DAILY NEWS: Sundance Rounds Out 2003 Slate and Brooks Joins Focus
by Eugene Hernandez, Matthew Ross and Wendy Mitchell/indieWIRE
>> “Levity,” “Shape of Things,” and “Detective” Among Sundance 2003 Premieres as Organizers Reveal Balance of Feature Lineup
(indieWIRE: 12.04.02) — Premiere films took centerstage as organizers at
the Sundance Institute unveiled the list of higher-profile projects that
will unspool in Park City at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival. Sundance
2003’s premieres will include a number of highly anticipated new films,
including Neil LaBute‘s “The Shape of Things,” Alan Rudolph‘s “The Secret Lives of Dentists,” Keith Gordon‘s “The Singing Detective,” starring Robert Downey, Jr., and Oliver Stone‘s “Commandante,” a documentary about Fidel Castro. Lists for the midnight, native forum, frontier, world cinema, and the new world documentary sections were also announced.
Sundance 2003 will open in Salt Lake City on January 16 with Sony Pictures
Classics‘ “Levity,” directed by Ed Solomon, who is known for screenplays including “Men In Black.” Billy Bob Thornton stars as a man who gets out of prison and meets a mysterious minister (Morgan Freeman) and two needy women (Holly Hunter, Kirsten Dunst). The opening night film in Park City will be announced later.
Non-U.S. offerings in the premieres section include Aussie flick “Garage
Days,” directed by Alex Proyas (“The Crow,” “Dark City“), Canadian drama “Owning Mahowny,” starring Philip Seymour Hoffman as a gambling addict, and Jim Sheridan‘s U.K. production “In America,” about Irish immigrants in New York. First-time director Matthew Parkhill made the list with his U.K. film, “Dot the I,” starring Gael Garcia Bernal (“Y Tu Mama Tambien“), Charlie Cox, and Natalia Verbeke as young lovers in London. Danish director Thomas Vinterberg, one of the founders of the Dogme movement, will offer “It’s All About Love,” a futuristic love story starring Claire Danes and Joaquin Phoenix. That film is a U.S.-U.K.-Japan-Sweden-Denmark production.
Another notable inclusion is “Masked and Anonymous,” from “Seinfeld“
producer/writer and “Curb Your Enthusiasm” director Larry Charles. “Masked” stars none other than Bob Dylan as a cult musician who is sprung from jail to play a benefit concert. The cast also includes John Goodman, Luke Wilson, Jessica Lange, Jeff Bridges, Penelope Cruz, Val Kilmer, Ed Harris, and Angela Bassett. In addition, two of Showtime Network‘s five Sundance offerings will screen in the premieres section: “Good Fences” with Danny Glover and Whoopi Goldberg and “A Soldier’s Girl” with Troy Garity and Shawn Hatosy.
Organizers created the all-new world documentary section this year, aimed at
highlighting non-fiction work from outside the United States. Jesper
Jargil‘s “The Purified” is an insider’s look at the filmmakers behind the
famed Dogme 95 movement, including Lars Von Trier, Thomas Vinterberg,
Kristian Levring, and Soren Kragh-Jacobson. It will screen with Jorgen
Leth‘s “New Scenes from America.” Both films were highlights at last month’s
International Documentary Film Festival in Amsterdam. Also in Sundance from
the fest is Kim Longinotto‘s “The Day I Will Never Forget,” a harrowing look at the incredible practices of female genital mutilation in a community in
Kenya. A total of 10 international documentaries will screen in the section.
“We made a committment to help develop the international side,” Sundance
fest director Geoff Gilmore told indieWIRE. “We are doing this with the
international documentary section, that’s a very specific choice that we
have made.” Continuing he added, “It is one of the best ways you can talk
about windows into other cultures — (these are) really remarkable stories
that they are telling here, they are entrancing works.” (indieWIRE will
publish more from Gilmore tomorrow.)
More than 200 international documentaries were submitted for this year’s
inaugural international doc section, while nearly 450 international dramatic
features were submitted. As usual, the majority of the films screening in
the 25-film world cinema section arrive in Park City with strong
international track records. Among the fest circuit favorites and oversees
box-office hits are Gurinda Chadha‘s U.K. soccer crowd-pleaser “Bend It Like
Beckham,” an upcoming Fox Searchlight release which some industry-ites have
tapped as having “Billy Elliot“-like crossover potential; Danny Boyle‘s “28 Days Later,” a zombie thriller written by “The Beach” novelist Alex Garland (also a Searchlight project); Niki Caro‘s “Whale Rider” (New Zealand), a coming-of-age story that came out of nowhere to win the people’s choice
award at the 2002 Toronto International Film Festival and was later picked
up by Newmarket Films; Karim Anouz‘s “Madame Sata” (Brazil), a portrait of a transvestite gangster from Rio that screened at Cannes and Toronto, won the Golden Hugo prize at the 2002 Chicago International Film Festival, and
scored a U.S. deal with Wellspring Media; and Roberta Torre‘s “Angela” (Italy), a Cannes and Toronto selection about a mafia wife who falls for her
husband’s lackey, which has already been picked up for U.S. distribution by
First Look Media.
The world cinema program will also play host to several official
foreign-language Academy Award submissions. Films vying for one of the five
Oscar nominations (which will be announced on February 11) include Fernando
Leon de Aranoa‘s “Mondays in the Sun” (Spain), a story about unemployed
dockworkers starring Javier Bardem to be released by Lions Gate; Susanne Bier‘s Dogme 95 project “Open Hearts” (Denmark), a story about an engaged couple who are torn apart after a horrific accident, which has already been
acquired by Newmarket; and Baltasar Kormakur‘s “The Sea” (Iceland), a family drama from the director of “101 Reykjavik” that screened at Toronto and has already signed a U.S. deal with Palm Pictures. [Eugene Hernandez, Wendy
Mitchell and Matthew Ross]
[Tomorrow, indieWIRE will look at some of the overall changes at the 2003
Sundance Film Festival.]
SUNDANCE 2003 LINEUPS:
American Spectrum || HREF=”onthescene/fes_03Sund_021203_AmerShow.html”>
The entire feature film lineup set for the 2003 Sundance Film Festival is now available here at indieWIRE.com. The Shorts lineup will be announced next week.
>> Brooks Named Marketing President at Focus
(indieWIRE: 12.04.02) — David Brooks has joined Focus Features as the
president of marketing, the company confirmed yesterday. Brooks, who spent
12 years at Miramax, left the company as its executive VP and co-head of
“David has an extraordinary track record, and we’re confident that his
expertise will be quite valuable to Focus as the company builds on our
worldwide presence,” commented Focus co-presidents David Linde and James
Schamus in a prepared statement yesterday. “He will be a pivotal player on
our team.” David Brooks joined Miramax directly out of NYU graduate school.
He first worked in the company’s advertising department.
Focus Features is the specialty-films arm of Universal Pictures (a division
of Vivendi Universal Entertainment and a part of global giant Vivendi
Universal). [Eugene Hernandez]