by Josh Gross
Comedian Bill Maher—who has made a career out of attacking conservatives and recently donated $1 million to the pro-Obama super PAC Priorities USA Action—dealt Republicans a giant helping of red meat in April 2011, when he used the editorial section of his TV show to opine that the left was wrong to cling so fiercely to the National Endowment for the Arts, which Republicans have consistently tried to defund.
Maher said that all the NEA grants in history have yet to produce a piece of art as compelling as "truck nuts," an invention of the private sector.
The rise of crowdfunding—a way for independent artists to raise money for their projects through the Internet—may give weight to his argument.
The nation's leading crowdfunding website kickstarter.com announced on its blog last week that the 2012 SXSW Film Festival will feature 31 films funded through Kickstarter, which comes on the heels of 17 films featured at Sundance that were also funded through Kickstarter.
Films include a documentary about '70s power-pop band Big Star, a documentary about American superheroines from Wonder Woman on, and The Last Fall, the debut feature from former NFL wide receiver Matthew A. Cherry, which examines life after pro football.
Another Kickstarter-funded film at the festival is Blue Like Jazz, which raised more than $345,000 through the site, and is reported to be the highest-funded film in the history of the site. See the trailer below.
A complete summary of the Kickstarter-funded films at this year's SXSW can be seen here.