Chloe Sevigny Talks “demonlover,” AFI L.A. Announces Key Films, “Wet Hot” Returns, & More
by Wendy Mitchell
AFI FEST PREVIEW: The 2003 AFI Los Angeles International Film Festival has announced its opening, centerpiece, and closing night films for its event running November 6-16. The opening will be the North American premiere of Nigel Cole’s “Calendar Girls,” starring Helen Mirren and Julie Walters; the centerpiece galas will be the world premiere of Vadim Perelman’s “House of Sand and Fog” (November 9), starring Ben Kingsley and Jennifer Connelly, and the world premiere of Norman Jewison’s “The Statement” (November 12), starring Michael Caine and Tilda Swinton. The fest will wrap with the world premiere of Patty Jenkins’ “Monster,” starring Charlize Theron as serial killer Aileen Wuornos. Other films already confirmed for the AFI Fest are Denys Arcand’s Toronto opener “The Barbarian Invasions,” Ross McElwee’s personal doc “Bright Leaves,” Robert Altman’s “The Company,” Errol Morris’ “The Fog of War,” Jim Sheridan’s “In America,” Sue Brooks’ “Japanese Story,” Siddiq Barmak’s “Osama,” and Jesper Jargil’s Dogme documentary “The Purified.”
DEMONLOVING: Chloe Sevigny spoke with indieWIRE recently about her role in “demonlover,” which Palm Pictures opens in theaters today. (The film’s director, Olivier Assayas, is also being honored with a retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art.) Sevigny said seeing Assayas’ past work, especially “Irma Vep” was her main motivation for signing on for “demonlover.” “I just think [Assayas] has an interesting style, he’s trying to push the envelope, he’s thinking about films in a different way,” Sevigny told indieWIRE. “I just wanted to work with a filmmaker who I found fascinating, who was making intriguing work. I met with him in Paris and read the script and signed on. I didn’t think it was going to be as controversial as it turned out to be.” The film’s scenes incorporating animated pornography were especially surprising to her. And Sevigny got to sit and see it all while watching the screening at Cannes 2002) with her mother sitting beside her. “It’s pretty hardcore. I was shocked,” she said. Sevigny says the role offered her some other forms of excitement: “I got to hold a gun, and I’d never held a gun before.”
Sevigny was looking less dangerous, but stunningly sexy, in a silver sequined dress at the film’s Tuesday premiere at MoMA Gramercy and after-party at Plaid. Other notables in attendance, grooving to old Def Leppard and new Outkast, included Assayas, stars Connie Nielsen and Gina Gershon, members of Sonic Youth (who did music for the film), actor Norman Reedus, Luna members Dean Wareham and Britta Phillips, director Paul Schrader, actresses Natasha Lyonne and Tara Subkoff, and others. For more from the party, see our iPOP coverage today.
WET HOT AMERICAN REDUX: “Wet Hot American Summer” has been one of BUZZ’s favorite indie comedies of recent years, so we were excited to see the film being revived in recent weeks (it had a limited theatrical run back in 2001) with a series of “Rocky Horror”-like midnight screenings. The film, a hilarious parody of all those great ’80s camp flicks, stars Janeane Garofalo, David Hyde Pierce, Paul Rudd, Molly Shannon, Christopher Meloni, Amy Poehler, Michael Ian Black, and Zak Orth. Michael Showalter and David Wain of “The State” wrote and directed.
Producer Howard Bernstein said the filmmakers were sensing how much the film had caught on as a cult hit (on video and cable TV), and so they convinced the film’s distributor, Universal Focus, to book a single screen in New York in July for some midnight screenings one weekend. The revival was such a hit that there are now midnight screenings still running every Friday and Saturday at midnight at the AMC Empire (8th Avenue and 42nd Street) in New York (it will be moving downtown probably in October). Bernstein says it’s been playing to “packed houses,” and that fans “seem to be embracing the kitschy possibilities, dressing up, goofy hair-dos, the soundtrack.
“It’s a very participatory thing — the filmmakers and cast have been great, coming to the shows and judging costume contests, doing give-aways, performing music from the film,” Bernstein tells indieWIRE. “I think the fun, summer-camp-like atmosphere that the cast and crew enjoyed on the shoot is really palpable and rubs off on the audience.” Crew members popping in recently include Janeane Garofalo, Molly Shannon, and Michael Showalter. For more info, visit www.wethotamericansummer.com.
“WOOD”WORK: DNA and Fox Searchlight’s joint venture Celador Films has announced its first project, “A Way Through the Woods,” which will star Emily Watson, Tom Wilkinson, and Rupert Everett. Julian Fellowes, the Oscar-winning writer, will make his directorial debut with his own screenplay. The film is being shot in and around London and Paris through the end of October. Watson and Wilkinson play a married couple whose lives unravel following tragic accident. “A Way Through the Woods” will be financed (50-50 split) by Celador and DNA and distributed worldwide by Fox Searchlight. The crew includes cinematographer Tony Pierce-Roberts (“Howard’s End,” “A Room With a View”). Celador chairman Paul Smith will executive produce with Christian Colson and Steve Clark-Hall producing.
SLAMDANCE SCREENPLAYS: The Slamdance Screenplay Competition has announced its top three winners, earning $4,000 in prize money and Slamdance merchandise. First place went to Miranda Kwok’s “Song of Silence,” about a survivor of sexual slavery in WWII, second prize was Tanya Steele’s “The Parachute Factory,” about Southerners on a dangerous road trip, and the third place winner was Gary L. Miner’s “Wizard of Genoa,” about a violin virtuoso. Rounding out the top 10 were Kiyong Kim’s “Brobot,” Gary Fisher’s “Go Down Lightly,” Rod J. Emelle’s “The Divine Orgasm,” Alana Garrop’s “Untitled Girl Guide Thriller,” Jud Cremata’s “Scalp Peeled Forward,” Brian Farrelly and Jay Barba’s “Nelson: Rock and Roll Detectives,” and Sang Kyu Kim’s “Third Class Cry.” There were more than 1,500 submissions for this year’s competition.
SAN DIEGO’S STARS: The San Diego Film Festival is currently underway, running through Sunday night. Highlights still to come include the “Attack of the Killer Tomatoes” party on Sunday, celebrating the film’s 25th anniversary… complete with bloody marys, fresh tomato plates, and original cast and crew members of the cult flick, which was shot in San Diego. Guests in San Diego include Pauly Shore, Stacy Keach, Dee Wallace Stone, and FilmThreat guru Chris Gore. Feature films in the fest include Alan Jacobs’ “American Gun,” Elliot Greenebaum’s “Assisted Living,” Bob Odenkirk’s “Melvin Goes to Dinner,” Peter Hedges’ “Pieces of April,” a selection of local films, midnight screenings, several shorts programs, and docs including Cynthia Wade’s “Shleter Dogs” and Jose Padilha’s “Bus 174.” For details, visit www.sdff.org.