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August 14, 2002 2:00 AM
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DAILY NEWS: Toronto Sets Discovery Slate; Palm Springs Closes Short Fest; First Look Gets Fellini D

DAILY NEWS: Toronto Sets Discovery Slate; Palm Springs Closes Short Fest; First Look Gets Fellini Doc and Focus Re-Aligns Acquisitions Team



by Eugene Hernandez, Brian Brooks and Wendy Mitchell/indieWIRE


>> De Palma to Close Toronto Festival; Discovery Lineup Set


(indieWIRE: 08.14.02) -- Organizers of the 27th Toronto International Film
Festival
have announced that Brian De Palma's new film, "Femme Fatale," will close the annual event on September 14. The movie stars Antonio Banderas and Rebecca Romijn-Stamos.


Among the other special events set for the Festival are a gala premiere of
Julie Taymor's "Frida," starring Salma Hayek, and a special work-in-progress screening of Curtis Hanson's new film, "8 Mile." The film features Eminem, Kim Basinger, Mekhi Phifer, and Brittany Murphy. Also set for Toronto is a screening of "Elizabeth" director Shekhar Kapur's "The Four Feathers."


In other festival news, planners also announced the lineup for the event's
Discovery section. On tap to screen during this important showcase for
emerging filmmakers are: Niki Caro's "Whale Rider," Jeffrey Porter's "Try Seventeen," Meng Jinghui's "Chicken Poets," Mehdi Norowzian's "Leo," Peter Mullan's "The Magdalene Sisters," Diego Lerman's "Suddenly," David Mackenzie's "The Last Great Wilderness," Manijeh Hekmat's "Women's Prison,"
Ali Reza Amini's "Letters in the Wind," Nasser Refaie's "The Exam," Christophe Ruggia's "Les Diables," Artur Urbanski's "Bellissima," Penny Panayotopoulou's "Hard Goodbyes: My Father," Hiroshi Ando's "Blue," Hidenori Sugimori's "Woman of Water," and Gyorgy Palfi's "Hukkle."


Finally, organizers also announced the lineup for the event's Wavelength's
section. Twenty-five films are set for the section, which focuses on
avant-garde and experimental work. [Eugene Hernandez]


[For more information on the Festival, please visit:
http://www.bell.ca/filmfest.]


>> North America's Largest Shorts Event Closes with Big Prizes

(indieWIRE: 08.14.02) -- North America's largest short film event, the Palm
Springs International Festival of Short Films
, closed its eighth annual
event Monday after presenting more than $40,000 in prizes including 21
festival awards in 13 categories. Jessica Sharzer's "The Wormhole" received
the Best of Festival award including a $2,000 cash prize. In his recent
article on the best shorts from film schools for indieWIRE, writer Tim
LaTorre wrote, "focusing on a young boy's desire to rescue his kidnapped
brother and heal his family, Sharzer has created a streamlined story with
great pacing."


Alan Brown won the $15,000 future filmmaker award for "O Beautiful," the
story of two boys -- one straight and one gay -- and their accompanying
crosses to bear. The inaugural Kodak award for best student cinematography
went to James Gross for "Jean Luc's "Calling" (Switzerland). As part of the prize, Gross won a trip to the 2003 Cannes Film Festival to present a clip
of the film as well as $1,000 in Kodak film stock. "Crossing" by Jeremy
Passmore
was presented with the Casablanca Award of Merit during the
ceremony, which took place on Mt. San Jacinto on top of the Palm Springs
Aerial Tramway. The prize includes two days of studio time for Passmore's
next project.


In the section awards, Jens Jonsson (Sweden) took first place in the live
action 15 minutes and under category while Amanda Rudman's "Shadow Man" took second. In the live action over 15 minutes section, Jules Williamson won
first with "Tattoo," (U.K.), while "Mabul" (Israel) by Guy Nattiv took
second. In animation, "The Freak" by Aristomenis Tsirbas received first
place and John Weldon's "The Hungry Squid" (Canada) won second place. Gay Block's "Bertha Alyce" took first place for in the documentary category and Barbara Bird's "Album" won second.


First-prize winners of shorts in both the section awards and student
categories of the festival receive $2,000 in cash along with $1000 in Kodak
film stock, and they are eligible to submit their films to the Academy of
Motion Picture Arts & Sciences
for Oscar consideration. Second place winners
receive both $500 in cash as well as $500 in film stock.


Student winners include Marie Regan's "Traveler" (live action 15 minutes and under); Grace Lee's "Barrier Device" (live action over 15 minutes); and
Suzie Templeton "Dog" (animation). After screening 290 films from 25
countries during its seven days, the event closed Monday with Dutch film
"Zus & Zo." [Brian Brooks]


>> First Look To Release Fellini Doc

(indieWIRE: 08.14.02) -- First Look Pictures has acquired the North American
rights to "Fellini: I'm a Born Liar," a documentary about legendary director
Federico Fellini. First Look will release the film theatrically in winter
2002, followed by a video/DVD release in spring 2003. First Look Pictures
President MJ Peckos negotiated the deal with Florence Stern of MK2.


Director Damian Pettigrew interviewed Fellini several times before his
death, discussing such topics as artistic themes and reflections on the
master's life and career. In addition to Fellini himself, the doc features
Roberto Benigni, Donald Sutherland, Italo Calvino, and Terence Stamp, among others. The interviews are punctuated with film excerpts, including unseen archival footage, unreleased film shoots, and newly restored films.


"This was the most unique, insightful, and satisfying film I screened in
Cannes this year," said First Look's Peckos in a prepared statement. "To
hear Fellini discuss his motivations, desires, and passions in such an open
forum is priceless." [Wendy Mitchell]

>> Focus Locks Acquisitions Team; Kaufman Atop New Group


(indieWIRE: 08.13.02) -- Focus Features, the production, financing, and
worldwide distribution company formed by the combination of USA Films and
Good Machine earlier this year, confirmed the restructuring of its
acquisitions department. indieWIRE reported the news in a story yesterday
morning that was published on indieWIRE.com.


Also in indieWIRE, it was a rather busy weekend for specialty releases,
with Fox Searchlight opening "The Good Girl," United Artists debuting "24 Hour Party People," IFC Films unveiling "The Chateau," and Focus expanding "The Kid Stays in the Picture." New York's Urbanworld Film Festival came to a close over the weekend with director Rick Derby's "Rocks With Wings" taking the HBO Documentary Feature Prize; And, Filmmaker Doris Wishman died Saturday from complications resulting from lymphoma.


READ THE FULL STORIES @ indieWIRE.com

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