Down and Dirty Pictures: Miramax, Sundance, and the Rise of Independent Film

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9780684862583: Down and Dirty Pictures: Miramax, Sundance, and the Rise of Independent Film
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In this “dishy...superbly reported” (Entertainment Weekly) New York Times bestseller, Peter Biskind chronicles the rise of independent filmmakers who reinvented Hollywood—most notably Sundance founder Robert Redford and Harvey Weinstein, who with his brother, Bob, made Miramax Films an indie powerhouse.

As he did in his acclaimed Easy Riders, Raging Bulls, Peter Biskind “takes on the movie industry of the 1990s and again gets the story” (The New York Times). Biskind charts in fascinating detail the meteoric rise of the controversial Harvey Weinstein, often described as the last mogul, who created an Oscar factory that became the envy of the studios, while leaving a trail of carnage in his wake. He follows Sundance as it grew from a regional film festival to the premier showcase of independent film, succeeding almost despite the mercurial Redford, whose visionary plans were nearly thwarted by his own quixotic personality.

Likewise, the directors who emerged from the independent movement, such as Quentin Tarantino, Steven Soderbergh, and David O. Russell, are now among the best-known directors in Hollywood. Not to mention the actors who emerged with them, like Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Ethan Hawke, and Uma Thurman.

Candid, controversial, and “sensationally entertaining” (Los Angeles Times) Down and Dirty Pictures is a must-read for anyone interested in the film world.

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You've heard the rumors. The film industry is filled with ruthless executives who think nothing of brow-beating their employees, of using creative accounting to cheat filmmakers, and re-cutting a director's vision into a soulless crowd-pleaser. Well, it turns out those rumors are often true--at least according to Peter Biskind's highly entertaining Down and Dirty Pictures: Miramax, Sundance, and the Rise of Independent Film. Packed with industry anecdotes and history, the book chronicles the growth and eventual mainstreaming of independent films and offers the back-story to seminal works including sex, lies, and videotape and Pulp Fiction among others. Biskind, author of Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: How the Sex-Drugs-and-Rock 'N' Roll Generation Saved Hollywood, divides most of his time between Sundance Film Festival founder Robert Redford and Miramax co-chairman Harvey Weinstein. Biskind simultaneously credits these two as fostering, though ultimately ruining, the purity of indpendent film. Other indies are largely left out, although the now-defunct October Films appears prominently in the role of noble failure. Biskind has serious points to make, but he's not stingy with the war stories, either. (One particularly amusing scene involves October executives chasing Robert Duvall's agent through a Sheraton Hotel in an attempt to stop him from making a deal with Miramax to distribute The Apostle.) Those who have only a passing interest in the movie business may tire of Biskind's oft-repeated themes (Weinstein is an evil genius! Redford is a passive-aggressive control freak!) but for those who truly love film industry gossip, Down and Dirty Pictures is a feast of insider stories--each tidbit juicier than the last. --Leah Weathersby

About the Author:

Peter Biskind is the author of five previous books, including Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: How the Sex-Drugs-and-Rock 'n' Roll Generation Saved Hollywood. He is a contributor to Vanity Fair and was formerly the executive editor of Premiere magazine. He lives with his family in Columbia County, New York.

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