Lelouch’s Latest; Toronto Galas; A Deal for “Dummy” & More
by Wendy Mitchell and Eugene Hernandez
INDUSTRY MOVES: Jason Janego has left Cinetic Media to join Miramax Films in the delivery administration department.
Peter Carlton has been named the head of Channel 4’s Film Four Lab. He previously ran the U.K. regional film fund EM Media Investments.
MORE TORONTO PIX: A trio of new gala films have been added to the lineup of the upcoming Toronto International Film Festival. Joining the roster are Jane Campion’s erotic thriller “In The Cut,” starring Meg Ryan, Mark Ruffalo, and Jennifer Jason Leigh. The film will have its world premiere in Toronto. Also on tap is “Code 46,” a new film from Michael Winterbottom. The prolific director’s latest, a North American premiere, stars Tim Robbins and Samantha Morton in a film described as “a compelling love story that travels into an eerily possible near-future where cities are heavily controlled and only accessible through checkpoints.” Finally, another gala film will be Ridley Scott‘s “Matchstick Men,” a North American premiere, based on Eric Garcia‘s novel, that stars Nicolas Cage, Sam Rockwell, Alison Lohman, and Bruce McGill.
LELOUCH LUNCH: French filmmaker Claude Lelouch (“A Man and a Woman“) seems to be recovering well from a serious car accident he endured in France earlier this summer. The director was in New York last week to toast the Paramount Classics release of his new film, “And Now Ladies and Gentlemen” (opening in select cities today). At a luncheon presented by Unifrance and the French Film Office, Lelouch and his wife Alessandra Martines, who appears in the movie, talked with journalists about the film, which follows a jewel thief (Jeremy Irons) and a jazz singer (Patricia Kaas). “The American public thinks primarily about being entertained,” laughed Lelouch during a conversation with indieWIRE. “So I am delighted that my film is also an entertaining film!” Festival de Cannes directrice generale Veronique Cayla, who happened to be in town on the same day as the luncheon, dropped by to toast the movie that closed the Cannes festival in 2002. As for Lelouch, he and his wife will spend some time in August on a family getaway; his kids range in age from 4 to 35.
PULLING STRINGS: Artisan Entertainment is the latest company to jump on the Brody Oscar train. Artisan has acquired Greg Pritikin‘s “Dummy,” which stars Adrien Brody as a down-on-his-luck guy who becomes a ventriloquist. “Dummy,” coming to theaters in September, costars Milla Jovovich and Jared Harris.
FLEMMING FOR GOVERNOR! L.A.-based writer and director Brian Flemming, director of “Nothing So Strange” and co-writer of “Bat Boy: The Musical,” has thrown his hat into the ring for the upcoming California gubernatorial recall election. With politicians on both sides of the aisle jockeying for position, democrat Flemming has adopted a rather straightforward approach. If elected, Flemming will resign and hand over the governorship of the country’s largest state to Cruz Bustamante, the state’s democratic Lt. Governor who was elected last fall. Bustamante has decided not to run in the recall election out of loyalty to Governor Gray Davis. “My candidacy may be unusual, but these are unusual times,” Flemming said in a statement on his personal blog. “If Lt. Gov. Bustamante ends up as governor, even by unusual means, that will be the best result both for democracy and for the stability of this state’s government.”
SLEEPING PATTERN: As someone who’s been known to clock in 12 hours of sleep after a particularly hard day, I’m fully behind Tom Wilson‘s “Sleep Across America” project. Wilson, one of the filmmakers behind “They Shoot Movies, Don’t They?” (currently airing on IFC) has decided to turn his sleeping skills into a film. It’s not as boring as it might sound. Wilson got several corporate sponsors to back a trip during which he sleeps his way across this great country in an effort to raise awareness about sleep disorders. Wilson clearly doesn’t have any problems with his sleep patterns: In a Winnebago “sleep mobile,” he curled up on a plush mattress while a driver made his way from California to New York. The rule was that they could only travel while Wilson was asleep (usually about 7-10 hours per night). Along the way, a crew got 15 hours of footage of the trip, from promotional appearances to a sleep technicians’ conference to Wilson’s skilled napping. Wilson and his Nobody Productions now plan to create a 90-minute film, “Sleep Across America,” that will be a doc-fiction hybrid. For details, visit http://www.sleepacrossamerica.com.
HEADED “SIDEWAYS”: Paul Giamatti, already winning rave reviews for his star turn as Harvey Pekar in the Sundance hit “American Splendor” (hitting theaters August 15) is now shooting “Paycheck,” the John Woo sci-fi thriller starring Ben Affleck, Uma Thurman, and Aaron Eckhart. He’s also signed on to co-star in Alexander Payne‘s next film, a comedy entitled “Sideways.” That film co-stars Payne’s new bride, Sandra Oh. “Sideways” is said to be the story of a groom-to-be and his best man on a road trip through California’s wine country.
STONY BROOK WINNERS: The Stony Brook Film Festival in Long Island, New York, closed July 26 with the jury award for best feature shared by Nevil Dwek‘s “Undermind” and Alec Carlin‘s “Outpatient.” Audience award winners were Brent Huff‘s “100 Mile Rule” and Alan Jacobs‘ “American Gun.” The jury award for best short went to Tracey D’Arcy‘s “Another Life,” and the audience’s favorite short was Eva Saks‘ “Confection.” The 2003 festival award for excellence went to closing night selection “The Secret Lives of Dentists.”
BOB HOPE’S HITS: Fans mourning the death of Bob Hope can console themselves with a celebration of some of his best films. The Film Society of Lincoln Center will present Thanks for the Memories: Bob Hope’s 100th Birthday, from August 8-14 (the retrospective was planned before Hope passed away). The program includes his first screen test plus 13 films including “The Facts of Life,” “My Favorite Blonde,” “The Paleface,” and more.
DISTRO DREAMS: Allentown, Penn., production company Independent Dream Machine is planning a move into the theatrical distribution biz. The company said it will start distributing its films in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern states and then roll out nationally. IDM said it plans to distribute as many as four films per year, starting this fall with Michael Yurinko‘s “Fading” and Zeke Zelker‘s “A.K.A. – It’s A Wiley World!“
KODAK WINNERS: After receiving more than 65 submissions from 47 schools, Kodak has selected Yael Braha of San Francisco State University and John Fiege of the University of Texas at Austin as the winners of the 2003 Eastman Scholarship. The two students will split the $5,000 prize. Also, Nancy Schiesari, an associate professor in the department of Radio-Television-Film at UT-Austin, won the Kodak Faculty Scholarship. The prize is $5,000 to finish her film “Behind Enemy Lines — The OSS and Italian Resistance in WWII.”