DAILY NEWS: Solondz in Cannes; Return of the Big "Party Monster," Columbia's "Lockdown," "Manic" at IFC'; NY Latino Fest, and "Bounce" on Showtime"
by Eugene Hernandez, Anthony Kaufman/indieWIRE
>> CANNES 2001: Solondz On "Storytelling"
(indieWIRE/05.15.01) -- Few films were as anticipated here in Cannes as Todd Solondz' fourth feature, "Storytelling." The first screening quickly filled the small Salle Bazin leaving many festivalgoers outside, frustrated over not being able to get in. So, as critics and the grapevine weigh in with their verdict, it's not surprising that the movie is engendering polar opposite opinions.
Talking with indieWIRE, the head of a major film festival called the movie
"brilliant." Others expressed disappointment and a leading member of the New
York press community bemoaned the director's decision to cancel a press
appearance, speculating that it had to do with the reactions to the movie
here in France.
IndieWIRE caught up with Todd Solondz yesterday morning (Monday) before he
sat down to a roundtable interview with a group of international
journalists. With a broad smile on his face and a warm, familiar handshake,
Solondz did not appear shaken by negative reactions to his new movie, as
some have suggested. In fact, not troubled by what he calls the "de rigeur
walkouts" that he expects from his audiences, Solondz did acknowledge a
difference in the way the movie is received by Americans versus those
outside the country. Foreign audiences, in his estimation, seem to revel in
the idea of a movie that they feel portrays "America as a terrible place."
Perhaps the root of the disappointment, by some, is two-fold. At an hour
and a half, the movie is shorter and certainly less intricate than Solondz'
previous film, "Happiness." And the final version is missing a character,
played by "Dawson's Creek" star James Van Der Beek, who was cut out of the movie entirely. Secondly, the main story -- entitled "Nonfiction" -- is
preceded by a shorter, unrelated segment, dubbed "Fiction." Commenting on
the two stories in the press notes, Solondz offers, "The movie is comprised
of two stories about stories and storytelling. There is no narrative
connection between the two, so I don't advise looking for one."
In the first film, a sexual encounter between a white female writing
student and a black male writing instructor results in a short story that
pushes a few buttons. While in the longer film, a high school student agrees
to be the subject of a documentary about teenage life -- but questions soon
evolve surrounding whether he is being exploited by the filmmaker.
"I don't subscribe to the notion that the audience is always right," Solondz
explained during our conversation, when asked about the reactions to his
movies, "My films aren't for everyone, especially for people who really like
them." Solondz, when asked for his views on audiences who laugh at his
films, often during painful moments, offered a distinction between those who
are laughing at "the freak show" versus the "laughter of recognition." This
is certainly terrain that Solondz has traveled in both "Welcome to the
Dollhouse" and "Happiness."
For the second, lengthier story, Solondz is in part exploring the territory
of "reality programming" and the relationship between the director and the
subject. "The unequal relationship" between documentarian and subject, he
explained -- or even the film journalist and the interviewee as he noted --
is the "nature of documentary." A direct reference point was the casting of
Mike Schank as the doc subject's roommate -- Schank is the real life
sidekick to Mark Borchardt, subject of Chris Smith's "American Movie."
As we wrapped up our brief conversation, I invited Todd Solondz to pose for
a photo that would accompany this article. "No," he declined politely, "I am
trying to limit that sort of thing."
With a smile, as he rose to offer another handshake, he added with a grin,
"You have my words." [Eugene Hernandez]
>> "Party Monster" Feature Set; Duo to Team with Killer and Fortissimo
(indieWIRE/05.15.01) -- Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato will return to the
story of New York club promoter Michael Alig, directing a narrative version
of "Party Monster," according to Variety. The directors, also known for "The Eyes of Tammy Faye," directed the doc version of the Alig story, also titled
Bailey and Barbato's World of Wonder will co-produce with Killer Films,
according to the Hollywood trade. Fortissimo Film Sales is co-financing the
movie, marking the first time that is will invest in an American movie,
according to Variety. [Eugene Hernandez]
>> "Lockdown" Goes to Columbia
(indieWIRE/05.15.01) -- Palm Pictures has sold worldwide rights to John
Luessenhop's "Lockdown" to Columbia Pictures Motion Picture Group. The film, which had its world premiere at the Toronto Film Festival last year, is
executive produced by Master P. The film screened in the Cannes Market here in France
"This is a film with a lot of force but rich with heart. Beneath its brutal
veneer is a story about friendship, love and loyalty," commented Luessenhop
in a prepared statement, "I am thrilled that it will be distributed by a
company that understands both the power of the film and its potential."
>> IFC Films to Release Next Wave's "Manic"
(indieWIRE/05.15.01) -- IFC Films will release Jordan Melamed's "Manic," the first movie to come from Agenda 2000, the digital production arm of IFC's Next Wave Films. The film, which features Don Cheadle and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, debuted at Sundance this year. IFC is planning to release the movie early next year.
"'Manic'is a poignant film with incredibly heartfelt performances from a
talented young cast," said IFC Films' Bob Berney in a prepared statement.
"This courageous film paints a realistic picture of youth in America today."
>> Hola! New York Latino Fest Hosts World Premieres
(indieWIRE/05.15.01) -- The New York International Latino Film Festival
(June 19-24) has announced that it will kick off with three Dominican world
premieres: Fermin Suarez's historical drama "La Pulperia," Aaron Matthews's documentary "My American Girls," and Robert Julian's short film, "Visa De Cuatro Puertas" ("Visa of Four Doors"). The six-day-event, which seeks to expose Latino talent in front of and behind the camera, continues through
June 24th at various venues throughout New York City with a slate of over 50
works. The festival presents works in two categories, feature film (in
Spanish and English, domestic and foreign) and vanguard cinema, which
includes experimental, documentary, student work and short films.
"Films are much more broad as far as themes go this year, also edgier," said
Calixto Chinchilla, Founder and Festival Director. New this year is a
National Screenwriting Competition for full-length narrative works written
by Latinos, in cooperation with MTV Films, and an interactive Media Lounge,
which will present exclusive music videos and films. [Anthony Kaufman]
[For more information, call 212-726-2358 or visit:
out their website: http//www.nylatinofilm.com.]
>> "Bounce" Lands at Showtime
(indieWIRE/05.15.01) -- Steven Cantor's "Bounce: Behind the Velvet Rope,"
will debut on Showtime next month, the network announced yesterday. The
movie, a look at nightclub bouncers, won the audience award at the 2000 Los
Angeles Independent Film Festival. [Eugene Hernandez]
>> YESTERDAY in indieWIRE DAILY NEWS: Coens in Cannes; "Jessica" Deal; "Fat Girl" Nabbed; "Eden" Pact"; SearchParty Plans
(indieWIRE/05.14.01) -- The Coens hit the Cote d'Azure with their latest,
"The Man Who Wasn't There"; Fox Searchlight acquires "Kissing Jessica Stein" while Code Red picks up Catherine Breillat's "Fat Girl". Also, Thomas Bezucha's feature, "Big Eden" has been picked up by Jour de Fete Films and SearchParty Films will change its name and has secured a second round of funding."
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