DAILY NEWS: Shooting Gallery Bankruptcy; "Hedwig," "Ghost" and "Brother" Eye Crossover; Philly Queer Fest Winners
by Eugene Hernandez, Anthony Kaufman and Brian Brooks/indieWIRE
>> Shooting Gallery Set to Declare Bankruptcy
(indieWIRE/07.19.01) -- With legal challenges mounting and creditors
demanding payments, Shooting Gallery is on the brink of filing for
bankruptcy. The company's parent, Itemus, which is facing a major
financial crunch, indicated yesterday that "ongoing creditor pressures
will likely compel its Shooting Gallery subsidiary to file a petition
for relief under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code in the near term."
An Itemus spokesman indicated that bankruptcy would freeze lawsuits
and credit claims and give Itemus and Shooting Gallery a chance to
determine how it will handle these obstacles. The spokesman repeated
that Itemus is still facing up to $10 million in Shooting Gallery
obligations. According to a statement yesterday, the company is in the
midst of negotiations with creditors, but there is no guarantee of a
successful outcome, according to the announcement.
Itemus, unable to secure additional financing, is forced to "review all
alternatives including sales of assets, sales of operating divisions and
additional cost cutting," according to a statement yesterday.
In a Shooting Gallery obituary, written by indieWIRE Senior Editor
Anthony Kaufman for this week's Village Voice, some of the company's
liabilities are detailed. Shooting Gallery Film Series publicist
Susan Norget called the debt a "devasting blow" to her business, while
publicist Fredell Pogodin told Kaufman, "Is this a sizable chunk of
change that I have to eat? Yes. Have I ever been burned like this before?
No." The company is also facing an untold number of lawsuits, totalling
in the millions of dollars. [Eugene Hernandez]
>> NEW THIS WEEK: Crossover Potential for "Hedwig," "Ghost" and "Brother"
(indieWIRE/ 07.18.01) -- Crossover. That's the word on the lips of most
everyone in the indie film biz as we head into this summer weekend. "Hedwig
and the Angry Inch," John Cameron Mitchell's rousing theater-to-film portrait
of a German transsexual aspiring rock star, will be unleashed by Fine Line
this Friday in 10 theaters in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Ever
since premiering at Sundance 2001 and gaining fans from Salt Lake City locals
to national film journalists, "Hedwig" has been primed to break out from the
niche gay market and into the mainstream. (The film, in fact, began its
genesis as a studio release at New Line, but after company restructuring, the
film ended up in the hands of the company's specialty arm, Fine Line.)
Whether teenagers will forgo "American Sweethearts" and "Jurassic Park 3"
for such celebrated "Hedwig" numbers as "Wig in a Box" and "The Origin of
Love" is anybody's guess, but if RuPaul, Rocky Horror and "Boys Don't Cry" are any indication, ambiguous gender personalities have already been
embraced by the zeitgeist. With an ambitious release pattern, expanding to
dozens of screens and cities on August 3rd, "Hedwig's" strong word-of-mouth
could make it this summer's sleeper hit.
United Artists will also be targeting crossover success with "Ghost World,"
Terry Zwigoff's film adaptation of comic book artist Dan Clowe's graphic
novel, which also opens in limited release in New York and Los Angeles this
weekend. After Michael Winterbottom's "The Claim," "Ghost World" is the
second release of the new specialty arm of MGM (upcoming titles include
horror pic, "Jeeper Creepers," Hal Hartley's "No Such Thing" and Roman Coppola's "CQ"). With rising young actresses Thora Birch ("American Beauty") and Scarlet Johansson in the lead roles of disaffected teens Enid and Rebecca, and everyone's favorite weird-guy Steve Buscemi as the target of Birch's sympathies, the film's got both star power and cult status. With a
distributor who has deep pockets, but not a lot of experience releasing
independents, "Ghost World" will be an interesting test case for UA and the
directing career of Zwigoff, whose "Crumb" remains one of the defining
documentary triumphs of the decade. "Ghost World" will also expand on August
3rd to a number of other major markets.
Also crossing over this weekend is Japanese star of film and TV, Takeshi
Kitano, whose first U.S.-based production "Brother," the story of a yakuza
(Kitano) out of water in Los Angeles, comes to screens from Sony Pictures
Classics. Mostly in English and starring Omar Epps, "Brother" marks the
first time the acclaimed director of "Fireworks" and "Violent Cop" has
chosen to go Hollywood. Retaining his minimalist style, dry humor and
stylized violence, however, Kitano's vision of L.A. isn't that far off from
his take on Tokyo. With Sony Pictures Classics' recent "Crouching Tiger"
success, one wonders whether any of that marketing dragon will carry over
to Kitano's unique art-action film. For more on Kitano, see indieWIRE's
interview with the famed multi-talent today. [Anthony Kaufman]
>> "Metrosexuality" and "Julie Johnson" Triumph at Record Breaking 7th Philadelphia Gay Fest
(indieWIRE/ 07.18.01) -- The 7th Philadelphia Gay and Lesbian Film
Festival confirmed its place as one of the largest queer fest east of
the Mississippi, breaking attendance records during its 12-day event.
Founded in 1995 by TLA Entertainment Group and TLA President Raymond
Murray, who serves as Artistic Director, the event boasted nearly
26,000 filmgoers, five world premieres and 116 screenings.
"Metrosexuality," a multi-sexual, fast-paced six-part British
miniseries that left a crowded theatre in stitches with comic antics
by its diverse cast won Best Gay Male Feature. The feature's
director/creator, Rikki Beadle-Blair, who also stars in the program
which aired on the U.K.'s Channel 4 earlier this year, was present
for the earlier screenings at the beginning of the Festival. Bob
Gosse's "Julie Johnson" about a housewife who escapes suburbia starring
Lili Taylor and Courtney Love took the Best Lesbian Feature prize. "Undetectable," a film about six people living with AIDS by Jay Corcoran
won the Best Documentary award, while "Jeffrey's Hollywood Screen
Trick" and "Weeki Wachi Girls" won the Best Gay Male Short and Best
Lesbian Short prizes respectively.
Audience Prize winners included "Kilometer 0" (Best Feature Film) by
Yolanda Garcia Serrano and Juan Luis Iborra. The Spanish film about
14 people whose lives intersect at a central marker in the middle of
Madrid, enjoyed positive word of mouth during the Festival, and
despite the great weather, managed a crowded screening Saturday
afternoon. Best Gay Male Short went to Jean-Francois Monette's
"Take Out" while "Rainmakers 2" by Robbie Hart took the Best
Lesbian Short award.
Among the sell-out screenings this year were "The Back Row," "Big Eden,"
"Come Undone," "Hedwig and the Angry Inch" (which closed the Festival
on Monday) and the "Boys Will be Boys" Shorts program. Aside from
producing the Philadelphia Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, TLA organizes the Philadelphia Festival of World Cinema and is a distributor of theatrical and video releases. [Brian Brooks]
RELATED ARTICLE @ indieWIRE.com:
+ Beadle-Blair Unveils Uncompromising Series, "Metrosexuality,"
for American Festival Audiences