Skip to Content

Screen Arts Special Events

Tastemaker International: Ira Deutchman and the Art & Business of Independent Cinema

Ira Deutchman loves movies. He's spent the better part of the last forty-five years watching, studying, distributing, marketing and producing them. As a film marketer, he has half-jokingly said that his job is to get butts into seats, and he is a master of doing just that. Since the mid-1970s, when he joined influential indie and foreign film distributor Cinema 5, his impact on shaping and influencing the taste of American filmgoers interested in specialty films has been enormous.

The inclusion of Deutchman’s papers into the University of Michigan’s Screen Arts Mavericks & Makers collection makes a concrete connection in our understanding of what a filmmaker does and how an audience gets to see it. He has worked with fellow U-M mavericks Robert Altman, John Sayles, Alan Rudolph and Nancy Savoca and strengthens our sense of what makes their work unique and compelling.

Tastemaker International, a symposium honoring the work of Ira Deutchman, was held on Monday, June 5 and Tuesday, June 6, 2017, in the Hatcher Graduate Library Gallery and in The Michigan Theater.

This symposium kicked off the exhibit Ira Deutchman: A Commitment to Specialty Films in the Hatcher Graduate Library Gallery (June 2, 2017 - July 30, 2017).

Sponsored by the University of Michigan Library; U-M Department of Screen Arts & Cultures; Cinetopia International Film Festival; Michigan Theater; College of Literature, Science, and the Arts; Instititute for the Humanities; Office of Research; Rackham Graduate School; Communication Studies; Ross School of Business; UMMA; Department of American Culture

Tastemaker International
Welcome and Opening Remarks 


Screen Arts Department Chair Johannes von Moltke and Michigan Theater Executive Director Russ Collins welcome the audience to the symposium in their opening remarks. 

Panel One: Deutchman in Context:
The World of Indie Filmmaking
 

A panel of film industry experts and historians provide an overview of specialty and indie films from the 1960s-2000s and contextualized how Ira Deutchman has made significant contributions to the marketing and distribution of these films.

Panel participants include Lisa Dombrowski (Moderator, Associate Professor, Department of Film Studies, Wesleyan University), Harlan Jacobson (Film Critic, Journalist, Editor; Founder, Talk Cinema; Former Editor, Film Comment)Alisa Perren (Associate Professor, Department of Radio-TV- Film, University of Texas at Austin), and Justin Wyatt (Assistant Professor, Harrington School of Communication and Media, University of Rhode Island).

Panel Two: Cinecommunicator:
Shop Talk with Ira Deutchman
 

Ira Deutchman discusses his career with U-M Associate Professor Daniel Herbert.

Ira Deutchman, Guest of Honor, speaks with Daniel Herbert, Moderator, Associate Professor, Department of Screen Arts & Cultures.

Ira Deutchman discusses his career as one of the leaders in marketing distribution of specialty films and his association with Cinema 3, Cinecom, and Fine Line Features.

Ribbon Cutting Ceremony 
 

Symposium attendees witness the official opening of the Ira Deutchman Collection, University of Michigan Library, Special Collections and the opening of the exhibition Ira Deutchman: A Commitment to Specialty Cinema.

Panel Three: How to Turn Your Film Over to a Distributor and Not Want to Kill Them:
Filmmakers Discuss Working with Ira Deutchman
 

Two noted film directors, Nancy Savoca and Whit Stillman, both of whom have worked with Ira Deutchman, discuss the potential joys, fears and anxiety of turning your cinematic baby over to someone and asking them to help you get people to go to movie theaters and watch it.

Panel Four: Hoop Dreams:
A Case Study of Bringing a Film to Market
 

The cinematographer of Hoop Dreams, one of the most highly respected documentaries of the past two decades, along with two experts in marketing, distributing and public relations, discuss how the film came to be and the challenges of distributing it.

This panel was followed by a free screening of Hoop Dreams.

Emily Saidel (Moderator, Graduate Student, Department of Communication Studies) speaks with John Iltis (Noted Publicist and Marketer for Independent Film Distributors and Filmmakers; Owner, Sitli Solutions), Ira Deutchman (Guest of Honor), Peter Gilbert (Cinematographer, Hoop Dreams), and Liz Manne (Veteran Film Executive and Producer, former Fine Line Features Co-Founder) about Hoop Dreams.

Hoop Dreams follows the lives of two inner-city Chicago boys who struggle to become college basketball players on the road to going professional.