An Oscar nomination is every film makers dream. Alas the number of dreams that are realized is very few. This is particularly true for independent movies. The problem lays not in the quality of the films, but in the almost insurmountable problem of finding screening opportunities for eyeballs to watch it.

This is doubly true when the movie is in a foreign language, most theater goers just want to be immersed in the aural and visual wonderment rather than having to read subtitles.

There are however a few doors open to independent movie makers, primarily the film festival circuit. Without doubt one of the most interesting festivals is Fantastic Fest sponsored by Drafthouse films. It may not have the name recognition of Sundance, but I am not so sure that Sundance today is still the haven for true indie films that it once was.

At the 2011 Fantastic Fest Bullhead scored the coveted AMD/Dell Next Wave Award which is given to recognize outstanding new talent. Both AMD and Dell have a rich history in the Film making business, they work with everyone from the never heard of one-man-band film makers to blockbuster names like Robert Rodriguez and LucasFilms.         

Fantastic Fest calls Austin Texas home, that, combined with the fact that it has AMD as its sponsor made me wonder if Charlie Boswell, AMD’s Director Of Media and Entertainment might somehow be involved. It did not take much investigation to discover that there was indeed a Boswell Film Factor (BFF?).


It transpires that he is the co-creator of the award! Also the designer of the trophy. Each year 8 aspiring directors are flown to Austin for Fantastic Fest, and one goes home with the AMD/Dell Next Wave award.

Of course it is easy to say “Film Festival Award, so what?. There are plenty of festivals, and plenty of awards, so what makes the Next Wave award any different?”

The answer lays in the track records of previous winners.

2007 Nacho Vigalondo scored with  Timecrimes, the film maker has finished his second feature EXTRATERRESTRIAL which sold to Focus features

2008 Yoshihiro Nishimura found fame with Tokyo Gore Police. Nishimura has now formed his own full-service production company in Japan.  He has gone on to produce two more features, both of which have sold in the US and has helped produce nearly a dozen other features with his company Pa’baan.

2009 Ben Wheatley made the cut with Down Terrace. Ben finished his second feature KILL LIST which has garnered worldwide acclaim and is being released in the US this month.

2010 Jorge Michel Grau was the man of the moment with We Are What We Are. This film went on to the Cannes festival and Jorge is now hard at work on his follow-up feature film.

Will the AMD/Dell Next Wave award continue to be the bell weather indicator of greatness? This time for Michael R. Roskam? Only time will tell.

Bullhead is an unusual film, although it garnered great critical acclaim in 2011 and also won 25 awards worldwide, it failed to attract the attention of any major studio. As Charlie Boswell put it:

It was too violent for the art house distributor, and too art house for the mainstream

With the Oscar nod, maybe the fortunes of Bullhead and its writer and director Michael R. Roskam are about to change.

The backdrop to Bullhead certainly is a very topical one, the use of steroids on man and animals, that alone might be enough to clinch the Oscar.

Bullhead goes on limited release on Febuary/17 in New York, L.A. and Austin. Drafthouse Films hopes to expand into more markets shortly afterwards.

I for one would love to see Michael Roskam walk away with an Oscar, he certainly deserves it! But even if he does not win, he, AMD, Dell, and Drafthouse are still winners!  Michael knows how to make em, and the other companies know how to pick em!

Simon Barrett



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