Super Size Me’s Premiere; Gay Marriage Doc at Tribeca; NewFest’s Move & More
by Wendy Mitchell
BURGER HEAVEN: Roadside Attractions and Samuel Goldwyn Films (along with production company The Con and Nerve.com) hosted a “Super Size Me” New York premiere and party on Tuesday night. The packed-house screening of the Sundance hit doc about America’s obesity problem and our fast-food addictions was followed by a party at annoying hotspot Lotus. Guests sipped Skyy vodka and could indulge their burger cravings (thanks to adorable little boxes of tiny twin burgers from Pop Burger) or opt for more healthy fare, such as rice cakes, wraps, and raw veggies. (Thankfully, there were no Filet o’ Fishes lying around; the close-up of said sandwich in the film was scarier than anything in “Blair Witch.”) Spurlock, looking more dapper than he did in the film’s American-flag Speedo, took to the stage at Lotus as Toothpick performed his song “Super Size Me.”
NEWFEST MOVIN’ ON UP: NewFest 2004 is taking its show uptown (well, at least a few blocks uptown): the 16th edition of the New York Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Film Festival will be held at the Loews Cineplex 34th Street rather than downtown at former venues at The New School and NYU. The fest announced that Angela Robinson‘s “D.E.B.S.” will open the festival, with Ian Iqbal Rashid‘s “Touch of Pink” closing. Margaret Cho‘s “Revolution” and Rodney Evans‘ “Brother to Brother” will screen as the centerpiece films. This year’s event runs June 3-13, with NewFest’s inaugural filmmakers forum to be held June 5-7. Festival focus themes are marriage, Israel, region, and sex and violence.
“TYING THE KNOT” AT TRIBECA: One of the more timely world premieres at the Tribeca Film Festival is Jim de Sève‘s gay-marriage documentary “Tying the Knot.” The film will have its bow on Sunday at 5:30 at Stuyvesant High School, with a repeat screening on May 8 at 2 p.m. at UA Battery Park. The film takes the approach of presenting personal stories rather than just trying to recap the chronological history of the gay-marriage movement (although it does open with some great déjà vu footage of gay-rights activists seeking marriage licenses at the New York City Clerk’s office, way back in 1971!). The film introduces us to Mickie Mashburn, whose wife, police department veteran Lois Marrero, was killed in Tampa during a bank robbery. Mashburn fights the city, and Marrero’s family, to try to get equal partner pension benefits. We also meet Sam, a rural Oklahoma farmer who lived with his life partner Earl until Earl’s death in 2000, and now has to fight Earl’s family to save his farm. Legal experts including Evan Wolfson and marriage historian EJ Graff add to the mix of interviews.
De Sève sees the documentary as an activist work. He tells indieWIRE. “It’s not enough just to get people to realize inequities, you want to get them charged up and give them a way to create change.” To that end, the filmmakers are working with several gay rights groups to get the film out to specific audiences (they also hope to land a traditional distribution deal). With Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), “Tying the Knot” is doing a mini tour in 12 markets, trying to get the film in the Deep South and to show it to unexpected audiences like Christian groups and Kiwanis Clubs.
De Sève acknowledges that his film might not be what people expect when they hear “gay marriage doc.” “There are a lot more human interest stories, it also looks at gay men and lesbians’ lives in this county.” De Sève has been making the film for several years, but says he’s not frustrated at having to revise the film to stay relevant in light of all the recent turn of events. “Any frustration I have is so eclipsed by the incredible joy that things are changing,” de Sève says. “I feel excited and charged… Also, we’re not trying to be a complete compendium of every step along the way. We don’t really need to repeat the news, people already know what’s happening.” After its Tribeca debut, the doc will also play at festivals including Frameline, OutFest, NewFest, and some smaller gay and lesbian festivals in the South.
WED-ROCKIN: John Cameron Mitchell welcomed a full-house to CROBAR in Manhattan for Wednesday’s WED-ROCK benefit in support of the freedom to marry. JCM joined performers Sandra Bernhard, Margaret Cho, Alan Cumming, Bob Mould, Sleater-Kinney, Le Tigre, Penny Arcade, with surprise appearances by Lou Reed and Moby, and with hostess The Lady Bunny. Not surprisingly, participants railed on G.W. Bush with Margaret Cho stealing the show with her stand up performance, and later with her return to the stage alongside John Mitchell, as his former alter-ego: Hedwig. The two joined forces to sing “Origin of Love,” before DJs took over.
LAUDING LOLAFILMS: Tonight, Fernando Trueba‘s “La Niña de Tus Ojos” (Girl of Your Dreams), starring Penelope Cruz, will have its U.S. debut as part of a two-week, first-time retrospective honoring Spanish indie production company Lolafilms. The premiere will take place at the Directors Guild of America Theatre in New York, and then the retrospective will be hosted by the American Museum fo the Moving Image in Astoria. Nine works from Lolafilms will be screened: “Antartida,” “Goya in Bordeaux,” “The Naked Eye,” “Torrente 2,” “Second Skin,” “Sound of the Sea,” “La Comunidad,” and “The Spell of Shanghai.”
INDIE INVASION AT THE NEW SCHOOL: The New School in New York is hosting a panel entitled “The Changing Definition of Independent Film” on Thursday at 6 p.m. in the Machinist’s Conference Room at 65 Fifth Ave. The panel is part of the school’s continuing Hirshon Film Festival, which boasts John Waters as an artist in residence. Panelists on Thursday will be IFC acquisitions exec Kelly DeVine, filmmaker and professor Melissa Pearl Friedling, writer/director and faculty member Vladan Nikolic, and filmmaker (and indieWIRE contributor) Michelle Handelman will moderate. In other New School news, indieWIRE contributor Anthony Kaufman will be teaching this summer’s course The Art and Industry of American Independent Cinema.
MAKING MUSIC AT LINCOLN CENTER: Friend of indieWIRE Sascha Paladino will premiere his new documentary “Obstinato: Making Music For Two” at the Film Society of Lincoln Center‘s Walter Reade Theater on May 4 at 6:30 and 8 p.m., with Q&As to follow each screening. The film examines the collaboration between bassist Edgar Meyer and banjoist Béla Fleck (who also happens to be Paladino’s brother). The director started shooting his 40-minute film during the musicians’ joint U.S. concert tour in 2002. The film can be found as a bonus DVD on Fleck and Meyer’s new Sony Classical CD “Music for Two,” released earlier this week. For more information on the screening, visit www.filmlinc.com.
MARKET WATCH: Cannes‘ Marche du Film is shaping up to be the biggest ever; the Market announced that 8500 participants are expected to register this year, up 10 percent from 2003. The highest increases are from the U.K., the U.S., Asia, Spain, South Africa, and Finland. More than 300 buyers are expected to attend as the Market presents more than 1400 screenings.
TRAILER NOMINEES: Dust off those Oscar dresses (or in our case, sweatpants) and get ready for the fifth-annual Golden Trailer awards, which honor the “artistic value” of film trailers. Winners will be unveiled May 25 in L.A. Best indie trailer nominees are: “Elephant,” “The Event,” “Lost in Translation,” “Shattered Glass,” “Swimming Pool,” and “Wonderland.” Other indie-heavy categories included best voice over (“21 Grams,” “American Splendor,” “A Cinderella Story,” “Kill Bill Vol. 2,” “Monster,” “Whale Rider”), best documentary (“Capturing the Friedmans,” “My Flesh and Blood,” “Spellbound,” “Step into Liquid,” “Touching the Void,” “Winged Migration”), most original (“Elephant,” “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” “Kill Bill Vol. 2,” “Resident Evil,” “Spun,” “The Stepford Wives”), best foreign (“Calendar Girls,” “Entrusted,” “The Dreamers: Trailer 1,” “Irreversible,” “Osama,” “Together”), and new category best foreign independent (“Bend It Like Beckham,” “City of God,” “El Bola,” “I’m Not Scared,” “Nicotina,” “The Triplets of Belleville”). BUZZ, who has been going through a 12-step program to admit her addiction to “The Real Cancun,” would still like to take offense at that fine flick being nominated for “trashiest trailer.” What makes two half-naked twin sisters grinding each other on a stage atop a Mexican beach trashy!?! For the full list of nominees, visit www.goldentrailer.com.
OPRAH’S “VOI”: Tune into “Oprah” this afternoon to see her chat with Joe Simpson, one of the subjects of the mountain climbing docudrama “Touching The Void.” According to IFC Films, “Void” is now one of the top 10 indie docs in terms of box-office numbers. The film has crossed the $4 million mark. Kevin Macdonald‘s film comes to DVD on June 15 from MGM Home Entertainment.