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

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

by Peter Biskind
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Overview

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

It wasn't so long ago that the Sundance Film Festival was an inconsequential event somewhere in Utah, and Miramax was a tiny distributor of music documentaries and soft-core trash. Today, of course, Sundance is the most important film festival this side of Cannes, and Miramax has become an industry giant, part of the huge Disney empire. Likewise, the directors who emerged from the independent movement, such as Quentin Tarantino, Steven Soderbergh, and David O. Russell -- who once had to max out their credit cards to realize their visions on the screen -- 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.

Down and Dirty Pictures chronicles the rise of independent filmmakers and of the twin engines -- Sundance and Miramax -- that have powered them. As he did in his acclaimed Easy Riders, Raging Bulls, Peter Biskind profiles the people who took the independent movement from obscurity to the Oscars, most notably Sundance founder Robert Redford and Harvey Weinstein, who with his brother, Bob, made Miramax an indie powerhouse. Biskind 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. He 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. As in Easy Riders, Biskind's incisive account is loaded with vibrant anecdotes and outrageous stories, all of it blended into a fast-moving narrative. Redford, the Weinsteins, and the directors, producers, and actors Biskind profiles are the people who reinvented Hollywood, making independent films mainstream. But success invariably means compromise, and it remains to be seen whether the indie spirit can survive its corporate embrace.

Candid, mesmerizing, and penetrating, Down and Dirty Pictures is a must-read for anyone interested in the film world and where it's headed.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780684862590
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication date: 01/06/2004
Pages: 560
Product dimensions: 6.38(w) x 9.66(h) x 1.63(d)

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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Down and Dirty Pictures: Miramax, Sundance and the Rise of Independent Film 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Peter Biskind, author of Easy Riders, Raging Bulls, and a contributor to Vanity Fair, has penned the tell-all to end all tell-alls about Tinseltown. With reportorial zeal he traces the rise of independent (indies) films beginning roughly with the 1990s. His focus is on the Sundance Institute and Miramax Films, the sires of the indies. Harvey Weinstein, it will come as a surprise to few, is presented as a brash, egotistical bully (those are kind adjectives). Along with his brother, Bob, he rose from a concert promoter in Queens to one of Hollywood's most powerful - Miramax is now a major force giving birth to many Oscar nominated films. In the author's words both Weinsteins 'had volcanic tempers. They were wizards of abuse, excelling in the exotic art of public humiliation, lashing staffers in front of their peers.' Robert Redford, the founder of Sundance, also receives attention. He, as described by Biskin, is a control freak who 'who was not in a position to run the institute himself, but neither, it seemed, was he able to let anyone else run it.' Alas ladies, our handsome matinee idol does have chinks in his armor. 'Down and Dirty Pictures' in addition to being a superbly detailed history of the rise of the indies is also a spicy gossip laced read with celebrity quotes from Matt Damon to Uma Thurman to Anthony Minghella. It's sometimes hilarious, sometimes sobering; it is always fascinating reading.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Peter Biskind's narrative voice is a West Coast one - relaxed and free-flowing, so much so that some times it's hard to tell (if you miss a quotation mark) where the quotations end and Biskind's narration begins. His discussion of the history of independent film, from its birth via Miramax Films and the Sundance Film Festival to its death at their very hands, is enlightening, thoughtful, and clearly composed by a person with a distinct affection for the 'indepdendent' spirit. But for all its sincerity, 'Down and Dirty Pictures' is so overlong as to nearly be jejune - at nearly 500 pages, it's a story only half its size.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Its fine
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Babe im back;)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Peter Biskind is a marvelous storyteller and he has a fascinating tale to tell about the rise (and fall) of the 'true' Independent film movement; how it went from being a venue for truly experimental work by people who love film, to a sort of low(er) budget 'studio' system. He admirably shows how much, if not all, of this transformation can be laid at the feet of Miramax and, to a somewhat lesser degree, the Sundance Film Festival. So why the lower rating? By p. 100, or so, Biskind has eminently made the point that Miramax's Weinstein brothers are outrageous vulgarians, mean-spirited and 'evil', whose only saving grace is that they really know their stuff when it comes to making a film successful; and that Sundance is basically an ego-trip for Robert Redford. By page 200 we have received even more information that proves Miramax's Weinstein brothers are outrageous vulgarians, mean-spirited and 'evil', whose only saving grace is that they really know their stuff when it comes to making a film successful; and that Sundance is basically an ego-trip for Robert Redford. By page 300 we have learned that Miramax's Weinstein brothers are outrageous vulgarians, mean-spirited and 'evil', whose only saving grace is that they really know their stuff when it comes to making a film successful; and that Sundance is basically an ego-trip for Robert Redford. In short, WE GET IT early on and, while each individual story/anecdote is fascinating, the compilation is simply redundant. I hate to say it, but Biskind could have used some of Harvey Weinstein's (lauded and cursed in equal measure) editing of the finished product.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a fascinating book. I was always interested in the independents, but this book provides an extraordinary amount of details--and definitely all the dirt! The characters are all thoroughly described by a wide range of supporters & detractors.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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