"Ken Park" Seeking a Home; Shooting in the Hamptons; From Script to Screen; IFC and Plexifilm Party Reports and More
by Wendy Mitchell
"KEN PARK" CLOSING IN ON U.S. DEAL?: Larry Clark and Ed Lachman's controversial "Ken Park," which has been a hot title at international film festivals and screening series, remains in limbo despite rumors of a U.S. distribution deal. A note on Clark's website indicates that the film will be released in August by Vitagraph, an imprint of the American Cinematheque in Los Angeles. But reps for the company say that no deal has been signed and referred inquiries to Clark who has not responded to indieWIRE.
The movie has had a rough road to distribution, given its graphic sexuality. An altercation between Clark and a U.K. distributor landed the film a bit more attention as did Lachman stripping naked at the Rotterdam Film Festival. Along the way, rare U.S. showings at such venues as Lincoln Center's Walter Reader theater have been big with audiences.
IFC CELEBRATES "DECADE": IFC synergy hit a high point on Wednesday night with the New York premiere of "Decade Under the Influence," a look at some of the best films from the 1970's. Directed by Richard LaGravenese and the late Ted Demme, the film is a compelling (and sometimes intimidating) look at the period. (Intimidating because, as many guests noted, it reveals a long list of 70's films that must now be added to one's NetFlix queue). Attendees attended a screening at the MoMA Gramercy theater on 23rd St., followed by a party at Sciuscia on Park Avenue South (see today's iPOP photos). Among those joining IFC's Kathy Dore, Jonathan Sehring and others was director Robert Altman and Lily Taylor from the upcoming "Casa de los Babys." Altman, a sometimes tough interview subject, dissed a reporter from a Hollywood trade paper after the writer asked why he didn't participate in the recent "Easy Riders, Raging Bulls" doc. After proclaiming his anger over the question, the director ended the interview. "Decade" will be released theatrically this month, followed by a multi-night screening on IFC and then a major DVD release.
DOOR OPENS: Focus Features has started shooting for "The Door in the Floor," director Tod Williams' adaptation of the John Irving bestseller "A Widow for One Year." Set in East Hampton, NY, the film is about "one pivotal summer in the lives of famous children's books author Ted Cole (Jeff Bridges) and his beautiful wife Marion (Kim Basinger). Their once-great marriage has been strained by tragedy." The shoot started March 31, and will continue for a total of seven weeks in and around the Hamptons. Ted Hope and Anne Carey of This is That are producing along with Michael Corrente, co-founder of Revere Pictures. Roger Marino of Rever and Amy J. Kaufman are executive producing. Marisa Polvino, co-producer, is overseeing production for Revere, which is presenting "The Door" with Focus. Writer-director Williams previously helmed 1998's "The Adventures of Sebastian Cole."
SCRIPT, SCREEN, & THE GOLDEN RULE: Screenwriters wanting to break into the film and TV biz gathered this past weekend at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City for IFP's From Script To Screen conference. The eclectic series of panels included film giant Paul Schrader, who said he "got involved in screenwriting as a form of self-therapy" and TV scribe Tom Fontana, who shared stories about writing for some of television's most original shows ("Homicide," "St. Elsewhere," "Oz") With other panels focusing on the development process, getting an agent, and recent indie success stories, the question that was obviously on everyone's mind was how to get producers and agents to read a script. It was universally acknowledged that one should never submit an unsolicited screenplay. Production company This Is That even went to the trouble to prepare a handout on how to write a query letter. Producer Mary Jane Skalski felt the best way was to "find someone who knows us." Other suggested routes were screenwriting competitions, making short films, and attending regional festivals where it's easier to hobnob with industry types. One way to definitely NOT go about it was learned by an exasperated attendee who loudly interrupted a panelist, demanding to know what films the agent had represented. The panelists quickly agreed that being nice to people was a good idea because: 1) it helps in getting them to read your script and 2) that whole golden rule thing. This common courtesy also applies to interns, assistants, fellow filmmakers, and um, journalists. [James Israel]
SUNDAY SOIREES: On Sunday, IFC Films hosted an advance screening of John Sayles' "Casa de Los Babys" for select press members from Time Out New York, Interview, and of course indieWIRE. The film, due out this fall, is an ensemble drama about American women trying to adopt children in Mexico. After a screening of the film, guests met with director Sayles, producer Lemore Syvan, and stars Maggie Gyllenhaal, Lili Taylor, and Vanessa Martinez. The party was a refined Sunday night affair with a huge spread of cheese, perfect for Buzz's Atkins Diet. Also on Sunday, Plexifilm hosted a soiree for filmmaker Jem Cohen, who was honored with a recent MoMA mini-retrospective and also released the "Benjamin Smoke" DVD through Plexifilm. Guests mingled at the newly renovated Gramercy Park Hotel Bar; in attendance were man of the hour Jem Cohen, Lot 47's Greg Williams, musician Johnny Temple from Girls Against Boys, Cowboy's John Vanco, "Horns and Halos" director Michael Galinsky, and the Plexifilm crew. Plexi's Gary Hustwit was spreading the good news about last week's DVD release of the Wilco doc "I Am Trying to Break Your Heart," which was the second-highest selling music DVD behind the Beatles' "Anthology."
MARKET MAKING: Cannes trippers take note that the fest's market, the Marche Du Film, has announced several new features for its 2003 program. The market will host a video library, which will be open for buyers to view films individually from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Also, the market is planning a special showcase for short films this year, and also boasting new digital facilities (HD Cam, video projection, electronic subtitling, and post-production services). The Marche runs May 14-24.
CASTING: It sounds like a marriage made in heaven: Xenon Pictures, home to such forthcoming titles as "Malibooty" as well as '70s cult classics like "The Harder They Come" and "Sweet Sweetback¹s Badasssss Song," has acquired "Plaster Caster," Jessica Villines' doc about the cult rock groupie/genitalia artist who has seen her share of booty. Xenon will release the DVD in September 2003, including footage of Cynthia Plaster Caster's first breast casting with Suzi Gardner of L7. Mark your Christmas lists accordingly. For more info about the doc, a festival fave, visit plastercaster.com.
SCHOOL'S IN: In other acquisition news, DEJ Productions (the film distribution arm of Blockbuster) has acquired "Home Room," and will release the film theatrically in the fall and on DVD and VHS later in 2003. Paul Ryan's debut feature, which stars Erika Christensen ("Traffic") and Busy Phillips ("Freaks and Geeks") as two survivors of a high school shooting, won the audience award at the 2002 Santa Cruz Film Festival.
TALKING FILM: ThinkFilm's David Fenkel, doc legend Al Maysles, "Manito" director, and Filmmaker magazine publisher Steve Gallagher are among the who's who slated to speak at the next "Hollywood Hustling" seminar in New York. This third session of the series, devoted to film distribution, will be held April 27 from 1-4 p.m. at Zitoune restaurant. Tickets are $45, for reservations email BrunchintheCity@yahoo.com. Separately, Kodak is hosting a seminar on the super 16 format, including indie producers Robert May, Lemore Syvan, Peter Schnall, Victor Nunez, and cinematographers Oliver Bokelberg and Ron Fortunato. The panel will be held 6 p.m. Monday at the French Institute; for details and reservations, call 212-631-3464 or visit www.kodak.com/go/mpevent.
[Eugene Hernandez contributed to this story.]