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Small For All

By Scott Smith in Arts & Entertainment on Jan 16, 2006 5:07PM

Apparently, size doesn’t matter…when it comes to music and movies.

2006_01_ruler.jpgThough Oscar nominations won’t be announced until the end of the month, the Tribune’s Mark Caro is already proclaiming this the biggest year for indie films “since four of the five 1996 best picture nominees were non-studio offerings.” But what is indie anymore? The examples cited by Caro include Brokeback Mountain, Good Night and Good Luck, and Capote, which are all films that come from “indie” studios owned by Universal, Warner Brothers and Sony.

But just as many “indie rock” bands find themselves with major label backing, perhaps the term “indie film” has come to mean a sensibility, rather than a description of a business plan. Character and great performances—rather than a Robert McKee-approved script or surefire set pieces—drive all the films mentioned above.

Speaking of indie rock, the Tribune looked at “10 Chicago Indie Music Labels That Matter” yesterday. The usual suspects are there like Bloodshot, Thrill Jockey, and Touch and Go as well as blues labels Delmark and Alligator. Chicagoist has found itself listening to Flameshovel Records releases quite a bit lately thanks to a roster that includes Sybris, Chin Up Chin Up and Lying In States. (For more indie labels, check out IE’s list here).

But even if you don’t “matter” you still can rate a feature piece. Writer Bob Gendron also discusses Drag City Records in an interview with Rian Murphy here. If only more label heads approached their work as a music fan might, then maybe their success story wouldn’t seem so unusual.