DAILY NEWS: BAFTA Nominations; "Southern Comfort" to Screen and "Lumumba" Set Release Dates
by Eugene Hernandez/indieWIRE with a report from Jeremy Kay
>> "Gladiator," "Crouching Tiger," and "Billy Elliot" Lead in BAFTA Nominations
(indieWIRE/01.31.01) -- Ridley Scott's "Gladiator" picked up 15 BAFTA nominations in London today (Wednesday), while Ang Lee's "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" landed 14 nominations and Stephen Daldry's British hit "Billy Elliot" took 13, including one for Best Actor for 14-year-old
Jamie Bell. Tom Hanks also landed a best actor nod in a move that saw
his Oscar stock rise (as if it needed a boost) ten days after winning
the Golden Globe. In what should be an intriguing battle for Best Actress,
red-hot Oscar fave and Golden Globe winner Julia Roberts ("Erin Brockovich") goes against last year's Oscar winner Hilary Swank ("Boys Don't Cry").
There was good news too for Steven Soderbergh, who placed one hand firmly
on the Oscar after he was twice nominated for the David Lean Award for
achievement in direction for "Traffic" and "Erin Brockovich." A strong
field of director nominees included Ridley Scott ("Gladiator"), Ang Lee
(Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon") and Stephen Daldry ("Billy Elliot"),
whose debut feature is fancied to take the Alexander Korda Award for
the outstanding British Film of the Year.
"Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon's" clutch of nominations continues the
martial arts/romance feature's phenomenal run of success. Last week
it picked up best foreign language and best director Golden Globes and
followed this a day later when it was named best foreign-language film
by the Broadcast Film Critics Association. Box office figures released
last week confirmed the film is the highest grossing foreign language
movie ever to be released in the UK.
With a wide range of nominations encompassing the epic, thriller, comedy
and feelgood drama genres, the Orange British Academy Film Awards are
looking good, although organisers are still conscious of their status
as poor relations to the Oscars and Golden Globes. For the first time
the awards ceremony, which takes place on Sunday February 25, will do
its business before the Oscars, with BAFTA members stressing the calendar
switch will boost the profile of what has until now been regarded as
little more than the UK's biggest film awards. BAFTA chairman Simon Relph
said, "We used to hold our ceremony right at the end of the awards season.
We all felt it was something of a pleasant post-script, especially to
the Oscars. Since the date change it's already proving to be a success."
Relph cited increased international media and industry interest as a sign
of good things to come.
Asked how BAFTA hoped to attract Hollywood stars to the awards ceremony,
actor and comedian Stephen Fry, who announced the nominations and played the
lead role in Wilde several years ago, quipped, "Well I'll be offering three
kinds of sex!" Relph pointed out that Oscar winner Kevin Spacey attended
last year's ceremony and said there would be a host of stars at this year's
awards, which will take place in London's Odeon Leicester Square and later
the Grosvenor House Hotel. Intriguingly, Fry added, "We'll have two Kevins
and a Crowe, though I'm not sure which ones!"
This is the fourth year the BAFTA awards will be sponsored by mobile
communications outfit Orange. The awards take place on Sunday February 25
and will be broadcast live on Sky 1 starting at 1845hrs GMT. [Jeremy Kay]
[Jeremy Kay is a London-based film journalist and news editor for the
online independent film magazine 6degrees.]
>> "Southern Comfort," Sundance Winner, To Debut February 21st
(indieWIRE/01.31.01) -- Kate Davis' "Southern Comfort," the winner of
Documentary Grand Jury Prize at this year's Sundance Film Festival, will
have its theatrical debut on February 21st at New York's Film Forum.
"Southern Comfort" explores the story of Robert Eads, a 52-year-old
Southerner who was born female. Eads, a parent to two sons, lives with a
community of other transgendered friends and is suffering from ovarian
cancer. The movie is an HBO Theatrical Documentary Presentation.
>> Zeitgeist Sets "Lumumba" Date
(indieWIRE/01.31.01) -- Zeitgeist has announced a release date for recent
acquisition "Lumumba" by Raoul Peck. The film, which screened at the Toronto Film Festival, tells the story of African leader Patrice Emery Lumumba.
The film, shot in Zimbabwe and Belgium, will open on June 27 in New York,
before a national theatrical release. [Eugene Hernandez]