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May 17, 2002 2:00 AM
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DAILY NEWS UPDATE: Breaking News from Cannes, also: Security, Gitail, and Michael Moore; Also, Miram

DAILY NEWS UPDATE: Breaking News from Cannes, also: Security, Gitail, and Michael Moore; Also, Miramax and Sony Classics Acquisitions, and a new "Dogtown"



with articles by Eugene Hernandez and Brian Brooks/indieWIRE with a report by Stephen Garrett in Cannes



>> CANNES 2002 ALERT: UA Acquires Michael Moore's "Bowling for Columbine"; Miramax and TF1 Announce Joint Venture


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Michael Moore pictured in Cannes competition doc, "Bowling for Columbine."

photo credit: Alliance Atlantis


(indieWIRE: 05.17.02) -- Indiewood companies are making headlines in
Cannes today, with separate news from United Arists and Miramax.


UA has acquired U.S. rights to Michael Moore's competition documentary,
"Bowling for Columbine." The deal was announced this evening in Cannes,
shortly after the movie's premiere at the Cannes Film Festival. The deal
was brokered by Cinetic Media and Charlotte Mickie of Alliance Atlantis. UA beat out other suitors after rousing screenings of the film in the
first days of the Festival.


Also today on the Riviera, Miramax's Harvey Weinstein held a press
conference to discuss plans for a joint venture with TF1. The new
European company will encompass theatrical distribution in
France, as well as co-production, and acquisitions. [Eugene Hernandez
in New York, with reporting by Stephen Garrett in Cannes]


[Full stories will be published later today at indieWIRE.com, and
in Monday's edition of indieWIRE: DAILY.]


>> CANNES 2002: Sun and Fun Don't Offer an Escape from Reality: Security is Tight as Cannes Competition Kicks Off with Amos Gitai and Michael Moore

(indieWIRE: 05.17.02) -- As the sun-bathed Mediterranean town of Cannes
fills up yet again with cineastes from around the world, a new obstacle is
greeting the masses: security guards waving metal detector wands and
checking every bag and purse. Safety is the rule at the 55th Cannes Film
Festival
, and each inspection is a subtle but persistent reminder that the
World's most media-saturated film festival is also a logical, though
hopefully unlikely, target for terrorism.


The main venue, the Palais des Festivals, is off limits without passing
through a checkpoint. So, too, is the nearby Majestic Hotel, the perennial
residence for the festival's official competition jury. And the makeshift
tentpole pavilion where Variety traditionally sets up shop -- just a
Stone's throw away from the Palais -- has, for security reasons, been pushed
a few blocks down the street, on the opposite side of the Croisette.


Much of Cannes remains the same, though: throngs of tourists swell on either
side of the red carpet, necks craning for a celebrity sighting; paparazzi
fill the air with camera flashes and pleas to the stars; and intrepid
distributors and journalists gorge themselves on movie after movie as they
stagger from one screening room to the next. The checkpoints are minor
annoyances rather than bottleneck bruisers, but they are chronic reminders
of the specter of violence that looms over this celebration of cinema.


Those in the mood for escapist entertainment have so far been thwarted by
two unnerving entries among the official selection competition films. Amos
Gitai
's latest, "Kedma," offers his dramatization of the days leading up to
the official formation of the Israeli state in 1948, with Jewish refugees
landing ashore and almost instantly fighting with the Palestinians. Hard and
bitter, the film showcases two eloquent and impassioned speeches from either
side that articulate the roots of the endless cycle of suffering so much in
today's news.


Even more heart-wrenching is Michael Moore's "Bowling for Columbine," a ferocious condemnation of the culture of fear bred so deeply into the
American spirit. Interviews with people involved in the Oklahoma City
bombing and the Columbine high school massacre are intercut with footage of
tragedy-obsessed newscast reports, chest-thumping NRA speeches, and a trip
to a local Kmart to watch a 16-year-old buy the entire store's stock of
ammunition. Marilyn Manson wonders why teachers lecture disaffected teens
instead of listening to them while Charlton Heston vows that his own guns
will have to be pried from his cold, dead hands. And a bravura montage
depicting 50 years of covert American operations overseas, from
installing the Shah of Iran and Chile's Admiral Pinochet to training Osama
bin Laden as an anti-Soviet ally, puts September 11 into much sharper
perspective. But what lingers longest is Moore's basic thesis -- that
America, more than any other society, breeds a powerful paranoia among its
population, fed mainly by the mainstream media and sensationalistic TV news
reports, which makes trigger-happy citizens and the violence they perpetuate
an inevitability. If some journalists were curious why Moore's film is the
first documentary in competition at Cannes in 46 years, they need only pass
the metal detector at the Palais entrance to see its eerie prescience.


But not everything in Cannes has been so doom-and-gloom. Woody Allen's
festival opener, "Hollywood Ending," was embraced by the French with aplomb
amid a ceremony where the terminally anxious New Yorker received a career
Palme des Palmes. "I'm suppressing panic," said Allen at a press conference
a few hours before the gala screening, "But I've already rented a tuxedo, so
it's too late to back out."


And the hottest ticket so far on the Croisette is for the morning and
midnight screenings of George Lucas' "Star Wars Episode II -- Attack of the
Clones
," the first film ever to be projected digitally in the festival's
main 2,400-seat theater, the Grand Theater Lumiere. Another celluloid-free
screening will also grace the festival later this week when DreamWorks'
animated adventure "Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron" has its unveiling.
Video projection is becoming infectious in Cannes' film market as well --
for better or for worse. One festival programmer was shocked to discover
that a screening of Victor Nunez's latest shot-on-film feature "Coastlines"
(which debuted in Sundance) was shown on video.


While the technology of cinema projection in Cannes is transforming, the
exhibition is staying delightfully old-fashioned. This year, the festival
has created the Salle des Sables, a free outdoor movie theater set up on the
beach where the public can enjoy a film by Jacques Tati or Billy Wilder. And if they don't like the movies, then they need only look up to the skies for
the evening's best performance: after dusk, in honor of Cannes' 55th
anniversary, 55 klieg lights sweep through the evening air in a
synchronized, multicolored ballet that curves along the edge of the sea.


Cannes, though, is still unrivaled on the festival circuit not only for its
aura of glamour but also its giddy air of aspiration. Dotting the outside of
black-tie evening performances are, as usual, folk who deck themselves out
in formal attire in the slim chance that their shameless begging for a
ticket might result in a free seat at a gala premiere. Here, more than at
any other festival, dreams can come true. And no one appreciates that fact
more than this year's jury, headed by former Cannes celebrities David Lynch
and including Michelle Yeoh, Sharon Stone, Walter Salles, and Raoul Ruiz. When asked how the festival has changed their lives, Stone said simply, "It has gone from my fantasy to my reality, and for that I am grateful."
[Stephen Garrett in Cannes]


[Get the latest from France daily, visit our special Cannes section.]


>> CANNES 2002: Sony Classics Gets Cannes Market Entry "Owning Mahowny"


(indieWIRE: 05.17.02) -- Sony Pictures Classics has jumpstarted its presence
in Cannes, announcing the acquisition of all U.S. rights for the Alliance
Atlantis
film, "Owning Mahowny" (directed by Richard Kwietniowski). The film, which stars Philip Seymour Hoffman, Minnie Driver, Maury Chaikin, and John Hurt, is screening in the Cannes Market, where Alliance Atlantis is peddling other territories.


Based on a true story, "Owning Mahowny," follows a bank exec (Hoffman) with
a gambling addiction who swindles millions from the institution, according
to an SPC description.


The film, written by Maurice Chauvet, is based on the book "No Limit" by
Gary Ross. It is an Andras Hamori production, in association with Natural Nylon Entertainment. The exec. producers are Edward R. Pressman and Sean Furst. Kwietniowski's last film, "Love and Death on Long Island," was released by Lions Gate in 1998. [Eugene Hernandez in New York]


>> Miramax to Take Audiences to a "Cidade de Deus"


(indieWIRE/05.17.02) -- Miramax has acquired the rights to Brazilian
director Fernando Mereilles' "Cidade de Deus" (City of God). The deal was
announced yesterday by the New York-based company's chairman of worldwide
distribution, Rick Sands, along with Agnes Mentre, EVP of acquisitions and
co-production. After negotiations with 02 Filmes, Miramax now owns
distribution rights to the North American, Latin American, UK, Australian
and Italian territories. "Cidade," executive produced by Walter Salles
("Frida," "Central Station"), will screen out of competition as
part of the Official Selection at this year's Cannes Film Festival.


"Cidade de Deus" documents the lives of teenagers living in the
drug-infested underbelly of Rio de Janeiro slums over a 10-year period.
"The Official Selection screening in Cannes will serve as the launching
point for the global marketing campaign for this special film," said Sands
in a release. "We look forward to bringing a top quality Brazilian film to
North American audiences." [Brian Brooks]


>> Durst and Peralta Team Up for New "Dogtown" Flick


(indieWIRE: 05.17.02) -- Grab your checkerboard Vans; the skateboarding
craze is intensifying. Stacy Peralta, director of the acclaimed skate doc,
"Dogtown and Z-Boys," has written the script for the narrative feature,
"Lords of Dogtown," a new film that will be directed by Limp Bizkit singer
Fred Durst, according to Variety.


The film, to be produced by Art Linson, David Fincher, and John Linson (according to Variety), is being financed by Senator International, which is holding the worldwide distribution rights. According to the Hollywood
trade, the movie will begin shooting in Venice, CA this summer. While the
movie is TRL favorite Fred Durst's first foray into feature filmmaking, he
has directed more than 25 music video for his own band and other acts.
[Eugene Hernandez]


>> YESTERDAY IN indieWIRE DAILY NEWS: Cannes Welcomes Woody; Traction Media Unveiled; and Maui Lineup


(indieWIRE: 05.16.02) -- Woody Allen made his long-awaited stroll up the red
carpeted steps of the Palais on Wednesday night in France, kicking off the
55th Festival de Cannes; Entertainment boutique law firm Stone, Meyer & Genow
and former 20th Century Fox acquisitions VP Rosanne Korenberg have partnered
to create Traction Media; And, a tropical island in the Pacific awaits
attendees to this year's Maui Film Festival at Wailea taking place June 12
to 16."


READ THE FULL STORIES @ indieWIRE.com.

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