Author Archives: Ira

Diary of a Cubs Fan – Part Four

Dodgers StadiumThis is part 4 of a series. You can start at the beginning here.

The only flight I could get to Los Angeles was with a stop in San Francisco, but fortunately I had a day in between games. I would be staying with my friend Janis Nelson (yes, the same Janis Nelson who won the ticket lottery for me) and her husband Jim Ruxin in Brentwood. I did some research about getting to Dodgers Stadium by public transportation and decided that for the first time in my life, I would NOT rent a car in L.A. The plan was to depend on Uber, some busses and the kindness of friends to shuttle me around. I was also offered a parking spot that was a 10-minute walk away from the Stadium by a former student of mine, Geoff Booth. This would enable me to avoid dealing with the horrific parking lot situation at the stadium and allow for a quick exit afterward.

I had 2 tickets for each of the games, and Richie had decided he couldn’t make the trip, so I invited different people to come to each of the games. (more…)

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Diary of a Cubs Fan – Part Three

Chicago Film Fest BannerThis is part 3 of a series. You can start at the beginning here.

Just prior to the start of the playoffs, I got an invitation from the Chicago Film Festival to do a one hour speaking gig, and when I checked my calendar, it coincided with a possible 6th game of the NLCS, assuming the Cubs made it that far. They agreed to fly me to and from Chicago for that weekend, and to put me up in a hotel. Best case, I got my transportation and lodging taken care of for some of the games I might be attending. Worst case, I would be obligated to be in Chicago that weekend, even if the Cubs had been eliminated, or if the series had ended. I said yes, with the understanding that depending on what happened in the playoffs, I might or might not have to change some flights around.

So when the Dodgers defeated the Nationals, I could finally lock in some plans. The tickets for the unplayed games in DC were completely refundable, so no loss there. I had to book a one-way ticket to L.A. for Games 3, 4 and possibly 5. And my return trip would either be to NY if it was over after game 4, in which case I would then fly back to Chicago for the Festival on Saturday, or I would use the Festival ticket to fly directly back to Chicago from L.A. You with me so far? (more…)

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Diary of a Cubs Fan – Part Two

Field of DreamsThis is part 2 of a series. You can start at the beginning here.

In my last entry, I neglected to mention that while in Chicago, I stayed in the home of Peter Gilbert, my friend, colleague and one of the makers of “Hoop Dreams.” Peter, who teaches in North Carolina, has hosted me for the playoffs several times over the years, including for all the games played in Chicago last year. So I’ve become a part of the family. Peter’s wife Dru and his kids Leo and Fay not only make me feel welcome, they have invested in my Cubdom by being among my stoutest supporters. As the Cubs victories have mounted up, they have expressed their belief that my staying at their home has been good luck for the team. So, they don’t want me staying anywhere else.

I also neglected to mention the fact that on the day that the Giants defeated the Mets for the Wild Card, I started growing my playoff beard. Facial hair growth has been a pretty standard baseball superstition for a long time, and I adopted the custom last year. Just to be clear, I really don’t believe that anything I do is going to affect the outcome of the games, but I like the idea of participating in some way. And besides, my grey beard makes me look a little bit like Cubs Manager Joe Madden, and he is the coolest manager in baseball. (more…)

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Diary of a Cubs Fan – Part One

Wriglet Field NLDSAnyone who has been following me on social media the last two weeks, is aware that I’ve been on the road, with fingers crossed and fandom blazing, following the Chicago Cubs, as they attempt to break their 108-year championship drought.

I should mention first that my fanaticism is no recent development. I’ve documented in other entries on this blog, in great detail, how I became a Cubs fan (thanks, Dad), how my fandom was cemented as part of my identity, and how in 1984, the first time in my lifetime that the Cubs played a post-season game, I inadvertently began the quest that I am now on. You see, I have now attended every post-season game played at Wrigley Field since the day I was born—an achievement that used to bear a punchline, since there hadn’t been very many. But as the years went on, and the Cubs managed to get into the playoffs at least twice per decade, the numbers of games I attended began to mount up. The only limiting factor was that they never seemed to be able to get very deep into the playoffs.

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NPR Interview re: Michigan Archives

You might enjoy listening to this Michigan NPR Broadcast where Russ Collins from Art House Convergence and yours truly talk about my donation of my archives to the University of Michigan Screen Arts Mavericks and Makers Collection.

Get the Flash Player to see the wordTube Media Player.

Comments after the break… (more…)

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University of Michigan Screen Mavericks & Makers Announcement

Last month, an event was held at Lincoln Center in New York at which it was announced that my personal archive has been acquired by the University of Michigan for their Screen Mavericks and Makers Collection. I’m incredibly flattered to be part of this incredible archive which includes Orson Welles, Robert Altman, John Sayles and Alan Rudolph to date. The announcement included the fact that there will be a symposium and retrospective held at Cinetopia in Michigan and at Columbia University in New York in June of 2017. Below is the video of my speech at the event, explaining among other things, what my archive consists of and what I hope will become of it.

Here is the entire text of the press release:

Film producer, marketer Ira Deutchman donates archive to U-M Library Mavericks & Makers Collection

ANN ARBOR—The University of Michigan Library will welcome the papers of another film maverick to their growing collection of material that highlights visionaries in the genre of independent film.

Ira Deutchman announced Dec. 2 at the Lincoln Center in New York that he will donate his entire archive to U-M’s Screen Arts Mavericks & Makers collection.

Deutchman will be in good company—the popular U-M collection comprises the papers of indie greats including Orson Welles, Robert Altman, Alan Rudolph and John Sayles.

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TCFF Panel on the 40th Anniversary of “Nashville”

Here is a panel that was hosted at this year’s Traverse City Film Festival on the career of Robert Altman in honor of the 40th Anniversary of “Nashville.” Panelists include Kathryn Altman, Ron Mann, Geraldine Chaplin, Michael Murphy & yours truly. It was moderated by Phil Hallman of the University of Michigan. Enjoy!


Comments after the break. (more…)

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Equality Now Panel at TCFF

Among the many panels and Q&As that I participated in at this year’s Traverse City Film Festival was one entitled, “Equality Now.” It was meant to be both a celebration of the Supreme Court decision that legalized gay marriage and a discussion among the filmmakers who were involved with films that touched on LGBT issues. I was the moderator and the panel turned out to be quite illuminating (if I must say so myself) and even included some fireworks. Fortunately the panels were recorded for posterity, so here it is. I’ll post some others in the next few days…

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Amazon and the “Vegetable Story”

vegetablesIn the last few days, the folks at Amazon have been a lot more open about their plans to invest in and distribute traditional theatrical films, as well as continuing their successful forays into episodic television. The various interviews and the accompanying analyses underline that fact that for Amazon, the goal is to get consumers hooked on its ecosystem, which bundles content with everything from baby formula and toilet paper deliveries. It reminds me of a story I tell every year in my Business of Film class at Columbia, which goes as follows:

About 20 years ago, at the Cannes Film Festival, I visited the hotel suite of a major sales agent to see what their upcoming product lineup looked like. As I entered the suite, I was greeted by the CEO of the company, who had a grin on his face. He sat me down and told me the source of his bemusement. (more…)

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Onward…

Columbia FilmToday is my last day as Chair of the Film Program at Columbia University.

It’s been a great four years and I’m very proud of our accomplishments over that time.

The end of my chairmanship should not be much of a surprise to anyone who has been paying attention. The position is a rotating one among faculty, and Columbia has very strict term limits. I’ve also mentioned it numerous times (albeit off-handedly) in recent writings and speeches. I’m pleased that my colleague Maureen Ryan will be the next Chair. She is more than capable of taking up the mantle and bringing the program to the next level.

Meanwhile, I’m not going anywhere. I’ll be back to concentrating on teaching rather than administrating, back to producing and consulting on marketing and distribution of indie films, and perhaps paying more attention to this blog.

Stepping back has already given me the opportunity to think about things with a clearer head, and I share with you now some words that were part of my speech at this year’s Columbia University Film Festival in both New York and Los Angeles.

In the last few years, we’ve seen enormous shifts in the technology of what we do, in the ways in which audiences consume what we create and in the general perception of the value of our work. Some people, given what they read in various publications, might draw the conclusion that we’re heading toward a day when 12-year-olds with iPhones will be born with all the necessary skills to create works of art. Other reports would indicate that theatrical movie-going is dead and that TV has supplanted the movies as the main art form of the 21st century.

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