DAILY NEWS: "Maryam" in NYC; First Look and Ken Loach
with articles by Eugene Hernandez and Brian Brooks/indieWIRE
>> Overlooked Festival Feature Hoping to Find a Following; Self-Distribution Debut Today for Ramin Serry’s “Maryam”
(indieWIRE/02.21.02) — This weekend, only one film was given “Two thumbs
up” by popular critics Roger Ebert and partner Richard Roeper. Ebert praised the movie, calling it, “Powerful, important and very moving.” That should be
enough to guarantee solid first-weekend box office grosses, right?
Filmmaker Ramin Serry hopes so. Ebert was talking about Serry’s
self-distributed feature, “Maryam.” The film opens today at here in
Manhattan’s Angelika Film Center, before runs in other big cities here
in the United States.
The title character of “Maryam” is a high school student living in New
Jersey during the Iranian hostage crisis of 1979. By looking at the way that
Maryam Armin and her family are affected by the incident, the film
powerfully captures the clash between American and Islamic cultures that
grows out of the crisis in Iran. Actress Mariam Parris shines in the lead
role as the conflicted and confused American teenager coming to grips with
an international crisis that strikes all too close to home.
First-time feature filmmaker Ramin Serry contacted indieWIRE by email
recently to tout the release, encouraging that we take a look at his
movie. Since his note, others in the New York community have taken a
moment to email and also encouraged our support of the movie.
Reached yesterday as he frantically fielded phone calls and made final plans
for today’s NYC debut, Serry explained that his decision to self-distribute
the film came after distributors expressed hesitation about taking on a film
with such a controversial topic as American-Islamic relations.
“We found that with this subject matter, it was too difficult to find
someone who was willing to take a chance,” Serry told indieWIRE. “It became
even more clear to us after September 11th (that) we had to get this story
out there — it made it more urgent for me to get it out.”
With opening night looming, Serry explained, “I am working on energizing the
Iranian community — as the director, there is a certain kind of
anticipation and anxiety that one feels as the opening approaches, but I
have been able to occupy myself with promoting the film in this community.”
He added, “There has been no time to worry about anything else.”
“This is not a typical marketing plan for an independent film, it is truly
grass roots,” Serry added, “I have sent out thousands of postcards myself.”
“Maryam” premiered at the Los Angeles Independent Film Festival (now the Los Angeles Film Festival) in 2000. Since then it has screened at about a dozen
American fests, including the Philadelphia World, Atlanta Film & Video, and St. Louis film festivals. Among the highlights, added Serry, was a screening
last year at Ebert’s Overlooked Film Festival in Illinois.
“You won’t be sorry if you make the effort,” wrote a New York indie
community resident about “Maryam,” in a mass email copied to indieWIRE this
month. “And if you are I give you permission to tease me relentlessly for
one year, that is how confident I am that you will love this.” [Eugene
>> First Look Sails to Loach’s “The Navigators”
(indieWIRE/02.22.02) — North American rights to Ken Loach‘s most recent
film, “The Navigators” has been acquired by First Look Pictures, the company’s co-chairman Chris Cooney and Aline Perry, CEO of The Works announced yesterday. First Look plans a theatrical release of the film this summer and its home entertainment division will release the picture on video/DVD in the autumn.
“The Navigators,” described by a company release as, “A serio-comic
examination of the privatization of the British Rail system, [the film] examines how the breakup of the rail system affects the lives of a group of ordinary men in the most quotidian of ways.” Some of Loach’s previous work include “Kes,”
“Black Jack,” “Hidden Agenda,” “Riff-Raff,” “Raining Stones,” and most recently “Bread and Roses.” Loach has been awarded 12 prizes at Cannes over the last 25 years. Currently, First Look has Silvio Soldini‘s, “Bread and Tulips” in release. [Brian Brooks]