DAILY NEWS: New In Theaters; More Toronto Movies; and USA Exec
by Anthony Kaufman and Brian Brooks/indieWIRE
>> NEW THIS WEEK: Little Films Fill Quiet Before the Storm
(indieWIRE/08.15.01) -- It's a quiet week in independent film distribution;
consider this Friday as a respite from the summer flush of new counter-
programming product, and the lull before the fall storm. Small films from
countries far away, with strong performances, and miniscule advertising
budgets -- it's almost like the dog days of 1980s independents, when
distribs didn't have to take ads out in the New York Times for thousands of
dollars and prime time TV spots for ten times that.
The Scandinavian film "Aberdeen," for one, will open exclusively in New York
this Friday through First Run Features, the 10-year-old indie operation that
recently celebrated its anniversary with a retrospective at New York's
Museum of Modern Art. The poster for the series, featuring an attractive
woman smiling from ear-to-ear with a party hat, is the star of "Aberdeen"
(and a great, low-cost marketing plug for the movie). Up-and-coming British
actress Lena Heady plays a tough-as-nails sexy single woman who must take
her drunkard father (Stellan Skarsgard) home to visit her dying mother
(Charlotte Rampling) after being separated for years. The melodramatic road
movie also features brilliant Brit actor Ian Hart as a truck driver who
falls for Heady's character and helps the troubled daughter-father duo along
the way. Directed by Hans Peter Moland ("Zero Kelvin"), "Aberdeen" has had success on the film festival circuit, winning awards in Hamptons, Brussels, Karlovy Vary and Lubeck, and will likely go out wider, slowly but surely, market by market, throughout the coming months.
Similarly, you won't see a brash, flashy trailer for "Innocence" before the
nightly news, an IDP release about an elderly couple in love. Australian
filmmaker Paul Cox, whose films "Lonely Hearts" (1982) and "Man of Flowers" (1983) have won him acclaim in his home country, tells the story of a
69-year-old widower who meets his long lost love of 50 years before, and
reignites their passion, despite the fact that she is married. "Innocence"
won the Best Film and Audience Awards at the Montreal World Film Festival in
2001, and actors Julia Blake, who plays the wife, and Terry Norris, who
plays her husband, received Best Acting awards from the Australian Film
Institute and the Aussie critics association. With the right critical
support, the matinee crowd might come out in droves for this quiet film,
called "poignant" by Aussie critics, opening exclusively in New York. With
"Innocence," Cox may finally get the U.S. recognition he has lacked; if not,
his latest "Nijinski" is rumored to be world premiering at the Toronto Film
Festival next month.
One director who needn't worry about reception is Jean-Luc Godard. Rialto
Pictures is re-releasing "Band of Outsiders" in a new 35 mm print, the
French New Waver's 1964 film, long unseen except in pirated videos, bad 16
mm copies, and Quentin Tarantino and Hal Hartley references. "Band" is most known, and worth seeing, for a mere few minutes of celluloid: the famed
Madison dance sequence featuring Anna Karina, and her two beaus Sami Frey and Claude Brasseur. "Band of Outsiders" opens at the Film Forum in New York, followed by a national roll out.
Also in limited release, Roy Andersson's "Songs from the Second Floor" will
have its U.S. theatrical premiere at the Roxie in San Francisco this Friday
from New Yorker Films. One of indieWIRE's "Favorite Pics Without U.S.
Distribution" of last year, "Songs" is Swedish director Andersson's return
to feature filmmaking after 25 years. Reporting for indieWIRE, Mark Peranson
described the Cannes 2000 competition entry as a "crafty, apocalyptic
burlesque, an odd duck of one-shot, 'in medias res' wonders..For viewers
familiar with the director's award-winning commercials, the film may feel
like 40 ads strung together; others may find it a series of one-strip
cartoons. Still, Andersson is selling a distinct, bleak view of the human
condition: life is staying alive."
And then there are those films coming out this week that won't die, even
though they don't have theatrical distributors behind them. Campbell Scott's
178-minute "Hamlet," updated to turn-of-the-century New York, will premiere
at New York's The Screening Room, after already being broadcast on cable
channel Hallmark; Marc Levin's "Brooklyn Babylon" gets a theatrical run at Brooklyn's BAM Rose Theaters after distrib Artisan already released the movie on video; and Allison Anders' "Things Behind the Sun" won't be in theaters this weekend at all, but on Showtime. Check indieWIRE on Friday for an extensive interview with Anders.
As this humble batch of films will vie for attention amidst the roar of
summer, the battle of the box office continues. "The Deep End," expanding
to an additional five more markets today (Wednesday), garnered a whopping
$23,642 per screen average in its opening week, according to Variety, the
highest among all releases. UA's "Ghost World" continues strong, with a
$10,024 per screen average; "Hedwig and the Angry Inch" made an average of
almost $5,000 on 50 screens and passed the million mark, while Artisan's
"Made" grabbed a $3,313 per screen average on 128 screens, breaking the $3
million mark. [Anthony Kaufman]
>> Toronto's Mission to Planet Africa, and More Galas
(indieWIRE/08.15.01) -- Eight features and five short films will fill this
year's Planet Africa section of the Toronto International Film Festival, it
was announced Tuesday. Screening works from 12 countries, including Burkina
Faso, France, and the U.S., the lineup's five world premieres include Nick
Hughes's "100 Days," a narrative film about teenagers surviving in Rwanda;
music video director Richard Murray's "Snipes," starring hip hop star Nelly and produced by RuffHouse Records' CEO Chris Schwartz; "Sugar Cane Alley" director Euzhan Palcy's Showtime movie, "The Killing Yard," based on the Attica State Penitentiary uprising of 1971; "Paris: XY," Zeka Laplaine's French drama about a man trying to save his marriage; and Yamina Benguigui's "Inch