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August 2, 2001 2:00 AM
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DAILY NEWS: Fine Line Slate Shrinks; Bingham and UA?; Latino Fest Winners

Daily News: Fine Line Slate Shrinks; Bingham and UA?; Latino Fest Winners



by Eugene Hernandez, Anthony Kaufman and Brian Brooks/indieWIRE


>> Fine Line Pulls Remaining 2001 Release Slate


(indieWIRE/08.02.01) -- Fine Line Features, the Indiewood studio currently
releasing "Hedwig and the Angry Inch" and "The Anniversary Party," has
confirmed it will release no new titles in 2001. The company, a division of
AOL Time Warner, has decided to bow out of this year's annual Oscar battle
and delay releasing previously scheduled movies.


Citing "financial issues," Fine Line's Executive VP of Marketing Marian
Koltai-Levine
said that Todd Solondz's "Storytelling" and Werner Herzog's "Invincible," previously on the release schedule for this fall, will join
Michel Gondry's "Human Nature" in theaters sometime during the first quarter of 2002. "This made the most sense for Fine Line economically," Koltai-Levine
told indieWIRE yesterday.


Just last year, Fine Line's fall slate was particularly strong, with Lars
von Trier
's "Dancer in the Dark" (released in September) and Julian
Schnabel
's "Before Night Falls" (released in December) coming out on the
heels of successful New York Film Festival premieres, as well as David
Mamet
's "State and Main" which premiered in Venice. Other Fine Line
end-of-the-year Oscar contenders include "Tumbleweeds" in November of 1999
and "The Sweet Hereafter" in November 1997.


"We have all learned, if you get into that fall fray," said Koltai-Levine,
"you have to be prepared to spend to get into that Oscar race. I think you
have to be realistic. Those are expensive races and you can spend your
profits right there."


According to Koltai-Levine, the company is satisfied with the performance of
their three releases this year; in addition to "Hedwig" and "Anniversary
Party," the company put out "Invisible Circus" post-Sundance. "Three
profitable films is not a bad thing," she said.


As for the exact release dates for the next round of releases, Koltai-Levine
indicated that it made sense to wait for a spot at Sundance 2002 to help
launch the movies. "We laid the ground work at Cannes," she said, citing the
world premieres there for "Human Nature" and "Storytelling," "We might as
well just wait until Sundance [next year]." "Invincible" will have its
world premiere this fall at Venice 2001.


Also up for 2002 are Liliana Cavani's "Ripley's Game," Guy Jenkin's "The Sleeping Dictionary" and an Italian film called "Domani." A previous
acquisition, "The Prime Gig," is no longer part of the company's slate. Of
course, AOL Time Warner's New Line Cinema will be busy later this year with
the release of the much-anticipated "Lord of the Rings." [Anthony Kaufman]


>> Mum is the Word Regarding Bingham Ray and United Artists


(indieWIRE/08.02.01) -- MGM and United Artists are remaining quiet despite widespread reports yesterday that October Films Co-Founder Bingham Ray will become the new chief of United Artists, its specialty division. Un-sourced
stories were published in the Hollywood trades yesterday (Wednesday)
indicating that Ray is the heir apparent at the division that is currently
enjoying success with "Ghost World."


Bingham Ray is silent on the matter. Reached late Tueday on his cell phone,
he declined comment and referred indieWIRE to a United Artists PR
executive. Senior VP of Worldwide Publicity Amanda Lundberg told indieWIRE
that she would have no comment. A follow-up call to the company's corporate
communications department yesterday was met with the same response. Ray did
not return a call seeking a follow-up comment yesterday.


"Ray taking reins as United Artists topper" was the Variety page three
headline yesterday, although Dana Harris' story lacked a reference to a
single source. The Hollywood Reporter indicated less definitively,
"Crossroads' Ray emerges as probable topper at UA," and Screen Daily also
remained speculative, calling a deal "expected." Inside.com's Andrew Hindes, who broke the news on Tuesday evening was certain in his piece, stating
that Ray will focus on movies that max out at the $10 million mark and
saying that he will report directly to MGM vice-chairman and COO Chris
McGurk
.


Ray co-founded October Films with Jeff Lipsky ten years ago and the company
was later acquired by Universal. Notably, McGurk oversaw October Films as a
Universal exec. The deal later soured after the studio forced October to
drop Todd Solondz' "Happiness." Ray left October along with numerous others and the company would later be merged with Gramercy to create USA Films, headed by Ray's former October partner, Scott Greenstein.


At Sundance this year, Bingham Ray announced that he had joined Crossroads
Films to head the outfits new feature film divisoin. The company later
signed an output pact with United Artists. [Eugene Hernandez]


>> 5th LALIFF Honors "El Cielo Abierto" and "Tinta Roja"


(indieWIRE/08.02.01) -- The Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival
(LALIFF)
recently announced winners for its fifth annual event which ended
earlier this week. Best Picture went to "El Cielo Abierto" by Miguel Albaladejo during a ceremony held at Hollywood's venerable Egyptian Theatre. The film is the story of a woman who leaves her husband without telling him about her mother's imminent arrival. "Cielo" also shared the Best Script prize with
Francisco Lombardi's story about an idealistic journalist who moves to
Lima to join a tabloid entitled, "Tinta Roja."


Other winners at the event which began July 20th included Maisa Mendonca's
"Strong Roots" which took the Best Documentary award for her work exploring
the issue of Brazil's Landless Movement and the search by two people for
dignity. "Una Voz Timida en un Concierto Hueco" by Claudia Pinto won Best International Short while Edward Ornelas' "The Test" and "Silent Story" by Eduardo Cisneros tied for Best U.S. Short. Anthony Quinn was honored with the Gabriel Figueroa Lifetime Achievement Award posthumously in recognition of his lifetime work in film. A retrospective of his work was also screened throughout the ten-day Festival.


The LALIFF is lead by actor Edward James Olmos who serves as Producer/
Artistic Director. This year, the Festival showcased seventy features,
shorts and documentaries from twelve countries to over 30,000 attendees.
[Brian Brooks]

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