can now be talked about as viable or possible?

I have made a career out of producing things that were impossible to finance and impossible to sell, but now there is a market for these stories and these filmmakers. That's a real change and I'm glad for it because it was so hard to make a film in those conditions. I absolutely became burnt out working on things that couldn't pay me.

Working in film came partly out of my education at UC Berkeley. I went there as an undergrad and studied literature. I did take a few film classes. I always credit my teachers, because I don't think we do that enough. I took a film class with Kathy Geritz, who is still a curator at Pacific Film Archive, and I took another with Loni Ding, one of the first Asian American documentary filmmakers. I was very lucky. Trinh T Minh-ha was also one of my teachers. I graduated at a time when there was an explosion of Asian American films. By that, I mean there were three! It was Strawberry Fields by Rea Tajiri, Shopping for Fangs by Justin Lin and Quentin Lee, and Yellow by Chris Chan Lee. That was a moment where all of those factors and dynamics crystallised into one.

I had a love of story from my interest in literature, and I knew that film was the dominant cultural medium at that time. That was where the cultural battleground was. I don't think that's true anymore, but when I graduated and wanted to start working, I recognised this was a business. I didn't know anybody in the film industry, but I somehow randomly thought that I could make a career out of being a producer. I moved myself to New York, and volunteered at the IFP Film Market, and started working as an unpaid intern on an indie film shoot. I worked as a crew member for a year and then went and got a masters in literature at Columbia University, studying a certain kind of narrative. Afterwards, I met Greg Pak and started producing Robot Stories. I think I dove into producing really quickly, partly due to my personality.

What do you mean by that?

I prefer diving headfirst into something and learning by doing as I go. I'm less good at learning in a structured environment.

My next question may relate to that, because I was going to ask how you find working across so many different disciplines. You are involved in producing, distributing, curating, and teaching, and then you also do a lot of work in advocacy and activism too? I’m interested whether you find yourself stretched thin, or if you find it necessary to not limit your work to a single sort of activity?

I wouldn't have thought of myself as doing many different things. Because I actually think that there is a universal misconception in the film industry where distribution is separated from the process of filmmaking. I think that concept serves to hold and concentrate power where it already exists. It’s a concept taught through film schools, and I don't really know why. So, part of the work of Distribution Advocates is changing that understanding and that awareness. It’s really key because distribution is where the power is held in the business, and where it historically always has been.

In turn, all the things I do are just something of a quest. I teach producing, and at the end of the semester my students sometimes ask why would anyone want to become a producer when it is so hard. I tell them that is probably the reason that I keep doing it. I do it because it's challenging. I am drawn to producing because it's impossible to be good at every aspect of it. This is the same thing that draws me to all the other things I do. Starting a distribution company was really hard. Learning how to teach was really hard. Teaching is really exhausting; there's absolutely refined skill to it. I think most producers are drawn to challenges otherwise you would not be a producer.

What, to you, connects the work that you do? I was reading your bio, and it says that you work with “bold voices and innovative forms”, which is a good way of condensing an interest in a particular style of filmmaking, and then it also says about “radical practices of ethical filmmaking”, which I think also says a lot about having a commitment to asking political questions. How would you define the work that you do, and what brings it all together?

No one has really asked me these questions before! I would say that I identify as a producer. This is because it is about strategic thinking and about making something happen. At the bottom line, my best skill is that I can make something happen. Producing combines the kind of innate skills that I have.

Distribution is a very different kind of work, but it's what we do at dGenerate FIlms is important because it sends money back to filmmakers in China, revenue that they can't access in their home market. Even if it's small, every quarter we are able to send something back. Part of this support is a way of saying: “you are seen, we support you, keep doing what you're doing, and here is a little bit of money that hopefully helps with sustainability.” It is a recognition of the sustainability that is needed for independent filmmakers all around the world, and on the flip side, it is a recognition of the need for a plurality of points of view, especially in the American market. Until I started this company, I had never seen a film about China made by a Chinese filmmaker and unmediated by a Western point of view. So point of view is really important to me, as is sustainability around those points of view.

Teaching is not something I think I am very good at, but people keep asking me to do it, and curating is something that I've only come to recently, and have realised I can completely trust my instincts around.

Something that doesn't get talked about enough in our business, which is really important to me, is process. Process is just as important to me as story or point of view. I might join a project just because of the opportunity it offers to create new processes and be extremely intentional about it. There are a couple of micro-budget films that I'm working on right now that are trying to radically change the filmmaking apparatus, which historically is exclusive, hierarchical, and extractive

Could you explain what you mean by process?

If I'm making a film for $250,000, that's considered no-budget in the feature film world, but it is a quarter of a million dollars in the rest of the world. It's a lot of money to anybody, and if I can take that money into a community then I have to recognise what that money means and what my responsibility is in spending that money. That comes down to: who I choose to hire, what vendors I choose to work with, how I choose to divide that money, or how I choose to enact contracts between people, in terms of resources, talent, or images. Even a simple image waiver can be a pretty controlling and extractive document. Are there ways to change that from a release to a partnership? These fundamental questions around capitalism and the way that the film business operates are rarely asked.

It is really interesting to me, as a viewer of films, thinking about whether or not you can see an ethical process in the resulting film, or if that's invisible to some degree once it is exported into the file that the viewer, or the critic, sees?

I think that it's a responsibility of critics that most don't take on. Abby [Sun] is one person I have seen take on that sort of responsibility by looking into the processes of film festivals. If there is no interrogation or questioning by the press, then these extractive and exploitative practices will continue. Filmmakers - especially in non-fiction - have taken it upon themselves to call these things out, but it is hard as a producer to see the same unethical practices be celebrated over and over again by writers and critics who are smart and could figure something out if they asked questions or paid deeper attention. I think there is a much more complex discussion around the film and entertainment press that we need to have.

Going back to dGenerate films, you had said that you almost gave the idea away at first but you were encouraged by others to do it yourself, so I'm now interested in how it grew over time, and whether whether audiences and industry were receptive to it, or if it was kind of a slow burn?

Yeah, it's been hard, and the challenges have changed over time. I wouldn't say I did it on my own. I did it with the people who offered their work at the start as well. That was Brent Hall, Kevin Lee, Suyin So, Phil Lam, and Bill Cheng. Those of us who started the company together were Asian American, and almost all ABC (American Born Chinese). The first three years were spent just trying to get the company off the ground. We started with seven titles, I think, in 2008, in partnership with this venture called ReFrame, a joint venture between Amazon CreateSpace and Tribeca Film Institute. It was like the normal Amazon CreateSpace, but because of the Tribeca Film Institute, it came with highly favourable terms. 80% of the revenue came back to us, whilst normally Amazon takes around 60%. The technology that Amazon had at that time was called “Manufacture on Demand”. We would send all the materials to Amazon and they would produce DVDs as orders came in. That worked really well and helped with inventory costs.

We used our relationships to create press, and had some unexpected successes like Zhao Dayong’s Ghost Town, which went on to show in something like 50 cities after Dennis Lim programmed it for the New York Film Festival. That film continues to sell well today. We had some other great unexpected successes like that, but after three years doing this on top of our full time jobs, it started to feel less and less sustainable. I realised that distribution is really different from producing. With producing, you have to figure out a strategy and every film is different. The film will take up as much resource as you put into it. But with distribution, if you know how to distribute one kind of film, you could distribute many kinds of film. The processes are the same, the vendors are the same, the deliverables are the same. The only thing that really changes is the marketing that is required. We started to look for a way to work with a bigger company that had already had all of these processes set better than us, and we found that partner in Icarus Films, who we have now worked with for 10 years. I lead the acquisitions, and Icarus Films does the day-to-day work of distributing the film and then shares the revenue. After the filmmakers are paid, we get a percentage of the revenue, so it's a more sustainable way to keep the operation going. We also benefit from being part of a larger coalition of distributors, as you can see with OVID, which started with 8 micro-distributors and now has more than 30 distributors supplying content onto the platform.

In this greatly consolidated market that the US is in, the challenges I would say are multiple. Distributing foreign language films in the US is always hard, but even getting Chinese films into the US market can be hard. Publicity is something that we have to navigate very carefully because the repercussions are felt by the filmmaker and their families, not us. We try to be very, very careful, and honestly, if we can't publicise a film, we'll still release it because that's what the film and the filmmakers deserve. That is certainly a very unusual situation for any distributor to be in though. But we are completely filmmaker driven. The filmmaker and the audience are our only reason for being, so whatever way we can reach the audience, we will take it, as long as we can still protect the filmmaker whilst doing it.

Are these complexities something that's changing all the time or more of a recent issue? How do you and your team stay on top of the latest ways you need to work to keep filmmakers safe?

Not every filmmaker is the same. Depending on where they live or whether they have family in the mainland or Hong Kong, there are different considerations to be made, so we take our lead from the filmmakers. This is definitely something that has increased since we started the company. When we started the company, the main concern was not to label the films as ‘Banned in China’, but now the concerns are different and very real.

It may be a strange way of thinking about things, but do you think there is something about the difficulty of some of the creative situations for Chinese filmmakers that means the quality or integrity or the work coming out is great, in comparison to US documentary for instance, or do you think that's a false connection to draw?

I wrote this piece a long time ago for Ted Hope with a headline that said something like ‘Why Chinese Independent Cinema Is More Free Than US Independent Cinema’. In that, I asked, if your film was completely unbound from market considerations, if you knew you could never distribute your film in the US, would you still make your film? And if you did, would you change the way you wrote it, or would you cast differently? Of course you would. So paradoxically, this situation for mainland Chinese filmmakers had created this more creatively free environment. We have films that are six or eight hours long, for instance. These stories are epic, because they are stories that aren't being told anywhere else. Whether the filmmakers consider the decision to make a longer film a responsibility to tell the full story because there is no other place you can find that, it is hard to know, but I do think that there is a freedom from form that now, after watching so many Chinese documentaries, it makes it hard for me to watch a lot of American documentaries, for example. I call it a tyranny of form, and it is tied to the funding.

What is the tyranny of form, as you see it?

I think that documentary is a very different cinematic business than scripted film is. A lot of documentaries are funded through philanthropy or foundations, with philanthropic intentions. That would be pretty rare for a scripted film, which are required to to prove themselves to the marketplace. It comes down to who's making the funding decisions, and who those funders need to please and satisfy in turn. Sometimes they're driven to fund issue documentaries. What are they looking for? What are the measurable outcomes they need? Thinking about these things is not necessarily the way to find creative freedom in your documentary structure. If your documentary is three hours long, if you don't have title cards, if you don't have graphics, if you don't have voiceover narration, if you don't have talking heads, it will be harder for the audience to consume the film, and then you'll have less measurable outcomes as a result. It goes back to the funding. I am not an expert in documentary but there are interesting conversations happening amongst documentary filmmakers in the US about the tyranny of form that’s coming down from the newest and biggest funders these days - the streamers.

How often are you in Asia, and, if you're not there often, what's it like doing this work at a distance? Does the internet mean that distance is less of a problem? How do you navigate your proximity and distance from the filmmakers that you're working with?

When the independent film festivals were still happening, I spent a good amount of time in China every year. I would go at least once, and I would stay for at least a month, and sometimes two. We would rent a place in Beijing and spend every day meeting filmmakers, watching films, or going to film festivals or to any of the venues that would show independent films. I would also set up events. When the Apple store first opened in Beijing, you could walk in and find an independent filmmaker from the dGenerate Films catalogue talking about how they made their film.

Everything changed in 2012 for personal reasons. My twin sister was sick and I became her full time caregiver, and I didn’t travel for three years. This just happened to be in 2012-2014, which was the period of the intense crackdown that led to the total shutdown of China’s independent film festivals. After that, only the Nanjing festival was able to happen in October 2014, but in a very supervised and censored way. So, I looked for other ways to find my way back to China.

I haven't been there since February 2018, and the distance is definitely a problem. I'm working in a field where things cannot be publicised or announced. It is already a culture that's heavily relationship driven, and there is so much interesting work that is happening that is hard to find out about. You do get bits and pieces of it on Chinese social media, but if I could continue to get that kind of regularity of spending one to two months a year in China every year it would be ideal because that would be followed up with travelling to other international film festivals where you would see some of the same filmmakers and producers and build relationships. As soon as China opens, I'd like to go back because you have to be there to know what's happening. I'm able to see the chinese films that are coming to European film festivals, but that is already a bit of a filter on what is being made.

One development is the rise of Chinese sales agents. They're still relatively new, but I've formed strong relationships with them, and the networks are always evolving. These international sales agents are the consequence of the industrialization of independent film in China, which coincides with the shutting down of the truly independent spaces.

Are people in China communicating in different ways, or using the internet or underground social media networks to share work?

I wouldn't feel able to speak on their behalf. I only know what I observe and I'm sure that's not the full picture. There are still film festivals happening but not really in an independent way. There's this kind of quasi-independent space at a couple of film festivals, but not everybody goes to these as they're not in Beijing so there is an access problem there. Independent has come to mean something else in China now. When we started the company, “independent” pretty clearly designated someone who was working outside the censorship system, but now that is rare so “independent” has a new meaning. I would say it parallels the use of the word “independent” in the US. Warner Brothers set up Warner Independent Pictures, for example. The meaning of the word “independent” soon starts to become more of a marketing term.

Yeah, it is the same in the UK. There are award ceremonies for independent films, but they are not giving awards to independent films at them.

I had a more general question that is semi-related to this, which was about what you might have learned about your practice during the period of the pandemic, whenrein screenings will have been rarer and production was presumably paused for a while? At the same time, there were a lot of social movements occuring and maybe new conversations happening too, so did you learn anything about yourself or your work during that time? And, if you stopped working, did you go back to work differently?

I think something that was really interesting was that the end of the film supply chain, the film festivals and physical exhibitors, had to close immediately. They were what we were watching when the pandemic started. Everyone was looking at SXSW, Tribeca, and CPH:DOX, to see how they transformed or how they didn't. Very quickly there was some solidarity formed around arthouse cinemas, and how cinemas have been affected continues to be a story. There was attention paid towards the exhibition end of the chain, so I hope that people became, and remain, more aware of the global supply chain of film.

I also hope that there is a kind of rethinking around old practices that comes out of this very severe action that had to be taken with film festivals and exhibitors closing. I think that speaks to part of the question that you were hinting at, which is the part about social change. I think that comes down to what kind of work we're showing, what kind of audiences we're targeting, and how fairly we're treating the filmmakers. That is about the stories themselves and the creative choices, but it's also about practical matters like the sharing of revenue from virtual screenings with filmmakers who are also suffering. I hope that all of this showed us how much more connected we are than we may be aware of. In film, I think the different roles and practices can be quite siloed, but suddenly the whole supply chain became very vulnerable because one part of it had to shut down. I say all this with high hopes, but I think that sometimes this conversation just gets reduced into talking about how the actual windows have shortened, which is the least interesting way to have a conversation around what happened in the film industry.

But maybe the easiest to understand, or communicate?

I think it is the easiest way for people to understand and then repeat. I have to think that film festivals and exhibitors went through some serious soul searching, and pocket searching, and I'm sure they had to reevaluate quite a lot.

I had a question that sort of fits into that, which was about some of the advocacy work that you have been involved with over the years, like Distribution Advocates or Dear Producer. Would you say that you have observed an increased receptivity and willingness to listen from people with regards to those things recently, and if so, do you think that is connected to what we've just been talking about how workers have been forced to hear and think about the other parts of the pipeline?

There has been, but I have no idea why. I'm very pleasantly surprised, maybe because I'm in my own silo with these things that I'm so passionate about. These things matter to me now the same way they mattered to me a year ago, but you're absolutely right in asking whether the receptivity has changed, because it has. Maybe somebody else could explain it better, but there is definitely greater interest, for example in equitable treatment of producers, and it could be because of the work that someone like Rebecca Green at DearProducer has done in putting out the data and reports, or it could be the larger movement in the field for equity. Probably all of the above.

I don't think this accounts for a seismic shift, but there are filmmakers whose films are being kicked off Amazon with no real reason. That has happened to thousands of documentary filmmakers over the last six months, so that certainly creates awareness of the consolidation that is occurring and how it affects people.

I wanted to ask you about this shrinking of plurality actually, and the idea of the increasing consolidation of attention in film-viewing that you've talked about. What are some ways that you see it's possible to resist that, and still capture people's attention with the things that you're producing or distributing?

Carlos Gutierrez said it so well in one of our first Distribution Advocates conversations. He said that we need many diverse structures of distribution and exhibition. For me, that's what it comes down to. We need to believe in as many varied solutions as possible. It's not going to be one solution. It should be regional, community driven, audience driven, genre driven. The more platforms there are, whether physical or virtual, the better. There are still massive holes in terms of opportunities. There are still cinema deserts, communities in which there are no movie theatres for miles. If the solutions come as a philanthropic project, then that's great, or if a theatre can survive on private rentals or another business model that accompanies a solution, then that is great too. There is a lot that still hasn't been done, and I hope that we can play a small part in shaking up people's complacency around what our options are available for exhibition.

To me the opposite of consolidation is quite simple, it is choice - so the more choices, the better. As a distributor, I'm platform agnostic. I will work with any platform that wants to licence our films and show them. The consumer will win. Consumers want choice. Consumers want ease. They want a frictionless experience when watching something. Some consumers want to go to the theatre and some want to stay at home. Many want to watch things on their phones, others want to organise micro cinemas in their backyards. I think as an industry, we haven’t yet provided much choice to consumers. I follow the kind of exhibition innovations that are happening in China and I find that really inspiring. There are so many ideas and so much entrepreneurial spirit present in the younger generations all over the world. This is what is needed to get to a place where we can have plurality.

What else has inspired you recently? This sounds corny but is there a project, a movement, or a way that people are making or showing films that has given you hope for the future, or for a future anyway?

I think the organising that is happening around the Producers Union is really inspiring. I don't think that I would have ever imagined it, but the push that happened a couple of weeks ago, followed by the reception to the announcement was really great. That gives me hope because I had to stop producing for a while because I couldn't afford it. I ran out of everything - money, energy, spirit - so I think that this effort comes from a generation of producers that feel very strongly that if they don't do this, they will be the last generation of independent producers because being an independent producer is completely unsustainable. I run a little filmmaker residency program in Nevada City, California that occurs every August, and I decided this year to use that residency’s resources to support some of this work around producer sustainability. I'm happy to use whatever little resources I have to support that work and push it forward.

That's really important. You can see a lot of exasperation from people who have not really been listened to, and as you said, have just kept going and struggling. At some point, everyone will have run out of money and energy, and that's a grim prospect.

Yeah, especially because the independent directors are being snatched up. In the US, the streamers are trying to hire everyone for content. If you're the director and I'm the producer, we could both struggle for years to make your first feature film and then after it premieres, you get hired to direct television and make $25-$35,000 an episode. That doesn't exist for producers. Maybe we will develop a script together for a series, and you will get hired to write the pilot. You’ll get $150,000, and I will be paid zero. Most directors and the writers need their producers to guide them through the story development process, so we’ll still be having weekly calls. I know one producer who managed to get $5,000 to the writer’s $150,000.

Does the director ever bring the producer with them onto the project, or make that part of their deal?

That’s the deal. The producer gets $0-$5,000 if they’re brought onto the project. I know a producer who found a book, hired the writer, hired the director, brought on the studio partner, got the project greenlit at a streamer, and she made $25,000 total, including seeing it through production and post to completion. This is years of work. The production manager who worked the two months of prep and production made $100,000. Because there's no union that advocates for us, our pay is all over the place.

Right, and people will be so invested in a project or an idea that they're willing to let these things go, or at least not ensure that they do not happen.

Yeah. What is the only power you have in that situation? It is to walk away, and that is not great if that is your only power. So this collective bargaining is a bright spot in all of this.

The only other question I had - which is something that I have spoken about with some of the other people I have spoken to for this newsletter - was around your experience moving between working in more mainstream contexts (or centres, if you want to call them that), and then more experimental or outlying filmmakers or work (which you might refer to as the margins). I wanted to ask whether you see that distinction or separation, and whether you think it is useful in terms of creating a space where things can be noticed and not skipped over, or whether it encourages the sort of siloing effect you described earlier?

It's very hard. There are definitely times when I feel like I don't fully belong or feel accepted in either context because I don't fully speak the language of one or the other. But at the end of the day, for me it's about the work, so I don't necessarily categorise it in my head. You have to be realistic and you have to understand the realities of positioning the film. I think that it depends on the project and the filmmaker itself. As I said before, as a distributor, we're 100% filmmaker driven, so it really depends on what that filmmaker wants. If that filmmaker wants to go to Sundance, I'll try everything to get that film into Sundance, even though it might be a super experimental film that might not fit within the tastes of the programmers. I’ll also try to drill down into why that filmmaker wants to go to Sundance though. Is it because they need a prestigious festival to build their career, or is it because that's the only festival they know in the US?

As a producer, my job is to do the best thing for the film. That is a broad statement but it is my job to know what that means for the film. There are films that you don't place in TIFF because they would be dwarfed by the publicity campaigns of the 300+ other films showing there, but then there are films that you would want there because you want it to launch an awards campaign and create visibility for it. I just try to think about the best strategy for either the filmmaker or the film itself.

It must be hard to know what's best, sometimes.

Yeah, I learned by doing everything the wrong way! Or the hard way. I learn from the many mistakes that I have made.

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