BAFTA Highlights, Oscar Ice Creams, a "Lost Boys" Deal & More
by Wendy Mitchell
INDUSTRY MOVES: Ariel Veneziano has joined GreeneStreet Films International as vice president, reporting to Cedric Jeanson. Veneziano was most recently director of international sales and acquisitions at Alliance Atlantis.
Holly Ornstein Carter has been named executive director of the Global Film Initiative. Carter is the co-founder of the Full Frame Festival and also is a former producer of "Media Matters" on PBS, a consultant for The After-School Corporation. She is also a former journalist and editor for The New York Times.
K.J. Wetherholt has left her position as co-chairman of The Raven Group to form her own film and television company, Manitou Films LLC.
Michael Alexander, Doug Hamilton, Michael Rosenblatt, and Lucie Salhany have formed a new indie distribution company, Echo Bridge Entertainment. Consultant Leonard Shapiro is also working with the group. The company has already purchased two film libraries from PM Entertainment and CineTel.
"LOST BOYS" FOUND: Shadow Distribution has acquired Megan Mylan and Jon Shenk's "Lost Boys of Sudan," an IFP/Independent Spirit Awards nominee for best documentary. The film follows two Sudanese refugees, Peter Dut and Santino Chuor, as they try to adjust to life in America. "Lost Boys" opened Wednesday at New York's Film Forum; it will open March 12 in Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., and will roll out nationally from March through May. Partnering with Shadow on the release is Andrew Mencher, VP of the Key Sunday Cinema Club and programmer of Washington D.C.'s Visions Bar Noir. Shadow's other recent releases include the Oscar-nominated "The Weather Underground" and Gyorgi Palfi's "Hukkle."
BAFTA BONANZA: The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) East Coast held its fourth-annual British Academy Awards party on Sunday at the Hudson Theatre at the Millennium Broadway Hotel. More than 300 guests (including actor Matthew Modine and novelist Tama Janowitz) dined on a buffet lunch, sipped champagne and wine, and settled into their tables to watch the live telecast of the BAFTAs on BBC America. Actor Alec Baldwin was a surprise special guest at the New York event. As he took the podium to announce door prize winners, he joked, "I'd like to thank the British Academy for selecting me as your raffle drawer. It is a particular honor." (He wasn't nominated for a BAFTA award, but he's garnering more and more steam for his Oscar nod.) Baldwin then joked that prizes included a "12-month supply of haggis and stilton shortbreads." Highlights from the actual ceremony, over in London, were host Stephen Fry threatening that his "breasts may fall out" if acceptance speeches went on too long; Bill Nighy winning for his portrayal of an aging rocker in "Love Actually," and Sofia Coppola reading a hilarious acceptance speech for best actor winner Bill Murray. The BAFTAs aren't always a good predictor for the Oscars -- as in the case of underdog original screenplay winner Tom McCarthy for "The Station Agent," snubbed by the Oscars -- but film of the year honors went to "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King." In a surprise move, the BAFTA award for best director went to that other Peter -- Weir -- for "Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World."
THE ICE CREAM OSCARS: The fine folks at decadent ice cream chain Cold Stone Creamery gave indieWIRE a pre-Oscars perk (and a few extra pounds) this week, providing us with samples of its five Oscar-inspired ice cream flavors. indieWIRE invited some friends and neighbors to join us in picking a winner among the five flavors -- each inspired by a Best Picture nominee: Lord of the Pecans: The Return of the Caramel, Minty River, Lost in Banana Splitation, Strawberry-iscuit, and Mastermallow and Chocomander. By overwhelming votes, our winner was Lord of the Pecans (French Vanilla ice cream with pecans, caramel, and graham cracker pie crust), with a sad last-place finish for Lost in Banana Splitation. One perceptive voter pointed out that the odds were in Lord's favor -- Peter Jackson seems like much more of an ice cream lover than lanky Sofia Coppola. Much like this year's films, it seemed that no "clear winner" emerged at first; the Mastermallow comments ranged from "just like that boat... too full of nuts" to "simple but effective like Russell Crowe himself." "Strawberry-iscuit" pulled out of the gate strong, but failed to have staying power at the finishing line as tasters complained about the lack of graham crackers in the mix and the tooth-unfriendly frozen strawberries. "The book was better," quipped one judge. "Minty River" was deemed solid, although the whole Oreo garnishes were said to be "as distracting as a splashy Variety ad campaign." Ice cream and film lovers can vote for their own favorites at coldstonecreamery.com through February 29. The flavors could make a perfect addition to your Oscar party; although a word of warning -- gorging on five flavors of ice cream may leave you feeling about as glamorous as Charlize Theron in "Monster."
BERMUDA HIGHLIGHTS: The Bermuda International Film Festival (March 19-25) has revealed at bit about its line-up. Jim Sheridan's "In America" will open the festival and the two closing films will be Michel Gondry's "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" and David Mackenzie's "Young Adam." The festival will have sections of competition features, competition docs, Bermuda shorts, a world cinema Showcase, a midnight madness section, children's films, and a Modern Mexican cinema sidebar. More films will be announced in coming weeks.
RAISING "KANE": In conjunction with the Film Forum's upcoming Orson Welles retrospective, Posteritati Movie Postes is opening a Welles poster show on February 20, running through April 14. The gallery will display more than 100 vintage posters from 25 countries. For details, visit www.posteritati.com.
WINTRY WINNIPEG: Aaah, what better destination in March than tropical Winnipeg, Canada? Well, at least these organizers call this one "Canada's coolest film festival" and they show opening-night shorts on a movie screen carved out of snow. NSI FilmExchange Canadian Film Festival will run March 2-6 in Winnipeg, and will include such Canadian standouts as "On the Corner," "The Saddest Music in the World" (closing night film), "Love, Sex & Easting the Bones," "Graveyard Alive: A Zombie Nurse in Love," and "Seven Times Lucky." The fest also includes a pitching forum, shorts programs, master classes, and a Canadian classic -- this year's is "The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz."
"DOC"TOR JACK BLACK: If box-office success isn't enough to prove that the doc world is loosening up... well, now the International Documentary Association is welcoming hyperactive comedian Jack Black to co-host its February 25 Oscar celebration. Black and Laura Kightlinger ("Will & Grace," writing for "Saturday Night Live") will host the annual event at AMPAS. Each Oscar-nominated documentarian will be recognized and show clips from their Oscar-nominated film. Documentary feature films nominated are "Balseros" (Carlos Bosch, Josep Maria Domenech), "Capturing the Friedmans" (Andrew Jarecki, Marc Smerling), "The Fog of War" (Errol Morris, Michael Williams), "My Architect" (Nathaniel Kahn, Susan R. Behr), and "The Weather Underground" (Sam Green, Bill Siegel). Nominated shorts are "Asylum" (Sandy McLeod, Gini Reticker), "Chernobyl Heart" (Maryann DeLeo), and "Ferry Tales" (Katja Esson). Also, the IDA and Sundance Cahnnel will host DocuDay screenings of the Oscar-nominated docs on February 28 at the WGA Theater in Beverly Hills. For details on both events, visit www.documentary.org.
G'DAY, GODARD: Tonight, MoMA Film at The Gramercy Theatre will pay tribute to Jean-Luc Godard with a pair of screenings in honor of the publication of a recent biography of the famed director. "Godard: A Portrait of the Artist at 70" will present "Sauve qui peut (la vie)" "Every Man for Himself" (1980) and "The Old Place: Small Notes Regarding the Arts at Fall of 20th Century" (1998). Biographer and producer Colin MacCabe will introduce the films, discuss them, and sign books. Screenings are at 6:30 and 8:30.
REMEMBERING PATRICK WICKHAM: Patrick Wickham, a veteran of the Independent Television Service (ITVS) has passed away at the age of 36 after a six-month battle with cancer. Wickham had most recently served as director of contract policy and digital initiatives and he formerly held posts including director of production. Wickham had been on staff at ITVS for 13 years, joining the organization shortly after it was founded in St. Paul, Minnesota in 1991. He also produced several short experimental films that played at film festivals in the U.S. and overseas. "It is with deep sadness that we grieve the loss of our extraordinary colleague Patrick Wickham," said ITVS president Sally Jo Fifer in a statement. "His contributions over the past 13 years were enormous. He had a special gift that made filmmakers know they had someone in their corner, helping them succeed. He was smart, fun, inspired, deeply committed and wise. He gave tirelessly to ITVS and was an integral part of this organization's success." In lieu of flowers, donations in Wickham's memory can be made to the Heifer Foundation (specifically the "buy a goat" program) at 800-422-0474 and www.heifer.org, or to the Kids in Development Society at 415-885-0660.