BUZZ for March 7: "Safety" Celebration, Eisner Toasts "Spellbound," Meistrich Advises, and Target Honors Docs
by Wendy Mitchell
INDUSTRY MOVES: Eva Kolodner has departed Madstone and joined forces with Yael Melamede to launch Salty Features. The new company, based on lower Fifth Ave. in Manhattan, opened its doors last week. Kolodner produced "Boys Don't Cry" and Madstone's "Rhinoceros Eyes," while Melamede worked on "Forever Mine" and "Lulu On The Bridge."
Jen Turner and Shani Ankori have joined IDP. Turner is the Director of East Coast Publicity and Promotions, joining the company after work at Rogers & Cowan, 20th Centuruy Fox and Fox Searchlight. Ankori's track record includes work at Atlantic Records' Division One label and George V Records. In other IDP news, Courtney Ott has been promoted to Manager, West Coast Publicity & Promotions.
Amanda Nevill has been named director of the British Film Institute. She had been the head of the National Museum of Photography, Film, and TV in Yorkshire; Nevill will start the job in June. Adrian Wootton had held BFI's acting director post since Jon Teckman left in 2002.
"SAFETY" CELEBRATION: New York industry-types gathered at Manhattan's Candela on E. 16th on Tuesday night for the New York premiere of IFC Films' "The Safety of Objects." Writer/director Rose Troche ("Bedrooms and Hallways," "Go Fish") joined actors Mary Kay Place and Jessica Campbell, producer Christine Vachone of Killer Films, IFC chief Jonathan Sehring and others at the premiere party. The film, which debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2001, is based on a book of short stories by A.M. Holmes, so Tuesday's soiree was co-hosted by the Pen American Center, a fellowship of writers who are "working to defend free expression in America and around the world and to promote literature and reading." Check out photos in today's iPOP page of party pix.
LA FEST TARGETS DOCS: Target is good for more than cheap designs from Phillipe Starck: the company has established the Target Documentary Award with the IFP Los Angeles Film Festival, which will be awarded to the winning director of the best doc feature competition at the 2003 festival. The winner will get a $25,000 cash prize. This honor is in addition to Target's $50,000 prize for the director of the winning best dramatic feature in competition.
EISNER TOASTS "SPELLBOUND": The Oscar nominated film "Spellbound," a doc special jury prize winner at last year's Los Angeles Film Festival, was in the spotlight earlier this week. Fan Michael Eisner hosted a special pre-Oscars showing of the film at Laemmle's Music Hall Theatre in Beverly Hills. The Disney chief introduced the screening and posed for photos with producer Sean Welch and director Jeff Blitz who went to film school with Eisner's son. The film will be released this Spring by ThinkFilm.
ALTMAN IN PERSON: The very indie Two Boots Pioneer Theater in New York's East Village has scored a major guest appearance: director Robert Altman will be on hand for a March 14 screening of his 1984 political drama "Secret Honor." He will also participate in a Q & A session after the screening. The film stars Philip Baker Hall as an interpretation of Richard Nixon. For details, visit www.twoboots.com.
DIRECTORS ON DVD: Palm Pictures is launching a series of DVDs to honor some cutting edge directors: Spike Jonze, Michel Gondry, and Chris Cunningham. Palm's new Director's Series will include music videos, shorts, and commercials hand picked by each director. Special features on each DVD may include interviews, storyboards, previously unreleased footage and more. All three of those titles are due in August, 2003, with additional directors to follow. Jonze's highlights will include vids for Fatboy Slim, Bjork, the Beastie Boys, and Weezer. Gondry's DVD will include work for Bjork, Radiohead, and Beck. Cunningham's offerings include work with Aphex Twin, Bjork, and Portishead.
DUMONT'S LATEST: Wellspring has come on board as a co-producer of Bruno Dumont's film "29 Palms." The movie is currently in production and will be ready for entry for the 2003 Cannes Film Festival. Following that, Wellspring holds U.S. rights for a 2004 theatrical release and a DVD/video release to follow. Wellspring previously worked on Dumont's 1997 "Life of Jesus" and 1999's "Humanite." His new flick is about a young couple visiting Joshua Tree National Park "whose lives are shattered by a shocking confrontation in the desert."
NEW VIRTUAL HELP: Larry Meistrich's DVD movie club Film Movement has started an online filmmaker counseling program with the website Rotten Tomatoes. The Virtual Producer's Lab, accessible through filmmmovement.com or rottentomatoes.com, will let budding filmmakers post questions. Meistrich or each month's guest filmmaker will post a response, and one filmmaker per month will get an in-depth consultation from Meistrich, who has produced and distributed films including "Sling Blade" and "You Can Count on Me," in addition to starting the Shooting Gallery Film Series. Each month, a film biz insider will join Meistrich in offering advice, starting with Cassian Elwes from the William Morris Agency.
PALM BEACH PIANIST: Adrien Brody will be honored with the outstanding performance of the year award at the 8th annual Palm Beach International Film Festival. The honor, of course, recognizes his Oscar-nominated performance in Roman Polanski's "The Pianist." The presentation will be made on April 5, and the festival runs from April 3-10. For details, visit www.pbifilmfest.org.
OSCAR MEETS FELIX: As Oscar frenzy gets in high gear, we'd like to point your attention to a damn funny website , The Felixes (www.thefelixes.com) that looks at the pros and cons of each Oscar nominee. For example, "The Hours" is lauded for its "girl-on-girl action in several timeframes," although the site points out that the film's "constant depression makes 'The Sorrow and the Pity' look like an episode of 'Blue's Clues.'" As one would expect, prosthetic nose jokes abound.
QUOTABLE: "I can't rent videos anymore. I never return them. Blockbuster owns my soul. I get letters from a collection agency saying, 'You owe $10.98 to Blockbuster.' And I'm like, 'I could've bought the movie for that! Now I owe my firstborn to Blockbuster. I've ruined my life! I won't be able to buy a house!" -- "All the Real Girls" star Zooey Deschanel in Interview magazine.
[Eugene Hernandez contributed to this article.]