DAILY NEWS: Manne's Plans; New This Week and IFP Opener
by Eugene Hernandez and Anthony Kaufman/indieWIRE
>> Liz Manne Discusses Life After Sundance Channel
(indieWIRE/09.05.01) -- As the fall festival season kicks into high gear
this week in Toronto, one player will not be on the field. Former Sundance
Channel Executive Vice President of Programming and Marketing Liz Manne will sit out the Toronto fest to consider her next step in the specialty biz. She
recently left the Channel amidst company restructuring and is among the
notable indie stalwarts making a change this year at a time when the New York
community has faced a number of other shifts.
Manne, who co-founded Fine Line Features with Ira Deutchman in 1990, spoke with indieWIRE yesterday (Tuesday) after returning from a post-Sundance
"After taking a little time off I am looking forward to the next new and
exciting opportunity," Manne told indieWIRE yesterday," Independent film has
an ever-evolving landscape -- it's a time of great change and development."
She remained quiet about any specific immediate plans, indicating that she
is still considering her next step.
Manne's role placed her in a unique position in the indie community as
networks like Sundance Channel and the Independent Film Channel became
important outlets for screening specialty and independent films. "I had an
amazing opportunity when I was at Sundance Channel," Manne told indieWIRE,
"to establish a truly viable alternative to theatrical distribution."
During her nearly four-year tenure at Sundance, Manne was a part of
significant growth for the five-year old outlet -- it now has 10 million
subscribers and is available in more than 50 million homes. Calling the
Channel a "vibrant, feisty, unique television network," Manne and the
channel stood out with a number of on-air festivals and showcases, including
"Out Loud," a showcase for queer films, "She Said Cinema," a festival of
movies by women, and Arte Latino, offering Latin American films.
"The opportunity lies where the grass roots are," Manne mused, "If people
start looking for true alternatives, D.I.Y. distribution or finding
alternative venues for distribution -- whether that be old technology or new
technology or what the future tech will bring in terms of braodband and the
Internet, that's where the opportunity is." Continuing she added, "I think
that's where the opportunity is creatively --.that's the area that I find
myself the most intersted in personally."
While she will be sitting out Toronto, Manne admitted that she is already
making plans to spend a lot of time at Lincoln Center later this month when
the New York Film Festival kicks off. She concluded, "I am just glad that I
live in New York City and that I have access to all this great stuff."
>> NEW THIS WEEK: Art Film Flourish; "L.I.E.," "Djomeh," "Ladies," "Bounce," "Taste," "Assassins," "Vengo"
(indieWIRE/09.05.01) -- You can tell fall is near when the art films come
out in droves. With the colored leaves and cooler breezes, also come
international film festivals galore -- and the accompanying taste for more
sophisticated movies than "Jurassic Park" and "The Mummy" (at least, we
hope). Telluride and Montreal are already over, Venice is well underway, and Toronto opens tomorrow -- all of them screening a hefty bunch of art films that will eventually funnel into theaters, sooner or later. Consider this
weekend, for example, where New York and Los Angeles will play host to a
number of new and notable arthouse releases, serving up a selection of film
festival favorites from the past year.
Michael Cuesta's "L.I.E.," one of the more auspicious American debut films
to come out of Sundance 2001, will open in New York and Los Angeles this
Friday from Lot 47 Films. The film tells the story of a lost 15-year-old
(Paul Franklin Dano) and his rather innocent relationship with the town
pedophile (Brian Cox). At its Sundance premiere, indieWIRE's critic Andy
Bailey praised the film: "What could have been the standard hysterical
depiction of a depraved chicken hawk running amok in the 'burbs becomes in
the hands of Cuesta a triumph of audacious, astutely wrought character
While the subject matter is treated with subtlety, sensitivity and smarts,
"L.I.E" was branded with an NC-17 rating by the MPAA, making it the latest
casualty of Jack Valenti's out-of-date ratings system. While Lot 47's Jeff
Lipsky has treated the incident as another example of the MPAA's ongoing
hypocrisy (he battled them 10 years ago over Wayne Wang's "Life is Cheap,
But Toilet Paper is Expensive"), Lipsky's also turned the occasion of the
rating as a free marketing hook, raising the film's profile through
controversy (for more information, check out www.lot47.com). Meanwhile,
audiences should remember first and foremost that "L.I.E." is an excellent
debut from a director to watch -- and this is really the best hook there is.
Another notable debut, opening today (Wednesday) at New York's Film Forum,
is Iranian director Hassan Yaktapanah's "Djomeh," which won the prize for
best first film, the Camera d'Or, at Cannes 2000. Being released by the
venerable New Yorker Films, the story follows Djomeh, a sweet-natured young
milkman from Afghanistan who falls in love with an Iranian girl,
encountering prejudice along the way. Filmmaker Yaktapanah comes with some
solid credentials: he served as an assistant director to Iranian master
Abbas Kiarostami on his acclaimed work, "The Taste of Cherry," which some critics have compared to "Djomeh" in its delicate aesthetic and
New directors can also be found in two crowd-pleasing films from the
festival circuit that will see releases this week, Thai director Youngyooth
Thongkonthun's "Iron Ladies" (Strand Releasing) and Steven Cantor's "Bounce: Behind the Velvet Ropes" (Artistic License). "Iron Ladies" was a hit at Berlin 2001 (where it won a Teddy), the New York and San Francisco Lesbian and Gay Festivals (where it won Audience Awards) and as a show of its ability to reach outside its gay niche, last year's Toronto Film Festival
(where it was a runner-up for the Discovery Award). Based on a true story,
the film tracks the exploits of Thailand's famous gay and transsexual
competitive volleyball team. On the flipside of the male sexual psyche,
there's Cantor's "Bounce," a behind-the-scenes look at the world of
nightclub bouncers, which won the Audience Award at last year's Los Angeles
New French director Bernard Rapp has also made a splash with his sophomore
film, "A Matter of Taste" (Attitude Films and TLA Releasing), a clever two-hander about the manipulative relationship between a wealthy
entrepreneur and his food taster, which was nominated for five Cesars,
France's top movie honor. Rapp's movie benefits from the screenwriting
talents of co-writer Gilles Taurand ("Time Regained," "Dry Cleaning" "Alice and Martin" "Thieves" and "The Wild Reeds").
A gala closer at Venice 2000, "Vengo," Gypsy chronicler Tony Gatlif's latest look at that culture's dance and spirit, also opens this Friday from Cowboy
Pictures. After the film's Venice premiere, mixed reviews followed, but
there was no doubt of Gatlif's ability to capture dancing on film (his
documentary "Latcho Drom" is widely regarded as one of the best).
Narratively, Gatlif has never hit his stride, however; although 1998's
"Gadjo Dilo" came close. Read indieWIRE's Venice review
Academy Award nominated director Barbet Schroeder ("Reversal of Fortune," "Single White Female") is also back this week with "Our Lady of the Assassins," being released by Paramount Classics. Shot in Hi-Def digital
video, "Lady" is about a world-weary writer who returns to his home, the
dangerous Columbian streets of Medellin, to die. The film has been an
official selection at several top-tier fests, from Venice and Telluride to
Sundance and Havana, where it won a special prize for best Latin American
film by a non-Latin American director (Schroeder was born in Iran, but lived
mostly in France where he worked closely and produced films for such French
New Wave cineastes as Jean-Luc Godard, Jacques Rivette and Eric Rohmer). His first foreign-language film since 1983's "Tricheurs," "Our Lady" marks Schroeder's return to a more personal cinema.
And then there's Artisan's latest release, "Soul Survivors," a teen horror
movie from the producers of "I Know What You Did Last Summer" and "Urban
Legend," written and directed by Steve Carpenter. Okay, maybe not everyone
is ready for sophisticated entertainment. [Anthony Kaufman]
>> IFP Opens with "Bedroom"
(indieWIRE/09.05.01) -- Todd Field's "In The Bedroom" will open the 2001 IFP Market on September 30th in Manhattan, the Independent Feature Project announced this week. The Miramax movie will kick off the organization's
The movie, which debuted at Sundance this year and stars Sissy Spacek and
Tom Wilkinson, was produced by Good Machine and GreeneStreet. The IFP Market will run through October 5th at the Angelika Film Center in downtown Manhattan and at other nearby venues. [Eugene Hernandez]