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DAILY NEWS: NYFF Sets Eclectic Line-Up; “Good Girl” Still Good at the Box Office; Woodstock Welcome

DAILY NEWS: NYFF Sets Eclectic Line-Up; "Good Girl" Still Good at the Box Office; Woodstock Welcome

DAILY NEWS: NYFF Sets Eclectic Line-Up; "Good Girl" Still Good at the Box
Office; Woodstock Welcomes "Velocity" and "Heaven"

by Eugene Hernandez, Matthew Ross, and Wendy Mitchell/indieWIRE

>> NYFF Unveils Eclectic, Balanced 2002 Line-Up

(indieWIRE: 08.20.02) — The 2001 New York Film Festival was marked by the
high number of French titles, and 2000 was considered by many as the year
of the Asian film. This year’s program, which was announced yesterday by
the Film Society of Lincoln Center, includes an eclectic selection of titles
that resists any broad characterization.

The festival, which kicks off its 40th anniversary edition on September 27
with a screening of Alexander Payne‘s “About Schmidt” and closes October 13
with Pedro Almodovar‘s “Talk to Her,” will screen 24 films from 17 countries.
The U.S. is best represented with four titles: “About Schmidt,” Paul Thomas
‘s “Punch-Drunk Love” (this year’s NYFF centerpiece selection and a
co-winner of the best director prize at Cannes 2002), Paul Schrader‘s
Auto Focus,” and Jennifer Dworkin‘s documentary “Love and Diane.” France will
again make a strong showing with three films (not including co-productions),
including Claire Denis‘ “Friday Night,” Bertrand Tavernier‘s “Safe Conduct,”
and Nicolas Philbert‘s documentary “To Be and To Have.” A pair of U.K. films,
Paul Greengrass‘ “Bloody Sunday” (co-winner of the 2002 Berlin Golden Bear)
and Peter Mullan‘s “The Magdalene Sisters” have been chosen, as have two
titles from South Korea: Im Kwon Taek‘s “Chihwaseon” (best director co-winner
at Cannes 2002) and Hong Sang-soo‘s “Turning Gate.”

“These were the films we saw this year that were of great interest to me and
the selection committee,” said programming chair Richard Pena in a
conversation with indieWIRE yesterday. “As always, the committee approached
the selection process with no a priori notion of what we wanted to include.
Only afterwards did I notice how varied the selection was. It’s disappointing
to me that there are no films from Latin America, but besides that I’m very
pleased with the line-up.” Other members of the selection committee include
Newsday’s chief film critic John Anderson, Los Angeles Times critic Manohla
, Film Society of Lincoln Center associate programmer Kent Jones, and
New York Times film columnist Dave Kehr.

As usual, the line-up includes a number of award winners from the Cannes and
Berlin festivals, including Aki Kaurismaki‘s “The Man Without a Past
(Finland, Cannes grand jury prize), Andre Heller and Othmar Schmiderer‘s
documentary “Blind Spot: Hitler’s Secretary” (Austria, Berlin Panorama
audience prize), Otar Ioseliani‘s “Monday Morning” (Italy, Berlin Silver Bear
co-winner and FIPRESCI prize), Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne‘s “The Son
(Belgium/France, Cannes special jury mention and best actor award), Elia
‘s “Divine Intervention” (France/Palestine, Cannes jury and FIPRESCI
prizes), Marco Bellocchio‘s “My Mother’s Smile” (Italy, Cannes special jury
mention), and Abderrahmane Sissako’s “Waiting for Happiness” (Mauritania/
France, Cannes FIPRESCI award, Un Certain Regard section).

Abbas Kiarstami‘s “Ten” (Iran/France), Manoel de Oliveira‘s “The Uncertainty
” (Portugal/France), Aleksandr Sokurov‘s “Russian Ark” (Russia/
Germany), and Tian Zhuangzhuang‘s “Springtime in a Small Town” (China), round
out the line-up.

Controversy this year will do doubt center on several noteworthy snubs,
including Roman Polanski‘s Cannes Palme d’Or winner “The Pianist” and Michael
‘s “Bowling for Columbine,” which took home the Cannes 55th anniversary
prize. Other films that won’t be making the trip to Lincoln Center this year
include Hayao Miyazaki‘s Berlin Golden Bear co-winner “Spirited Away,”
David Cronenberg‘s “Spider,” Francois Ozon‘s Silver Bear co-winner “8 Women,”
Todd Haynes‘ “Far From Heaven,” Takeshi Kitano‘s “Dolls,” Stephen Frears
Dirty Pretty Things,” Agnieszka Holland‘s “Julie Waling Home,” and
Patrice Leconte‘s “L’homme du train.” As a policy, the festival does not
comment on films not included in the program.

Special offerings this year include King Hu‘s 1965 film “Come Drink with
” (Hong Kong), F.W. Murnau‘s 1926 version of “Faust” (Germany), True
Living Color: Race, Film, and Television in America, Today and Tomorrow:
An HBO Films Public Forum
, The Actor as Activist: Celebrating Shabana Azmi,
and View from the Avant-Garde. The short film line-up will be announced at a
later date. Grand Marnier will sponsor the festival for the seventh
consecutive year. [Matthew Ross]

[For more information, visit the New York Film Festival website.]

>> “Good Girl,” “Possession,” and “Party People” Atop Limited Release
Box Office

(indieWIRE: 08.20.02) — While it is still ten days away, all eyes are on
Labor Day weekend as specialty divisions jockey for position on moviegoers’
holiday weekend screening calendar. A number of recent Indiewood releases
are eyeing August 30th as a key time to expand.

Fox Searchlight‘s “The Good Girl” is among the solidly performing pictures
currently playing in limited release that will expand on Labor Day weekend.
Miguel Arteta’s third film earned $840,660 this weekend in 60 theaters for
an average of $14,011 and a new total of $1,160,891. It will expand to 180
theaters in 30 cities this coming weekend, before moving to more than 500
theaters for its national expansion over Labor Day weekend, according to
Fox Searchlight’s president of distribution, Steve Gilula.

Over at Focus Features, this weekend the company unveiled Neil LaBute‘s fourth
feature film, “Possession.” The movie opened with $1,575,214 on 270
screens, for an average of $5,834. Focus’ distribution chief Jack Foley
told indieWIRE yesterday that while the film will add 60 more theaters
in its current 17 markets this weekend, it will grow to between 500 – 600
screens in 75 – 100 markets for the Labor Day weekend. He is aiming the
picture at older audiences, skewing towards women over 40.

“In this sector, over the last few years, there has been a clear indication,
based on a number of business dynamics [among] certain films, indicating
that Labor Day weekend is good for older moviegoers,” Foley told indieWIRE

United Artists‘ “24 Hour Party People” earned $139,349 in its second
weekend, on 18 screens is eyeing younger viewers. The picture, which
debuted in L.A. and seven other cities (including San Francisco and
Boston) over the weekend, had a per-screen average of $7,741 for a
new cume of $201,364.

VP of marketing for United Artists’ Dennis O’Connor was especially pleased
with the film’s performance on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, where the
movie jumped 35 percent over its opening weekend gross. He indicated that
this weekend the picture will add runs in Manhattan as well suburban NYC;
it will expand in Dallas, Detroit, Atlanta, Houston, Minneapolis, Miami/
Ft. Lauderdale/West Palm Beach, Denver, Portland, and San Diego on August
30, according to O’Connor. The exec intends to add cities throughout
September with an emphasis on university towns (such as Madison,
Providence, and Austin), where it is likely to connect with back-to-school

Among the new films this weekend was Paramount Classics‘ “Mostly Martha,”
which earned $40,446 on two screens, while Thinkfilm‘s “The Last Kiss
earned $33,561 on five screens in its debut, for an average of $6,712.

While IFC Films‘ release of “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” can no longer be
considered a limited release, it is certainly worth noting. The film,
now in its 18th week of release, earned $5.7 million in its expansion to
1,064 screens. That’s an average of nearly $5,400 for a new total of
nearly $53.8 million.

Finally, Hollywood suffered a stunning blow at the box office with the
disastrous opening of “The Adventures of Pluto Nash.” Warner Bros.
release of the Eddie Murphy picture earned only $2 million on about
2,300 screens (a $900 average). The film is said to have cost nearly $100
million to make. Hollywood’s bible, Variety, called the film’s grosses
“abysmal,” likening the picture to such infamous studio flops as “Town &
Country,” “Ishtar,” and “Heaven’s Gate.” [Eugene Hernandez]

>> Woodstock Announces Line-up; Will Screen “Velocity” and “Heaven”

(indieWIRE: 08.20.02) — The Woodstock Film Festival has announced a line-up
of more than 125 films for its third-annual event, slated for September
18 – 22 in and around Woodstock, NY. Rebecca Miller’s “Personal Velocity,”
starring Kyra Sedgwick, Parker Posey and Fairuza Balk, will open the event,
while Todd Haynes’ “Far From Heaven” will close the festival. Organizers
noted that Miller’s Sundance 2002 Grand Jury winner was filmed near

Narrative features in competition include “Blue Car” by Karen Moncrieff (East
Coast premiere); Andrew Bujalski’s “Funny Ha Ha” (world premiere); “Interview
With an Assassin” by Neil Burger; “Love in the Time of Money” by Peter Mattei;
“Manic” by Jordan Melamed; and “May” by Lucky McKee (New York premiere).
Documentaries competing include Nina Gilden-Seavey’s “The Ballad of Bering
Straight,” Sasha Waters’ “Razing Appalachia” (East Coast premiere), Adrian
Grenier’s “Shot in the Dark,” and Jeff Blitz’s “Spellbound.”

Woodstock said that it received more than 700 submissions for this year’s
event, up from 500 in 2001. “We watched hundreds of films, but the ones we
settled on were more out-of-the-ordinary, where the filmmakers were really
using the medium to its full effect rather than emulating past indie
successes,” said new head feature programmer Ryan Werner (also of Magnolia
Pictures), in a prepared statement.

In addition to competition films, there will be a number of features and docs
shown in a Focus on Music sidebar. Other special screenings include Jonathan
Demme’s work-in-progress “The Agronomist,” Tim Blake Nelson’s “The Grey Zone,”
Gus Van Sant’s “Gerry” and his first feature, “Mala Noche.” More than 80
shorts, short docs, and animated films will be screened including Jason
Kliot’s “Site,” Stephen Marro’s “The Quality of Mercy,” Jessica Sharzer’s
“The Wormhole,” and a special screening of Jim Jarmusch’s study of time
“Int. Trailer — Night.”

The festival held a kick off party to announce its lineup last night at
the Knitting Factory in Manhattan. [Wendy Mitchell]

[For more information, visit the Woodstock Film Festival website.]

>> TUESDAY IN indieWIRE DAILY NEWS: NYFF Sets Eclectic Line-Up; “Good Girl”
Still Good at the Box Office; Woodstock Welcomes “Personal Velocity”

(indieWIRE: 08.21.02) — The 2001 New York Film Festival was marked by
the high number of French titles, and 2000 was considered by many as the
year of the Asian film. This year’s program, which was announced yesterday
by the Film Society of Lincoln Center, includes an eclectic selection of
titles that resists any broad characterization. Also, the indie box office and the Woodstock Film Festival lineup.


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