DAILY NEWS UPDATE: Venice Festival Lineup; Canadian Films in Toronto; Soderbergh's Next Movie; "Heavy Metal" in NYC; Austin Film Fest Signs Breen
by Eugene Hernandez and Brian Brooks/indieWIRE, with a report
from Ray Pride and Sarah Jacobson
>> Venice Line-up Announced: From "Dust" to Duras
(indieWIRE/07.27.01) -- At a press conference in Rome today (Friday), Venice
Biennale President Paolo Baratta and Artistic Director Alberto Barbera
unveiled the lineup for the 58th edition of the Venice International Film
Festival (Aug 29 -- Sept 8), marking a return of Latin American cinema,
digital entries, and an undercurrent of unconventional women. "Before the
Rain" director Milcho Manchevski's "Dust" will open the festival's
International Competition and Giuseppe (brother of Bernardo) Bertolucci's "Love Probably" will open the Cinema of the Present section.
The new Cinema of the Present section will feature groundbreaking work
eligible for the new Golden Lion prize (plus $100,000 from Telecom) awarded
by its own jury. "This is intended to offer the same visibility and
promotion opportunity to all films," Barbera said. "We wanted to invert the
tendency to focus exclusively on the main competition overlooking or
Out of the 2,400 submissions (double last year's number), 140 films made it
into the program, including 20 competition features, 19 out-of-competition
films, 20 Cinema of the Present works, 52 featurettes, as well as several
Main Competition highlights include the world premieres of Brazilian
director Walter Salles' "Behind the Sun," Mexican director Alfonso Cuáron's "Y Tu Mamá Tambien" and new works from such veteran contenders as Andre Techine, Lucian Pintilie, Ken Loach, Goran Paskaljevic, and Amos Gitai. In the Cinema of the Present section, Werner Herzog's "Invincible," Zhang
Yang's "Quitting," Jill Sprecher's "13 Conversations About One Thing," and Sandra Goldbacher's "Me Without You" are among notable entries. Female protagonists are the focus of several films across the programs, including Goldbacher's entry, Fruit Chan's "Hollywood Hong Kong," and Iranian competition film, "Void Votes."
IFC's InDigEnt division will be present with two Sundance digital features: Richard Linklater's "Tape" and Bruce Wagner's "Women in Film." (Richard Linklater's other Sundance premiere "Waking Life," will screen in the main competition.) "A significant percentage of the films are in digital format," says Barbera. "We are definitely in transition. Filmmakers use it for different reasons and with different effects."
Italian Cinema is well represented with six films in different sections,
though notable omissions will be Marco Bellocchio's and Silvio Soldini's
much anticipated new films, still in post-production.
Venice regular Woody Allen is back this year with his out-of-competition
film "The Curse of the Jade Scorpion." The Lido will bring out a hefty
contingent of stars including already confirmed celebs such as Nicole Kidman
("The Others"), Charlize Theron ("Jade Scorpion"), Denzel Washington ("Training Day"), and Jude Law ("AI").
A special Lifetime Achievement Golden Lion, already announced, will go to
elder French new waver Eric Rohmer, screening his out-of-competition entry
"L'Anglaise et le Duc." Guy Debord and seminal Polish director Andrjez Munk will each receive retrospectives of their work. The festival has not
announced a closing night gala yet, though Barbera guarantees a finale along
with the world premiere of closer Josee Dayan's "Cet L'Amour Lá," an homage to French diva Jeanne Moreau who stars in the film as Marguerite Duras. [A.G. Basoli in Rome]
The complete list of films is available here at indieWIRE.com.
>> Toronto Picks Homegrown Pics
(indieWIRE/07.27.01) -- "Un Crabe Dans La Tete," the latest film from
Quebecois cinematographer Andre Turpin ("Maelstrom," "August 32nd on Earth") will kick off this year's Perspective Canada sidebar at the Toronto International Film Festival. A total of 147 features were submitted to
this year's festival, with a total of 18 full-length films making the cut,
10 of which are by first-time directors.
Notable local directors Carl Bessai ("Johnny"), Sturla Gunnarsson ("Such a Long Journey"), Peter Lynch ("Project Grizzly"), Lynne Stopkewich ("Kissed," "Suspicious River") and Anne Wheeler ("Marine Life") will return to the fest, unveiling their latest works, respectively, "Lola," "Rare Birds," "Cyberman," "Lilith on Top," and "Suddenly Naked." U.S. distributors will be paying close attention to the Canadian sidebar: new films at low costs with ancillary value because of their English language. Past acquisitions out of the section include "waydowntown" by Lot 47, "The Red Violin" and "Last Night" by Lions Gate, and "The Five Senses" by Fine Line.
Perspective films will compete for the $25,000 Toronto-City Award for Best
Canadian Feature Film, and the Citytv Award for Best Canadian First Feature
Film, worth $15,000. 27 short films will compete for The National Film
Board-John Spotton Award for Best Canadian Short Film, a prize worth $10,000
in cash and services.
Also announced to the Toronto program was the North American premiere of
Canadian Zacharias Kunuk's "Atanarjuat (The Fast Runner)," a small
revelation at the 2001 Cannes Film Festival and that festival's first Inuit
entry, in the Special Presentations section. [Anthony Kaufman]
>> UPDATE: Soderbergh Back at Miramax for Next Picture
(indieWIRE/07.26.01) -- Director Steven Soderbergh has struck a deal with
Miramax for the distribution of his next project, "How to Survive a Hotel
Room Fire." While the filmmaker describes the movie, according to a Miramax
statement, as a "sex comedy" and in a prepared statement refers to the
picture as "the unofficial sequel to 'sex lies & videotape,'" the director told indieWIRE's Anthony Kaufman that the picture "will combine the energy of 'Schizopolis' with the narrative coherence of 'sex, lies.'"
"I'm extremely happy to be working with Miramax on "How to Survive a Hotel
Room Fire" because Harvey Weinstein and I have been apart too long."
Soderbergh said in a prepared statement. The movie will be produced by Scott
Kramer ("The Limey") and written by Coleman Hough.
Additionally, the director told indieWIRE that he will shoot the movie in November. His next project, "Solaris," will begin shooting in May of next year and is produced by James Cameron -- it is based on a script that Soderbergh says he has now finished. [Eugene Hernandez]
RELATED ARTICLE @ indieWIRE.com:
+ (indieWIRE/01.3.01) -- INTERVIEW: Man of the Year, Steven Soderbergh
Traffics in Success
>> Heavy Metal Parking Lot 15th Anniversary Tour
(indieWIRE/07.27.01) -- This year marks the 15th anniversary of what is
perhaps the most truly independent video of all time, "Heavy Metal Parking
Lot." A frighteningly real slice of heavy-metal life from the parking lot
of a Judas Priest concert in suburban Maryland in 1986, this 12-minute
video slab has crashed its way into pop culture. Directed by Jeff Krulik
and John Heyn, who were working at their local cable access station at
the time, the two played the video "to death" in the Washington, DC area.
It became so popular with music fans that soon homemade dubs of dubs
were made and sent to friends all over the country. Eventually the
video ended up in Nirvana's tour van, as well as countless other
lesser-known alternative acts, and helped make "Heavy Metal Parking Lot"
one of the mostly widely seen bootlegs of all time.
Always ready to milk it for all it's worth, Krulik and Heyn have created a
90-minute show to celebrate the wide influence "HMPL" has wielded in the
last 15 years. The show includes the original video, several TV news
segments about "HMPL's" popularity, Krulik and Heyn's "sequels" -- "Neil
Diamond Parking Lot" (same lot 10 years later) and "Harry Potter Sidewalk"
(precocious kids in line to get their books signed) -- lost extra footage
from "HMPL" and several copycat videos including "Girl Power Parking Lot"
(outside the Spice Girls movie premiere at Mann's Chinese Theater). The
formula sounds brainless, yet Krulik and Heyn obviously have a respect for
their subjects and make them comfortable enough to let their personalities
shine, something that doesn't come through in many of the knock offs.
Also included in the show is the new heavy-in-MTV-rotation music video by
American Hi-Fi for the song "Flavor of the Weak" which pays homage to "HMPL" by recreating some of the outfits, but then inserts models in Slayer
T-shirts that bear no resemblance to the original heavy metal girls. The
anniversary show has dates booked around the country and will unfurl in Los
Angeles this Sunday, July 29th at the Knitting Factory for two shows (8 PM
and 10 PM). Krulik and Heyn will be in attendance. [Sarah Jacobson]
[For more information, call the Knitting Factory at 323-463-0204
or check out www.heavymetalparkinglot.net.]
>> Breen Named New Film Program Director for Austin Film Festival
(indieWIRE/07.26.01) -- Matthew Breen has been named the new Film Program
Director for the Austin Film Festival the organization announced yesterday.
Breen, who lives in Los Angeles, worked formerly as a publicist for
AtomFilms and mPRm Public Relations as well as press office manager for
the 1998 and 1999 Sundance Film Festivals. He also served as a producer
services representative at the Utah Film Commission.
Breen's responsibilities will include programming films already with
distribution for the 8th Annual Austin Film Festival and Heart of Film
Screenwriters Conference. Film Competition Director Courtney Davis will
continue programming films without distribution for the annual event
that will take place this year October 11-18. Additionally, Breen will
organize activities to promote the Festival in Southern California where
he will continue to be based. In a conversation with indieWIRE yesterday,
Breen said he expected to organize events in the Los Angeles area following
this year's Festival.
Matthew Breen also said he will continue his work in freelance entertainment
journalism in which he contributes regular film reviews to myOC.com, the
entertainment web site for the Orange County Register. He has also written
articles for In Los Angeles magazine, Out magazine in addition to indieWIRE, IFC Rant, FilmFestivals.com and International Film Festival magazine. [Brian Brooks]
[The following article was published in indieWIRE: MONTHLY, which is
distributed at select film festivals and locations. For more information,
please email: email@example.com.]
>> indieWIRE INSIDER: If You Can't Beat 'em, Consolidate; Power falls in the hands of the few
by Ray Pride
(indieWIRE/07.26.01) -- Sentimentality is reserved for the kinds of subtitled
movies Miramax makes neat profits off of, but not the increasingly rocky
waters of distribution and exhibition. An entire world of cinema persists at
film festivals, and later on DVD, video and eBay. But in U.S movie theaters?
The picture looks bleaker than ever with consolidation leaving North American
exhibition in the hands of a few investors taking on bankrupt theater circuits
at dimes-on-the-dollar prices, and the shuttering of mini-distrib Shooting
Gallery, which had modest success with its seasonal film series.
Such developments make it seem MGM's Kirk Kerkorian was the patron saint of all that is indie. For nearly three decades, Kerkorian has repeatedly
bought, sold, reinvented, sold and bought the now-Hannibal-fatted MGM even
when it seemed emptied of any and all potential value. (The veteran
conglomateur pulled dot-com-style schemes when most of the dot-com scamps
were only a gleam in their bankers' eyes.)
A rosier picture of indie film this summer should have come from a critical
number of movies originating on digital video, with Fine Line's "All About
Jennifer and Alan" comedy of manners, "The Anniversary Party," and Artisan
Entertainment sending out Wayne Wang's sex-and-dot-com fable, "The Center of the World" and Pennebaker-Hegedus' hilarious, troubling hubris-and-dot-com doc, "Startup.com."
Appearances might suggest that the video-library-enriched Artisan might
prefer the easy money of video sales over the more difficult task of
releasing quality pictures wide. (Let's see what happens with Jon Favreau's
"Made," which jumped to 19 screens last weekend.) Coupled with an ambitious
intrigue to merge with Lions Gate, the other yearning distributor left in
the ring, consolidation seems the summer's major trend that should concern
everyone in the independent field.
Despite Shooting Gallery's involvement in the production of Kenneth
Lonergan's "You Can Count on Me," and a spring series that reportedly
grossed more than ever in the initial two-week window of each of the film's
releases, money wasn't on their side. According to Screen International,
itemus, Shooting Gallery's newly adopted uncaring parent, never had the
intention to be in the film business. The plan was to divvy up Shooting
Gallery's businesses and sell them. Miramax has accelerated its pace of
acquisitions once more, picking up crowd-pleasers like Jean-Pierre Jeunet's
"Amelie" and Nanni Moretti's Palme d'Or winner "The Son's Room," as well as more difficult material like the Thai "Tears of the Black Tiger" which is apparently destined for a Shooting Gallery-style series. Now lacking
Shooting Gallery's competition, Miramax has the field to itself, and
combined with its long-standing booking clout, it should not have to worry
about bouncing between chains. (Shooting Gallery began at main sponsor
Loews, and after some difficulties, relocated to a varied number of cinemas,
from Landmark to Regent.) Miramax is also insulated by its consistent roster
of releases. An isolated hit in specialized film can rake in as little as
the $700,000 taken in by Shooting Gallery for "A Time for Drunken Horses."
Miramax can also take advantage of its ever-open checkbook, adopting
Moretti's sentimental fable even after picking up Todd Field's comparable,
yet more tragic, more emotionally enthralling family tragedy "In the
Bedroom" at Sundance 2001. The Village Voice's Amy Taubin, at the vanguard of an emerging critical backlash, compared Moretti's "pathetic
self-aggrandizing...middlebrow soap opera," to Field's debut, writing
post-Cannes 2001, "I only hope Miramax releases it [In the Bedroom] before
the American press falls for the Moretti...as hard as the French press
As for exhibition, Canadian conglomerate Onex and Los Angeles buyout outfit
Oaktree Capital continue their acquisition spree. Onex, which has interests
ranging from airline catering and aerospace to automotive businesses, also
attempted a buyout of Air Canada in the past year. Loews Cineplex was the
combine's first deal, followed in mid-June by an agreement to buy General
Cinema. Oaktree was already involved in deals to acquire Edwards Cinemas,
littered throughout Southern California, and Silver Cinemas, the parent
company of the nation's über-art exhibitor Landmark Theatres. Onex and
Oaktree would easily control over ten percent of the nation's screens if all
these deals go through. A number of startup companies, including Madstone
Films, Enterprise Broadcasting, Arenaplex and In-Theater Entertainment have plans to announce a handful of digitally dedicated screens, attempting to create a niche within the larger, already troubled exhibition scene.
Unlikely success makes for the best fairytales, but heartbreak springs
eternal. [Ray Pride]
>> YESTERDAY in indieWIRE DAILY NEWS: New Indies This Week; Lipsky Letter
(indieWIRE/07.24.01) -- While "Planet of the Apes" will be released this
weekend unrivaled by studio competitors, the indie release slate is crowded
with a number of alternatives; Lot 47 Films Co-president Jeff Lipsky gives
his view on "censorship" and responds to Todd Solendz."
GET YESTERDAY'S Daily News @ indieWIRE.com: