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Guest web_norah

A&E is getting into the independent film business

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Guest web_norah


The cable network has launched A&E IndieFilms, a label aimed at pitching in on the finance and production of documentaries in the spirit of its own nonfiction programming.

A&E IndieFilms will showcase four documentaries per year in primetime, with select projects intended for a theatrical run as well. Documentaries coming under the new banner include "In Harm's Way," a chronicle of female journalists working in combat zones from filmmaker Barbara Kopple ("Harlan's Way").

"We're going after well-crafted documentaries that really tell personal, factual stories," A&E president Abbe Raven said.

Two other films to be showcased by IndieFilms include "Rock School" from Newmarket Films, and Oyster Prods.' "Zen and the Art of Competitive Eating," which will debut Wednesday on A&E. A fourth title has not yet been announced.

A&E will beef up its presence at film festivals where it will hand out grants to select projects. "There's a huge independent production community just crying out for a forum," senior vp original programming Bob DeBitetto said.

A&E joins a growing list of cable channels testing the indie waters, including HBO, Showtime, Discovery Networks and IFC Cos., in hopes of attaching its name to the kind of quality films earning critical respect and festival awards that reflect well on its brand.

A&E also ordered a series pilot based on the British television format "Single Again," which follows struggling couples who agree to split up on a trial basis to explore life alone before deciding whether to resume their relationships.

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