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Independent Film and Video Monthly

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Putting together Utne Reader provides many chances to eavesdrop on special-interest groups and subcultures via their magazines and newsletters. It's a special pleasure when one of those publications is so well done that it jumps out of its niche and becomes great reading for anybody. Independent Film and Video Monthly is just such a magazine. Editor-in-chief Patricia Thomson and her crew understand the inherent drama of small-bucks cinema--young idealist with a movie camera struggles to put a vision on film, against scary odds--and they infuse their stories (even the technical ones) with at least some of this suspense. Thomson et al also have a knack for picking fascinating profile subjects--emerging artists whose pursuits range from straight moviemaking to in-the-gallery video art. These people, and the other gutsy folks the Independent pays attention to, are part of an underground so vital that reading about them just might get you excited about American culture again.