Sundance Film Festival director Geoff Gilmore praised Ramin Bahrani‘s Spectrum film “Man Push Cart” Thursday afternoon when introducing the screening and the film’s director. Gilmore said during the intro that people often ask him how they decide which films run in competition and which ones are programmed in the fest’s other sections. He said that a myriad of factors come into play, including where a film has its world premiere — “Man Push Cart” had its world debut in Venice, and later took awards in Thessaloniki — but Gilmore praised the film for its portrayal of an immigrant’s story.
Distributor Films Philos announced Friday afternoon it had acquired theatrical release rights to the film in the United States and English-speaking Canada (a theatrical release is slated for autumn/winter later this year or early next year). The film is the story of Pakistani immigrant Ahmad (Ahmad Razvi), who works in New York serving coffee, muffins and bagels in one of the city’s ubiquitous pushcarts. Ahmad strikes up friendships with a pretty Spanish immigrant as well as a fellow Pakistani who has found success in thea U.S. The Sundance catalog describes the film as “a subtle insightful portrait of a man struggling with issues of identity, self-worth and the harsh realities of finding a place to belong in a vast, often unfriendly American metropolis.”
“I started working on the story in 2002, [and] worked on it for two years,” said Bahrani who later added that after meeting the film’s lead actor Razvi – himself an immigrant working in a pushcart in New York — he changed the script to fit the lead actor. Bahrani worked to make the actor’s physical appearance appear tired in order to reflect the long hours of labor and struggle of his character.
“I had him only sleep a few hours at night and had him unloading equipment. I wanted him to look tired,” said Bahrani to some laughs. “I told him he can look good in every-other scene. I said, ‘if you’re going to do this to try and get laid, I’ll get another person.'” Razvi took the best actor prize in Thessaloniki.
“Stay” Picked Up by Roadside and Goldwyn
Roadside Attractions and Samuel Goldwyn Films today announced the joint acquisition of Bob Goldthwait‘s Sundance dramatic competition film, “Stay.” The film is a heartwarming comedy about Amy, a young school teacher with a bright future and nice-guy fiance who is haunted by an impulsive sexual encounter from her past. Advised by her friends, family and fiance that a successful marriage requires complete honesty, Amy reveals her secret and all hell breaks loose.
The deal was negotiated by Howard Cohen, co-president of Roadside Attractions, Peter Goldwyn, vice president, acquisitions for Samuel Goldwyn Films, and William Morris Independent on behalf of the filmmakers.
“I’ve never encountered a film that so intelligently combines raunchy humor with warmth and emotional truth,” said Eric d’Arbeloff, co-president of Roadside Attractions. “Bob Goldthwait’s film is going to draw people for its outrageous premise, but they will leave the theatre surprised how much it touches them. Both Roadside and Goldwyn are thrilled to have landed this wildly original comedy.” No theatrical release date was announced.
On New Years Day last year, filmmakers Wash Westmoreland and Richard Glatzer sketched out the idea for a new film. By the end of that day they had already come up with a plot and characters. Two weeks later they pitched the idea to funders and began to consider cast for the movie, even before they had locked financing into place. The film, “Quinceanera,” was written in three weeks and later shot in the same amount of time, on HD.
In the film, a young woman prepares to celebrate her 15th birthday with the Latino tradition, a Quinceanera. The coming of age story involves a few plot twists that alienate the main characters from their families and leave them to seemingly fend for themselves.
“I wanted it to be a movie about acceptance,” explained Glatzer. The directors filmed the movie within a mile of their home in Echo Park, in Los Angeles, weaving in a mix of storylines inspired by their lives and their changing neighborhood.
On year later (just a few weeks ago), on New Years eve the filmmakers were flying back to Los Angeles after spending the holiday in London. Shortly after take off they noticed a burning smell and then passengers saw an engine aflame. Relating the harrowing experience, Westmoreland said that during the incident, Glatzer spent time working on a puzzle, while Qestmoreland remembered, “All I could think about was, ‘Oh Shit!’ I’m gonna miss Sundance.”
“Wristcutters” Gets Final Warm Sundance Reception
Dramatic competition feature “Wristcutters: A Love Story” by Goran Dukic received a hearty applause and a packed final screening at the Eccles Friday afternoon. Members of the cast joined Croatian-born Dukic, including stars Patrick Fugit and Shannon Sossamon for Q & A after the screening. “Wristcutters” is a unique take on a love story. Fugit commits suicide and enters a strange after-life populated by suicide victims. Soon after his arrival, Zia (Fugit) learns that his earthly girlfriend too has committed suicide, and embarks on a journey to find her along with a Russian rocker who he befriended. Along the way, the pair meet a girl hitchhiking along the road, and their journey finding life begins.
The first person that Dukic attached to the project was Tom Waits, who plays a key role in the film. The director eventually took the film to the Sundance lab and when it was finally shot, Dukic added that some 70 locations were uses.
“The film has had polarized responses among [those] who have known people who committed suicide,” said Dukic during the Q & A at the Eccles. Dukic thanked one audience member who congratulated him for his unique take and delicate handling of the topic. The script was one particular lure for both Fugit and Sossamon.
“I liked the dry humor, and I loved the story and I was floored when I got to the ending,” said Sossamon, with Fugit adding that he was offered the script early on and was also attracted by the story.
Final Queer Lounge Party
Queer Lounge’s final bash, The “Homos Away from Home” party, founded by L.A. The publicist Mickey Cottrell over a decade ago as one of the original big condo parties, returned again this year at Queer Lounge in the Gateway Center off Main Street. A huge crowd of gay and straight people packed into three stores in the shopping arcade, including scantily-clad go-go boys and girls. Despite a noticeable lethargy on the part of some Sundance attendees who have been in Park City for nine days or more, the Absolut kept the crowd pumped, and a surprisingly large swarm showed up undaunted by the endless rounds of parties that are a daily mainstay here.
One person arriving fresh at the party was producer/director Fenton Bailey, who was in Sundance last year for doc “Inside Deep Throat,” and has been a veteran of the festival with other projects including “Party Monster” and “The Eyes of Tammy Faye.” iW asked Bailey if producing/directing colleague Randy Barbato was also in Park City, but Bailey said his World of Wonder partner was in Nevada working on a documentary capturing famed Hollywood madam Heidi Fleiss’ new entrepreneurial venture – a legal all-male brothel. What a true capitalist Ms. Fleiss is!
Commerce is also a focus right now with Queer Lounge, which is currently auctioning off $100,000-worth of furniture, including their exclusively celebrity autographed chair (Nick Nolte, Timothy Hutton, Anne Heche, Armistead Maupin among others). Bids can be made online at their website. This year’s Queer Lounge expansion in an extra space in the Gateway Center may not be enough… The QL’s popularity may need more space next year.
All Tomorrow’s Parties…
Saturday night is the Sundance Awards ceremony at the Racquet Club. There will be a party afterward in the venue (invitation only)… Sundance Film Festival ’06 winners will be up immediately live and in all their splendor in indieWIRE following the awards ceremony… Check it out!