TORONTO 2001 BUZZ: Biz Buzz in Toronto; Film Centre Dollars
by Eugene Hernandez/indieWIRE
>> Sign On the Dotted Line: Sony Gets “Ballot,” Lot47 Chasing “Fast Runner,” Other Films Eyed
(indieWIRE/09.10.01) — As the business week gets underway, buzz surrounds
a few Toronto festival films. Following a weekend of anticipated premieres,
the dust settles and observers begin to make sense of the landscape.
Sony Classics has struck early, nabbing rights to Babak Payami‘s “Secret
Ballot” in a deal with Celluloid Dreams. The deal closed on the heels of
first-timer Payami’s special prize for best director at this year’s Venice
Film Festival. The movie is largely a look at the election process in Iran
— humor that will not be lost on Americans that recently endured their
own intriguing electoral process.
The film that many have high hopes for, in terms of sales potential, is
Gregor Jordan‘s “Buffalo Soldiers.” The movie from FilmFour and Good Machine International stars Joaquin Phoeniz, Anna Paquin, Ed Harris, Scott Glenn and Elizabeth McGovern in a soldier story set in Germany. While a deal was not signed at press time, buzz has New Line in contention for the movie, along with Universal Studios. Many speculate that the movie will attract a high price tag, but as of last night, a pact was not signed
and could be days away according to one source close to the movie.
Rose Troche‘s “Safety of Objects” is another film in the acquisitions
spotlight following its debut here on Friday night. Produced by Killer
Films and InFilms, the movie stars a high profile cast that includes
Glenn Close, Dermot Mulroney, Joshua Jackson, Jessica Campbell, Moira Kelly, Patricia Clarkson and Mary Kay Place. A number of company toppers paid their respects at Friday night’s post-premiere party with word on the street giving Fine Line the advantage after a rumored (and unconfirmed) offer for the picture. Troche’s tales of dysfunctional families are based
on a book of short stories by A.M. Homes.
Zacharius Kunuk‘s Cannes award-winner, “The Fast Runner,” was included in this weekend’s industry buzz in Toronto, with rumors that the movie
will go to Lot 47. The Canadian film comes from a filmmaker who settled
in Igloolik on Baffin Island at the age of nine. Featuring an all-Inuit
cast, the movie is Kunuk’s first narrative feature. A source at Lot 47
could not confirm the deal at press time, but word is that a pact could
come shortly. Aside from the talk surrounding this potential deal,
Lot 47 was beaming Sunday over estimated box-office results for its
weekend release of “L.I.E.” back in the states. Despite a less than
favorable review in the all-important New York Times, the film’s
grosses approached $50,000 at United Artists‘ Union Square showing.
Final numbers will be in today.
Nicole Holofcener‘s “Lovely & Amazing” remained a hot topic, following a
hit showing in Telluride last weekend. While the film won’t screen in
Toronto until tomorrow morning’s press and industry showing, word is
that a deal is imminent. Speculation surrounds a number of distributors
for this family story that stars Catherine Keener, Brenda Blethyn, and
Emily Mortimer, among others.
The other film that some were talking about was Jill Sprecher‘s “Thirteen
Conversations About One Thing.” While buzz was decidely mixed, most attendees
at Friday nights showing spent more time chattering about an incident at
the theater. One attendee took ill during the screening and was taken away.
While the lights went up, amidst the distraction the projector never
stopped running. [Eugene Hernandez]
>> BBQ Nets Candian Film Centre $1 Million
(indieWIRE/09.10.01) — Typically referred to by name-droppers as “The
Norman Jewison BBQ,” the Canadian Film Centre‘s 14th annual festival BBQ
drew crowds to the organization’s grassy campus. With temperatures
approaching a sweaty 30 degrees centigrade on the sunny Sunday, numerous
filmmakers were among those on hand for what is typically one of the
Festival’s must-have tickets.
Universal Studios Canada made news on this day, announcing a $1 million
donation to the organization’s Short Dramatic Film Programme. Founded
in 1988 by Jewison, the Centre has trained numerous Canadian filmmakers,
including Don McKeller, Clement Virgo, John Greyson and others.