DAILY NEWS: Biz Buzz in Park City; Redford Talks Docs, and the Fest Circuit
by Eugene Hernandez, Jacque Lynn Schiller and Maud Kersnowski/indieWIRE
>> Buzzing about "Blue Car," "Tadpole," and "Gerry"
(indieWIRE: 01.14.02) -- While the Festival is by all accounts quieter, biz
circles heated up over the weekend as a few noteworthy films hit industry
radar. On the party circuit last night, the grapevine was buzzing with word
that Miramax had nabbed Karen Moncrieff's American Spectrum entry, "Blue Car" and that the company is hot on the heels of "Tadpole." As of late yesterday, there was no deal yet in place for the film, directed by Gary Winick, but word of a Miramax deal circulated all day.
Gus Van Sant's "Gerry," reviewed today in indieWIRE, had festival-goers
buzzing yesterday after two strong screenings in Park City this weekend.
However, many wondered whether a larger distributor would embrace it. The
film has been described as "experimental" -- in today's review, indieWIRE
critic Patrick McGavin calls the film "one of the most abstractly beautiful
movies an American filmmaker has ever attempted." Miguel Arteta's "The Good Girl," also reviewed today in indieWIRE, additionally garnered industry
attention this weekend. [Eugene Hernandez]
>> Redford Announces Major Doc Initiative
(indieWIRE: 01.14.02) -- With its festival, its institute and its channel,
Sundance has become the driving force behind the country's awareness of
American independent film. It is about to try to do the same for documentaries.
Sundance has increased the documentary presence at the festival with each
successive year, but yesterday the organization took that commitment to a new
level with Robert Redford's announcement that the Sundance Channel will create a new station devoted entirely to documentary programming. He also formally
announced the establishment of the Sundance International Documentary Fund.
"This is the natural evolution for Sundance," Redford said. "This is really
putting our teeth into a long, standing commitment to documentaries."
No major cable provider has yet signed on to broadcast the new channel, but
EchoStar, ATT Broadband and DIRECTV have all expressed interest in an all-doc station. "This is going to happen. We're doing this," Redford promised.
The Sundance Channel, which now reaches 55 million homes, initially
experienced major difficulty in penetrating the cable market.
Redford, whose uncommonly high visibility this year is most likely tied to
this announcement, said the new entities are only the first step in a broad
initiative to raise the profile of documentary film in this country. In
addition to the fund and the channel, doc labs similar to the organization's
screenwriting and directing programs will be established. "The way it is now
documentarians are just tossed to the dogs," explained Redford. There will be
no formal tie between the new station, the institute and the festival, but
when Redford was asked if there would be any spill over between the three,
he replied "I hope so!"
The Sundance International Documentary Fund was created when the $4.5 million
Soros Documentary Fund of the Open Society Institute of New York followed its
director, Diane Weyermann, to Sundance. The institute's mandate is to create
funds, then spin them off to other organizations. "When I moved to the
Sundance Institute it was a logical discussion for the Fund for come with
me," Weyermann told indieWIRE.
While the operation of The Fund will remain essentially the same as it was
before its arrival at Sundance, Weyermann said that in the future she would
like to give larger grants to fewer projects. "When people have their projects
languish, it becomes even move expensive," Weyermann said. "I would like to
see the higher end of funding move up so ultimately we can get more projects
Since the events of last year, the attention paid to non-fiction storytelling
has intensified. With Sundance's backing, that momentum can only build.
"There's going to be a search for issues to be dealt with in a way other
than what comes out of some country's propaganda machine," said Redford.
"People are going to want to see what people are doing and thinking."
>> US Film Festival Circuit to Launch in April
(indieWIRE: 01.14.02) -- Taking a cue from the Formula One circuit and the
PGA golf tour, The US Film Festivals Circuit has announced that ten film
festivals will participate in an inaugural series linking national sponsors
with notable U.S. festivals.
The Circuit Organization, a joint venture between L.A. sales and marketing
Golya Corporation and New York-based promotion and marketing company
International Media Resources, will serve as the coordinator of the Festivals
Circuit and will act as liaison between the sponsors and the film events.
"Name brand companies have long been interested in the world of film and film
festivals," Golya Corporation's Patrick de Bokay said. "However, they were
reluctant to get involved with just one film festival in one city that reaches
only one consumer market. By linking together film festival events over the
course of one year, we are providing these companies with a truly national
profile that reaches nearly one million consumers in the top dozen US markets."
The Circuit will kick off at the Washington (DC) International Film Festival
in April, then move to New York for the Gen Art Film Festival later that month.
Other participating festivals include: the Seattle International Film Festival,
the Nashville Independent Film Festival, the Florida Film Festival, the Maui Film Festival, the Boston Film Festival, the Mill Valley Film Festival and the Denver International Film Festival. The first cycle concludes at the Fort Lauderdale Film Festival this November. The second season will kick off at the Palm Springs International Film Festival. The Cleveland International Film Festival will also be included in 2003, and additional film festivals
may be added at a later date.
Each participating festival will present a cash audience award to the most
popular film. A program showcasing the ten winners will be presented in New
York, where one filmmaker will receive the Grand Prix. The National Sponsor
will receive a host of on-site services at all festivals and will participate in each event's local promotion and advertising efforts. [Jacque Lynn Schiller]