IFC Casts Broader Net

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IFC’s 2008 slate of original documentaries will look to broaden the network’s reach beyond independent films into content that deals with the full spectrum of independent culture.

Whereas other IFC original documentaries like BaadAsssss Cinema, Slasher and last year’s critically-acclaimed Indie Sex were rooted within the world of independent film, the network’s three upcoming originals tackle more controversial, non-mainstream topics not related to cinema, said Debbie DeMontreux, senior vice president of programming.

The network’s first original of 2008, dubbed At the Death House Door, will premiere in May and examine Texas’ death penalty laws. The feature will be directed by Steve James (Hoop Dreams), according to DeMontreux.

Following At The Death House Door later in the year will be Heavy Load, which follows a band of musicians with learning disabilities, and Goth Cruise, a fun and entertaining look at Goth lifestyle aboard a cruise ship.

DeMontreux said the shift toward more culturally based subjects and away from independent film-themed shows won’t alienate fans who turn to the network to see all things related to indie films.

“It’s typical of the brand because it remains within the independently uncut landscape that allows us to do things that most networks aren’t able to do,” DeMontreux said. “It’s an extension of what we’ve always been for many years, but we’re only now starting to define it differently.”

Indeed, documentaries like last year’s controversial The Bridge, which chronicled the numerous suicide deaths of people leaping off San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, have no ties to the independent film world but have resonated with the network’s viewers, according to DeMontreux, although she could not give audience numbers since IFC is not Nielsen rated.

The network has several other documentaries in the works that deal with a variety of current topics and issues, said DeMontreux. She would not reveal specifics.

“We’ll continue to look to provide a voice for these left of center, independently thinking sub-cultures, be it people, organizations or art forms,” she said.

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