DAILY NEWS: RESFEST 2000 Preps; More Toronto Films; and Guest Editorial Imagines More Movies Online
by Eugene Hernandez/indieWIRE, with a guest editorial by Jason McCabe
>> RESFEST Boasts 1,200 Entries and 75 Film Lineup for Y2K Tour
(indieWIRE/ 8.16.00) -- The annual RESFEST touring digital film festival
will kick off in San Fransisco next month with a run at the Palace of Fine
Arts September 7 - 9. Leading the Festival this year is Gary Winick's
digital feature film, "Sam The Man," starring Maria Bella, Luis Guzman, Rob Morrow, Annabella Sciorra and Fisher Stevens. The movie was the predecessor to Winick's slate of digital features (dubbed InDigEnt) that he is producing with John Sloss and IFC Films.
Also screening at the Festival this year, which will include stops in
Seattle, London, Chicago, Montreal, New York, Los Angeles, Seoul, Tokyo and
Osaka, is closing night feature "Wave Twisters," from longtime Eric Henry
and Syd Garon. Described as a "sci-fi/kung-fu epic," this animated movie is
synched to DJ Qbert's collection of original music compositions of the same
The Festival received a total of 1,200 entries this year, eventually
narrowing the list down to 75 films. As indicated in a recent indieWIRE
item, RESFEST will unveil a Net Cinema section, showcasing work made
expressly for the Internet. Among the movies on tap are Frank Kozik's
"Inferno," two shorts from Angry Monkey, "Joe Paradise" from Wild Brain and short work from Eveo and MediaTrip.
Additional work set to screen are an array of short films, among them Tommy
Palotta and Bob Sabiston's "Figures of Speech," "Sex in the City" by Joan Raspo and Amy Sohn, and "Sweet" by Elyse Couvillion and acclaimed cinematographer Allen Daviau. Once again the Festival's Cinema Electronica section will highlight music videos and its "Future of Filmmaking" series will offer panel discussions. [Eugene Hernandez]
[For more information, visit:
>> Toronto Adds Six Special Pix and More Galas
(indieWIRE/ 8.16.00) -- A number of anticipated new films have been added to
the gala and special presentation lineup for next month's Toronto
International Film Festival.
Wong Kar Wai's "In the Mood for Love," Robert Altman's "Dr. T and the Women," and Silvio Soldini's "Bread and Tulips" have all been added as gala presentations at the event. Wong's film was acquired by USA Films at the Cannes Film Festival, it stars Tony Leung and Maggie Cheung, while Altman's movie stars Richard Gere, Helen Hunt, Laura Dern, Farrah Fawcett, Liv Tyler, Shelley Long, Kate Hudson, and Tara Reid.
Added as special presentations are Tom Tykwer's "The Princess and the
Warrior," Joel Hershman's "Greenfingers," Michael Corrente's "A Shot at Glory," Sally Field's "Beautiful," Ed Harris' "Pollack," and Julian Schnabel's "Before Night Falls."
The complete lineup for the Festival is set to be announced later this
[For more information, visit:
>> EDITORIAL: Forget Music, Let's Talk Movies (or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Scour)
by Jason McCabe Calacanis
As you've probably seen in the trades, Napster doesn't have the market
cornered on lawsuits. The Michael Ovitz-backed Scour, which produces a
simply wicked P2P (person-to-person--add it to your TLA list) app and a
Web-based search engine, is now being sued by both the music industry and
the film industry, a feat even Napster didn't pull off.
I've had the Scour Exchange application on my computer for a month
now. It's brilliant. The software is essentially Version 3.0 of
Napster, which means it has a real user interface (as opposed
Napster's clunky front end), it is much more stable, and it allows
users to search for content in any media format (i.e., both video and
I've been using the software to download and watch movies including
Gladiator, TITAN AE, South Park and Scary Movie. Now, I'm a movie fanatic, as many of you know. I spend more money than I probably
should on DVDs, I obsess over Sony A/V products, and I pick where I
see movies based on the sound system and size of the theater. This,
of course, makes me a fairly unobjective candidate for rating movie
watching. However, I can say one thing definitively: You will watch
movies on your PCs.
I know -- for more than five years you've been hearing pundits argue
that no one will ever want to sit in front of a computer to watch
movies. Of course, the people saying that are people from traditional
media business. I'd like to share a couple of conclusions I've
- You will watch full-length movies on your PC, but only certain types of
movies and in certain settings.
- The Internet will cause a rash of piracy in the movie business that
will make street-corner bootleg sales truly insignificant.
- Within five years, movies will be released in theaters and on the
Internet at the same time. People will go to theaters because they
want to, not because they have to.
- The movie industry will have nothing to worry about if it gives
consumers what they want. As a matter of fact, I think the industry
will make more money with this new plan.
Point 1: You will watch movies on your PC.
The meme that people don't want to watch movies on PCs is simply
wrong. Case in point: If "Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace" had been
available online before or during its first week in theaters,
millions of people would have sat in front of their PCs and watched
I'm finding that certain movie genres are better-suited to desk
viewing, namely animated films and comedies. I downloaded "Scary
Movie," "TITAN AE," and "South Park" (the first are in theaters right now;
the latter is already out on video/DVD). They're great to watch on a PC
because they don't require the perfection of DVD-quality video. (Jokes are
just as funny on a 17-inch monitor as they are on a
32-inch TV or in a movie theater). Also, pausing a comedy such as
"Scary Movie" doesn't really detract from the experience--certainly not as
much as pausing "Manchurian Candidate" or "Three Days of the Condor."
Certain movies clearly do not work on PCs right now -- unless you're
viewing a DVD, or rewatching something you're already seen. Take
"Gladiator": I've seen it both in theaters and on my PC, and it's obvious
that Ridley Scott's genius is meant for the big screen. (Of
course, I'm an extreme case -- I like to advocate the perpetual release of
the "Blade Runner" director's cut in theaters around the world.)
If you're a business traveler, you already know that having a DVD
player on your laptop is key to defeating the boredom of watching the same
bad film four times in a month. I recently watched "Taxi Driver" on the way
to L.A. -- a much better option than a third round of "Entrapment." (Of
course, on-plane viewing has some dangerous side effects. Just as the
credits popped up after "Taxi Driver," I stretched out and noticed a
wide-eyed 10-year-old kid watching the film over my shoulder. Adding to my
guilt: Scorsese is a big fan of colorful language, and I had the subtitles
Point Two: The movie industry is going to have some major piracy
In the old days, it took a lot of time, money, and equipment (dozens
of VCRs, blank tapes, etc.) to distribute a pirated movie. Movie
quality degraded after each generation of copies, and it took time to
send them around the world. If you've ever bought a film off a street
corner in Chinatown, you know what I'm talking about.
During my adventures in Scour-land I've been able to find high-quality
screening versions of many first-run movies. These films
are being transferred around the world in non-degrading quality at
record speed. Additionally, as video cameras get cheaper, better, and
smaller, the quality of movies captured through open-air video taping
(a.k.a, sneaking a handheld Sony into the theater) is getting better and
better. Sure, the quality isn't as good as it would be in a
theater, but for a movie like "South Park" or "Me, Myself and Irene," who
cares? The film is still just as funny.
With most DVD players supporting the video CD format, transferring a film
online and popping in your DVD player is becoming a reality.
However, the process still takes a lot of arcane software and time -- so,
just as downloading and trading audio files was difficult
four years ago, burning video CDs remains a year or two away from
reaching a Napster-like level of acceptance.
As a side note, when I announced to the office recently that I had
"Scary Movie" on my PC, I instantly had three people around my desk
watching the film for 10 minutes. We would have pulled up chairs and watched
the whole thing if we hadn't been on deadline (and were I not signing the
Points Three & Point Four: You can't fight a wave, but you can surf
Since the movie industry will not be able to stop this piracy (see my
arguments about not being able to stop Napster), they will be left
without any option but to release movies on a pay-per-view basis (on the
Internet or otherwise) and in theaters at the same time. Again, in the
future, people will go to the movies because they want to, not because they
This is going to be a hard pill for the movie industry to swallow,
considering it has spent nearly a century building a finely tuned
revenue system of "windows," with which movies have more lives then a cat.
(Add 'em up: multiple theatrical releases, then international, pay-per-view,
video, DVD, airplane licensing, premium cable, standard cable, network TV,
and on and on.)
So, what's my point in all of this?
That the movie industry should look at the Internet as an opportunity
and not as a threat. Its leaders have the next 24 months to figure
this one out, and if they play their cards right, they'll be able to
make even more money than they are now. Imagine a world in which
costly individual-distribution units no longer exist -- a world where
movies are beamed via satellite to theaters around the world. A world in
which megaplexes can switch their movie lineups on the fly: "Hey, this 'Full
Monty' thing seems to be a hit. Let's put it in 300 more theaters nationwide
Of course, the movie industry could sit back and wait and, like the
music industry, watch its role in the process be limited to
litigation instead of innovation. From what I see on the Digital
Coast (a.k.a. Hollywood), I give the movie industry a 50/50 chance of
getting it right -- which is far better odds than I'd ever give the
[Jason McCabe Calacanis is the Editor of Digital Coast Daily, Digital Coast
Reporter, Silicon Alley Daily and Silicon Alley Reporter.]
RELATED EDITORIALS @ indieWIRE.com:
(Aug 30, 1999) EDITORIAL: Slicing the Video Pie in 2004 (or Why the Real
Phantom Menace in Hollywood is Personal Video Production)
(Mar 17, 1999) What Happened to Non-linear Narrative on the Web?
(Mar 11, 1999) How Shorts Will Take On the Hollywood Establishment (Or At
Least Make Them Lean Forward in Their Chairs and Say "Hmmm? ")