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January 16, 2002 2:00 AM
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DAILY NEWS: Sony's "Liza," Women @ Sundance, Artisan Script and Madstone News

DAILY NEWS: Sony's "Liza," Women @ Sundance, Artisan Script and Madstone News



by Eugene Hernandez, Brian Brooks and Maud Kersnowski/indieWIRE



>> Sony Classics Loves "Liza"


(indieWIRE/01.16.02) -- News of another acquisition hit the Sundance party
circuit last night. Sony Pictures Classics has nabbed Todd Louiso's Love
Liza
. The film stars Philip Seymour Hoffman and was written by the actor's
brother, Gordy Hoffman. [Eugene Hernandez]


>> Women Filmmakers Make Their Presence Known at Sundance


(indieWIRE/01.16.02) -- 25% of the films at Sundance this year were directed
by women. That's a substantial improvement since 1999, when only 8% of the
films at the festival could claim that distinction. In the studio world, by
comparison, films by women have increased only 2% in the last four years.
"There's more films here by and about women than any other general festival
I've ever been at," exclaimed Debra Zimmerman, Executive Director of Women
Make Movies
.


Part of Sundance's mission has always been to support and increase diversity
in films, but that mandate does not necessarily influence the selection
process as much as it does the addition of specialized programs like the
Native Forum. But program director John Cooper admits that gender, race and
other considerations are a factor in determining which films make the final
line-up. "If we are going to be affirmative action, it's in the final days,"
Cooper told indieWIRE. "If there is only men in the competition, we'll go
back to the drawing board. Ten years ago we were excited to get just one
woman in competition." Cooper added that the demographic breakdown of the
line-up mirrors that of the submissions.


But no film makes the cut simply for diversity's sake. This year, for
example, there isn't one gay-themed entry in dramatic competition, according
to Cooper. "It just wasn't there," he said. "We try to avoid being too
focused on political correctness out of respect for [women and other
groups]. You don't want to make them into these little prizes."


Sundance does maintain a clear goal of raising the profile of female
filmmakers. "Everyone at Sundance has been incredibly supportive," commented
Patricia Cardoso, director of "Real Women Have Curves," one of the four
films in dramatic competition from a woman director. "They're always trying
to make it more democratic. Even though there's more men, the festival
always has us on panels. When I've been at festivals with my other films,
I'm usually the only woman on the panel."


Sundance, like Toronto (where Ruby Rich is serving as a programmer this
year), has traditionally been a festival where women have also played a
major role in the selection process. "It really makes a difference that
women are choosing the films here," said Zimmerman.


And Sundance is, after all, not just any other showcase, it sets the agenda
for other film festivals as well. "In the next year you're going to see more
women's films [at other festivals] -- Sundance has that kind of impact,"
said Zimmerman. "But we still have to remember that it's only 25%. That's
not anywhere close to 50%." [Maud Kersnowski]


>> Artisan's "Jealousy"


(indieWIRE/01.16.02) -- John Herzfeld's script "Jealousy" has been acquired by Artisan the film company announced yesterday. The comedy will be
directed and produced by Herzfeld. It is described in an Artisan statement
as a story about "two relationships under fire" involving two couples'
jealousy. Artisan's purchase is part of the company's strategy to develop
story-driven productions with what the outfit describes as "strong writing."


"Not only does John possess a solid track record as a writer/director, he
has a unique voice and perspective on relationships which makes 'Jealousy' a
very attractive project, commented Artisan's CEO Bob Cooper in a prepared
statement. Herzfeld's credits include New Line's "15 Minutes," and MGM's "2 Days in the Valley." [Brian Brooks]



>> Madstone Gets Bruggemen


(indieWIRE/01.16.02) -- Madstone Theaters tapped Tom Brueggemann as the head film buyer, yesterday. Brueggemann spent many years with the Loews Theaters chain and served as head film buyer for Sundance Film Centers. He is also a feature film screener for the Sundance Film Festival.


Madstone Theater is currently expanding and relaunching their independent
theater chain. "With Tom's passion, acumen and nose for innovative
programming, Madstone can now realize its ability to deliver the compelling
and community-oriented programming that will be the hallmark of Madstone
Theaters,"said Madstone CEO Tom Gruenberg. [Maud Kersnowski]


>> Reward Offered


We are offering a reward, no questions asked, to the person who returns the
indieWIRE logo magnets that were stolen from our blue 4x4 vehicle Monday
night. Please call the indieWIRE condo.

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