DAILY NEWS: Manhattan Filmmaking Back; New This Week
by Anthony Kaufman/indieWIRE
>> NYC Mayor's Office Says "Action!" for Manhattan Productions
(indieWIRE/09.26.01) -- Two weeks after two hijacked planes hit the World
Trade Center and caused panic in the streets of Gotham, the New York Mayor's
Office of Film, Television and Broadcasting announced that they will begin
issuing film and television shooting permits today (Wednesday, Sept. 25) on
the streets of Manhattan.
Commissioner Patricia Lee Scott told indieWIRE yesterday, "We'll start
issuing Manhattan permits tomorrow and we'll get back some of our police
movie and television units who will be working out of this office, as of
Monday, Oct. 1." Much of the NYPD Movie and TV unit had been working on
special assignment to help aid the rescue effort.
"We're back in business," Scott continued. "We won't issue permits south of
Canal in the recovery zone, but everywhere else in Manhattan is possible on
a case-by-case basis. So people should call." [Anthony Kaufman]
>> NEW THIS WEEK: Ensemble-Rom-Coms Help the Healing
(indieWIRE/09.26.01) -- If there's one thing you can count on in today's
unsteady times, it's that the New York Film Festival will start on Friday
and the festival's gala opener will follow in theaters on Saturday. While
pinning down the rest of the release schedule is like trying to catch a
turkey on Thanksgiving, Sony Pictures Classics remains committed to the
distribution of French master Jacques Rivette's "Va Savoir" ("Who Knows?"). A film with no explosions, airplanes, or shots of New York City, the movie
will open on Saturday, Sept. 29 after its NYFF North American premiere.
In a rave review from the film's 2001 Cannes Film Festival world premiere,
indieWIRE critic Patrick Z. McGavin wrote, "It seems impossible to
over-praise this beautifully made, sophisticated, and finally, quite
staggering film." Likening "Va Savoir" to Rivette's 1974 masterpiece,
"Celine and Julie Go Boating," McGavin explained, "this new movie begins
slowly, patiently establishing and introducing its ideas and themes on
identity, freedom, mistrust and desire." Part whimsical farce and part
psychological drama, the film follows several relationships which circle
around Camille (Jeanne Balibar), a prominent French actress, and her Italian
lover and director, Ugo (Sergio Castellitto), who are staging Pirandello's
play "Come tu me vuoi" in Paris.
While "Va Savoir" introduces a heavy dose of intellectualism to the ensemble
romantic comedy, United Artists' release this Friday of "Born Romantic," a
British film that debuted at the Toronto Film Festival last year, injects
some familiar elements: salsa dance classes and some cute cast members.
Directed by David Kane ("This Year's Love") and produced by Kismit Film Company ("Wonderland") and the BBC, the movie revolves around three would-be pairings, played by some of the U.K.'s best young actors (among them, Ian Hart, Jane Horrocks, Jimi Mistry, Olivia Williams, Adrian Lester, Catherine McCormack, and Paddy Considine). Likeable but by no means original, "Born Romantic" -- together with "Va Savoir" -- should provide independent-minded U.S. audiences with enough tender distractions to help the healing process.
It's hard to get more formulaic than "Born Romantic," but commercial-turned-feature director Bob Giraldi's "Dinner Rush," the first release of new distributor Access Entertainment, takes the cake. The overused food pun is inevitable (the film's tagline is "revenge is a dish best served cold") when considering this movie is set in a TriBeCa restaurant before Sept. 11 -- otherwise, business would not be so good.
Danny Aiello plays a successful restauranteur amidst a collection of cliched
characters -- mob henchman, egotistical cooks, and sassy waitresses -- that
somehow seduced New York Times critic Elvis Mitchell. In his review after
the film's New Directors/New Films world premiere, he called it "a mouth-watering display of talent, technique and patience." Go figure.
Another labor of love, "Shadow Glories," named best film at this summer's
Dances With Films festival, will make it to theaters this Friday through the
tenacious efforts of self-distributing filmmakers Ziad H. Hamzeh, the
movie's director, and Marc Sandler, its producer, writer and star. 20 years
in the making, Sandler's script (spared from Hollywood producers looking to
beef up the film's violence) follows a onetime champion kickboxer who trains
a young woman to fight his former nemesis. Despite this horrid-sounding
logline, Los Angles Times film critic Kevin Thomas called the film "strong,
stylish and uncompromising with portrayals of depth and impact." Go figure.
New York's The Screening Room will host the exclusive U.S. theatrical run of
Tunisian director Moufida Tlatli's "The Season of Men," the follow-up to her acclaimed 1994 film, "Silences of the Palaces." Starting this Friday and
playing for two weeks, Tlatli's new work notably had its world premiere in
the Un Certain Regard section of the 2000 Cannes Film Festival. See
indieWIRE's review of the film today.
Another small opening arrives in "Diamond Men," directed by Dan Cohen ("The Whole Truth") and starring Robert Forster and Donnie Wahlberg, through Panorama Entertainment (recent releases include theatrical disappointments such as "Lakeboat" and "Mr. Rice's Secret"). "Diamond Men" follows a veteran jewelry salesman (Forster, who won a special prize at the 2000 Hamptons Film Fest for his role) who passes on his methods to a young, clever upstart
(Wahlberg) who's got a few tricks of his own. Are all these small distributors taking advantage of Hollywood's release unease? "Diamond Men" opens in New York and will branch out to other cities thereafter.
Also opening this Friday is "Extreme Days," a rival for the God-fearing,
moviegoer of "Megiddo: The Omega Code 2," which opened last Friday in 314
theaters to the tune of $1.5 million, according to Variety. "Extreme Days,"
produced by Providence Entertainment ("The Omega Code," "Mercy Streets"), serves up extreme sports instead of the Apocalypse. Opening in some 80
markets, according to the Hollywood Reporter, the film's inspiring Jesus-loving story of friends on the road, facing and overcoming adversity, may turn out to be the biggest non-studio opener of the season. Go figure.
>> YESTERDAY in indieWIRE DAILY NEWS: "Believer" Postponed; SF Film Fest Changes
(indieWIRE/09.24.01) -- Showtime has announced that it will postpone the
debut of "The Believer." It had been scheduled to premiere on the network on
September 30th. And, The nearly 45 year-old San Francisco International Film
Festival has announced a new programming team, under the direction of new
Executive Director Roxanne Messina Captor.