French Gurus Educate U.S. Students; High Times' First Film, "Trembling Before G-d" on DVD and More
by Wendy Mitchell
INDUSTRY MOVES: Erin O'Neil has been named VP of creative advertising for Warner Independent Pictures. O'Neil's new position will start October 20. She will report to Warner Indie's executive VP of marketing and publicity, Laura Kim. O'Neil had been director of marketing at United Artists.
Patricia Finneran has been named festival director at the AFI Silverdocs Film Festival, which will have its sophomore run June 16-20 in Silver Spring, MD. Finneran, who had worked at the IFP/New York, replaces Nina Gilden Seavey, a documentarian who will still serve as executive producer of Silverdocs.
Dan Gurlitz has been named VP of video for Koch Entertainment Distribution and also general manager of Koch Vision and Koch Lorber. Gurlitz had most recently been Wellspring Media's VP/GM of Home Video.
HAMPTONS TOASTS ACTORS: The Hamptons International Film Festival's Rising Stars program, which introduces emerging actors, was celebrated on Wednesday night in Manhattan with a party at Bungalow 8 in West Chelsea. The second year program is showcasing Dean Wareham and Savannah Haske from "Piggie," Elisabeth Moss from "The West Wing," GQ, the writer/director of "Just Another Story," and Mylika Davis from "Far From Heaven." Actress Joan Allen, recipient of the Golden Starfish Award for Career Achievement in Acting this year at the Hamptons will mentor the Rising Stars. Notably this year, Rising Stars honorees will also be welcomed to the new Talent Campus at the 2004 Berlinale. Revelers toasted the five thespians on Wednesday with wine, Grey Goose and complimentary Stella Artois, that is until the bouncers forced everyone to leave, saying that another party about to begin. The festival kicks off next week in the Hamptons.
FLYIN' HIGH FILM: If there's just not enough Cheech and Chong in your home video library to keep you entertained, it turns out that High Times magazine is releasing its first film. Written by Victor Colicchio and Nicholas Iacovino, "Pot Luck" marks the directorial debut feature by Aussie filmmaker Alison Thompson. The ensemble cast includes Jason Mewes, Sylvia Miles, Jackie "The Jokeman" Martling, and Tommy Chong himself. (Where, for the love of God, is Snoop?) The film is about a mob soldier who meets a punk rock chick who "turns him onto some killer weed." Sounds like the makings of a beautiful relationship. "Pot Luck" opens in New York and other select U.S. and Canadian cities on October 17. The cast and crew and High Times staffers will attend "a real happening" at every 4:20 p.m. showing from October 20-23 at Manhattan's Village East. For details, visit http://www.potluckmovie.com.
FRENCHIFIED: Francophiles, take note: the first run of the "On Set with French Cinema" series will open in New York on October 20. The series is geared towards students in MFA programs at universities across the country. In New York, participating schools are New York University, Columbia University, the School of Visual Arts, and the City University of New York. As a whole, the series will last two months as French directors give lectures and present films to the American students. The filmmakers coming to New York for the program are Patrice Chereau, Cedric Klapisch, and Catherine Breillat. Others will be added to the U.S. tour.
"ANIMAL" DEAL: Milestone has acquired the North American rights to Jerzy Stuhr's "Duze Zwierze" (The Big Animal). The film is based on a script by the late master Krzysztof Kieslowski, and it is shot by cinematographer Pawel Edelman ("The Pianist"). Director Stuhr also stars as Zygmunt Sawicki, a small town Polish bank clerk who has to fight his community to keep a strange pet camel. Milestone plans a U.S. theatrical premiere in early 2004 at New York's Anthology Film Archives, followed by dates in other U.S. and Canadian cities. A TV showing and DVD/VHS release will happen before the end of 2005. "This funny and humane film shows another side of Kieslowski's enormous talent," said Milestone VP Dennis Doros. American fans of the great filmmaker will love his wonderful blend of pathos and humor."
OH, GOD: THINKFilm's "The Gospel of John," which it opened small in markets like Dallas and Charlotte, N.C., has done well in its initial box office showings, so the company is planning an expansion for an additional 25 nationwide cities throughout October and November. The three-hour film, narrated by Christopher Plummer and starring Henry Ian Cusick as Jesus, is described as "a word-for-word dramatization drawn from the American Bible Society's 'Good News Bible.'" Future Bible films are planned by the Toronto-based production company, Visual Bible International, and THINKFilm has the North American rights to the next nine films.
FONDA IN NYC: Peter Fonda, who directed and starred in the 1971 film "The Hired Hand," will appear in person after a screening of the film in Manhattan tonight. The actor/director will speak after the 7:30 screening of the movie at the Cinema Village downtown. Co-star Verna Bloom will also be in attendance. Sundance Channel is planning a DVD release of the restored picture.
MORE TREMBLING: The DVD and VHS versions of Sandi Dubowski's "Trembling Before G-d" will hit stores on October 21. The DVD is a two-disc set including three additional hours of special features, including deleted scenes, conversations with subjects and crew, and Dubowski's first film that he made with his 88-year-old grandmother. For details on the DVD release, visit http://www.tremblingbeforeg-d.com.
HOUSE HUNTING: The NYC Mayor's Office of Film Theatre & Broadcasting announced a new locations service for film and television productions, which lets private property owners make their homes available for shoots through real estate company Douglas Elliman. At http://www.elliman.com, location managers can search available private properties that owners are offering. Homeowners can list their properties through Elliman's Adrienne Cleere, 212-891-7246. Somehow, BUZZ thinks her ghetto fabulous Brooklyn apartment won't be seeing the likes of Brad Pitt anytime soon.
BACHELOR BID: Following in the, uh, esteemed footsteps of Bachelor Alex Michel who made his acting debut in an indie flick called "Our Very First Sex Tape," another TV Bachelor, Aaron Buerge, is turning to the indie film world. Buerge has joined the cast of Cactus Animal Productions' "Antlers," a romantic dramedy that revolves around a "long distance dedication" made to radio guru Casey Kasem. Steve Pullen is directing from a script by R. Scott Murphy. The project is scheduled to start shooting next year around the University of Missouri. The producers hope to get "Mizzou" alumni such as Sheryl Crow and Tom Berenger to participate as well; one can only hope that bachelorette Trista Rehn can join the gang. For details, visit http://www.antlersmovie.com.
BOY TALK: Picture This! Entertainment, an L.A.-based distributor of gay arthouse films, has launched a new product label to "showcase some of today's hottest young male actors." The not-so-subtly titled division, "It's All About the Boy" will focus on films that "are not exactly gay themed...but might have inherent gay audience appeal." The first offering will be Denis Langlois' "Danny in the Sky," coming to DVD and VHS on November 25. The boy in question for this film is Thierry Pepin, who plays Danny, the son of a closeted father and drug addict mother who falls into the pitfalls of fashion modeling. The film played well on the festival circuit earlier this year.