Coppola Tackles Distribution, Icelandic Film Coming, “Friedmans” DVD, Spirit Awards and More
by Wendy Mitchell
INDUSTRY MOVES: Focus Features has named Andrew Karpen its new COO. Karpen had been an SVP at Oxygen Media and also previously worked at Independent Pictures, Sunbow Entertainment, and Miramax.
Beth Janson has exited her post as Programming Director of the Newport International Film Festival. Festival organizers are currently looking for a replacement.
Milt Shefter has been elected president of the Association of Moving Image Archivists. Shefter is the president and founder of Miljoy Entertainment, a Los Angeles-based consulting and project management firm.
ZOETROPE GOES THEATRICAL: Francis Ford Coppola’s American Zoetrope is going into the theatrical distribution business. The San Francisco-based company started its distribution plan with the re-release of Coppola’s 1982 musical fantasy “One from the Heart” in New York last Friday, to be followed by a rollout to more than 25 markets. In addition to theatrical distribution, Zoetrope plans to also distribute DVDs, starting with “One from the Heart” in late January. “It’s always been my goal to add distribution to the whole creative process of filmmaking,” said Coppola in a prepared statement. “I’ve always believed that the missing piece to the puzzle was actually handling the presentation of our films ourselves.”
Zoetrope SVP Kim Aubry told indieWIRE that the company has no concrete plans for future theatrical runs yet, although it is considering a re-release of Coppola’s 1974 classic “The Conversation,” starring Gene Hackman, which already has restored picture and sound. As for future DVD releases, Aubry said, “It is our hope that the DVD label will serve as a vehicle for putting notable and unusual films into home video that may have slipped through the cracks of conventional video distribution.”
“One from the Heart” was an ideal start for the distribution arm, because Coppola had pulled the film from theaters two weeks after it opened due to a “tainted” reception “by studio politics and media chatter.” The film has been restored during the last three years, including 28 minutes of changes to this new re-mastered version. The film, set in Las Vegas, stars Teri Garr, Raul Julia, Nastassja Kinski, and Harry Dean Stanton, and features music by Tom Waits. To see clips, visit www.onefromtheheartmovie.com.
CINEMA GUILD GETS “SEAGULL”: Ágúst Gudmundsson’s “The Seagull’s Laughter,” Iceland’s entry for the Academy Award last year, will be released by Cinema Guild. The company will debut the movie in New York in February, followed by other cities. The film is described as “A dark comedy about female uprising in the days before feminism.”
CAPTURED AGAIN: Looks like those “Capturing the Friedmans” debates will pick up again after the holidays. The Sundance-winning doc, with plenty of Oscar talk behind it, will be released on DVD on January 27 from HBO Video. And not just any ol’ DVD — this one will include more than two hours of extras. Highlights include director Andrew Jarecki’s commentary, Friedman home movies shot after the police arrived, a shouting match at the film’s premiere, new witness information and interviews, and a short film about Jesse Friedman’s life today. And of course, Jarecki’s original short film about birthday party clowns that led him to discover the secret of clown David Friedman’s family history.
COMING TO “AMERICA”: For BUZZ, one of the highlights of last year’s Tribeca Film Festival was hearing Jim Sheridan’s tales behind the making of his largely autobiographical new film, “In America.” So be sure not to miss Sheridan presenting the film at the American Museum of the Moving Image on Tuesday at 7 p.m. He will participate in one of the museum’s famed Pinewood Dialogues after the screening. For details, visit www.movingimage.us.
SPIRITS ON TODAY: Holly Hunter will appear on NBC’s “Today” show on the morning of December 3rd to unveil nominations for the 2004 IFP Independent Spirit Awards. While the full list will be announced at a breakfast in LA later in the day, the “Today” announcement will include the Best Male Lead, Best Female Lead, Best First Feature, and Best Screenplay categories.
GETTIN CORN-Y: Movie buffs with a silly streak, or a vegetable fetish, should be on the look out for this month’s HarperResource release, Brock Lee’s “A Star is Corn: An Edible Film Odyssey.” The book features classic films and film personalities recreated in… well… vegetable sculptures. Pun lovers will love seeing “Gene Shallot,” “Buttersquash 8,” “Das Beet,” “Last Mango in Paris,” and “Debbie Does Salad” (complete with censored onion tips). A helpful index tells you how to re-create your own “Blair Witch” project with butternut squash, winter squash, and carrot sticks. Could be just the thing for your 2004 Oscar party.
DINNER TIME: The New York Film Critics Circle has moved its awards dinner (at Noche in Manhattan) to January 11, from the previously announced date of January 4. The switch is to accomodate holiday travel schedules. Voting will be held December 15.
NOW AND LATTER: C. Jay Cox, screenwriter for “Sweet Home Alabama,” makes his directorial debut with “Latter Days,” which TLA Releasing and Funny Boy Films will open on January 30 at New York’s Quad and L.A.’s Sunset 5. A wider release will follow. The film is a romantic drama about gay Mormons that has captured audience prizes at several gay and lesbian film festivals. The cast includes newcomers as well as Jacqueline Bisset, Mary Kay Place, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Erik Palladino, and others. For more info, visit www.latterdaysmovie.com.