DAILY NEWS: "Trembling Hedwig"; Cowboy and NYUFF Lineup
by Eugene Hernandez and Anthony Kaufman/indieWIRE
>>DISPATCH FROM BERLIN: Lounging Around As Berlinale Reaches Climax -- "Trembling Before Hedwig"
(indieWIRE/02.16.01) -- As blue skies erupted over Berlin, some attendees
began to head home, while others settled in for a mellower weekend of
moviegoing and perhaps even some sightseeing.
Sandi Dubowski (left) with
A welcome respite from the crowded parties of rubbing elbows and networking
was last night's "Trembling Before Hedwig" soiree at 808 on Oranienburger
Str. New York filmmakers John Cameron Mitchell, in the Panorama with "Hedwig and the Angry Inch," and Sandi Dubowski, in the Forum with "Trembling Before G-d," welcomed a group of friends to the loungy backroom of the Mitte area bar. With enough room for attendees to kick back on comfy chairs, chat, and
listen to the music of Ella Fitzgerald and Nick Drake, the party was clearly
what attendees needed after a busy week. Many adopted the Mojito made with 3
year-old Havana Club rum as the evening's signature cocktail.
Sandi Dubowski has had a successful Festival. His documentary, an
exploration of homosexuality in the Hasidic and Orthodox community, elicits
emotional reactions from attendees, and at weeks end Dubowski seems content,
yet drained by the experience. Notably moving was the Jewish-Catholic gay
dialogue held earlier this week here in Berlin, led by Rabbi Steve
Greenberg, the first openly gay Orthodox Rabbi and Rev. Ludger H. Viefhues,
S.J., a German gay Jesuit priest. The filmmaker and friends will celebrate a
special Shabbat dinner here this evening.
"Hedwig" producer Amy
Later tonight, many eyes will be on the Zoo Palast in the western part of
Berlin, where "Hedwig and the Angry Inch" will have its midnight screening.
The festival is a sort of homecoming for Mitchell, whose lead character
"Hansel" (aka "Hedwig") was born in West Berlin and then moves to the East
with his mother before an infamous operation that leaves him with an "angry
inch" and a marriage that takes him to America. The director, who stars as
Hansel/Hedwig is anxious to get the German take on his acclaimed new movie.
Fine Line is planning to release the film in July.
The Berlinale concludes this weekend. The sold-out Teddy Awards ceremony
will be held tomorrow night -- "Hedwig and the Angry Inch" and "Trembling
Before G-d" are among the films competing for prizes -- while the event will
end on Sunday with awards and a screening of Stanley Kubrick's "2001: A
Space Odyssey" at the Berlinale Palast. [Eugene Hernandez]
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>> DISPATCH FROM BERLIN: Cowboy's Confident Cowan and Vanco Ponder Plans as American Indies Mature
(indieWIRE/02.16.01) -- Last year at the Berlin Film Festival, Cowboy
Booking's Noah Cowan and John Vanco were embarking on what would be a big year for their small company. The New York based distributor acquired Jem Cohen and Peter Sillen's documentary "Benjamin Smoke" here, pursued a deal for David Gordon Green's acclaimed American indie, "Benjamin Smoke," they would soon launch a new acquisitions initiative with Antidote films (dubbed
Code Red), and they saw the growth of a calendar house at New York's
Screening Room. Not to mention the success they would have with Aviva
Kempner's acclaimed Hank Greenberg doc.
This year, they are preparing for more of the same, but with a bit more
confidence and optimism about the direction of recent cinema. IndieWIRE
caught up with Cowan and Vanco at the European Film Market earlier this
Briefly looking back at last month's Sundance, Cowboy co-president Noah
Cowan called the Festival the best in years. The reaction is consisent with
what other buyers and festival organizers are saying, feeling that there is
a new maturity among some recent American independent films. As Cowan, also
Associate Director of the Toronto International Film Festival, says that
many new films are "teeming with confidence."
As the company closes deals on new acquisitions over the next few weeks, it
must continue to carve out theatrical support for its releases. "We need to
come up with new strategies to find new audiences," Cowboy co-president John
Vanco explained. "We better make [our films] relevant," Cowan offered,
"Otherwise what is the point."
"How can we get younger people to see foreign language films outside of
Manhattan," Cowan asks. This summer, Cowboy will present a retrospective of
Japanese films, taking the series to venues such as the American
Cinematheque in Los Angeles and the Walker Arts Center in Minneapolis, all
in support of the release of a Japanese film.
"Ultimately, there is going to be a limited audience for the movies we
love," Cowan offered, "But we want to reach 100% of it."
Over the next few weeks, watch for Cowboy to announce a few acquisitions,
while its staff of seven gears up for a summer release of the recently
announced documentary, "On Hostile Ground."
The European Film Market, covered in more depth by Brandon Judell today in
indieWIRE, is a terrific opportunity for their company, Cowan and Vanco
offer. "It is glorious to have a well-organized and easily accessible market screenings,"
commented John Vanco, "pleasantly surprised" by his first trip here. Noah
Cowan added that this event allows Cowboy to "prepare for the onslaught of
Cannes" and also connect with members of the European film biz, many of whom
simply do not go to Sundance. "This is an invaluable place to be in the film
world -- the festival is more accessible and the biz is focused on films
that are in our world." [Eugene Hernandez]
>> "Happy" Opening for 8th NYUFF
(indieWIRE/02.16.01) -- "A festival that was more international, more
challenging, and even less mainstream in scope were our main goals in
curating this year," says New York Underground Film Festival director Ed
Halter in a prepared statement. Now in its 8th edition, the festival will
showcase thirteen features, seven feature-length documentaries, and more
than 100 shorts at New York's Anthology Film Archives from March 7 - 13,
along with music and performance events at CBGB's, CB's Gallery, Tonic and
This year's NYUFF opens with "Hey, Happy!" from Winnipeg
gay-activist-filmmaker Noam Gonick. The film had its world premiere at
Sundance 2001's Midnight sidebar. The event closes with artist Cecilia
Dougherty's double-screen projection "Gone," a re-staging of an episode from
the groundbreaking 1970s documentary series "An American Family."
A record number 1,500 submissions were whittled down to make up this year's
lineup, which includes five world premiere features: exploitation queen
Doris Wishman's "Satan Was a Lady," Jessica Villines' "Plaster Caster: A
Cockumentary Film," "Migrating Forms" director James Fotopoulos' "Back
Against the Wall," Jackie Garry's feminist werewolf movie "The Curse," and a
special New York re-mixed version of Rotterdam selection "Sonic Genetics."
Other programming curiosities, ephemera and highlights include the US
premiere of "Maldoror," an omnibus adaptation of surrealist novel "Les
Chants du Maldoror," created by underground film societies in Britain and
Germany, a program of skate, surf, and snowboarding related films, a special
late night presentation of Alex Nohe's "Burning Man: Where's the Fire?", an
archival screening of the 1978 documentary "Punking Out" about CBGBs, and
"Movies for the Blind," a cinematic performance without images, created by
New York cabbie Jeff Perkins and made from tapes of conversations with his
taxi fares. [Anthony Kaufman]
[More information can be found at: http://www.nyuff.com,
or by calling 212/252-3845.]