“Bubba Ho-Tep” Deal; VisionFest Hits the Intrepid, An Ozon Sighting and More
by Wendy Mitchell
DISTRO DEALS: Vitagraph Films, the distro arm of American Cinematheque, has picked up theatrical rights to Don Coscarelli’s “Bubba Ho-Tep,” which stars Bruce Campbell as “a geriatric Elvis who rids his Texas nursing home of an Egyptian mummy with the aid of Ossie Davis.” Well then. The flick will roll out nationally following a September opening in L.A. and New York. In other acquisition news, Picture This! Entertainment acquired all U.S. and Canadian DVD and home video rights to Francis Girod’s “Gender Bias,” which recently premiered at Frameline. The film is about a transsexual in Brussels who is suspected of murder. Pyramide S.A. released the film in France under the name “Mauvais Genre.”
ISRAELI KICK OFF: Last night, the 19th Israel Film Festival opened with an awards ceremony honoring Milos Forman with the lifetime achievement award, along with First Run Features president Seymour Wishman with the visionary award. The gala was followed with a screening of Ilan Heitner’s “Wisdom of the Pretzel.” The fest will run through July 3 in New York (it previously ran in Chicago and L.A. and will hit Miami in November. For details on screenings and events, visit http://www.israelfilmfestival.com.
FILMS AFLOAT: VisionFest, launched in 2001 as the Guerrilla Film & Video Festival, has found a striking venue for its 2003 event, which will run June 25-29. The fest will host screenings at the Lutnick Theater on the USS Intrepid (the docked aircraft carrier/museum in New York City’s Hudson River). VisionFest’s program includes competition screenings, a Brian DePalma retrospective, and a tribute to late actor Richard Farnsworth. Five filmmakers (Larry Brand, Will Keenan, Roger Majkowski, Scott Saunders, and Lorna Thomas) are also participating in a DV project to shoot, edit, and complete a 5-minute narrative film. The opening night film is Eli Kabillio’s documentary “Try to Remember: The Fantasticks,” about New York’s longest-running musical. VisionFest will also feature two panel discussions, June 28’s “I’ve Made My Film, Now What Do I Do?” and June 29’s “So Shoot Me, I’m An Actor.” For details on the festival, visit www.domanivision.org.
FIGHT THE POWER: indieWIRE contributor Brandon Judell is one of the esteemed panelists on this Sunday’s Brunch in the City film panel. The brunch, from proper New York brunching hours of 1-4 p.m., will be held at Joe Franklin’s restaurant, 713 Eighth Ave. This “Power Players” discussion will cover “how to market and publicize your indie film.” Other than the charming Mr. Judell, panelists will include Natascha Bodemann of the French Film Office, doc producer Mitch Teplitsky, screenwriter Tony Spirdakis, New York Production Alliance exec director Sylvia Gail Kinnard, and Subway Cinema.com co-founder Grady Hendrix. For reservations, email BrunchintheCity@yahoo.com.
FLAHERTY FOCUS: This weekend, the Museum of Modern Art will present Witnessing the World: the Robert Flaherty Film Seminar at MoMA. The selections, ranging from doc to fiction to experimental videos, are picked from the annual Flaherty Film Seminar at Vassar College. This year’s seminar focuses on social responsibility and political struggle, and will feature screenings from Tran Van Thuy, Tsuchimoto Noriaka, Avi Mograbi, and Franny Armstrong.
SPOTTED: Imagine our surprise when Francois Ozon showed up at BUZZ’s very own birthday party on Monday. Poor man was completely culture-shocked at our choice in party venues: a divey Hell’s Kitchen bar where trash was piled in heaps and a mouse was seen scurrying by the barstools. Not quite the same as the luxury he found in Cannes, where he just showed his new film, “Swimming Pool.” His English-language film stars Charlotte Rampling and an all-grown-up Ludivine Sagnier. Focus Features opens it on July 3; Ozon was in New York this week to do advance press. Unfortunately for the male revelers at my birthday bash, Mademoiselle Ludivine didn’t show up.