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April 1, 1999 2:00 AM
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DAILY BRIEFS: SFIFF Lineup; "Hard" LA Troubles

by Eugene Hernandez



>> SFIFF '99 Announces Lineup: Obscure Cinema and Sean Penn

With a program of 185 films from 57 countries set to screen, journalists
were presented with two separate press conferences to help them navigate
the complex waters of the 42nd San Francisco International Film Festival.

"The program at this festival isn't the one you see at every other
festival," declared Artistic Director Peter Scarlet at the second press
gathering on Tuesday. And indeed, with tributes planned for Dutch
documentarian Johan van der Keuken, Mexican director Arturo Ripstein,
silent-era eroticist Gustav Machaty, and the late Senegalese filmmaker
Djibril Diop Mambety, Scarlet certainly is not exaggerating. Where else
can filmgoers catch the new wave of films from Kazakhstan? Or meet actress
Karen Morley, the original moll doll from 1932's "Scarface"?

As previously reported in indieWIRE Daily [3.11.99], the 15-day fest opens
April 22 with the world premiere of David Mamet's "The Winslow Boy" and
closes May 6 with Wim Wenders' "Buena Vista Social Club." The Kabuki
Theater multiplex in San Francisco's Japantown will serve as headquarters.
After stalling for weeks while final arrangements were made, festival
directors have unveiled the complete lineup, which includes 26 U.S.
premieres and a strong showing from independents.

Filmmaker Michael Patrick Jann's "Drop Dead Gorgeous" enjoys its world
premiere April 26. The New Line "shock-mockumentary" is a send-up of
small-town beauty pageants, and stars Kirstie Alley and Ellen Barkin.

US premieres include Aki Kaurismaki's "Juha" (Finland), Jean-Yves Pitoun's
"American Cuisine" (France), Eoin Moore's "Break Even" (Germany), and
Mohsen Makhmalbaf's "The Silence" (Iran). Star-struck attendees will be
rewarded April 21 when Sean Penn arrives for a black-tie gala/fund-raiser.
The actor will also be present at an April 23 tribute which includes a
screening of his 1991 directorial debut, "The Indian Runner."

Among the features competing for the $10,000 cash Skyy Prize are Lisanne
Skyler
's "Getting to Know You" (US), Tim Roth's "The War Zone" (UK), and
Jia Zhang Ke's "Xiao Wu" (China). Nominees for the Golden Gate Awards
Grand Prize include Stanley Nelson's "The Black Press: Soldiers without
Swords
" and Kim Longinotto's "Divorce Iranian Style."

[Passes and opening/closing night tickets are available now. Individual
tickets will be sold starting April 4. Call 888-ETM-TIXS or visit the
website at http://www.sfiff.org]


>> "Hard" to Get a Print Made in LA

Getting a print made on a deferred payment plan is a standard survival
technique for independent filmmakers. For John Huckert, the director of
"Hard", a sort of gay "Henry, Portrait of a Serial Killer," it was almost
the end of his film. Two labs refused to work on his film because they
thought that two men kissing was pornographic. So when "Hard" finally
opened last Friday in New York, Huckert breathed a deep sigh of relief.

The trouble started in early 1998. Huckert maxed out 67 credit cards to get
his film in the can. As soon as he finished editing, he worked out a
deal with Deluxe Hollywood to make a print. "We wanted to go with Deluxe
because they worked on the movie, "Seven." We wanted that same dark look.
We found the same printer of that film and he was going to supervise our
print. They gave us $10,000 in credit so we wouldn't have to pay for 45
days, which gave us more time to raise money," explains Huckert.

The problems arose when they delivered reels 3 and 5 to the lab. Those two
reels just happened to open with a scenes involving sex or nudity. Within a
matter of days, Deluxe called Huckert and started asking for character
references. "They thought the film was pornographic. They didn't even see
the whole movie, because there is genitalia throughout and they said things
like, 'To your credit there was no genitalia.' The biggest problem they had
was, two men kissing.

"I was livid at first, but I was trying to be very nice and try to work
through it. Finally they said, 'We're not going to print your film,
because we have women who work here.' Then they wouldn't give us the film
back. They wanted us to pay for the work they had done on it."

Without money to pay them, Huckert did the next best thing. He called the
press. "The next thing we knew, they called and told us to come pick up the
print." But they weren't out of the woods yet. The next choice of labs,
Technicolor, refused to take the film, if Deluxe had already refused it.
Finally, Foto-Kem watched a tape of the film and agreed to work on it.
"They didn't see anything wrong with it," adds Huckert.

Now almost a year later, Huckert still has all the credit card debt, but at
least his film is finished. HARD opened in New York last Friday to decent
and good reviews. The film is being distributed by Jour de Fete Films and
opens in Los Angeles next Friday. [Aaron Krach]






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