DAILY NEWS: IDFA Docs Gear Up in Amsterdam; and iW Buzz with Larry Clark News and Other Updates
by Eugene Hernandez and Wendy Mitchell/indieWIRE
>> DISPATCH FROM EUROPE: Provocative Docs Take Centerstage in Amsterdam
(indieWIRE: 11.22.02) -- A large, digitized photo of United States president
George W. Bush, mugging goofily for the camera, adorns a wall of the De
Balie here in Amsterdam. Emblazoned on the poster is the tagline, "What do
you believe in?" The image, a shot from Alexandra Pelosi's doc "Journey With
George" (showing in the First Appearance section here at the International
Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam), is one of a few images from festival
films being used to promote the event on individual posters. The
not-so-flattering photo of Bush, who is on a rare trip to Europe for the
NATO summit in Prague, is especially fitting and underscores IDFA's theme
this year, "What do you believe in?" Heightened concerns about more
terrorist attacks, a war in Iraq, and the ongoing Middle East conflict seem
at a high point here in Europe as the IDFA, widely considered the most
important documentary film festival in the world, opens as the NATO summit
is underway in the Czech Republic.
Last year, in the wake of the terrorist attacks in the United States,
organizers pursued the theme, "How to deal with the present," while this
year's focus on beliefs, in part, centers on religion, IDFA director Ally
Derks said. "The New York attacks made this theme topical and urgent," wrote
Derks in her festival welcome letter, adding, "The recent terrorist actions
on Bali and in Moscow are two further cases in point." Organizers are
probing participants to consider their own convictions, political views, and
positions. "What do you believe in and what do you stand for?" Derks
Michael Moore's "Bowling for Columbine," his provocative essay on American violence, opened the IDFA last night. (The filmmaker was unable to join the
dialogue it elicited as he is at the Roundhouse Theater in London this month
performing a nightly stage show.) His film is one of three dozen from the
U.S. screening in the festival (The Netherlands is the only country that
comes close to that sort of representation in this year's lineup). Joining
him in the Joris Ivens competition are such films as Jennifer Dworkin's
powerful "Love and Diane" and Steve James' equally moving "Stevie" from the U.S., along with Saad Salman's "Baghdad On/Off" and Lech Kowalski's "On Hitler's Highway" from France, Herz Frank's "Flashback" from Latvia, Kim Longinotto's "The Day I Will Never Forget" and Leslie Woodhead's "Milosevic - How to Be a Dictator" from England, and Michael Apted's "Married in America" from the U.S., among others.
More challenging work is showcased in the festival's "Reflecting Images"
section, offering films from others festivals and pictures with unique
content or form. Among the projects in this section are Lee Hirsch's
"Amandla! A Revolution in Four Part Harmony" which was a hit this year at
Sundance, Nick Broomfield's "Biggie and Tupac," and Gail Dolgin and Vicente Franco's "Daughter from Danang," which was also shown in Park City, "Im Toten Winkel. Hitler's Sekretarin" (Blind Spot. Hitler's Secretary) from the Berlinale, and David C. Thomas' "MC5 * A True Testimonial" from this year's Toronto fest, among many more. Other sections of the festival present docs from The Netherlands, work by kids, a top 10 from Joao Moreira Salles and
Walter Salles, and documentaries celebrating the 20th anniversary of Jan
Rofekamp's Films Transit.
A concurrent documentary market here in Amsterdam, dubbed simply Docs for
Sale, give projects a gateway to distribution, while the FORUM co-financing
market allows filmmakers to pitch new projects to potential investors and
co-producers. [Eugene Hernandez in Amsterdam]
[indieWIRE Editor-in-Chief Eugene Hernandez will be covering the IDFA in
Amsterdam through Tuesday.]
[For more information on IDFA visit:
>> indieWIRE: BUZZ for the week ending November 22
NO "PARK"ING: It's not often that film bigwigs come to actual blows, and
when they do, it's big news. A story has been circulating since early
November that filmmaker Larry Clark ("Kids") got into a punching match with Hamish McAlpine, head of U.K. distributor Metro Tartan, after McAlpine made disparaging remarks about the U.S. and September 11. Now, an email that
Clark wrote to tell his side of the story has been making the rounds among film industry insiders.
Clark was in London several weeks ago for a scheduled screening of his latest
film, "Ken Park" at the London Film Festival. He attended a dinner for the
film with reps from Metro Tartan, "Ken Park"'s U.K. Distributor, at a swank
Soho restaurant. In his email, Clark wrote, "Just about the first thing
[McAlpine] said to me was, "'I would never live in America and I think
September eleven was the best thing that ever happened to America. I thought
the attack would make Americans understand why the rest of the world hates
them.' I asked why and he said, 'Israel and the American support of the Jews.'"
Clark's email version of events described a heated exchange about Arabs and Jews
with Clark asking McAlpine about the "children and babies" who are victims of
terrorism and McAlpine's response allegedly being, "they fucking deserve to
die." "At this point," Clark wrote in the email, "I lost it and punched him
in the nose. I hit him a few more times. He went to the hospital with a
broken nose and I went to jail for four hours before they let me go." Clark
acknowledges in the email that the incident killed the agreement with Metro
Tartan, and he wrote that he was saddened that his self-described
"uncivilized manner" kept the film from screening during the London Film
Festival when Metro Tartan withdrew it.
"If he was trying to provoke me, he did. But pulling 'Ken Park' from the
London Film Festival for spite is bullshit. Ed Lachman (co-director) and
Tiffany Limos (actress) who came to London for the film and all the people
who were coming to see the film are being denied because of his outrageous
comments and my inappropriate actions." The email closed by saying, "But if
I had awoken this morning after listening to him last night and hadn't hit
him, I don't think I could have looked at myself in the mirror."
indieWIRE spoke to Clark to confirm that he wrote the email, and to see if
there was an update to the situation. "It's an unfortunate situation," Clark
told indieWIRE. "Now I'm trying to move on with my life." Clark said that he
wasn't sure if a new U.K. distribution deal was in the works yet because
Metro Tartan still holds the rights for now. But he said, "It will be
released in the U.K. eventually." Other sources tell indieWIRE that a U.S.
distribution deal for "Ken Park" could be announced soon.
A BIG FAT DVD: Nosy relatives everywhere are going to be lining up to buy
DVD players for this one. HBO Video is set to release the VHS and DVD
versions of "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" on February 7. (The film, of course,
just cleared $200 million in theaters, already making it the
highest-grossing independent film of all time.) The DVD will feature
widescreen and full-screen formats, plus director and cast commentary and
biographies. Romantics take note that the release is just in time for
Valentine's Day. Non-romantics, just try to keep your souvlaki down.
ALL AMERICAN: They had us at the title alone: "We Hate You (But Please Keep
Sending Us 'Baywatch')." A Writers Guild Association panel on December 5
will examine "the impact of American entertainment on the world" and will
explore "the role of American writers and the perception of their stories by
a global audience." Moderator Marty Kaplan (USC Annenberg School) will chat with panelists including director Alfonso Cuaron ("Y Tu Mama Tambien"), producer Laura Ziskin ("Spider-man"), and writer Aaron Sorkin ("The West Wing.") The panel is 7:30-9 p.m. at the Writers Guild Theater in Beverly
Hills. For reservations, call 323-782-4577.
TURKEY TALK: If feasting on turkey isn't enough for you this Thanksgiving,
the Independent Film Channel is letting you watch other people eat. All day
Thursday, the IFC will present all 10 episodes of "Dinner for Five," its
roundtable show that invites A-list (John Leguizamo) and B-list (Joey Lauren
Adams) talent to chat with Jon Favreau. Favreau will offer anecdotes about
the shows between episodes. The marathon starts Thursday at 8 a.m. eastern
time and ends Friday at 6 a.m.
BBC PARTY: Submarine Entertainment announced that BBC Storyville has
acquired U.K. broadcast rights to Rebecca Chaiklin and Donovan Leitch's
documentary "Last Party 2000." The film, which will premiere on the BBC in
November, follows Philip Seymour Hoffman at the 2000 Republican National
Convention. Submarine's Josh Braun negotiated for the filmmakers. Film
Movement already has U.S. rights to "Last Party 2000."
THEY SHOULDA SEEN THAT COMING: The white trash comedy "Good Housekeeping!" has unsurprisingly attracted the attention of the legal team from Hearst Publications, publishers of the mag Good Housekeeping. After threats of
legal action, Modernica Pictures and Menemsha Films had to change the name of their film to "Better Housekeeping!" That's not the first struggle in
getting this film shown -- The Shooting Gallery acquired U.S. rights on
behalf of Universal Focus at Cannes 2000, and now both companies no longer exist. The movie opened Wednesday at New York's Pioneer Theater, and it will expand to other cities later.
CROOKLYN'S CULTURE: This Tuesday, the Brooklyn International Film Festival
will present the "Best of the Fest" at BRIC Studio, at 627 Fulton Street.
Hosts will screen seven award-winning short films from the 2002 festival and
they will provide free popcorn. Mark your calendars for the 2003 event:
April 28-May 4. For details, visit www.brooklynfilmfestival.org.
SPOTTED: Lucy Walker, director of the doc "Devil's Playground," on "Oprah" yesterday. Lucy, in conservative duds for TV, was chatting with Oprah
about the Amish teens featured in her doc and showing clips of the film.
"It wasn't like I was having a bad time. I was like a kid in a candy shop.
Except the kid ate all the candy. He started to turn green. And eventually,
on the point of throwing up, he left."
-- Australian director Phillip Noyce tells Time Out New York about his years in Hollywood.
Next week in indieWIRE, Erin Torneo talks to famed cinematographer Ellen
Kuras ("Personal Velocity"), Matthew Ross chats with "Russian Ark"
cinematographer Tilman Buttner, and Anthony Kaufman looks at foreign Oscar hopefuls in indieWIRE's World Cinema Report. [Wendy Mitchell, with reports
from Brian Brooks]