DAILY NEWS: New York City One Week Later, Reactions as Work Resumes
by Eugene Hernandez and Anthony Kaufman/indieWIRE
>> EDITORS NOTE: An Invitation to Discuss, Amidst Talk of "Normal"
(indieWIRE/09.18.01) -- Yesterday, as New Yorkers dressed for work, the
morning media proclaimed that it was the day that the city would begin to
get "back to normal." While an appealing thought, normal is a place that
we can only reach through time travel, back to last Monday.
This morning (Tuesday) marks a week since the tragic attacks in the United
States and it is hard to avoid considering what might happen next.
At an indieWIRE staff meeting yesterday -- the first time we were all back
together in our office -- we mused about our own role and how things have
changed. We questioned how we should react editorially to what has happened
and pondered the relevance of the arts during times of turmoil. Of course,
there are no easy answers.
Much is being written now by citizens, critics, pundits and politicians, but
we are most concerned about the thoughts and reactions of our colleagues and
With that in mind, last night we created a discussion board on the indieWIRE
site. I hope that you will take a moment to offer your thoughts or perhaps
pose a question or idea that we all can consider. We'll join the ongoing
conversation and share it with our readers on occasion. We look forward to
your participation. [Eugene Hernandez]
PLEASE JOIN THE DISCUSSION @ indieWIRE.com
>> New Yorkers Return to Work, Displaced and Distracted
(indieWIRE/09.18.01) -- John Penotti of Greene Street Films (producers of
the upcoming titles "In the Bedroom" and "Pinero," among others), like many of New York's film community, is trying to get back to work this week amidst
the insurmountable sorrow engulfing Manhattan -- and the world. "It's very,
very disturbing," Penotti told indieWIRE yesterday by cellphone from the
company's offices on Desbrosses Street, just below Canal, at a site that is
still without phone or fax line service. "We have to go through a checkpoint
just to get to work," said Penotti, who lives close to what the media now
call "ground zero" and he has been displaced from his apartment -- he
doesn't know when he will be able to return.
Aside from the practical problems, Greene Street staffers are also facing a
harsher reality; like many New Yorkers, they knew people who worked in the
World Trade Center.
"It's very sad," continued Penotti, "A dear friend, who worked with our
financiers, was stuck in the building, and it was confirmed today that he's
As far as getting back to work, Penotti said that several of the staff
"wanted to be back here; wanted to demonstrate some type of solidarity with
their business associates. That was a big decision to get us up and running.
And to talk with people who have experienced the same thing."
Just down the street, Miramax's offices remained closed on Monday, with
several employees either working at home or relocated to Disney offices on
34th Street. Surely voicing the confusion of many people at work on Monday,
Miramax publicist Hiromi Kawanishi offered (also from her cellphone), "You
almost feel guilty if you're not working, but you almost feel guilty if you
Not knowing when she'd be able to return to her office, Kawanishi went out
and bought a fax machine on Monday. Trapped at home, she said, "I just want
to get back to the office -- not just to get back to my work, but for my own
sanity, to get back to some sense of normalcy. When you're at home, it's a
constant reminder because you sit there in front of the TV and cry every
Kawanishi, who is currently working on the campaign for Yuen Wo Ping's
"Iron Monkey" (sticking to its Oct. 5 release date), is also concerned about
the upcoming New York Film Festival where the Miramax acquisition "Baran" will screen. "Frankly, I'm worried about my Iranian director Majid Majidi,
[director of "Baran"]," she said. "I hope he can come, that's all I can say."
The annual premier film festival event in Gotham is moving forward, as
scheduled, from Sept. 28 - Oct. 14. The Film Society of Lincoln Center's
Graham Leggat told indieWIRE that most of the foreign directors scheduled to
attend this year's NYFF are still planning to come to the city. Jacques
Rivette, the director of NYFF opener "Va Savoir" is still confirmed to
attend, but French directors Eric Rohmer and Jean-Luc Godard are less likely to make the transatlantic trip. While festival staff is moving forward to
mount the 39th edition of the fest, publicist Ines Aslan noted the
difficulty that many are facing: "There are moments when you get immersed in
work and you forget, and then there are moments when everything feels so
Cowboy Pictures, the arthouse distributor that has three films at the New
York Film Festival ("La Cienaga," "Warm Water Under A Red Bridge," and "Fat Girl") is also reeling from the impact of Tuesday's events. "We were
supposed to release three movies in the next few weeks," said Cowboy's John
Vanco, "and now we have to figure out what to do with them." The company
confirmed a delay in the release of one title already, "The Endurance:
Shackleton's Legendary Antarctic Expedition" from this Friday to next month.
"Last Monday, I was in such a hyper-state with all of these movies, running
at 110 percent," Vanco said, "and now I look around and go, 'what am I
supposed to do?'" Cowboy's duties also include booking movies at The
Screening Room on Canal Street, which remains closed, but according to
Vanco, should re-open this Friday.
Cowboy Pictures was also supposed to move into new offices on Canal Street,
but due to the conditions of the area, they are obviously waiting until
things settle down. Staffers at another Canal Street outfit, film production
company Good Machine, were back in the office on Monday, open for business.
Calls to Open City Films/Blow Up Pictures, which recently located to TriBeCa
at 44 Hudson Street, were immediately disconnected as a result of no phone
service in the area.
Meanwhile Artisan Entertainment, the distribution company located on
Chambers and West Broadway, just six blocks from the World Trade Center
site, is also temporarily homeless. Artisan's Executive Vice President of
Publicity Paul Pflug told indieWIRE, "Our offices are fine and the building
is not damaged; it is now just up to the city to let us go back to work."
Artisan CEO Amir Malin is working from his Long Island home, with the rest
of the 25 NYC-based employees "telecommuting."
"We're trying to get back into the swing of things, but it's hard,"
commented Miramax's Kawanishi, encapsulating many of our thoughts. "What
happened is devastating, but we have to move on." [Anthony Kaufman]