DISPATCH FROM CANNES: Wine World In Focus at Cannes; More Moore, Sony Classics Deal and Dreamworks
by Eugene Hernandez
"Wine for me is the only product on Earth that is as complex as a human being," explained filmmaker Jonathan Nossiter, talking Friday about his Cannes competition documentary "Mondovino." The film, added to the festival competition earlier this week, is a lengthy exploration into the world of the titans of the wine industry in France, Italy, and the United States. Nossiter, himself a trained sommelier, examines a variety of forces in the wine business, from small family vineyards to the impact of global wine producer Mondavi. In exposing the unseen side of the business, Nossiter finds a unique collection of personalities that offer a more human side to the international world of wine.
"Wine must be the mirror of the land that produces it and not something that has been popularized, that is identical wherever you may go," explained Hubert De Montille, patriarch of a family of winemakers in Burgundy. "It reflects the person who creates the wine, it must resemble that person," he said during the press conference.
"I hope its really a film about people," said Nossiter, who is debuting his latest feature here, following such films as "Signs & Wonders," "Sunday," "Resident Alien," "Losing the Thread," "Searching for Arthur," and "Making Mischief."
Nossiter's 158-minute version that is screening in Cannes, struck some as too long, however it offers only a taste of what is actually a larger project. Nossiter said Friday that he has created a six-hour version for airing on television in ten installments.
The director explained that the ideal format for the film would be to distribute it in a set of DVDs. "People are lost (with regard to wine)," Nossiter said. "What I hate in the world of wine, which has nothing to do with real wine, is the real snobbery -- it is terrifying to enter a wine cellar and to have to choose a bottle. I hope that you will be able to feel something when you see these people (in the film) and you can make your choices subsequently."
More Buzz About Moore
The Cannes dailies published during the fest by Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, and Screen International buzz with news and chatter. Among the hot topics so far is another competition doc, Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 911." It will hit the fest on Monday.
Miramax chiefs Harvey and Bob Weinstein are negotiating with Disney to get the rights to the movie back, while at the same time trying to line up a U.S. theatrical deal for the doc. A select group of insiders took a look at the movie on Wednesday in New York. The Hollywood Reporter said today that Focus Features and Newmarket Films are in the mix, adding that Lions Gate, which released Kevin Smith's "Dogma" for the company, could also figure into a deal. Miramax's Matthew Hiltzik told the paper that the Weinsteins are using the "Dogma" term sheet as a model for the deal.
The drama over "Fahrenheit 911" is playing out amidst speculation over whether the Harvey and Bob Weinstein will renew their contract with Disney that is set to expire next year. Variety reported this week that if a deal is not closed, the brothers would set up a new outfit funded by a group of financiers.
Sony Re-Signs Classics Duo
While buzz continues over whether Miramax and Disney will sign a pact, Sony Pictures Entertainment confirmed that it has renewed its contract with Sony Pictures Classics co-presidents Michael Barker and Tom Bernard, signing the pair to a five-year deal. Barker and Bernard formed SPC in 1991 with their former partner Marcie Bloom. "Michael and Tom are true pioneers when it comes to specialized film acquisition, marketing and distribution," said Michael Lynton, Chairman and CEO of Sony Pictures Entertainment, in a prepared statement. "Over the years, they have built an independent powerhouse and we are counting on them to continue to grow and expand their business as the market for targeted films evolves."
First Look & THINKFilm to Release "September Tapes"
First Look Media has teamed up with THINKFilm to release Christian Johnston's "September Tapes," a Sundance 2004 debut that goes inside post-Taliban Afghanistan. The movie will be released theatrically under the First Look banner in August, followed by a DVD release in November. The two companies will collaborate on the marketing and distribution of the movie, according to a First Look announcement, with THINKFilm handling the theatrical bookings. First Look is selling the film's international rights here at the Cannes Market.
In the film, a documentary filmmaker follows a bounty hunter who is trailing Osama bin Laden, only to go missing and have his footage held by the United States Department of Defense. "'September Tapes' provides an anxiety-filled look inside a highly volatile Afghanistan immediately following the fall of the Taliban," said First Look's Bill Lischak's, "Mark (Urman) and Jeff (Sackman)'s enthusiasm and excitement about the film, in addition to their great track record with specialized releases, makes them the perfect theatrical partner for the film."
Dreamworks Busy in Cannes
Arie Posin's "Kidnapped" will be released by Dreamworks' specialty unit Go Fish Pictures (via Newmarket Films in the U.S.), according to Screen International. The publication is reporting that the film is the company's first English-language release. Go Fish is also handling the Cannes animated competition entry, "Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence." Its first release was Satoshi Kon's "Millenium Actress." Go Fish parent Dreamworks also has "Shrek 2" in competition in Cannes and used the fest as a launching pad to promote its upcoming animated film, "Shark Tale." Cast members Will Smith, Jack Black and Angelina Jolie arrived in Cannes today for a photo op, after the company screened 20 minutes of the movie for the press.