DAILY NEWS: LA Film Fest Kick-off, "Bobby G" Debut, On the "Party Monster" Set
by Eugene Hernandez/indieWIRE
>> ON THE SCENE: LAFF
(indieWIRE: 06.21.02) -- In many ways the Los Angeles Film Festival, which
kicked off with an over-crowded screening of Nicole Holofcener's "Lovely and
Amazing" last night here in LA, is a brand new event. While it is an off-shoot
of the well-regarded Los Angeles Independent Film Festival, the event has the
feeling of an inaugural fest on day two of its ten day run in a new June
slot. Hopes are high as the festival enters its first weekend.
Southern Californians awoke to the plans for a major new film event on
Sunday morning with the LA Film Fest trumpeted on the cover of the LA Times
Calendar section, the coveted local PR hit for anyone in Hollywood. While
some decried the need for another film event or festival in LA, a cadre of
organizers from the IFP/West (which runs the event) defended the importance
of such a festival.
"There's no need for (a festival) in a town where every commercial release
plays usually before it plays anywhere else," Chicago-based critic Roger
Ebert told The LA Times.
Programmer Director Rachel Rosen, who joined the event after a post at the
San Francisco International Film Festival, has answered Ebert and other
skeptics with a program that includes indie narrative and doc features,
specialty premieres and an array of international movies. The new event has
a program with a scope that rivals the American Film Institute's annual
Los Angeles International Film Festival in November.
Miguel Arteta's "The Good Girl" will close the event, while centerpiece
premieres include Gary Winick's "Tadpole," Michael Winterbottom's "24 Hour Party People," and Yvan Attal's "My Wife is An Actress." Special events include a showing of "Valley Girl" with live commentary by director Martha Coolidge and special guests, an open-air showing of "Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars," and a free outdoor screening (with karaoke) of "Elvis:That's the Way it Is." Among the international selections are Stanislaw
Mucha's "Absolut Warhola" (Germany), Raja Amari's "Satin Rouge" (France/Tunisia), and Robert Glinksi's "Hi, Thereska" (Poland).
"It is hard to impress people, but it's a good film town," Rosen told
indieWIRE yesterday," To make an event out of a festival is just that much
harder." Citing the success of film series' at UCLA, the American
Cinematheque or the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, she added, "I do think people have a hunger to see different films.
Like the marketing department of a specialty film distributor, IFP/West
(recently re-named IFP/Los Angeles is targeting a wider audience for its
hardly mainstream program. Experts at securing mainstream sponsors for
events like the annual Independent Spirit Awards, the organization has
enlisted the support of InStyle Magazine and Target among others. "It has
drawn more attention to the festival," Rosen explained, "Their support has
helped us expand the marketing."
Finding an audience for international selections in a city that has a
reputation for being uninterested in foreign-language titles is one hurdle.
"LA is an international city," Rosen offered, when asked about the challenge
of getting locals to support international cinema. "It may be hard to get a
mainstream audience to embrace international films here, but with all of the
people that live here, it is our task to go out and find them."
Organizers are targeting audiences via foreign-language media outlets and
relevant organizations. "I don't expect that there wll be hordes of people
at the international films right off the bat," Rosen added, "But there are
some great films and they haven't been screened in Los Angeles and I think
that we can find an audience for them." [Eugene Hernandez in Los Angeles]
[EDITORS NOTE: indieWIRE Editor-in-Chief Eugene Hernandez is in Los Angeles
for the Los Angeles Film Festival, he is serving on the event's documentary
>> Three Years Later, Montias' "Bobby G" Ready for Its Close-Up
(indieWIRE: 6.20.02) -- Sometimes it just takes awhile to get your film out
there. Just ask John-Luke Montias. The director's low-budget story of life
on the mean streets of New York's Hells Kitchen, "Bobby G Can't Swim," opens
today in Manhattan, three years after it first hit the fest circuit.
"We have an army of 12 interns just going berserk," Montias said with a
laugh in a conversation with indieWIRE yesterday. The posse have been
tacking up posters for the film around the city, in advance of the movie's
release by Gabriel Films. It will hit L.A. after its opening at the Quad
"Bobby G" debuted at the Santa Barbara Film Festival in 1999, where it
screened as a work-in-progress. Positive notices by Variety and indieWIRE
put the movie on the map, recalled Montias. Writing about the movie in
indieWIRE's report from Santa Barbara, writer Tom Cunha offered, "The
strongest film by far was 'Bobby G. Can't Swim,' a tragic tale of a coke
dealer's downward spiral on the brutal streets of Hell's Kitchen." Montias
secured finishing funds from Gabriel Films and debuted the movie in San
Sebastian later that year.
Shot on 16mm in 18 days, "Bobby G" was also at hit at the AFI Los Angeles
Film Festival, the Hamptons festival, and at the Florida Film Festival.
"I really want to get the thing on print," Montias told indieWIRE during an
interview back at Santa Barbara in 1999. "And I really want to screen it in
New York City. I really think it should play there."
Now, with the film set for release, Montias is anxious to get behind the
camera once again. He is hoping to shoot a new script, "Lulu Forever," later
this year. [Eugene Hernandez]
>> ON THE SET: Close-Up on Club-Kid Life With "Party Monster"
(indieWIRE: 06.21.02) -- It is day 19 of 25 on the set of "Party Monster" as
co-directors Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato, working on their first feature, are pacing around the tight set -- a small apartment in a decaying tenement
building on Manhattan's Lower East Side. The duo chat casually with a few
key crew members in the cramped living room set, considering a few options
for a dining table that will be the site of a holiday dinner scene. After
making their decisions, actors Macaulay Culkin, Seth Green, Dylan McDermott and Wilmer Valderrama are called in to block the scene. Producer Ed Pressman pops in at one point to survey the set and pay his respects to cast and crew before a break for lunch. Key crew offer indieWIRE a behind-the-scenes look
at the New York indie production as the afternoon progresses.
"Party Monster," a new film about legendary club kid Michael Alig, wraps
principle photography in Manhattan this week. Macaulay Culkin stars in
the lead role, with Seth Green on board as celebutante James St. James. The
film, adapted from St. James' book, "Disco Bloodbath," is being directed by
doc filmmakers Bailey and Barbato, with Killer Films on board as producer of
"Ultimately, this movie may be truer than the doc," co-director Bailey told
indieWIRE last week, referring to the non-fiction version of the story
that he and co-director Barbato debuted at Sundance in 1998. Calling
the doc "invaluable research" for this feature, Bailey explained that while
the filmmakers were limited by the actual words of those they interviewed
in the doc version, the narrative film gives them the chance to collapse
events and dialogue into scenes that capture the true essence of the
club-kid life and the tragic events surrounding the Michael Alig story.
"Everyone has their version of these stories," added Barbato, echoing the
feeling that there are so many renditions of the outrageous life of Alig and
his band of club kids.
Alig is an infamous downtown New York figure who rose to the top of the
underground club scene (at places like Tunnel and the Limelight) as a
prolific promoter in the '90s. Yet, his world collapsed after he began to
brag about murdering his drug dealer, Angel Melendez, and the victim's
dismembered body was found in the East River.
The movie is being shot with at least two PD-150 digital video cameras for
most scenes, offered cinemtographer Teodoro Maniaci ("The Business of
Strangers," "Claire Dolan") in a late-afternoon lunch break conversation.
A third camera was employed for a shoot at the Limelight. Working in the
digital format is a new experience for Maniaci, who explained that the
post-production process will include adding a layer to the video to create a
Offering his own take on the look of the picture, Bailey intends to capture
the "hyper-reality" of the club kid's existence with layering technique. He
added that the look of the effect evokes the work of painters Pierre et
Gilles. "I haven't seen anything like it before," added cinematographer
The low-budget movie has been in development for years. Bailey and Barbato
backed James St. James as the writer of "Disco Bloodbath" (the book was
published in 1999), intending to someday tackle a narrative version of the
story. Brad Simpson developed the project at Killer Films and the project
was jumpstarted about two years ago when colleague Jon Marcus sold the
filmmakers on making the movie on video. Sofia Sondervan brought the movie
to Ed Pressman and Content Film joined on last year to put up financing for
the movie along with Fortissimo Film Sales.
"I am so glad that we are shooting it this way," producer Marcus told
indieWIRE, referring to the decision to make the movie on video. Reflecting
on the picture during a rare quiet moment, sitting on the sidewalk outside
the Ridge St. location, Marcus added, "This is not a club movie, its an
intimate buddy movie."
Pausing for a moment, Marcus brightened, laughing, "I mean, it's a period
costume drama!" [Eugene Hernandez]