DAILY BRIEFS: Yugoslavian Filmmaker Follow-up; New Directors Fete; Split Screen Debut
by Eugene Hernandez/indieWIRE, with a report from Anthony Kaufman
>>After Anticipated New Directors Debut, Yugoslavian Filmmaker Discusses U.S./Serbian "Propaganda"
As reported last week in indieWIRE (March 31), Serb director Srdjan
Dragojevic made it out of his troubled country for the New York premiere
of his film, "The Wounds" -- and once he arrived, he created quite a
stir. At the beginning of the Q & A following his screening, the young
director, well-dressed and confident, immediately snubbed the microphone
and Film Society programmer Richard Pena, preferring to speak to the
people more directly. "I would suggest something; let's switch CNN
[off], let's switch Serbian television [off] and let's talk privately,"
he told the momentarily bewildered crowd. "Let's finish this kind of
production with the mic and speak another way; this situation is too
official." Dragojevic proceeded to take a seat in the middle of the
theater next to an audience member, with half the crowd circling closely
around him while the other half headed for the exit. An intimate and
amiable discussion followed with Pena nowhere in sight.
Dragojevic later told indieWIRE his reasons for staying away from the
formal Q & A format. "That situation is really fucked up. Under these
circumstances, it's bizarre, it's twisted like a NATO press conference."
Though Dragojevic admitted it was difficult to leave his parents and
friends behind, and described the situation as "scary and terrifying,"
he told indieWIRE, "It's important to be a witness. But three or four
days was quite enough." Because the well-reputed director already had a
ticket to take part in the New Directors/New Films series, he, along
with his family, were allowed to travel to New York through Hungary. As
reported earlier, however, he nearly didn't arrive. Dragojevic
explained that this was not strictly because of the dangers of leaving
Serbia, but because he didn't want to come to the U.S. -- a country that
was bombing his friends and family.
"I was quite angry," he said, "Angry at America, at the American
administration. I even thought about forbidding my film from screening
at the festival. You must put yourself in my position. If Russia bombed
New York, you probably wouldn't go to the Moscow film festival. After
that, I thought, that's silly. My personal, small intolerance would be
stupid. I decided to come, even more to speak to the journalists, speak
with the people, because I think dialogue is what we really need."
Still, Dragojevic's frustrations with the media coverage of the crisis
in Kosovo prompted him to decline a scheduled interview with the CBS
Nightly News -- free national publicity that any foreign film or
independent would relish. Dragojevic, "disgusted with the propaganda
on both sides," refused to be a part of the media machine. "When I got
to compare both propagandas [Serb and U.S.], they're amazingly equal
in their stupidity," he told indieWIRE.
A situation with more than a few contradictions, Dragojevic, who
demonstrated against Milosevic during the 88-day Winter 1996 protest, is
planning to move to the United States in June. His career opportunities
in the U.S. appear solid. As far as that rumored three-picture deal
with Miramax, he clarified, "I am in negotiations with Miramax. But I
don't like to speak about that until I sign, finally. They offered me
several projects that I found promising and that's it."
Dragojevic doesn't know where he'll live when he comes to the U.S.; New
York or Los Angeles. And as for his apartment in Belgrade, he's given
that up to his parents. "We renovated our apartment three months ago,"
he mentioned. "And my best friend said, "Oh shit, you invested all your
money and now they'll probably bomb your apartment.'" [Anthony Kaufman/indieWIRE]
>> RELATED ARTICLE @ indieWIRE.com:
>> Filmmakers and Others Gather to Mark the '99 "New Directors" Series
An array of established and emerging filmmakers gathered in SoHo on
Saturday night for the annual New Directors/New Films mid-series
celebration -- held for the second year in a row at Monzu. Among those in
attendance at the party were Christopher Nolan whose "Following" had its
first MoMA New Directors screening on Friday night in advance of its NYC
theatrical debut on Easter Sunday at Film Forum -- the release date clearly
timed to capitalize on the momentum of this weekend's ND/NF showings. The
film is being released by Zeitgeist following high-profile festival
screenings in Toronto and Slamdance, among others. Next Wave Films took on
the project ahead of its Toronto screening and the film has since been
bumped up from 16mm and enhanced for its theatrical run. Rounding out the
"Following" crew were producer Emma Thomas, as well as the film's Executive
Producer Peter Broderick of Next Wave who attended the party with producer
Midge Sanford ("Desperately Seeking Susan") and Next Wave's Mark Stolaroff.
Given the success of his sharp and stylish feature, Christopher Nolan was
in the spotlight on Saturday night -- one LA-based agent approached
indieWIRE early in the evening in search of the filmmaker, requesting an
introduction. The agent commented that Nolan's new script is "incredible"
and proclaimed his resolve to sign the writer-director.
Two other filmmakers who also may benefit from their New Directors
screenings are Eric Mendelsohn ("Judy Berlin") and Julian Goldberger
("Trans"). While neither were spotted at Saturday's event both have movies
that are being repped by the Sloss Special Projects team. Chatting with
indieWIRE at the Monzu event, John Sloss and Micah Green each reinforced
their determination to close deals on both films. "Berlin" kicked off
ND/NF '99 with stellar reviews and good buzz enabling the Sloss effort,
while "Trans" will screen later this week.
Morgan J. Freeman ("Hurricane Streets") dropped in on the evening's
festivities with cinematographer Enrique Chediak. Alongside promoting the
June 4th release of the duo's follow-up feature, "Desert Blue," Freeman
confirmed that he and Chediak are teaming up to build a new company to
produce music videos and commercials. In the meantime, Freeman is visiting
select cities with a "Blue" college tour -- the Goldwyn release recently
screened in Buffalo, and will also head to Santa Barbara, Minneapolis, and
Boulder, CO. Freeman added that he recently directed a music video for the
film's soundtrack -- the collection of songs will be released on the
Internet weeks in advance of its debut in stores.
As the evening drew to a close, Next Wave's Stolaroff joined indieWIRE in a
conversation with filmmaker Scott Saunders ("The Headhunters Sister").
Saunders is one of many feature filmmakers turning to digital cameras for
their next projects. Currently finishing the script for his new feature
with newly the formed digital production company, Blow-Up Pictures,
Saunders recently shot a short film with Sony's PC-1 "one-chip" digital
Among the other festival and non-festival filmmakers who were in attendance
on Saturday night were Yugoslavian Srdjan Dragojevic ("The Wounds"), Tamara
Jenkins ("The Slums of Beverly Hills"), Chris Eyre ("Smoke Signals") and
Michael Almereyda ("Nadja"), as well as actors Sam Rockwell ("Lawn Dogs") and
Sean Gullette ("Pi"), and producer Gill Holland ("Desert Blue"). [Eugene
[New Directors/New Films continues through April 11th at the Museum of
Modern Art in New York City -- for more information visit the festival
>> Pierson's "Split Screen" Launching New Season of IFC
John Pierson's IFC series, "Split Screen," has its 1999 season debut
tonight on the cable channel, with a look at "the role of indie films in
the recent gubernatorial campaign waged by pro-wrestling superstar Jesse
'The Body' Ventura, as well as segments on "A/V Geeks" and one described as
"a confrontation" between public access regular Ugly George and filmmaker
Maggie Hadleigh-West ("The War Zone").
For the first three month's of the new season, Pierson is hosting his show
from a spot in line outside of New York's Ziegfeld Theater, in anticipation
of the upcoming Star Wars pre-quel. Among segments scheduled for the new
season are: a profile of Godzilla suit-wearers by Doug Stone and P.H.
O'Brien, Sarah Jacobson's peak at the forgotten punk-era film, "Ladies and
Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains," and Janet Pierson's look at performance
artist Miranda July (aka "Big Miss Movieola"). [Eugene Hernandez]
[Split Screen airs on the IFC every Monday at 8:00PM/ET & PT, for more
information, visit their website at:
http://www.ifctv.com, or check out John and Janet Pierson's Grainy
Pictures site at:
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