DAILY NEWS: New This Week; More Slamdance; and Library of Congress 25
with articles by Anthony Kaufman and Brian Brooks/indieWIRE
>> NEW THIS WEEK: Fairytales, Czechs, and Indiewood Contendors
(indieWIRE: 12.19.01) — As we head into the last weeks of 2002, studio
films are aplenty, striving for prestige and box office alike, and squeezing
out the little guys from whatever few screens are left. This week alone, at
least 10 new films will arrive, including the next generation’s “Stars Wars“
mega-blockbuster, “Lord of the Rings” directed by New Zealander and one-time
indie filmmaker Peter Jackson (“Heavenly Creatures“). Jackson, lest we not
forget, got his start with low budget gross-outs like “Bad Taste,” “Dead
Alive” and “Meet the Feebles.” How he convinced New Line he was the right man for the mainstream multi-million dollar fantasy trilogy must be a
magical tale as well.
For a more unique brand of fairytale, turn to Czech surrealist filmmaker Jan
Svankmajer. His latest offering, “Little Otik” (opening today from Zeitgeist
Films) continues the director’s combination of stop motion, live-action
animation to create a story of an impotent couple who unwittingly parent a
man-eating tree. Watch out, Frodo! At the film’s world premiere in Rotterdam
2001, critic Mark Peranson wrote for indieWIRE, “Little Otik” “is a comic
nightmare come to life. The unconventional, surrealistic parable is made all
the more scary by its roots in a recognizable, commonplace reality, and the
questioning of a regular human urge that many breezily satisfy without
reflection — the desire to bring life into the world.” Read the complete
Another Czech favorite on these shores, Jan Sverak, director of Oscar winner “Kolya,” will also see his next movie opening before the New Year. “Dark Blue World,” another war film for our patriotic times, certainly treats its
military-set subject with more delicacy than say, “Behind Enemy Lines” or
the upcoming Xmas family war film “Black Hawk Down.” Opening Friday, Dec. 28
from Sony Pictures Classics, “Dark Blue World” tells the story of two Czech
airmen who flee German-occupied Czechoslovakia to join England’s airforce.
Mostly melodrama, the film premiered at the 2001 Toronto Film Festival,
where Peter Brunette wrote for indieWIRE, “‘Dark Blue World’ is not fully
realized, but is a generally competent hybrid of Hollywood movie and foreign
language art film…Maybe the best thing about ‘Dark Blue World’ is that it
illuminates an aspect of that perennially overworked subject area, the Nazi
devastation of Europe…by dramatizing the plight of those brave
foreign-born pilots who, far from home and their loved ones, had to cope
simultaneously with Messerschmidts in the air and the xenophobic, dotty
English on the ground.” Read the complete review
Indiewood’s best chance at Oscar inroads and copious ticket sales, however,
comes in two films from the mini-majors opening next week: USA Films‘
release of Robert Altman‘s latest “Gosford Park” and Lions Gate‘s “Monster’s Ball,” directed by relative newcomer Marc Forster. “Gosford Park” hits the ground running, following three major awards from the New York Film Critics Circle last week: Best Director, Best Screenplay, and Best Supporting
Actress for Helen Mirren. After many of us had given up hope on the
septuagenarian Altman altogether, “Park” has proven that the legendary
auteur of “Nashville” and “The Long Goodbye” still has it. Ryan Mottesheard recently spoke with Altman about casting, ensemble pieces and the awards
process. Read the complete interview
With “Monster’s Ball,” along with the recent release of “Everything Put
Together,” Marc Forster proves that he does have it, with this one-two punch
of rising talent. With “Ball,” Forster graduates to a competent star-level
cast, including Billy Bob Thornton and a virtually transformed Halle Berry, in this story that looks at the legacy of racism in a small Southern town.
Many critics prefer Forster’s DV project “Everything Put Together,” however,
though that film doesn’t have Lions Gate pushing it for Oscar nods. Both
works do show Forster’s ability to shape actor’s performances and a deep
insight for the nature of loss. indieWIRE’s Jacque Lynn Schiller spoke to
Forster about his own personal bouts with tragedy, directing and
communication. Read the complete interview here
>> 25 New Films Make the Film Registry List at the Library of Congress
(indieWIRE/12.19.01) — “Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein” and “Jaws” as well as ’60s favs “The Sound of Music” and “Planet of the Apes” are among the twenty-five films that have been chosen for this year’s National Film
Registry by James H. Billington, Librarian of Congress. A particular unique
selection this year is live footage from the 1939 performance, “Marian
Anderson: The Lincoln Memorial Concert,” which is widely recognized as a
pivotal moment in the civil rights movement. Following a rebuke from the
Daughters of the American Revolution, the singer performed at the Lincoln
Memorial after being refused permission to play at Constitution Hall. The
list also includes a nod to New York City with Woody Allen‘s “Manhattan“
in addition to the timeless rager, “Animal House.”
This year’s additions: “Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein” (1948); “All
that Jazz” (1979); “All the King’s Men” (1949); “America, America” (1963);
“Cologne: From the Diary of Ray and Esther” (1939); “Evidence of the Film”
(1913); “Hoosiers” (1986); “The House in the Middle” (1964); “It” (1927);
“Jam Session” (1942); “Jaws” (1975); “Manhattan” (1979); “Marian Anderson:
The Lincoln Memorial Concert” (1939); “Memphis Belle” (1944); “The Miracle
of Morgan’s Creek” (1944); “Miss Lulu Bett” (1921); “National Lampoon’s
Animal House” (1978); “Planet of the Apes” (1968); “Rose Hobart” (1936);
“Serene Velocity (1970); “The Sound of Music” (1965); “Stormy Weather”
(1943); “The Tell-Tale Heart” (1953); “The Thin Blue Line” (1988); and “The
Thing from Another World” (1951). [Brian Brooks]
>> Slamdance’s “13 Moons” Opener and Special Screenings Revealed
(indieWIRE/12.19.01) — Festivities in Park City are gearing up even further
with Slamdance‘s announcement yesterday that Alexandre Rockwell‘s “13 Moons” starring Steve Buscemi will open the festival on January 11th. The event, taking place at the Silvermine 1.5 miles south of Park City also revealed
its slate of three features and four shorts that make up its Special
Screenings program including the World Premiere of Brian Fleming‘s “Nothing
So Strange,” based on an idea that Microsoft guru Bill Gates was shot dead in December of 1999. Also featured is the North American Premiere of “Never
Mind the Wall” by Connie Walther, a love story set in divided Berlin, as
well as Slamdance’s annual surprise screening.
Spike and Mike’s 2001 Sick & Twisted Festival of Animation: Slamdance
Edition is also set with a variety of eye popping titles such as “Bad Phone
Sex” by Stephen Kroninger, “F@ck Her Gently” featuring Tenacious D, “Eat,” by Bill Plympton, “Love that Pussy,” by DNA Productions and Los Primos Productions‘ “Harry Pothead and the Magical Herb.” Slamdance’s $99 Dollar Specials returns for a second year with five minute (or less) films made for $99 in 99 days using digital technology. [Brian Brooks]
[DISCLAIMER: “Nothing So Strange” was produced by GMD Studios, a member of
SPECIAL SCREENING FEATURE FILMS
13 MOONS – (USA, 95 min.) WORLD PREMIERE
Directed by Alexandre Rockwell. A cast of characters (including a clown, a
stripper, three priests and a singer) with problems of their own are touched
by the quiet courage of an ailing 6-year-old boy on this night of 13 MOONS.
Co-written by Brandon Cole (ILLUMINATA) and Alexandre Rockwell. Produced by
Brandon Cole and Michael Din. With Steve Buscemi, Peter Stormare, Jennifer
Beals, Sam Rockwell, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Karyn Parsons, David Proval and
Daryl “Chill” Mitchell.
NEVER MIND THE WALL – (Germany, 94 min.) NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE
Directed by Connie Walther. In Berlin, 1982 the divided city has no place
for young lovers…a girl from the West, a boy from the East.. who find
themselves united against the world on both sides.
NOTHING SO STRANGE – (USA, 87 min.) WORLD PREMIERE
Directed by Brian Flemming (Founder of the alternative Park City Festival
Slumdance and co-creator of the smash off-Broadway hit “Bat Boy: the
Musical”). The premise is that Microsoft chairman Bill Gates was shot dead
on December 2, 1999, in a tragedy that resonated throughout the world. But
as time wears on, that tragedy has developed into a mystery for many
observers, who see police misconduct and a cover-up where others see an
SURPRISE AWARDS NIGHT SCREENING (Thursday, January 17th, 3:00 PM)
You never know what you are going to get at Slamdance’s annual surprise
screening. Maybe a major new film embroiled in distributor legal wranglings
brought to the Silvermine under armed protection of Utah State Troopers; or
maybe the second feature of a Slamdance alum who has sold out to the
Hollywood machine and is having trouble retuning our phone calls. “Buy
tickets first; ask questions later,” said Mirvish.
SPECIAL SCREENING SHORT FILMS
“Any Creature” (USA, 10 min.)
Directed by Patrick Daughters. A car accident echoes across the plain. A
young girl watches a life pass before her eyes.
“Best of Traktor” (15 min, color)
The filmmaking collective Traktor will screen a selection of three short films prior to the Surprise Awards night screening feature. In keeping with the nature of the evening, we will keep the title of the films from this award-winning commercial, music video and
filmmaking team a secret.
SPIKE AND MIKE’S 2001 SICK & TWISTED FESTIVAL OF ANIMATION: SLAMDANCE EDITION – (USA, 60 min.)
“Bad Phone Sex” (1:50 min.)
Directed by Howie Hoffman with Stephen Kroninger. Features the voice talent
of Chris Rock.
“Behind The Music That Sucks – Britney Spears” (4:20 min.)
Directed by Heavy.com. A detailed look at her rise from ditzy, white trash
hottie to ditzy, white trash hottie.
“Behind The Music That Sucks – EMINEM” (4:20 min.)
Directed by Heavy.com. This episode is all about Eminem, who’s “all about”
his daughter Haillie.
“Choke, Spot, Choke” (2 min.)
Directed by Brice Beckham. A primer for kids covering meeting new people,
gun etiquette, how to give head, using illegal narcotics and surviving
“Eat” (9 min.)
Directed by Bill Plympton. What starts out as an elegant French dining
experience turns into regurgitated mayhem.
“F*@# Her Gently” (2:35 min.)
Directed by Spumco, Inc. Featuring Tenacious D, this is a song for the
ladies, an instruction manual for the fellas.
“Harry Pothead And The Magical Herb” (3:20 min.)
Directed by Los Primos Productions. In a send up of the popular children’s
books, we discover the real reason that all those kids are into Harry’s
potions and hallucinations.
“Hello, Dad, I’m In Jail” (2 min.)
Directed by Christopher Simon. It could happen to any of us.
“Love That Pussy” (1:20 min.)
By DNA Productions. Nobody loves their pussy more than Nanna.
“Maakies” (1:40 min.)
Directed by Tony Millionaire. Pathos and drama erupt as Drinky Crow and his
friend Uncle Gabby sail about the world.
“Of Mice And Men And Mama Cass” (1:40 min.)
Directed by Cody Critcheloe.
Sets the record straight on how the world was created.
“An Old Story” (1:20 min.) Directed by Zohar Shahar.
A short moment in an old story of an old couple.
“Pornoless” (3:15 min.)
Directed by Martin Georgiev.
A Freudian interpretation of the sexual complexities of a human being.
“Thank You Mask Man” (7 min.)
Directed by John Magnuson.
Grateful townspeople force so many “Thank You’s” on the Mask Man that he becomes a
thank you junkie.
“Timmy’s Lessons In Nature” (2:45 min.)
By A & S Animation.
Timmy is a moron who unwittingly demonstrates basic wild life survival rules.
“Voltron and Heroin” (2 min.)
By Mad Dog Films.
Bill Johnson shows Bobby some great jokes to play on his
“When Chickens Attack” (1 min.)
Directed by David Phillips.
This shocking video exposes chickens to be the clever killing machines they really are.
Anarchy Global Online Film Competition:
“Dark Riders” (USA, 4 min.)
Directed by Chrys Coulter.
A film roman based on a Stephen Crane poem from the collection, “The Black Riders.”
“Dim Bulb” (USA, 8 min.)
Directed by Kerryn Z. Miller.
A 3D computer animated film about the misadventures of Phil Lament, a light bulb who
refuses to shine. Animation.
“The Greatest Show On Earth” (USA, 4 min.)
Directed by Anne Paas.
A dwarf seeks an escape from the exploitation and mockery of his life in the carnival, but a desperate measure proves to be his greatest act yet.
“The Pretty Girl” (USA, 6 min.)
Directed by Gorman Bechard.
A beautiful young woman looks back on the last night of her life from the cold confines
of her casket.
“When Darkness Falls” (USA, 5 min.)
Directed by Chris Browne.
The last five minutes of a radio noir ends in murder, mystery, and a broken martini or two.
“Roslyn” (USA, 8 min.)
Directed by Will Canon.
Three friends searching for acceptance are faced with a choice that could affect the rest of their lives.
“Silent Beats” (USA, 5 min.)
Directed by Jon Chu.
An African-American boy is confronted by the harsh reality of assumptions.
“Taper” (USA, 5 min.)
Directed by Bo Webb.
An interview with a member of an underground network that videotapes people without their knowledge.
“They Came To Attack Us” (USA, 7 min.)
Directed by Efram Potelle and Kyle Rankin.
As if waking up with a hangover wasn’t enough, our stoner hero is suddenly entrusted to save the planet from a brutal alien attack.
$99 DOLLAR SPECIALS :
The $99 Specials Line-Up Includes (all films five minutes long or less):
“Eye Am Your Eye” (USA)
Directed by Nate Pommer. Our hero, eyeball to eyeball with his own vengeful
eyeball, is forced to gaze into the infernal abyss of his own soul.
“If you’d like to make a call…” (USA)
Directed by Double Glos. An agoraphobic, a car journey and overheard plans
for an apparent insurance scam.
“Dinner Date” (USA)
Directed by Lin Gathright. A woman waits for her date
while fantasizing about the date she would like to have.
Directed by Palme D’Or winning director David Greenspan.
Three men on three different journeys: one tragic, one mundane, and one kind
of insane. “Henro” means pilgrimage in Japanese.
“My Name is Akto” (USA)
Directed by Dylan Haggerty. Akto is a Corbex 3000
Cybernetic Humanoid Machine, Servant Series 5. Won’t you take him into your
Directed by Robert Peters. A story of love and hope.
“Mr. Bones” (USA/GERMANY)
Directed by Lise Raven. Two girls are wrasslin’ it out on the last day of
their relationship when Mr. Bonesdecides to drop by.
Directed by Paul Rachman. A young woman’s secret lonely life in New York
takes a sudden twist.
“…And this little piggy had none” (USA)
Directed by Tony Nittoli. A pig in love…but who’d love a pig?