Stony Brook Fest Report; An Evening of “Showgirls”; Lebowski Fest; Production News; IDA’s Doc Fest & More
by Wendy Mitchell
INDUSTRY MOVES: Tom Quinn of Magnolia Pictures has joined the programming team for the Woodstock Film Festival. He is working with Woodstock’s head programmer Ryan Werner of Wellspring.
STONY BROOK SCREENINGS: indieWIRE made a quick visit out to the Stony Brook Film Festival (on the north shore of Long Island) last Saturday. I could tell it was going to be a well-run event when the director of the festival, Alan Inkles, picked me up himself at the train station (funny, I don’t recall seeing Redford at baggage claim in Salt Lake City). Stony Brook isn’t much of an industry draw, instead focusing on programming for the large film-going community (about two hours from Manhattan by train). And the community passholders and individual ticketbuyers come out in droves to fill (or almost fill) the Stony Brook University’s Staller Center for the Arts, a huge venue that seats 1000.
Among Saturday’s attendees were Pat Berry and Vickie Kelber, the heads of Florida’s Marco Island Film Festival, Dada Films‘ Bob Myerson, Village Voice critic Michael Atkinson, “Broadway the Golden Age” director Rick McKay and interviewee Elizabeth Ashley, “Her Majesty” director Mark J. Gordon, the team behind WWII drama “Saints and Soldiers,” and “Sunday on the Rocks” co-stars and producers Aimee Turner and Cady Huffman (who, as a Tony winner for “The Producers,” must have gotten a real kick out of Saturday’s screening of “Broadway: The Golden Age”). Industry attendees were well taken care of; on Saturday afternoon we had a lovely dinner at the home of Stony Brook University president Dr. Shirley Strum Kenny. The festival’s hospitality stretched into the wee hours: after a double feature of evening screenings and Q&As, guests were taken to the Curry Club for late-night food and drinks, something the festival does after each evening’s screenings. A great idea — especially if you don’t have to get up for work the next day! The festival continues through Saturday night, when the closing night film “Danny Deckchair” will screen, followed by an awards reception.
SHOWGIRLS ON SCREEN: Last Thursday night, we had the privilege of attending a special screening of camp classic “Showgirls” in honor of the new VIP DVD set released earlier this week. MGM Home Entertainment hosted the interactive screening at Chelsea West in Manhattan; fanatic attendees received noisemakers, flashlights, and fake bills and roses to throw at the screen during key performances. There was much yelling, meowing, and audience participation. Drag diva Cashetta MC’d the festivities, and she was joined by another special guest, film co-star Lin Tucci (aka “Mama Bazoom”), who told the crowd the filmmaking secrets behind her famously revealing dress. An after-party at Scores showed some of the DVD extras, such as the ladies of Scores offering lapdancing lessons (hint: try to be a little more restrained than Elizabeth Berkeley in that infamous pool scene). The Scores ladies also revealed a trade secret: no real exotic dancer would even consider licking the pole the way ol’ Nomi did. For campy fans who need to complete their DVD collection, the new VIP edition includes a “pin the pasties on the showgirl” game, pasties, shot glasses, and more treats.
UP WITH PERISCOPE: Gregory Leonarczyk and David Guy Levy, who produced festival hit “Sexual Dependency,” have partnered to form Periscope Entertainment LLC, an indie production company. The company plans to develop and produce three to four films per year with budgets of $2-$15 million. The company will also work with films that need finishing funds. Levy will serve as Periscope’s president and CEO; Leonarczyk will take on CFO duties. Private equity will finance the company.
Periscope’s first project will be Richard Zelniker‘s “Vinyl,” which the company is executive producing along with Thora Birch. That film is slated to start shooting in L.A. in September, starring Anna Faris, Michelle Trachtenberg, Lukas Haas, and Dominique Swain in a tale about the young women behind a male rock band. Arrival Cinema‘s Ara Katz, Chad Troutwine, and Sam Englebardt are producing. Periscope will also work with Arrival to executive produce David Cronenberg‘s “London Fields,” produced by Metro Tartan and Muse Productions. The film is based on Martin Amis‘ 1991 novel about a psychic in London. The new company also announced that it has optioned the rights to Howard A. Rodman‘s “August,” a script about two brothers working on Wall Street before 9/11. The company also has another script, Nicholas Klein‘s “One Last Thing,” a romantic comedy. Klein, who wrote Wim Wenders‘ “The End of Violence” and “The Million Dollar Hotel,” will make his directorial debut with the project.
DUDES UNITED: The Lebowski Festival, held for three years in Louisville, Ky. to celebrate the Coens‘ cult classic “The Big Lebowski,” will now be hitting the Big Apple. The event is endorsed by none other than producers rep, indie film legend, and the Coens’ character inspiration Jeff “The Dude” Dowd, who attended the June event in Kentucky that drew more than 4000 fans from 35 states and abroad. Now the dudes will descend on New York City on August 13th and 14th — with Dowd in attendance. In an email to some friends, Dowd says he was initially afraid that the Lebowski Fest might be a little too “Treky” — “I remembered the famous William Shatner appearance on ‘Saturday Night Live’ when he did the Treky Convention skit and he told them to ‘Get a life,'” Dowd wrote in his email. “As it turns out the folks who go to Lebowski Festival do have lives and are smart enough with a sense of irony to appreciate the humor of Joel and Ethan Coen. The Lebowski Fest was a gas.” Friday night’s activities at the Knitting Factory will include musical guests and an appearance by Dowd, plus a midnight screening of the film. On Saturday, the fun continues at Cozy Bowl in Queens for bowling, costume and trivia contests, White Russians, and more of Dowd. As Jeff Bridges‘ the Dude says in the film, referencing a quote by George Bush, Sr., This aggression will not stand, man,” so the festival will be teaming with Involver and CastTheVote.org to register voters at the event. Tickets can be purchased at TicketWeb.com, or you can find more info at LebowskiFest.com.
DOCS ON SCREEN: The International Documentary Association has selected 17 documentaries for its eighth-annual InFACT showcase. A dozen feature-length docs and five shorts will be shown on two screens at the ArcLight Hollywood from August 20-26 before traveling to other cities. The festival’s theatrical run means that filmmakers can qualify for Oscar consideration. The features selected this year are: Xan Cassavetes‘ “Z Channel — A Magnificent Obsession,” Paola di Florio‘s “Home of the Brave,” Zana Briski and Ross Kauffman‘s “Born Into Brothels,” Etienne Sauret‘s “Collateral Damages,” Terry Benedict‘s “The Conscientious Objector,” Deborah Koons‘ “The Future of Food,” Jessica Yu‘s “In the Realms of the Unreal,” David Petersen‘s “Let the Church Say Amen,” Pawel Kuczynski‘s “Philosopher’s Paradise,” Kim Dong-wno‘s “Repatriation,” Andreas Horvath‘s “This Ain’t No Heartland,” and Christian Bauer‘s “The Ritchie Boys.”
Shorts playing are Jordan Mechner‘s “Chavez Ravine: A Los Angeles Story,” Hubert Davis‘ “Hardwood,” Phoebe Tooke‘s “Hotel City,” Paul Apelgren‘s “White Cane and Wheels,” and Roger Weisberg & Maria Finitzo‘s “With No Direction Home.” After the Hollywood run, the showcase will travel to Del Mar, Calif.; Hot Springs, Ark.; Durango, Colo.; and Jackson Hole, Wyo. For the schedule and more info, visit www.documentary.org.
SOUNDS OF SUNDANCE: The Sundance Institute has selected the participants for its Documentary Composers Lab. Five documentary filmmakers and six film music composers have been selected to participate in this year’s lab, which is a collaboration between the Institute’s Documentary Film Program and its Film Music Program. This year’s filmmaker fellows are Ra’ed Andoni, Mark Becker, Mercedes Moncada, Hank Rogerson, and Jilann Spitzmiller. The composing fellows are Peter Fitazpatrick, Aiko Fuskushima, Joseph Julian Gonzales, Gary Louris, Frank Macchia, and Ras Mesinai. Mentors will include composer John Adams; filmmaker and producer Orlando Bagwell; documentary film director Jon Else; composer and director of the Sundance Institute Film Music Program Peter Golub; composer Camara Kambon; and director of the Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program Diane Weyermann.
CANDY CAST: The much-anticipated “Strangers with Candy” movie has completed final casting (by casting director Joseph Middleton). In addition to the TV show’s regulars Amy Sedaris, Paul Dinello, and Stephen Colbert, the feature film will also include performances by Matthew Broderick, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Ian Holm, Allison Janney, Kristen Johnston, Sarah Jessica Parker, Justin Theroux, and others. Dinello is directing the film from a script that he co-wrote with Colbert and Sedaris. The film is described as a prequel to the TV series, telling “the story of Jerri Blank, a 46 year-old, ex-junkie, ex-con who returns to high school in a bid to start her life over, only to confront the most dangerous gang of all — the cool kids.”
Shooting started in late June in New Jersey and will continue through mid-August. Mark Roberts and Lorena David of Roberts/David Films are producing, with Worldwide Pants Incorporated executive producing. Cinetic Media is handling distribution rights.
A DEMOCRATIC PARTY: In Boston this week, filmmaker Maureen Foley celebrated the premiere of her new film, “American Wake,” with a special screening and fundraiser timed to this weeks Democratic National Convention. The event, co-hosted by Massachusetts Democratic Party Chairman Philip W. Johnston and Alec Baldwin welcomed such Dem notables as Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, former Lt. Governor of Maryland, and Massachusetts Congressman Edward J. Markey, as well as producer Michael Williams, actor Chris Cooper, and many others. Seamus Eagan and band Solas played for the crowd at the party at the Ritz-Carlton Boston Common, followed by a screening at the nearby Loews theater.