DAILY NEWS: Sundance Shorts; New This Week; Gardos Wins Perrier Prize; and "Uncertainty Principle" Deal
with articles by Eugene Hernandez, Anthony Kaufman and Brian Brooks/indieWIRE
>> PARK CITY 2002: Sundance Announces Short Film Lineup; 79 Chosen from 2,100 Submissions for 2002 Fest
(indieWIRE: 12.05.01) — Organizers of the 2002 Sundance Film Festival have
announced the shorts lineup for next month’s event. 79 shorts will screen
eithers as part of a shorts program or prior to a feature. The selections
were chosen from a list of 2,100 submissions.
Commenting on the shorts program in a prepared statement yesterday, Trevor
Groth, Programmer for the Sundance Film Festival said, “Talented filmmakers
from the U.S. and around the world submitted exceptional works making the
selection process a difficult, yet inspiring endeavor. The high caliber of
work in the festival will certainly raise the perception of the short film
as an art form in and of itself. And while it may sound cliche, these are
‘must see’ films displaying complete artistic vision.” [Eugene Hernandez]
>> NEW THIS WEEK: Sex, Lies, and Conflict; Future Auteurs, Foreign Flicks and Oscar Runs
by Anthony Kaufman/indieWIRE
(indieWIRE: 12.05.01) — While our man in Hollywood will likely clean up at
the box office this Friday with “Ocean’s 11,” the future Steven Soderberghs
of the independent world are offering up some enticing alternatives. In
fact, several of this week’s releases echo the kind of dramatic precision
and intimacy of Soderbergh’s own debut “sex, lies, and videotape.”
Patrick Stettner‘s “The Business of Strangers” (opening in New York, L.A.
and San Francisco this Friday from IFC Films) is just such a successor.
Taking place in the postmodern cold of airport waiting areas, hotels and
bars, stranded businesswomen Stockard Channing and Julia Stiles go
head-to-head in this battle of wits, sexes and generations. At the film’s
Sundance 2001 premiere, critic Andy Bailey wrote for indieWIRE, “Stettner’s
polished first feature does a laudable job of examining the fear and
loathing among women determined to get ahead, or simply stay afloat, in
corporate America. The film, perhaps inevitably, progresses towards a
ballbusting psychosexual revenge climax that feels like an indie retread of
‘9 to 5,’ but its two deftly drawn central characters prove formidable
enough adversaries to keep the movie feeling fresh.” Read the complete
review. indieWIRE will publish an interview with Stettner in Friday’s edition.
A different sort of battle, just as psychological, but with national, not
sexual politics, comes in Danis Tanovic‘s “No Man’s Land,” another debut
feature that shows the promise of a filmmaker who’s here to stay. Coming to
New York this Friday from Bingham Ray‘s newly staffed MGM classics division United Artists, “No Man’s Land” is an arthouse alternative to the blustery
studio combat spectaculars on display. The film places three soldiers (two
Bosnian, one Serb) inside a pressure-cooker — a trench in the middle of the
frontlines — as ethnic epithets fly amidst the gunfire. According to critic
Peter Brunette, who reviewed the film for indieWIRE at the Toronto Film
Festival, “No Man’s Land” is “a powerful recapitulation of everything about
the recent Balkan wars that we’ve been desperately trying to forget; it also
works as a suspenseful thriller, a subtle psychological study of men and
violence, and a probing (if predictably inconclusive) analysis of just what
went wrong. At times, it’s even downright funny.” Read the complete review.
Our interview with the writer-director is in today’s indieWIRE.
On the documentary front, Hartmut Bitomsky‘s “B-52,” receiving its U.S.
premiere at New York’s Film Forum today, looks at the flying mammoths of
destruction in all their gross and glory. 185 feet wide, 450,000 pounds, at
a price tag of $74 million each, the B-52 is ‘au courant’ (“B-52s Rain Bombs
on the Taliban” — New York Post, November 1, 2001), as all things war-like
seem to be, nowadays.
Another microcosm of conflict can be found in Campbell Scott‘s DV feature,
“Final” (opening in New York from Cowboy Pictures). One of the many InDigEnt pictures purchased by Lions Gate pre-Sundance 2001 (others in the package included Richard Linklater‘s “Tape” and Ethan Hawke‘s upcoming “Chelsea Walls“), “Final” creates another compact psychological struggle, as Bill (Denis Leary) wakes up one morning in a mental hospital, thinking the year is 2399 and fearing a “final” injection that will presumably take his life.
His doctor Ann (Hope Davis) evaluates his paranoid rants, as Bill’s madness
takes on increasingly more realistic possibilities. The Twilight Zone
material of “Final” is an odd choice for director Scott (most known for his
acting in “The Spanish Prisoner” and “Longtime Companion,” and his
co-directorial debut with Stanley Tucci, “Big Night“), but he remains
faithful to the intimate sci-fi dimensions of this mini-movie.
Also in theaters this week is a trio of foreign films that are finally
landing in U.S. theaters. Strand Releasing will put out “Princessa,”
Henrique Goldman‘s story of a Brazilian transsexual who journeys to Milan
with dreams of becoming a woman. A winner of Best Foreign Film at Outfest
2001, “Princessa” follows Fernanda as she falls in love with a married
businessman who leaves his wife and offers her the chance for normality —
be careful what you wish for. Spain’s 1999 work “Sobrevivire” (“I Will
Survive”), from directors Alfonso Albacete and David Menkes, is a romantic drama starring Emma Suarez. It hits New York via Hollywood Independents. And from new foreign film distributor Films Philos comes German hit road movie “In July,” a tale of unrequited love, set against the multicultural backdrop of Central and Eastern Europe. Directed by German-born Turk Fatih Akin, the movie stars Moritz Bleibtreu (“Run Lola Run“) who received a German Film Award for his role as a young physics teacher who breaks free from his
And since it’s that time of year again, when Oscar nominations are on every
studio exec’s holiday wish list, this Friday will see two 1-week Oscar
qualifying runs in Los Angeles, for Sony Pictures Classics “Last Orders” and
Miramax‘s “Baran.” “Last Orders,” directed by Aussie New Waver turned Hollywood transplant Fred Schepisi (“Barbarosa,” “Six Degrees of Separation,” “I.Q.“), adapts Graham Swift‘s prize-winning novel about a group of men who journey to find a resting place for their recently deceased
buddy’s ashes. The film’s veteran cast — among them, Michael Caine, Bob
Hoskins, Tom Courtenay, David Hemmings, and Ray Winstone — have received rave reviews since the film’s Toronto 2001 premiere on September 10th.
(Variety: “One of the major pleasures of the film is the performing of some
great British talent. Caine, Courtenay and Hemmings were all big stars of
the British film revival in the ’60s and carry with them indelible memories
of those halcyon days. They’re all in excellent form.”) “Last Orders” will
open wider in theaters in mid-February.
“Baran” is the latest work from Iranian filmmaker Majid Majidi (whose “The
Color of Paradise” and “Children of Heaven” are among the most successful
Iranian imports ever). The film (opening in regular release in February)
tackles the subject of Afghan refugees and adolescent love in this latest
accessible tale, set in a construction site on the fringes of Tehran. It is
interesting to note that “Baran” was already submitted for Oscar
consideration by Iran and need not receive a theatrical run to be eligible
for the Academy’s Foreign Language category. Even with its obscure titles,
Miramax still knows how to play the marketing game.
>> Gardos Bubbles Over With $50,000
(indieWIRE: 12.05.01) — Eva Gardos, director of “An American Rhapsody,” was announced last week as the winner of the inaugural Perrier Bubbling Under
Award for a first-time feature director. Gardos will receive a $50,000 grant
towards her next production. Based on her own life, “An American Rhapsody“
is the story of a young girl, first abandoned by her parents escaping
Communist Hungary, who later returns to the family fold in American
suburbia. Paramount Classics released the film in August. Four other
filmmakers competed for the prize: Joseph M. Castelo (“American Saint“),
Joel Hopkins (“Jump Tomorrow“), Randy Redroad (“The Doe Boy“), and Rosemary Rodriguez (“Acts of Worship“).
The competition partnered with five U.S. film festivals (Hamptons
International, Nantucket, Florida, Taos Talking Pictures, and Santa Barbara International) to select the five finalists. The jurors for the final winner included executive producer John Sloss, directors Brad Anderson (“Next Stop Wonderland“) and Rose Troche (“Go Fish“) and indieWIRE’s own editor-in-chief Eugene Hernandez. [Anthony Kaufman]
>> Hargrove Acquires St. Louis Opener, “The Uncertainty Principle”
(indieWIRE: 12.05.01) — Worldwide distribution rights to the 10th St. Louis
Film Festival opener, “The Uncertainty Principle” have been acquired by
Hargrove Entertainment the company revealed this week. The film, directed
by Toni Sherwood, is described by Hargrove in a press release as centering
on a physicist named Keith Schwab who is involved in a series of experiments
that he hopes will allow him to eventually create a “Quantum Computer.”
Through the succession of experiments, the “answers” to questions are more
about intuition, perseverance, sacrifice, courage and artistic prowess
rather than technical ability.
Hargrove Entertainment has produced and distributed programming to
theatrical, television, video, education and new media markets worldwide for
thirteen years. The company is also currently releasing the documentary,
“The Falun Gong’s Challenge to China” by Danny Schechter. [Brian Brooks]