Parties for Plexifilm and “Camp,” Job Changes Galore, Von Trier’s Search for a Leading Lady & More
by Wendy Mitchell
INDUSTRY MOVES: IFC Films has expanded its distribution team with the hire of Mark Boxer as director of national film sales. He had been eastern and central district manager for Artisan Entertainment.
Wellspring has welcomed Dan Goldberg as its director of theatrical marketing and publicity and Marisa Keselica as director of national sales and marketing. Goldberg has been a consultant to Palm Pictures and previously worked for Samuel Goldwyn/IDP, the Edinburgh International Festival, and the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Keselica previously worked for MGM/United Artists, the Screening Room, and Clearview Cinemas.
Film Threat DVD is expanding its operations and has added a new director of acquisitions, Mitchell Bard. The company said it now plans to release 30 to 50 titles annually, starting in 2004. For more info on the DVD plans, visit www.filmthreatdvd.com.
After almost two years working with Susan Norget’s New York-based public relations firm, Anne Crozat will be moving back to Paris. Norget has now hired Laurence Abbasi, who previously worked with the Sundance Film Festival and the Film Society of Lincoln Center.
James Lewis has left Fox Searchlight to join Bumble Ward & Associates; he can be reached there starting Monday.
Program Associate Ronit Avni has left Witness, the non-profit group that explores human rights issues that through video technologies. Avni will work full-time on her Israeli-Palestinian social justic project Just Vision. Witness is now seeking a program associate and development associate; for application details visit http://www.witness.org.
U.K. producer Nik Powell is leaving Scala Productions to become director of the National Film & Television School (NFTS). He’ll start the new job on September 29, replacing Stephen Bayly.
SAVING GRACE: Despite their love-fest at Cannes after the premiere of “Dogville,” it now appears that Nicole Kidman won’t be Lars von Trier’s muse much longer. Kidman had indicated that she would continue to play the role of Grace in the next two installments of von Trier’s U.S. trilogy, but she’s now backed out. In a statement released by the filmmakers, Kidman and von Trier said that owing to their “commitments to other projects, both parties regret that they will be unable to co-ordinate their respective schedules” on the forthcoming film “Manderlay.” Zentropa Productions is now searching for a new leading lady for that film, and a third actress will play Grace in the final installment.
CAMPING OUT: It was a diverse and lively crowd out at the Ziegfeld and VUE on Monday for IFC’s “Camp” party. Guests ranged from the film execs to theater crowd (Stanley Tucci, Edie Falco, Marissa Jaret Winokur), kids of the cast (who sang several selections to wild applause), and music lovers (Stephen Trask, the B-52’s Fred Schneider, and it girl Ashanti). While the bar was serving drinks more potent than you find at most summer camps, the grub at VUE was a fitting (and fun) nod to summer favorites: pigs in a blanket, mini hamburgers, and pizza. After-after-party at XL in Chelsea, the kids were looking a little too youthful and got carded. See our iPOP photos in indieWIRE today.
VIVA LATINOS: HBO Films and the New York International Latino Film Festival celebrated the New York premiere of John Leguizamo’s directorial debut “Undefeated” on Tuesday night with a screening at the Loews 34th Street Theaters and an after-party at the Copacabana. The event featured a lavish spread of food and a bountiful bar. Leguizamo and others from the film were on hand, as were producers Robin O’Hara and Scott Macaulay, actors Sam Rockwell and Josh Hamilton and others. The festival runs through this weekend in New York.
PLEXIPARTY: Plexifilm celebrated its move from Brooklyn to Soho with a Wednesday night bash at the still-empty new office in a swank building on Broadway between Houston and Prince. BUZZ arrived a few hours late, expecting the place to be dead, but instead found a raucous crowd of filmmakers, friends, and Plexi staffers swilling tall boys of Bud and dancing to early Madonna tunes. We should have known we could count on that crowd to keep the party going late…and in an added bonus, we even got one member of the Plexi team to take his shirt off for a few bucks (it’s a long, sordid story that we can’t print in this family publication).
INDIGENT BACK WITH “PIZZA”: The low-budget digital initiative from IFC and John Sloss will partner with Process on “Pizza,” a new film from Mark Christopher. The film is set to head into production next month with star Ethan Embry.
A REAL MONSTER: With the impending theatrical release of “Party Monster” starring Macauley Culkin and Seth Green, Picture This! Home Video has announced plans to release the original 1998 documentary that inspired the new fictionalized film. On October 21, Picture This! will release the DVD version of Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato’s documentary “Party Monster — The Shockumentary,” about club kid turned killer Michael Alig. Bailey and Barbato’s fictional treatment of the subject, also confusingly called “Party Monster” of course, will hit theaters on September 5. The new film got a lukewarm response at this year’s Sundance, but the doc won several festival prizes during its run a few years back.
ARCAND ON DVD: With the success of “The Barbarian Invasions” at Cannes 2003, Denys Arcand is building on his already solid reputation. Fans will soon be able to get his 1989 film “Jesus of Montreal,” on DVD for the first time. Arrow Film Distributors will release the DVD on August 11. The film is about Daniel, a Montreal actor who find success when he provides a modern spin on a passion play in a local basilica. It was the Prix du Jury winner at Cannes 1989.
MMMM…KNISHES: Suki Hawley and Mike Galinsky’s “Horns and Halos” recently had its Los Angeles premiere at the Laemmle Fairfax. We didn’t make it to the bash, but we’ll take Galinsky’s word that “many a faded rock star” was in attendance at the after-party at Canter’s Deli’s Kibitz room, drinking Skyy vodka and snacking on mini knishes. Underground publisher Sander Hicks, star of the doc, rode his motorcycle from Taos to attend.
EARTHA KITT ALERT: Cataland Films has started shooting in Harlem, New York, the gospel musical film “On the One,” not to be confused with the J.Lo’s musical masterpiece “On the Six.” Director Charles Randolph-Wright is making his feature debut, working from a script by Kevin Heffernan and Peter Lengyel. The film is about estranged brothers, one a minister and one a hip-hop mogul, who reconcile while trying to save a church. Darien Sills Evans (“X-Patriots”), Billoah Green (“Levity”), Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (“The Bourne Identity”), and Novella Nelson (“Antwone Fisher”) will star. Eartha Kitt, Patti Labelle, and Edwin Hawkins are set for cameos, with Hawkins and Nona Hendryx providing music. Richard Perello and Peter Lengyel are producing.
ALSO FILMING: In other production news, Ghost House Pictures, the genre label created by Sam Raimi, Rob Tapert, and Senator International, has started filing its first feature, “Boogeyman,” in Auckland, New Zealand. Screen Gems will release this horror flick starring Barry Watson, Emily Descahnel, Tory Mussett, and Lucy Lawless. In another spooky tale, Chris Fisher (a producer of “Spun”) is directing “The Hillside Strangler,” shooting now in Valencia, Calif. The flick stars former “Dawson’s Creek” babe Brittany Daniel, alongside Lake Bell of TV’s “Miss Match,” Clifton Collins (“Rules of Attraction”), Bret Roberts (“Chasing Papi”), and Tomas Arana (“Gladiator”).
MCKNIGHT WINNERS: IFP Minneapolis/St. Paul announced the winning fellows for the 2003 McKnight Screenwriting Fellowship. They are Michael Starrbury for “Let The Hustlers Play,” about a small-time hustler who tries for a new start, and Bob Yates for “Big Brenda Shocks the World,” about a single mother and former pro wrestler running for office in 1950s Iowa. Each receives a $25,000 cash award and a trip to the 2003 IFP Market in New York. The four other finalists were Fred McGrath for “Homeland Security,” Keith T. Myers for “Brother’s Keeper,” Bill True for “Michael’s Letters,” and Tom Williams for “Better Angels.”
CINEMANIA SPREADS: Cinemaniacs unite! The doc “Cinemania,” about obsessive film fans in New York City, will be heading across North America. The film is soon to come to Silver Spring, MD, Montreal, Detroit, Austin, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Chicago, Houston, Rochester, Ambler, PA, Milwaukee, and Los Angeles. For details, visit www.cinemaniamovie.com.
COMPOSURE: Six people are currently spending two weeks in Sundance, Utah as participants at the sixth-annual Sundance Institute Composers Lab, running through August 6. Christopher Anderson-Bazzoli, Billy Childs, Courtney Von Drehle, Mark De Gli Antoni, Ronit Kirchman, and Christopher Tin are taking part in the two-week lab of workshops and creative exercises. The six will also collaborate with filmmakers from the Sundance Feature Film Program to create accompanying scores for scenes shot by the filmmaker fellows during the filmmaker lab held in June. Among this year’s team of creative advisors are: composers Carter Burwell (“Fargo,” “Adaptation”); George S. Clinton (“Austin Powers in Goldmember,”); Clint Mansell (“Pi,” “Requiem for a Dream”); Robert Kraft, president of Fox Music; film music agent Robert Messinger (First Artists); and Doreen Ringer Ross, vice president, film/TV relations at BMI.
[Brian Brooks and Eugene Hernandez contributed to this report.]