DAILY NEWS: Documenting 9/11; Goldwyn, Fireworks and Cowboy Nab Pix
by Eugene Hernandez, Brian Brooks and Maud Kersnowski/indieWIRE
>> Sundance Bears Witness to 9/11
(indieWIRE/ 01.12.02) -- By now, the horrifying images and sounds of Sept. 11 have become permanently etched on our collective retina. Today marks the beginning of another chapter in that exploration with the screening of "Special Event: September 11," a series of documentaries that examine the tragedy and its aftermath. "It's a program I felt the festival should do, so it didn't look like we were trying to get away from it." Sundance co-director Geoffrey Gilmore told indieWIRE. Sundance is the first major festival to address the tragedy in this way.
This unique, intense and quickly shot collection of "witness films" falls
somewhere between the daily news that captivated the world this Fall and the
longer, more encompassing works being developed by companies like HBO. They plan to air a documentary about the day of September 11, narrated by Rudolph Guilani on Memorial Day weekend. "We're not trying to do something comprehensive," Gilmore explained. "That work has yet to be done."
In addition to the Sundance program, a number of other projects are filtering into the public eye, including iTVS's "9.11 Moments," airing on PBS and the Internet. Many filmmakers, like Open City Films' Jason Kliot, shot digital footage compulsively as a way of processing the carnage that often took place just blocks from their homes. "Site" is Kliot's seven-minute distillation of his obsession with the faces of people visiting ground zero, "staring up at nothing," according to the director.
Deborah Shaffer was assigned her project "From The Ashes" by Karl Khely of the ORF, the Austrian Broadcasting Corporation. It chronicles artists based near ground zero. "All they said was 'here's your budget. Here's your
crew,'" Shaffer commented. "It was a relief to have an assignment, something
I could do."
In "We Are Family," Danny Schechter follows a group of nearly 200
celebrities attempting to record the popular song as a message of healing
and tolerance. Two more shorts round out the presentation: Robert Edwards'
"The Voice of the Prophet" and "The First 24 Hours" by Etienne Sauret.
For many of the filmmakers involved in taking account of the tragedy, the
current slate of projects serve only as a first step in the process of
confronting Sept. 11. "In a landscape that's used to being able to digest
and spew out non-fiction content almost immediately, I don't think we're
going to know how to tell this story for a long time," commented HBO deputy
chief of documentary programming Lisa Heller. [Maud Kersnowski]
>> Goldwyn And Fireworks Get "Elysian Fields"
(indieWIRE/ 01.12.02) -- Samuel Goldwyn and Fireworks Pictures have nabbed George Hickenlooper's Sundance premiere "The Man From Elysian Fields." The film starring Mick Jagger, Andy Garcia, Julianna Marguiles, Olivia Williams, James Coburn and Anjelica Huston and will debut at the Eccles on Monday.
Jagger, here at Sundance last year as a producer of "Enigma," stars as the
owner of a male escort service. The films boasts a cast of producers that
includes cast member Garcia and Gold Circle Films' Norm Waitt, a co-founder of Gateway Computers. [Eugene Hernandez]
>> Cowboy Lassoes "Promises"
(indieWIRE/01.12.02) -- Cowboy Pictures has picked up U.S. rights to Justine
Shapiro, B.Z. Goldberg and Carlos Bolado's "Promises." The documentary, a prize winner at numerous U.S. and international film festivals, follows
seven Israeli and Palestinian children who live in geographic proximity
around Jerusalem but are separated by cultural, political and historical
Cowboy partners Noah Cowan and John Vanco plan to release "Promises" in March in major markets in addition to what the company describes as "an
intense non-theatrical and educational marketing push" with Jewish and Arab
groups throughout the nation. Cowboy has implemented similar strategies with
the releases of "The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg" and "The Endurance:
Shackleton's Legendary Antarctic Expedition."
"In troubled times, there occasionally come along films that give us hope
for greater peace and understanding," said Vanco in a prepared statement.
"Promises is absolutely, positively one of those films." Based in New York,
Cowboy specializes in the distribution of American independent features,
documentaries and foreign films. [Brian Brooks]