DAILY NEWS: Toronto Opens; Philly Fest Parterns; Gay French Film Finds a Home
by Eugene Hernandez/indieWIRE
>> TORONTO 2000 BUZZ: The Two Toronto Festivals Kick-Off
(indieWIRE/ 9.8.00) -- I constantly refer to the Toronto International Film
Festival, this year celebrating its 25th Anniversary, as at least two
festivals -- the public event that includes glitzy premieres and crowded
local screenings, and the smaller industry event offering showings that
cater to the film business and attending press. This year, as the Festival
kicked off last night, the media weighed in on the two events. While the
Hollywood trades bemoaned the fate of smaller films and changes in the
marketplace, mainstream media including The New York Times, USA Today and numerous local papers focused on the Festival as a launching pad for films
that often go on to earn Academy Award nominations -- festival films have
received 291 Oscar nods since the event began.
In "The Joy of Finding Sleepers -- On the Hunt for This Year's 'Boy's Don't
Cry," published in yesterday's National Post, film critic Roger Ebert
previews the event, noting that 329 films will screen, with 178 having their
world or North American premieres. Accredited journalists are expected to
top 900, according to Ebert. He singles out Paul Cox's "Innocence" as a
potential audience favorite and also highlights weekend screenings of Rod
Lurie's "The Contender," Cameron Crowe's "Almost Famous" (reviewed today in indieWIRE), David Mamet's "State and Main," Ang Lee's "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," and E. Elias Merhige's "Shadow of the Vampire."
"Toronto is unique in that it is not only important, but audience friendly,"
notes Ebert. "Not every festival (starting with Cannes) can make that
4,000 locals, industry, media and others gathered last night at the York
Quay Waterfront for the Festival's official kick-off party. The fiesta,
following the opening night screening of Denys Arcand's "Stardom," offered a selection of food options, a fashion show, and a cover band. Jeff "The
Dude" Dowd, here with Hilary Birmingham's "The Truth About Tully" which has found a home at the restored Skouras Pictures, led the way on the dance floor, while many instead mingled in the parties' secured VIP area. As the
party wound down, The Dude took a final lap, teasing that he was on his way
over to Dan Akroyd's after-party.
Meanwhile, others traveled over to famed late-night Festival haunt, Bistro
990. Notable among the swarm were the ever-present producer Gill Holland
hanging with actor Ulrich Thomsen, star of "The Celebration" and here in
Toronto as an actor in Kathryn Bigelow's gala screening of "The Weight of
the Water." Not surprisingly, the conversation eventually turned to the
Danish Dogme 95 filmmaking movement. "It was all a joke," quipped Thomsen,
adding that founders Lars von Trier and Thomas Vinterberg pounded out the rules over many drinks one night. While acknowledging the impact that the
movement has had, Thomsen vehemently persuaded that the roots of Dogme began
as joke and have now, in essence, become a joke as filmmakers try to connect
their movies to the popularity of the movement. "Its all about performance
and story, that's it," continued Thomsen. As we bid him a late-night
farewell, he implored once more, "Remember, it was a joke!" and he took
another sip of his drink. And so it begins... [Eugene Hernandez]
>> International House Adds Partner to Produce Annual Philadelphia Festival; Murray Joins Event as Artistic Director
(indieWIRE/ 9.8.00) -- Philadelphia's International House, presenter of the
annual Philadelphia Festival of Work Cinema (PFWC), announced a strategic
partnership with TLA Video Entertainment Group to produce the annual event.
TLA, a company with independent video stores in Philadelphia and New York
City, currently runs the Philadelphia International Gay and Lesbian Film
Festival (PIGLFF). As part of the arrangement, Ray Murray will join the PFWC as Artistic Director. TLA will handle Festival management in 2001 and
co-produce the Festival with International House beginning in 2002.
"This collaborative venture presents an extraordinary opportunity to expand
the Festival's scope," commented International House President Ellen Davis
at a press conference yesterday morning. "Together, International House and
TLA are committed to continuing a tradition of high-quality programming,
dynamic special events and community involvement. We look forward to presenting our most ambitious Festival ever in 2001-- PFWC's tenth anniversary year."
International House is undergoing a number of strategic changes presently.
The organization is changing its relationship with the Philadelphia
Independent Film Video Association (PIFVA) and reconfiguring the year-round
Neighborhood Film/Video Project (NFVP) series into a collection of curated
In her statement, Ellen Davis continued, "Our new festival partnership with
TLA, the reconfiguration of NFVP, and the transitioning of PIFVA
out-of-house will allow International House to focus on strengthening our
year-round programs, as well as explore new initiatives that continue to
address the ever-changing needs of the audiences we serve."
>> BRIEFLY: Picture This! To Release Sebastien Lifshitz' "Presque Rien"
(indieWIRE/ 9.8.00) -- "Presque Rien" (Come Undone), a new gay-themed love
story by French director Sebastien Lifshitz, will be released in major US
markets this winter by Picture This!, the company announced yesterday.
Lifshitz, who debuted the film at the Montreal Festival and will take it to
the Chicago Festival for its world premiere, presented his first film,
"b" (The Cold Lands) at the 1999 Venice International Film
"Sebastien Lifshitz is a master at evoking subtle nuances from his actors.
What goes on between the lines is the most brilliant part of 'Come Undone',"
commented Picture This! Entertainment President Doug Witkins in a prepared
statement. "We are thrilled to have the chance to bring the movie to North
American audiences, whom we imagine will embrace the movie as much for its
beauty as its subject matter, which some may find controversial." This is
the company's third theatrical release. [Eugene Hernandez]