DAILY NEWS: Slamdance 2001 Lineup; "Traffic" Wins NY Critics Prize; Creative Planet Layoffs
by Eugene Hernandez and Maud Kersnowski/indieWIRE
>> Slamdance Selects 2001 Lineup From 2,326 Entries; Digital and Video Dominate Competition
(indieWIRE/ 12.14.00) -- Slamdance organizers announced the lineup for their
2001 Festival late yesterday, unveiling 12 features and 13 shorts selected
from a record 2,326 submissions (a jump of nearly 300 entries). The event will
run from January 20 - 27, concurrent with the Sundance Film Festival in Park
A few changes are in store for Slamdance's 7th year, including a move of
most of the Festival off of Main St. and up the hill to the Park City Silver
Mine. Organizers indicated that they have outgrown their Treasure Mountain
Inn screening rooms -- however, some events will remain there.
Slamdance Executive Director and Co-Founder Peter Baxter, in a prepared
statement, highlighted a Festival lineup that includes movies from around
the world. "One continuing trend this year is the large percentage of
international films in competition." While Festival Co-Founder-at-Large Dan Mirvish, in typical fashion, summarized the lineup succinctly, "If last year's focus on German films meant it was the Year of Sauerkraut for Slamdance, then
this is going to be the Year of Kim Chee."
Slamdance's competition is made up of lower budget films, without
distribution, that are made by first-time filmmakers. Organizers attribute
the jump in submissions to the increasing use of digital video. Baxter
indicated in the announcement that half of the features submitted and
one-third of those selected for the festival were shot on digital or video.
Blazing a trail that other festivals are only now catching up with, Slamdance
has a six-year history of offering digital projection as an option for
filmmakers. [Eugene Hernandez]
>> "Traffic" Tops with NY Film Critics; "Greenberg" Wins Again
(indieWIRE/ 12.14.00) -- The 35 members of the New York Film Critics Circle
weighed in with their top films and performances of the year, the first
group of cities' critics to join the race towards the Academy Awards. Steven
Soderbergh's "Traffic" won the Best Picture prize and the director also won
the Best Director prize for "Traffic" and "Erin Brockovich." David Gordon
Green won the award for Best First Film for "George Washington."
The award for Best Foreign Film went to Edward Yang's "Yi Yi," while Aviva Kempner's "The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg" won its second awards season honor, taking the prize for Best Non-Fiction Film after winning the
same award from the National Board of Review last week.
Kenneth Lonergan won the Best Screenplay award for "You Can Count on Me," while the award for Best Cinematography went to Peter Pau for "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon." The critics presented the Best Animated Film prize to "Chicken Run."
In the acting categories, Tom Hanks won the Best Actor Award for "Cast
Away," while Laura Linney won the award for Best Actress for "You Can Count on Me." Benecio del Toro won the Best Supporting Actor award for "Traffic" and the award for Best Supporting Actress went to Marcia Gay Harden for
Special awards were announced for Jules Dassin, director of "Rififi" and to
the company that re-released it, Rialto Pictures, while Shooting Gallery
was singled out for "their ingenious distribution pattern as well as their choice of films."
The awards will be presented on January 14th at Windows on the World at New
York City's World Trade Center. [Eugene Hernandez]
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"Crouching Tiger" Wins Foreign Honor
>>Creative Planet Cuts 20% of Staff
(indieWIRE/ 12.14.00) -- Creative Planet, a major film industry software
provider, laid off 70 employees yesterday, around 20% of their staff. The
owner of Movie Magic Producer, the software suite that includes the widely
used Movie Magic Budgeting program, told indieWIRE that the layoffs were
a response to the cooling of the economic climate, but that the company is
still in excellent condition.
Like most companies in the technology space, Creative Planet is weathering
the markets' demands that they "use the same operating assumptions as a
traditional businesses -- to be profitable," explained company spokesperson
Sean Conway. "It's a sad reality when you have to tighten your belt, but
it's healthy and necessary."
Creative Planet is flush enough that they're able to offer their employees
"fair compensation," unlike many other Internet companies that have shut
down. "We're not closing the doors and leaving a note saying: good luck,"
The company can hardly be described as broke. In the last few months they
took in $68 million in financing, $30 million of which came from publishing
giant United News & Media. The company, which owns a number of money-making products, predicts it will show a profit in 2002. "If we ever needed to we
could hunker down and last a lot longer," commented Conway.
The leaner staff will focus on the profitable core of Creative Planet's
business: software, ASP and wireless. All forecasts point to Movie Magic
Budgeting software maintaining its place as the industry leader.