DAILY NEWS: The Buzz from Berlin; and Lions Gate's "Liam"
by Eugene Hernandez/indieWIRE
>>DISPATCH FROM BERLIN 2001: Miramax Goes for Dogme Film?...Bruce Weber Battle?...The New Berlin Wall?
The European Film Market, running alongside the 51st Berlin International Film Festival
Photo: Eugene Hernandez/indieWIRE
(indieWIRE/02.12.01) -- Don't be surprised if the fifth Dogme film, Lone
Scherfig's "Italian For Beginners" (Italiensk For Begyndere), is acquired by
Miramax. That was the buzz yesterday among buyers as the first weekend of
the Berlin Film Festival came to a close. Writer/director Scherfig describes
her comedy, which debuted in Denmark two months ago, as a "lighthearted,
effervescent film." A 1984 gradute of the National Film School in Denmark,
made her feature film debut more than ten years ago with "The Birthday Trip"
(Kajs Fodselsdag). Her second feature, "On Our Own" (Nar Mor Kommer Hjem), won the grand prize at the Montreal Film Festival.
A press rep for the film did not return a call seeking confirmation of the
Miramax pact and Annakarin Strom of Trust Film Sales indicated that any deal
news would come from Miramax. The film, one of the buzz movies at the
concurrent European Film Market, is playing in competition at the Berlin
On the other end of the distribution spectrum, acclaimed photographer and
filmmaker Bruce Weber's autobiographical "Chop Suey" -- screening in the
Panorama here -- is stirring interest among a number of smaller theatrical
distributors. All eyes are on Zeitgeist as a potential suitor. "Chop Suey,"
shot by Lance Accord, Douglas Cooper and Jim Fealy, looks at a diversity of photographs to create a portrait of the artist himself.
* * *
"Don't you know me, I'm the new Berlin wall baby, try and tear me down." --
Like the city it inhabits, the Berlinale -- aka the Internationale
Filmfestspiele Berlin -- is in the midst of change. At the ripe old age of
51, the event is in its second year housed at Berlin's upstart would-be city
center, Potsdamer Platz, and when the event ends it will mark the departure
of longtime Festival Director, Moritz de Hadeln.
De Hadeln has been at the helm of this Festival for 2 decades and is leaving
less than amicably. "It has been decided that after 22 years, this should
be my last festival as director of the event," de Hadeln wrote in his
welcome message to Festival attendees. Today in indieWIRE, feature writer
Brandon Judell offers a bit more of de Hadeln's thoughts. In the meantime,
many here are wondering how the Festival might change once the new head,
Dieter Kosslick, is installed in May.
Kosslick is coming to the Festival from Filmstiftung NRW where he serves as
CEO. Founded in 1991, the company is described as a "promotional film
organization" aimed at "creating jobs through great filmmaking." Ultimately,
a support for the more than 200,000 people who work in the media industry in
North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), Filmstiftung also has a hand in the Film
Commission and The Internationale FilmSchule Koln.
The Berlinale Palast, headquarters of the 51st Berlin International Film Festival
Photo: Eugene Hernandez/indieWIRE
Just as some Berliners complain about the way that the city has changed
since Potsdamer Platz -- aka "Lego Town" -- grew from the barren land once
inhabited by the Berlin Wall, some longtime Festival attendees have grumbled
about the way the event has changed since moving from its digs in the West.
As a Berlin virgin, it would be unfair to speculate, but exiting Festival
Director Moritz de Hadeln offered his own assessment in his welcome remarks,
"The move was on the whole welcomed last year by the majority attending." As
Berlin makes a play to become what one taxicab driver last night called "a
world city," it seems only fitting that the new era for the Berlinale would
also be remembered as a time when the Festival rooted itself in the very
soil that once divided this city. [Eugene Hernandez]
>> Lions Gate Nabs "Liam"
(indieWIRE/02.12.01) -- Stephen Frears' "Liam," which debuted at the Venice Film Festival and screened in Toronto, has been acquired by Lions Gate. The company confirmed the pact in an announcement Friday. Lions Gate bought the
rights from The Sales Company and will release the movie this summer. It was
written by Jimmy McGovern ("Priest," "Cracker").
"Liam is one of Stephen Frears' most poignant and memorable films. His
masterful touch with actors and storytelling has resulted in another
cinematic triumph which we are thrilled to be bringing to the American
public," commented Lions Gate's Co-President Tom Ortenberg in a prepared
Reviewing the movie for indieWIRE during the Toronto International Film
Festival, critic Eddie Cockrell called the movie, "a small film from a
director with a big heart." Continuing he wrote, "'Liam' is a slight film in
a formidable career, a reaffirmation of Frears' determined approach to
balancing Hollywood filmmaking with more personal stories of his homeland.
And that's a tradition that should be kept alive." [Eugene Hernandez]