Hamptons Alum Share Script; NBC Deal for "Deadline"; Philly Fest Opens & More
by Wendy Mitchell
INDUSTRY MOVES: Tony Cianciotta has been named President of Capri Releasing, Capri Films' new Toronto-based film distribution arm. Cianciotta has worked at Cineplex Odeon, Alliance Releasing, Twentieth Century Fox, and Red Sky Entertainment. Capri will distribute films in Canada through third-party acquisitions; its first acquisition is "Metallica: Some Kind of Monster."
Director Mira Nair ("Monsoon Wedding," the forthcoming "Vanity Fair") will serve as guest director for the 2004 Los Angeles Film Festival. Nair will host a two-day filmmaker retreat, program a sidebar of films that have inspired her work, and attend opening night festivities.
PLAYING WELL: The Hamptons International Film Festival kicked off its reading series for alumni of the Hamptons Screenwriters Conference with a table reading of Matthew Ross and Guy Cimbalo's "Plays Well With Others" on Wednesday night at Tom Noonan's Paradise Theatre in the East Village. Anne Chaisson of Dirty Rice Films ("Roger Dodger") is producing "Plays Well," with director Ross -- who indieWIRE readers know as our former Senior Editor (he is now an editor at FILMMAKER Magazine). Production is slated to start later in 2004. For the reading, casting agent Laylee Olfat recruited an outstanding cast including Cynthia Nixon, Sonia Braga, Tom Gilroy, Connor Paolo, Dean Wareham, and Valentina de Angelis. The script follows a "gifted, eccentric, and naïve 13-year-old" who tries to push his parents toward divorce so he can set his mom up with a more exciting man. The reading was so packed that some folks were turned away at the door. Cimbalo and Ross attended the 2002 screenwriters lab, and Chaisson has also served as an industry mentor in the Hamptons.
DATELINE MEETS DEADLINE: Dateline NBC is going indie! The TV show has licensed Katy Chevigny and Kirsten Johnson's documentary "Deadline," which premiered at Sundance, for a two-hour primetime broadcast this summer. The film chronicles former Illinois Governor George Ryan's last months in office and his decision to offer clemency to everyone on the state's death row. After airing on "Dateline," the doc may also air on MSNBC and Bravo. NBC's Robert Wright approached the filmmakers after seeing "Deadline" in Park City; the company has acquired exclusive North American broadcast rights for one year. Ben Feldman and Andrew Hurwitz of Epstein, Levinsohn, Bodine, Hurwitz, and Weinstein LLP of New York and NBC's David Sternlicht and Leah Cohen negotiated the deal.
PHILLY KICK OFF: The 2004 Philadelphia Film Festival opened last night with a gala screening of Damian Nieman's "Shade," a drama about L.A.'s underground gangsters starring Jamie Foxx, Sylvester Stallone, Gabriel Byrne, Melanie Griffith, and Stuart Townsend. The festival runs for 14 days, showing 247 films from 43 countries. The fest will close on April 21 with Brian Dannelly's "Saved!" starring Jena Malone and Mandy Moore. In one inspired pairing, the short "The Great Cheesesteak Debate" will air before Morgan Spurlock's Sundance hit "Super Size Me." Guests will include Ross McElwee ("Bright Leaves"), Jehane Noujaim ("Control Room"), Hal Sparks ("Lightning Bug"), Mary Louise Parker ("The Best Thief in the World"), Mark Achbar ("The Corporation"), Morgan Spurlock ("Super Size Me"), Jim McKay ("Everyday People"), Bill Plympton ("Hair High"), Joe Berlinger & Bruce Sinofsky ("Metallica: Some Kind of Monster"), and Mario & Melvin Van Peebles ("Baadassss!"), and many more. For more info and screening schedules, visit www.phillyfests.com.
DOCS ON DISPLAY: The Museum of Television and Radio in New York will present it fifth-annual television documentary festival from April 15-24. This year's New York premieres include Barak Goodman's "The Fight," Zana Briski and Ross Kauffman's "Born Into Brothels," Deirdre Fishel's "Still Doing It: The Intimate Lives of Women Over 65" (thank God BUZZ's mom is only 60), Ivy Meeropol's "Heir to an Execution," and Morgan Neville's "Hank Williams: Honky Tonk Blues." World premieres will be David Grubin's "RFK," a new Robert Kennedy biography, and "True Life: I'm Living in Iraq," from MTV News. Countercultural video collective Top Value Television will reunite former members and show retrospective programs during the festival and the 1969 classic "Johnny Cash! The Man, His World, His Music" will be shown. Other programs include a seminar, to be sent via satellite to universities, that will feature Alan Berliner, Chris Hegedus, Alexandra Pelosi, D.A. Pennebaker, and Chris Wilcha, a pitching workshop, and a youth doc showcase. For more info, visit www.mtr.org.
MARTY HEADS UPSTATE: The Lake Placid Film Festival is gearing up for a big year, as organizers announced that Martin Scorsese will attend the event to present a special screening of Luchino Visconti's 1963 classic "The Leopard." A rare, restored print (180 minutes) will be shown. Other highlights of the fest will include screenings of Sundance winner "Primer," SXSW audience winner "Blackballed," and Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky's fascinating doc "Metallica: Some Kind of Monster." The festival, formerly called Lake Placid Film Forum in its previous four years, will run June 2-6.
GEN ART CLOSER: The Gen Art Film Festival, which runs April 14-20 in New York, has announced that its closing-night film will be Greg Lombardo's "Knots." The film stars Scott Cohen, John Stamos, Annabeth Gish, Paulina Porizkova, Michael Leydon Campbell, and Tara Reid, in a tale of modern sexual relationships from a male point of view. The fest also announced that it will be awarding $10,000 to its jury prize winner for best feature, and $5000 for best short.