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Not Hollywood


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Not Hollywood is both a study of the lived experience of the independent film scene in New York and Los Angeles and a critical examination of America as seen through the lenses of independent filmmakers.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix
Notes for the Reader xiii
Introduction 1
1. Making Independence 29
2. Dark Indies 59
3. Making the Scene 91
4. Moral Ambiguity 121
5. Making Value 147
6. Film Feminism 173
7. Making Films 199
8. Politics 229
9. Conclusions 259
Filmography 273
Notes 285
References 299
Index 315

About the Author

Sherry B. Ortner is Distinguished Professor of Anthropology at UCLA. She is the author of numerous books including New Jersey Dreaming: Capital, Culture, and the Class of '58 and Anthropology and Social Theory: Culture, Power, and the Acting Subject, both published by Duke University Press.


"An original interpretation of film and public culture that addresses the nexus of anthropology and film studies. Best suited for anthropologists interested in contemporary visual culture and film professionals looking for perspective outside the film industry."--Robin Chin Roemer, Library Journal "There is much information to be gained from Ortner's expert use of anthropological methodology to explore the culture of the culture of independent cinema. Film scholars are often too close to their material to obtain findings anywhere near as striking and engaging as the ones enumerated in this volume."--Daniel Coffey, ForeWord Reviews "Not Hollywood does what compelling ethnographies do: it helps us better understand the human complexities of something we simplistically thought we already knew. As a result, the Sundance 'scene' documented here sometimes feels like 'The Emperor's New Clothes' and, at other times, like truly engaged progressive politics and effective cultural critique. Required reading in film and media studies, but relevant far beyond those fields." - John Thornton Caldwell, author of Production Culture: Industrial Reflexivity and Critical Practice in Film and Television "Once again, Sherry B. Ortner takes us on an exploratory trip to an unexpected place: this time it's the 'media world' of American independent filmmakers. She reveals the cultural and emotional logics of passion, independence, and creativity that drive Gen X cineastes to max out their credit cards and push their friendships to the limit to create their own compelling visions of American life in films that are definitively 'not Hollywood.' Ortner never compromises her theoretical arguments, yet her clear and entertaining writing style makes this highly original book accessible to readers in anthropology, media and film studies, and American studies, as well as the interested public." - Faye Ginsburg, Director, Center for Media, Culture, and History, New York University "Turning a sharp anthropologist's eye on a surprising subject, Sherry B. Ortner does for American independent film what Clifford Geertz did for Bali. Her outsider perspective allows her to raise and answer questions that most filmmakers, film historians, and audiences don't know exist." - Peter Biskind, author of Down and Dirty Pictures: Miramax, Sundance, and the Rise of Independent Filment Film " [A]n excellent account of how value is formed by and for independent cinema via the producers who drive the productions into the marketplace. The sociological-ethnographic focus on production in the book amounts to an excellent contribution to the understanding of the process of production in the sector, rather than simply its products. Ortner's book is also highly readable and engaging, and will provide an excellent text for anyone who teaches undergraduates in either practice- or theory-based production studies." - Scope, February 2014 "The complexities, tensions, and contradictions of the world of American independent cinema come to life in this innovative publication. Based on the author's ethnographic research of this alternative film 'scene', the book tackles both the narratives of independent films and the contexts within which they are produced. Moreover, it explores their interrelation with the recent changes in American culture and society, under the regime of neoliberal capitalism.[...] Overall, Not Hollywood is an outstanding example of how anthropology could foster non-conventional perspectives in the study of film, and of contemporary 'Western' societies more generally. Ortner is successful in constructing a fundamentally anthropological analysis, taking seriously the world of film production as any other cultural phenomenon. This book constitutes one of the rare published studies about film production from an anthropological perspective, and is thus a greatly appreciated and major contribution to the field of media anthropology." - Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute

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