Joe Swanberg to release new film online for free


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Joe Swanberg --best known as one of the pioneers in the independent filmmaking movement known as mumblecore -- is releasing a new film online for free next week. It’s called ‘Marriage Material.’ The film is about a young couple living in Memphis who agree to babysit their friend’s 6-month-old for a day. The experience causes them to examine their own relationship and their feelings about marriage and children.


We asked Swanberg why he was releasing the film for free online. Here’s what he had to say:

Five reasons I’m releasing a brand new film for free on Vimeo the week of Sundance:

1. The date of the ‘release’ is connected to the shipment of the first DVD in the Joe Swanberg: Collected Films 2011 set that Factory 25 is doing, but it’s not lost on me that Sundance is also starting this week. The Sundance Film Festival makes the whole country aware of independent film for a week or so, but most people can’t be there, so it’s fun to put something up that everyone can see.

2. The Collected Films set is an attempt to try something new and find an alternative to conventional distribution. I figured it would be fun to celebrate that by giving away another film in an unconventional way.

3. The American Film Festival in Wroclaw, Poland, did a retrospective of my films in November and I showed ‘Silver Bullets’ at the Viennale the month before. None of my films are available legally on home video or streaming in Poland or Austria, so the inability to find my work or share it with friends after the festivals was frustrating for new fans of mine. Releasing this film on Vimeo allows me to keep the conversation alive with the people I meet internationally.

4. Kentucker Audley, the star of ‘Marriage Material,’ has posted several of his films on Vimeo for free and runs a website, No Budge, that ‘showcases the new class of no-budget films,’ so it seemed appropriate to premiere the film this way.

5. ‘Marriage Material’ is 55 minutes long, which causes a lot of problems for film festivals and distributors. It’s a difficult length to program or release. Rather than padding it out with stuff that doesn’t belong, or hacking into it to make a more conventional short film, I’m happy to release it the way I want it to be seen. Vimeo seems to be the best platform for that at the moment.

[For the Record, Jan. 14, 11:55 p.m.: An earlier version of this post misidentified Joe Swanberg as Joe Berlinger.]


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-- Mark Olsen