DAILY NEWS: Newmarket Launches Distribution Company with Berney; New York Film Fest Opener and Closer; and Toronto's Canadian Films
by Eugene Hernandez and Matthew Ross/indieWIRE with an article by Joe
>> Berney Lured by Newmarket for New Distribution Company; IFC Films Seeking Replacement
(indieWIRE: 07.24.02) -- Bob Berney, the indie-distribution maven widely
credited with the crossover success of IFC Films' "Y Tu Mama Tambien" and
"My Big Fat Greek Wedding," is leaving IFC to become partner and president
of a new theatrical distribution company that will be launched by Newmarket
"It just seemed like one of those opportunities that rarely come along, a
can't-refuse kind of deal," Berney told indieWIRE yesterday (Tuesday). "And
also, the [indie film] business is really great at this time. And I'd
already worked with the Newmarket people on 'Memento' and 'Donnie Darko,' so I knew them really well."
Berney, who worked with Newmarket to release its hit film "Memento," insisted
that his departure from IFC is an amicable one, a sentiment echoed by
IFC Entertainment chief Jonathan Sehring.
"We regretfully accepted his resignation Friday," explained Sehring in a
conversation with indieWIRE. "He felt this was a once-in-a lifetime
opportunity for him. And aside from working together, we're very close
friends. We hate to see him go. So we wish him all the best."
"It's sort of like breaking up with your girlfriend who's also your best
friend," added Sehring, "It's as amicable as you can get in a situation like
Berney is expected to continue at IFC as senior vice president of marketing
and distribution through the August release of "The Chateau," Jesse Peretz's
comedy about two American brothers (Paul Rudd, Romany Malco) who inherit a posh French estate. "And he'll be around to shepherd 'Greek Wedding' to its
conclusion," added Sehring.
The yet-to-be named Newmarket venture, which had the film community buzzing
on Tuesday, will be based in New York City. Current plans call for the
yet to be named distribution entity to build a slate comprised of acquisitions
and select titles produced or co-produced by its parent company.
"I'm hoping we'll be able to announce the first slate in a couple of weeks,"
Berney told indieWIRE.
According to William Tyrer, president of the Newmarket Capital Group, the
new distributor aims to release between 8 and 10 films annually. The first
title, which he declined to reveal, could be unveiled as early as Monday.
Home-video distribution, he added, likely will be handled by Saturn Home
Why Berney? "We appreciated what he did for us with 'Memento,'" Tyrer said.
"And we admired what he did with 'Greek Wedding' and 'Tu Mama.' He seems to
be a very intelligent and very honorable person -- the skills and attributes
required to spearhead our new investment." Berney also handled Newmarket's
"Donnie Darko" while at IFC Films.
Berney has a decades-long involvement with indie cinema to his credit.
Recently of Inwood Films, he also handled Good Machine's release of
"Happiness" after October Films dropped the movie. He has worked at a number of indie distributors, including Banner Entertainment, Orion, Triton, and FilmDallas.
His diverse resume also includes experience in exhibition as well as
distribution. At one point in the early '80s, he managed the Showcase
Cinema, a strip-shopping-mall duplex in the Dallas suburb of Farmer's
Branch, where he attempted to interest locals in such esoteric fare as
Jean-Luc Godard's "Every Man for Himself" and Andrzej Wajda's "Man of Iron."
More recently, Berney's success with IFC has raised his visibility in
mainstream press outlets, including the Los Angeles Times and Entertainment
Weekly -- to a degree seldom equaled by other indie-film marketers.
Even so, Sehring says that, for IFC, life goes on. "Bob's helped us get to
where we are, no doubt about that," he said. "But IFC has long been on the
map, and been successful, with our film production and television networks."
The company has already begun the search for a replacement.
The IFC Films distribution label, formed in September 2000, has a slate
of "seven or eight films on tap" for the next several months, Sehring said.
Among the most eagerly anticipated: "Decade Under the Influence," an
ambitious and exhaustive overview of '70s cinema co-directed by Richard
LaGravenese and the late Ted Demme. [Joe Leydon]
[Joe Leydon is an industry columnist for indieWIRE. In his debut column
this month, Leydon looked at indie distributors' signs of intelligent life
amid the major studios' summer blockbusters.]
RELATED ARTICLE @ indieWIRE.com:
+ INDUSTRY INSIDER: Beyond the Blockbusters; Predicting Summer's Indie Smashes
>> Payne's "Schmidt," Almodovar's "Talk To Her" to Bookend 40th NYFF
(indieWIRE: 07.24.02) -- Sometimes it takes a big birthday to bring out the
crowd pleasers on opening and closing nights at the New York Film Festival.
This year, the NYFF will kick off its 40th birthday party on Sept. 27 with a
screening of Alexander Payne's "About Schmidt," starring Jack Nicholson and Hope Davis, and close Oct. 13 with "Hable con ella," (Talk to Her) the new film from Spanish director Pedro Almodovar.
Last fall, the festival got off to a rather subdued start with Jacques
Rivette's "Va Savoir" (Who Knows?), which clocked in at a hefty 154 minutes,
and the event ended with the melancholy "Eloge de l'amour" (In Praise of
Love), Jean-Luc Godard's meditative, audience-dividing foray into digital
"About Schmidt," which premiered in competition at Cannes 2002, is a dark
comedy about a 66-year-old former actuary for the Woodmen of the World
Insurance Company, who is set adrift following retirement and the sudden
death of his wife. "In opening with 'About Schmidt,' the New York Film
Festival celebrates two great talents," said selection committee chairman
Richard Pena in a prepared statement. "Alexander Payne, clearly one of the
finest new American directors to have emerged in recent years, and Jack
Nicholson, who reminds us once again that he is unquestionably the premiere
actor of his generation."
"Hable con ella" follows the friendship that develops between two men
(Javier Camara and Dario Grandinetti) in the private clinic where the women they care for are both staying. The film features songs by Brazilian
musician Caetano Veloso and dance performances by German choreographer Pina Bausch. "With each new film, Pedro Almodovar reveals new shades and depths
of his already prodigious talent," said Pena. "With 'Talk to Her,' he has
astounded even his most fervent admirers with the power of his writing and
the extraordinary artistry of his direction."
The rest of the lineup, along with the centerpiece film, will be announced
at a later date. This year's event will be sponsored for the seventh
consecutive year by Grand Marnier. [Matthew Ross]
>> Toronto Fest Sets Canadian Lineup; Section Populated by Returning Directors
(indieWIRE: 07.24.02) -- Organizers of the upcoming Toronto International
Film Festival gathered yesterday (Tuesday) to unveil plans for the
Perspective Canada section of the event. Festival director Piers Handling,
along with PC programmers Liz Czach and Stacey Donen indicated that the
section of 20 features and 29 shorts, will kick-off with Deepa Mehta's
"Bollywood/Hollywood." The movie will open the section on Friday, September
6. It features some top Bollywood performers, including Lisa Ray, Rahul
Khanna, Moushumi Chatterjee, Dina Pathak, Kulbushan Kharbanda, and Ranjit Chowdry.
Among the Canadian directors returning to this year's festival are Peter
Mettler ("Gambling, Gods and LSD"), Jennifer Baichwal ("The True Meaning of Pictures: Shelby Lee Adams' Appalachia"), Nettie Wild ("Fix: The Story of an Addicted City"), Alanis Obomsawin ("Is the Crown at War with Us"), Mike Hoolboom ("Tom"), Rodrigue Jean ("Yellowknife"), Mina Shum ("Long Life, Happiness and Prosperity"), Thom Fitzgerald ("The Wild Dogs"), and Robert Morin ("Le Neg").
Also at yesterday's announcement, organizers indicated that The Film
Reference Library has acquired collections that were donated by Canadian
filmmakers Patricia Rozema and Don McKellar. Among Rozema's contributions are "I've Heard the Mermaids Singing," "White Room," "When Night is Falling," and "Mansfield Park," while McKellar has donated "Blue," "Thirty-Two Short Films About Glenn Gould," "The Red Violin," and "Last Night," among others.
Among the other Canadian films on tap for the Toronto fest this year are
Atom Egoyan's "Ararat" which will open the fest and David Cronenberg's "Spider," screening as a gala. [Eugene Hernandez]