Holiday Party Bonanza; Slamdance Specials; Film Geeks On TV; "Quattro Noza" Deal & More
by Wendy Mitchell
INDUSTRY MOVES: Gail Silva, the longtime director of the Film Arts
Foundation in San Francisco, has been named to the foundation's newly
created position of president. Claudia Viek of Claudia Viek Consulting has
been hired as interim executive director until a new executive director is
hired. Also, Lisa Foster has joined Film Arts as director of development.
Foster previously worked at Frameline and the San Francisco International
Lesbian & Gay Film Festival.
SLAMDANCE SPECIALS: The Slamdance Film Festival has invited two films from
Slamdance alums to bookend the 2004 festival. A world premiere of Eugene
Martin's "The Other America" will kick off the fest on January 17 and Kevin
DiNovis' "Death and Texas" will close. The special screenings section at
Slamdance will also offer Bill Plympton's animated feature "Hair High."
CHRISTMAS CIRCUIT: It's been a busy few weeks, as usual, on the holiday
party circuit. Early last week, there was a crowded AIVF get-together, a
Fine Line party with not quite as much food coming around as we'd have
liked, and a Reel Roundtable event at the Cutting Room that we missed.
Last Thursday offered a trio of parties: Sundance Channel feted "Melvin Goes
to Dinner," Killer Films hosted its holiday party, and ContentFilm combined
a celebration for the release of "The Hebrew Hammer" and general holiday
merriness. Last year's Content bash is still being lauded as one of the top
events of 2002, and this year's bash lived up to the hype. Not only was Flow
packed with the who's who of the indie film world, but people were so drunk
they were actually dancing to a remix of Tiffany's "I Think We're Alone
Now." Plus, someone licked BUZZ's face, which always makes for an
interesting evening. At the Killer party, which provided the perfect warm-up
for Content, champagne and cranberry martinis were flowing and there were
trays upon trays of pigs in a blanket (dear to our white trash hearts). Plus
John Waters was mingling and Killer honcho Christine Vachon was sporting
festive red plaid pants.
Earlier this week, PR firms International House of Publicity and Falco Ink
held parties on Monday and Tuesday (respectively); the indieWIRE crew got
stuck at work too long for the iHop party, but we of course did rush to
Falco's gig at Hurley's because of the promise of fried cheese. Come to
think of it, there was an array of fried delights -- some sort of meat
pockets, chicken fingers, and so on. Nothing says happy holidays like a gut
full of fried food and cocktails, right? On Wednesday, United Artists kicked
things up a notch with a swanky reception at Circo (a Le Cirque offshoot,
thank you very much), where starving indie filmsters gorged themselves on
delicious pasta and other Italian treats. Meanwhile, First Run held court
down at famed Greek restaurant Gus' Place. Thursday night offered the light
at the end of the holiday tunnel -- Kodak's holiday cocktail reception.
MORE PARTY TIME: In addition to all the holiday happenings, there were a
number of film parties also going on this week (no wonder we are exhausted).
Monday night Peggy Siegal organized, and Sydney Pollack hosted, a small
"Cold Mountain" screening and dinner where none other than Liza Minnelli
showed up. Former Texas Governor (and present NYC resident) Ann Richards
exited the intimate screening and went up to Liza and said in her folksy
drawl, "Damn, those Yankees were mean" with her signature smile. Liza gave a
big laugh. Later at a dinner, John Waters entertained the table with a
litany of his classic wit. Director Todd Solondz helped himself to a second
serving of the starter salad, to which Waters chimed, "It's just like I'm
eating with Divine."
Tuesday night there was a screening of Robert Altman's "The Company" and an
overly crowded after-party at uptown hang Elaine's. Wednesday, Newmarket
celebrated Patty Jenkins' breathtaking debut film "Monster" with a screening
and a party at Viscaya, where star Charlize Theron was looking a lot more
glamorous than she does in the film! So a serial killer lesbian prostitute
story doesn't really sound like a must-see Christmas flick, but trust us,
this should be your must-see over the holiday weekend (it opens on Christmas
eve in New York followed by other cities in January).
BURNING RUBBER: One of the buzz films at Sundance '03, Joey Curtis' street
racing drama "Quattro Noza," has been picked up. Sobini Films has acquired
the worldwide rights and will represent the film for distribution. The
company will also be producing partners for "Quattro Noza" and will provide
finishing funds for post-production work. The film recently received two
Spirit Award nominations for best first feature and best cinematography. "I
loved 'Quattro Noza' the first time I saw it, and I knew that with some
re-editing, new sound and great music, this innovative film could really
take off," said Sobini's Mark Amin. In other Sobini news, the company
recently finished production on its first studio feature, Martha Coolidge's
"The Prince and Me" (Paramount/Lions Gate) starring Julia Stiles, Luke
Mably, and Miranda Richardson.
SUNDANCE GOES TO COURT: Indie film and courtroom drama don't often mix
(except for the recent screener ban brouhaha), but the Sundance Channel has
announced a new programming partnership with Court TV. The channels will
work together to create "The First Amendment Project," a series of half-hour
films about... you guessed it... the first amendment. The four-part series
will air on both networks in August 2004. In January, the companies will
announce the indie directors that are participating in the project (and also
both companies will celebrate the partnership with a bash on January 17 at
the Sundance Film Festival). Also this week, Sundance announced a deal to
broadcast Tanner '88, the campaign miniseries from Robert Altman and Gary
PALM SPRINGS HONOREES: Aside from weather far warmer than Sundance, the 15th
Palm Springs International Film Festival (January 8-19) has plenty of other
highlights. The fest announced two more honorees this year, composer Danny
Elfman and "In America" director Jim Sheridan. Elfman will receive the
Frederick Loewe award for career achievement in film composing and Sheridan
will get the international filmmaker award at an awards gala on January 11.
Kevin Costner, Anthony Minghella, and Richard D. Zanuck will also be
TRIVIAL PURSUIT: Okay, film geeks (and we use that term lovingly), here's
your chance to shine: in July, IFC is launching a new game show "Ultimate
Film Fanatic" to be hosted by Film Threat's Chris Gore. "If 'The Ultimate
Film Fanatic' is 'American Idol' for movie geeks, I guess that makes me Ryan
Seacrest for movie maniacs," quipped Gore in a press release. The ultimate
winner from the show will not only have the admiration of fellow film freaks
everywhere, but also will get to program and host a night on IFC. For
details, check out IFCTV.com.
PEACEFUL WINNERS: The first Global Peace Film Festival wrapped last weekend
in Orlando, and in an inspired move, the fest's jury decided to award both
the filmmakers and their subjects. The jury awarded $8,000 to be split
between director Peter Hegedus and doc subject Balazs Meszaros for
"Inheritance: A Fisherman's Story." Hegedus also received the $1000 Kodak
film certificate. Other winners were Rebecca Cerese for "February One: The
Story of the Greensboro Four" and Barbara Hammer for "Resisting Paradise."
JACKSON HONORED: Mr. "Lord of the Rings" himself Peter Jackson will be the
recipient of the Santa Barbara International Film Festival's modern master
award. The award will be presented on January 31 at the Arlington Theatre.
The fest's modern master award has been presented to past recipients
inluding Jodie Foster, Michael Douglas, Sean Penn, and others. One of
Jackson's early horror films, "Dead Alive," will also screen at the fest.
[Eugene Hernandez and Brian Brooks contributed to this report.]