TORONTO 2001 BUZZ: Toronto Launch; LAFF Shifts; Strand's Online Plans; and "Star Wars" Doc Deal
by Eugene Hernandez and Brian Brooks/indieWIRE
>> “Wedding” Bells as Toronto Opens; 26,991 Minutes of Movies Left
(indieWIRE/09.07.01) — Two years ago it was a carnival, last year a
dockside soiree, and this year the 2001 Toronto International Film Festival
opened with a more swanky affair. After screenings of Bruce Sweeney‘s “Last
Wedding,” guests made their way to the new Liberty Grand Entertainment
Complex for a post-screening fiesta.
Actress Molly Parker and co-star Benjamin Ratner were among the opening night film stars who made their way up the red carpet on opening night,
along with the movie’s director. Cheered on by fans restrained by
barricades, they were joined at the screening by filmmaker Atom Egoyan
and his wife, actress Arsinee Khanjian, among others. Press reports
indicated that Monty Python trooper Eric Idle was also in attendance.
Indeed, Toronto’s circus has begun.
So, with the Festival kicking off in earnest, it’s a good time to consider
some of the mildly interesting trivial facts gathered by the event’s sharp
PR staff. A total of 326 films will screen this year, totaling 27,091
minutes of film (that’s 385 more minutes of movies than last year). 249
feature films are on tap, while 77 are shorts — the movies were chosen
from a whopping 2,549 entries. Finally, 54 countries are represented this
year, and 58% of the movies are being screened in a language other than
>> LAFF Taps Rosen As Fest Moves to June
(indieWIRE/09.07.01) — The times they are a changin’ for the annual Los
Angeles Film Festival (formering the LA Independent Film Fest). The IFP/West will move the event to late-June and has named Rachel Rosen to the post of
Director of Programming.
Rosen, a ten-year veteran of the San Francisco International Film Festival
(where she was the Associate Director of Programming), is currently in
Toronto for the Festival here. She replaces Thomas Ethan Harris, the L.A.
Fest’s longtime programmer. As the event continues to evolve from its
original mission of showcasing only U.S. indie films, next year the Festival
will expand its program to include international titles. [Eugene Hernandez]
>> Sans a Mega Alliance, Strand Takes its Own to the Internet
(indieWIRE/09.07.01) — In a pioneering move for a niche distributor, Strand
Releasing is teaming up with DivXNetworks, Inc. to deliver full-screen video
over the Internet. Strand plans to sell a download of its 1995 film, “World
and Time Enough,” online using the DivX Open Video System. The L.A. based
distribution company, known for its emphasis on challenging art-house and
gay-themed indie and foreign films, will use the technology to allow rental
of the film for five days from its web site (www.strandreleasing.com).
This is the first move by an indie distributor to offer its films via the
Internet and comes on the heels of recent announcements by big Hollywood
studios including the yet-to-be-named alliance by Sony, Warner, Universal, Paramount and MGM, as well as the just announced partnership between Disney and News Corp.
Still, Strand will only offer one film at this time. The film, which won
praise from critics and audiences alike, focuses on a twenty-something
couple facing life challenges related to love and morality. Other Strand
titles include “Edge of Seventeen,” “Steam,” “Monkey’s Mask,” and the upcoming “Burnt Money,” and “Princesa.” [Brian Brooks]
>> Cinema Guild Gets “Star Wars” Doc
(indieWIRE/09.07.01) — While it probably won’t be acquiring films here in
Toronto, small indie distributor The Cinema Guild has announced a deal as
the Fest kicks off. The company nabbed domestic rights to Tariq Jalil‘s ‘Star
Wars‘ phenomenon doc, “A Galaxy Far Far Away.” Michael Roban sold the film, out of its screening at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival — the movie also screened at Slamdance, among other fests.
“The neat thing about [the film] is that it puts a different face on ‘Star
Wars’ fans,” Cinema Guild’s Michael Tuckman told indieWIRE yesterday.
Notably, Tuckman told indieWIRE that The Cinema Guild intends to release the
movie at video-capable theaters, including The Pioneer in New York, The
Brattle in Boston, Wiggly World in Seattle, Facets in Chicago, and the
Laemmle Sunset 5 in L.A. He intends to key the release to October 16th, the
street date for the “Phantom Menace” DVD.
Set to make the trip to Toronto to scope out new movies, Tuckman also told
indieWIRE yesterday, “Since we’re not coming in with seven-figure
checkbooks, we get to survey films without the huge pressure of having to
come back with four films.” [Eugene Hernandez]