Movie marketing's a bit of a chess game for a lower-budget indie -- you want to always make tactical choices between advertising (which you pay for) and publicity (which you don't). For a great demonstration of this phenomenon, check out this press release from Newmarket films who picked up shock mock doc Death of a President at Toronto about how they are shocked, shocked that NPR and CNN won't run ads for the film.

Of course, this is the best of both worlds, as the Movie City News point out in their pithy headline -- now Newmarket doesn't have to pay money it probably doesn't have to run ads it can't afford ... and they'll benefit from some nice, juicy controversy. I think my favorite weasel-words in the press release come courtesy of Newmarket co-founder Chris Ball: "As everyone who has actually seen the movie agrees, Death of a President is the opposite of a call for violence – it's a powerfully cautionary tale about the pernicious effects of violence. ..." Take this the right way, Mr. Ball, but I don't think that a cautionary subtext about the pernicious effects of violence is what people go see DOAP for, anymore than they're watching porn for the safe sex message when the condoms come out. And also, let's not forget there's a fine distinction between censorship (which, to me, has always meant the government actively banning something) and the legitimate decision of a business to not accept an advertisement. Are NPR and CNN within their rights, in your eyes ... and will you go see Death of a President when it opens?

(Click here for Cinematical's Toronto Film Festival review of Death of a President.)