Gothams News, Linklater’s Latest, Film Deals, & Notable Industry Moves
by Wendy Mitchell
INDUSTRY MOVES: As expected, Jack Valenti has formally resigned as the president and CEO of the MPAA and MPA (Motion Picture Association of America and Motion Picture Association). Dan Glickman, former Secretary of Agriculture and former Congressman from Kansas, has been named as Valenti’s successor. Glickman assumes the post on September 1.
Brian Newman has been named executive director of National Video Resources, a New York-based non-profit organization dedicated to increasing the public’s awareness of, and access to, independently produced media. Newman had been the executie director of the IMAGE Film and Video Center in Atlanta and programmer for the Atlanta Film Festival.
Mary Ann Hult has left United Artists to join Newmarket Films.
David Mueller, formerly of IFC Films and United Artists, has been named director of marketing and publicity at Wellspring.
Michelle Coe has left First Run/Icarus to join Women Make Movies.
GOTHAMS GROW: IFP/New York is jumping into the winter awards frenzy with the announcement that its annual IFP Gotham Awards will move from September to December. The 14th-annual ceremony has been set for December 1, 2004 at Chelsea Piers’ Pier Sixty in New York, instead of the traditional date during September’s IFP/Market. The IFP will expand the Gothams’ scope to include non-New Yorkers, as well as adding two new awards, for best feature and best documentary. The new categories of prizes are Celebrate New York (breakthrough actor, breakthrough director — formerly called the Open Palm, and industry tribute); Honored By New York (three awards to individuals outside the New York film community); and Awards for Visionary Achivement (the year’s best feature and best doc). For the second year, IFC will televise the event.
“BEAUTIFUL” DEAL: Indie production and distribution company here! Films, a division of queer programming company here! TV, has acquired the North American rights to “Beautiful Boxer,” about Thai transgender kickboxer Parinya Charoenphol (aka Nong Toom). here! Plans a fall 2004 release for the action drama, which was directed and produced by Ekachai Uekrongtham (“Chang & Eng”) and stars Asanee Suwan as the Thai legend. The cast also includes Sorapong Chatree, Orn-Anong Panyawong, and many pro kickboxers. The film played at the 2004 Berlinale, among other festivals. The deal was negotiated with Australia-based Arclight Films.
VOTER REGISTATION: The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences has invited 127 film experts to become new members of the Academy. Among the notable indie names on the list are actors Patricia Clarkson, Keisha Castle-Hughes, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Scarlett Johansson; directors Miguel Arteta, Fernando Meirelles, and Sofia Coppola; documentarians Joe Berlinger, Lourdes Portillo, and Bruce Sinofsky; exec Steve Gilula, publicist Laura Kim, and writers Shari Springer Berman, L.M. Kit Carson, and Robert Pulcini. Start your Oscar ass-kissing now!
SCANNING: Warner Independent Pictures has announced that production has wrapped on the much-buzzed-about Richard Linklater adaptation of Philip K. Dick‘s “A Scanner Darkly.” The film, starring Keanu Reeves, Robert Downey, Jr., Woody Harrelson, Winona Ryder, and Rory Cochrane, was being shot in Austin, Texas. It is about a suburban California cop (Reeves) in a drug-fueled future who has to spy on his friends. The film will use live action photography with rotoscoping animation to create its vision of the future. Warner Indie noted that the rotoscoping process, seen in Linklater’s “Waking Life,” “has evolved to produce even more emotional impact and detail.” Since publication in 1977, Dick’s classic has sold more than 20 million books worldwide. The Section Eight/Detour project is being produced by Anne Walker-McBay, Tommy Pallotta, Jonah Smith, Palmer West, and Erwin Stoff. Steven Soderbergh, George Clooney, Jennifer Fox, Ben Cosgrove, and John Sloss are executive producing. Warner Indie, which is co-financing with Smith and West’s Thousand Words, plans a fall 2005 release.
SYDNEY AWARDS: The 51st Sydney Film Festival recently wrapped, with the FIPRESCI jury there selecting Jehane Noujaim‘s “Control Room” as the winner of its best documentary prize. In other awards down under, the fest’s 16th-nannual Dendy awards for best Australian short films went to Sejong Park‘s “Birthday Boy,” Jane Merewether‘s “Palermo: History Standing Still,” Anna Broinowski‘s “Helen’s War: Portrait of a Dissident,” Garth Davis‘ “Alice,” Glendyn Ivin‘s “Cracker Bag,” Jessica Hobbs‘ “So Close To Home,” and Tom Murray & Allan Collins‘ “Dhakiyarr vs. the King.”
SOUNDS OF SUNDANCE: The Sundance Institute has selected six participants for its seventh-annual Composers Lab, which will run July 20 – August 4 in Utah. The fellows are Peter Fitzpatrick, Aiko Fukushima, Joseph Julian Gonzalez, Gary Louris, Raz Mesinai, and Michael Torke. They will work with Filmmakers Lab fellows to create scores for scenes developed in that workshop as well as working with creative advisors including composers Jeff Beal, Camara Kambon, Rolfe Kent, Thomas Newman and Ed Shearmur and other advisors including music supervisors, agents, directors, and sound designers.
VISION WINNERS: Visionfest 2004 wrapped on June 28 in New York, with Nyle Cavazos Garcia‘s “Clean” capturing a bounty of prizes. “Clean” won for achievement in production, lead male actor, and editing and directing. Other winners included Graham Robertson‘s “Able Edwards,” which won the Domani Vision award for emerging talent and a certificate of merit for artistic achievement; Boris Undorf‘s “Sonata,” which won the Jack Nance breakthrough acting award for Nicole DuPort and a cinematography prize for Vance Piper. Female acting honors also went to Michele Hicks in “Messengers.” Josh Aronson‘s “Feelin’ No Pain” won for documentary filmmaking, Alexander Vassilopoulos‘ “Rocketscience” won for artistic achievement, “Untitled: 003-Embryo” was recognized for its sound designers Sonicpool, and Frank Lewallen‘s “All Nighter” and Barry Shaw‘s “Can I Explain?” both shared a social awareness prize.
YOUNG TALENT: The Voice LA Film Forum, a new filmmaking series, launched last weekend in Los Angeles at USC’s Zemeckis Center with almost 100 young filmmakers (ages 14-20) in attendance. Short films from young directors were screened and several workshops and discussions were held. Special guests included Judith Weston, Josh Rose, and Keiko Agena. For more information, visit voicefilms.typepad.com.