BUZZ for March 28: Cannes’ Opener; Anders Thomas Jensen’s Directorial Debut; Oscar-Week Party Reports and More
by Wendy Mitchell and Eugene Hernandez
CANNES PLAN FOR “FANFAN”: It’ll be deja vu at Cannes’ opening this year. The festival announced that Gerard Krawczyk’s “Fanfan la Tulipe” will open the fest; it is the remake of Christian-Jaque’s 1952 film, which won the best director prize at Cannes that year. In the 2003 version Vincent Perez and Penelope Cruz star in a “swashbuckling” tale about an 18th century peasant-turned-hero. Luc Besson and Jean Cosmos wrote this version, from the 1952 original script by René Fallet, René Wheeler, Christian-Jaque and Henri Jeanson (other filmed versions were made in 1907 and 1926). It is screening out of competition on May 14, the same day it opens theatrically in France.
SUNDANCE EYEING “WORLD”: Sundance Channel is negotiating to acquire all North American rights to Michael Winterbottom’s new film, “In This World,” for its new Sundance Film Series. The movie debuted at the Berlinale last month where it won the top award, the Golden Bear. The film is about the plight of refugees — quite a departure from Winterbottom’s 2002 acclaimed film “24 Hour Party People.” Sundance’s four-film series will hit Loews Theaters in 10 cities.
OSCAR WEEK = PARTY WEEK: Not to be overlooked by BUZZ were the slew of parties in Los Angeles last week during the Oscar frenzy. What a great chance for New Yorkers to catch up with L.A. friends and colleagues. On Wednesday, the International Documentary Association hosted an event at the Academy headquarters on Wilshire to showcase the nominees for the feature and short-subject doc Oscars. The following night, at the home of producer Randy Simon, the IFP/Los Angeles hosted a soiree for the Independent Spirit Awards nominees.
On Friday night, Cinetic and Killer Films toasted “Far From Heaven” with a party that took over the lobby and gardens at the Chateau Marmont on Sunset. Todd Haynes greeted guests with his parents, while Christine Vachon and the team from Killer fanned out to mix with the partygoers. From Cinetic, John Sloss, Micah Green, and Erin Heidenreich mingled with attendees. Randy Barbato and Fenton Bailey, fresh from debuting “Party Monster” at Sundance and Berlin, told indieWIRE that they just finished a new Anna Nicole documentary. Barbato admitted that his latest obsession has been watching his tape of the recent LaToya Jackson interview with Larry King. Later that night, people crowded the Silver Lake home of Effie Brown, who hosted a party for the Spirit Awards producer nominees with Diana Williams and the crew from The 7th Floor. The next day, Brown won the $20,000 producers prize.
At the Independent Spirit Awards on Saturday afternoon, the real fun happened in the backstage area, where sponsored tents and bars gave attendees a chance to cool down and take a break from the ceremony. Celebrities are the truly privileged at the Spirits they can some do light swag shopping at tents by Express and Motorola. In the DirectTV/IFC tent, all were welcome to grab a drink, snack on a cupcake, and grab a free copy of the “Y Tu Mama Tambien” DVD (unfortunately it was the R rated version!). Highlights of the ceremony included Derek Luke (“Antwone Fisher”) noting, in his best actor acceptance speech, that four years ago he was a waiter at the very same awards show. Also a highlight was John Waters’ annual opening speech, which encourages stars to loosen up a bit. “Limousines are so over, stars,” he said, “Next year, steal a car and have a car chase to the Spirit Awards!” Backstage, Waters hung out with his perennial date, Patricia Hearst.
Following the ceremony, guests packed the restaurant at Shutters for IFC’s annual after-party, the must-attend event on Spirit Awards day. Many at the party were heard wondering what was up with Brittany Murphy’s presenting skills at the Spirits? In a scene that evoked Farrah Fawcett on “David Letterman” and seemed right out of her current role in “Spun,” Murphy couldn’t quite get it right on stage and even tried to open the envelope to read the winner before finishing her announcement of the nominees. Then again, perhaps the Teleprompter was to blame.
HOFFMAN BEFORE THE HAMPTONS: Phillip Seymour Hoffman will be on hand for a screening of his forthcoming film “Owning Mahowny” (Sony Pictures Classics) at the Guggenheim Museum on Wednesday. The Hamptons International Film Festival is now working with GuggenheimFILM on the fest’s monthly screening series, and also on the fest’s conflict and resolution program. The Guggenheim’s Maria-Christina Villasenor will serve as a guest programmer for that popular section of the Hamptons fest. The April 2 screening is the first event in the second season of the series; Hoffman will be on hand for a Q&A following the 7 p.m. showing. Richard Kwietniowski’s film, which also stars Minnie Driver and John Hurt, is about an unassuming man who develops a gambling problem.
THE METHOD: The fifth-annual Method Fest Independent Film Festival will be held April 11-18 in Burbank, CA (moved from the usual Pasadena location). The fest is known for its unique focus on great acting. Some highlights of this year’s line-up will be Peter Sollett’s acclaimed “Raising Victor Vargas”; “Leo” starring Joseph Fiennes, Sam Shepard, Elizabeth Shue, and Dennis Hopper; “I Witness,” starring Jeff Daniels, James Spader, Portia DeRossi, and Clifton Collins, Jr.; and “Sam & Joe” starring Petra Wright, Michael T. Ringer, and Jeffrey Donovan. Actor John Savage will be honored with a tribute, and Lainie Kazan will receive Method Fest’s performance of the year award for her role as Tula’s mother in “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.” In addition to screenings, the fest hosts workshops and panels. For more info, visit www.methodfest.com
DADDY OF DOGME: Anders Thomas Jensen, the writer of Dogme 95 fave “Mifune,” “The King is Alive,” and the recent “Open Hearts,” is opening his directorial debut feature film, “Flickering Lights,” at L.A.’s Laemmles Fairfax today (through upstart distributor Rogue Arts). The black comedy, about smalltime crooks from Copenhagen who escape to Barcelona to find a new life, topped the box-office in Denmark last year. It stars Danish household names Ulrich Thomsen (“The Celebration,” “Mostly Martha”), Soren Pilmark (“The Kingdom”), Mads Mikkelsen (“Open Hearts”), Sophie Grabol (“Mifune”), and Iben Hjejle (“High Fidelity,” “Mifune”). Look for it on DVD later this year.
FANS WHO FAKE IT: Three enterprising PJ Harvey fans passed themselves off as “professional filmmakers” and got permission to document her last tour. “Stories From the Road — A Film About Following PJ Harvey” isn’t your typical rock doc — it’s also about the three fans on their unusual quest. From the trailer we saw online, it looks interesting. It will screen at the London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival on April 9, and then have its U.S. premiere at the Atlanta Film Festival in June. For more info, visit www.followingpj.com.
ROTTERDAM REDUX: The famed Walker Art Center in Minneapolis is celebrating the 15th anniversary of the Hubert Bals Fund from April 2-18. The fund, managed by the International Film Festival Rotterdam, supports indie filmmakers in developing countries. Films in the Walker program will include Abderrahmane Sissako’s “Waiting for Happiness,” Santiago Loza’s “Extrano” (Strange), Carlos Reygadas’ “Japon,” Manijeh Hekmat’s “Women’s Prison,” and Jamshed Usmonov’s “Angel on the Right.” For details, visit www.walkerart.org.
QUOTABLE: “I am deeply moved to be rewarded for the work which relates to the events so close to my own life, the events that led me to comprehend that art can transform pain. I believe this still holds true today. My most heartfelt thanks to the members of the Academy for this wonderful award.” — Director Roman Polanski’s statement following his Oscar win for “The Pianist”