DAILY NEWS: NY Crix Head-Over-Heels For "Topsy-Turvy"; DDA Slashes Staff; MN Film Society Lives!
by Eugene Hernandez & Mark Rabinowitz
>> Leigh's "Topsy-Turvy" Take NY Crix Poll; Leigh, Swank, Farnsworth Also Win
(indieWIRE/12.17.99) -- The 65th annual New York Film Critics Circle awards were announced on
Thursday afternoon, with Mike Leigh's "Topsy-Turvy" picking up the award
for Best Picture of 1999 -- Leigh also took home the Best Director prize.
The film is being released today by USA Films. The Best Actor award went to
Richard Farnsworth for his role in David Lynch's "The Straight Story" and
Hilary Swank picked up her third acting kudo for her work in Kimberly
Peirce's "Boys Don't Cry," after taking the Boston Society of Film Critics
and L.A. Film Critics Association votes. Spike Jonze's "Being John
Malkovich" picked up the nod for Best First Film.
The choice of "Topsy-Turvy" continues the trend of not actually having a
trend this year -- with four different films topping the four critics polls to
date. "American Beauty" topped the National Board of Review, "The Insider" won
in L.A. and "Three Kings" picked up the win in Boston.
"Being John Malkovich" swept the supporting actor categories, with Katherine
Keener winning for actress and, in what must be a first, John Malkovich
picked up the actor award for playing a caricature of himself. Alexander
Payne and Jim Taylor picked up the award for Best Screenplay for their
largely overlooked but critically-lauded satire, "Election," and Freddie
Francis nabbed the Best Cinematography award for "The Straight Story."
This year the Circle created a new award, presenting the prize for Best
Animated Film to "South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut." In a prepared
statement, Entertainment Weekly's Owen Gleiberman, the Circle's 1999
chairman remarked, "There has been such an increase in animated features
targeted at adults as well as children, that as critics we felt we had to
recognize superior achievement in the field."
Pedro Almodovar's "All About My Mother" continued its romp, being named
Best Foreign Language Film. The picture has topped the foreign language
category in all four polls to date. Winning its third critics poll in the
Best Non-Fiction Film category was Wim Wenders' "Buena Vista Social Club."
The only critics poll so far not to tout that film was Boston, which named
S.R. Bindler's "Hands on a Hardbody" as best doc.
>>DDA Axes 18 Without Severance Pay or Notice
(indieWIRE/12.17.99) -- Global PR and marketing firm DDA has laid off a third of its employees,
including its entire US domestic arm, with additional publicists and
support staff being let go in London. indieWIRE confirmed that despite the cuts,
members of the LA staff remain committed to serving soon-to-be former DDA
clients bound for Sundance.
In the U.S., five staff members including executive VP Nancy Willen, were
let go without notice or severance, although Willen will remain in her
office through mid-January to handle the release of Mike Leigh's
"Topsy-Turvy," which is now in Oscar qualifying runs in New York and Los
A source told indieWIRE that the London office lost several publicists,
including senior staff who had been with the company for 20 years or
longer. The London staffers were notified of their termination last Friday
and told not to bother reporting to work on Monday. When they inquired as
to why there was no severance pay, they were informed that the company
could not afford it. indieWIRE confirmed yesterday that DDA founder and
chairman Dennis Davidson is on vacation in Barbados, and was unavailable for
comment. [Mark Rabinowitz]
>>DISPATCH FROM MINNESOTA FILM SOCIETY:
"We're Still Alive!"
(indieWIRE/12.17.99) -- It turns out that the reports of the death of the University of Minnesota's
Film Society were greatly exaggerated. In our DECADE interview with John
Pierson which ran in indieWIRE earlier this week, he indicated at one point
that the Society was closed down by the University, after 35 years.
Following the comments, indieWIRE and the Film Society, received numerous
email messages and telephone calls correcting the comments. Al Milgrom, who
founded the program in 1962 contacted indieWIRE yesterday to request an
immediate correction, "We have a (on)going program," he indicated in a FAX to
our office yesterday, "(We) remain one of the few resources in this area for
"While the University is loosening its already tenuous ties to our
organization (as of recently they are no longer picking up our rent), we
are still in business," echoed the Society's Nate Johnson, "I repeat, we are
still doing the usual of first run independent and foreign film, as well as
the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Film Festival (in its 18th year and
the largest in the Upper Midwest) and other festivals throughout the year.
Pierson contacted indieWIRE yesterday to express his sincere regrets, "It
was completely, totally erroneous statement on my part," Pierson said
yesterday, "I wish him the best, I am sorry."
"The last thing I ever wanted to do was make his job even harder by
prematurely reporting his death," Pierson continued, "I hope he is there
well into the next millennium." [Eugene Hernandez]