[EDITORS NOTE: This is a new column from indieWIRE, covering films debuting this week in theaters.]
What an appropriate moment for indieWIRE to introduce a weekly column that surveys new films in theatrical release. This week more than a dozen indie, foreign, documentary and specialty films are vying for attention from moviegoers (some of whom will also be participating in Passover and Easter activities). "It's nerve-wracking," commented Gary Palmucci, general manager of Kino International, which is releasing "Look Both Ways" this weekend. In a conversation with indieWIRE Thursday, he explained that his staked out the release date early, not expecting to face such a large number of entries from competitors.
Australian director Sarah Watt's film has been acclaimed on the festival circut. Palmucci and Kino head Don Krim acquired the movie out of the Toronto International Film Festival where it won the Discovery Award for a film by an emerging director. He considered it quite a coup that they were able to make a deal for the movie, explaining that he has high hopes for what is his company's biggest release of the first half of this year. Now he simply hopes the film won't get lost in the crowd. A nearly $14,000 ad -- just two inches wide by seven inches high -- will promote the movie in the New York Times Friday. Its a high price to pay for a new release by a small company, and equally frustrating for some companies is the fact that the Times no longer publishes full-sized reviews of all films opening in NYC. Some movies are given only a small capsule review, leaving the perception that its a less important release. ("Look Both Ways" is reviewed with only 220 words in Friday's paper.)
Palmucci explained that he booked the film into its mid-April slot to capitalize on the recent attention the film garnered at the New Directors/New Films series. After opening at the Angelika Film Center and Lincoln Plaza theaters in Manhattan this weekend, the film will expand to Los Angeles and Chicago and major markets on April 28th, and head to Washington D.C, on May 12th.
Among the other films on this week's busy slate of specialty roll outs is "The Notorious Bettie Page," from Mary Harron ("I Shot Andy Warhol"), starring Gretchen Mol as the famous 1950s pin-up girl who grew up in conservative Tennessee and later became a celebrated photo model. Her provocative sexuality eventually spawned a Senate inquiry. The HBO Films project, produced by Killer Films, debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival in September and also screened at this year at the Berlinale and SXSW film festivals. "Page," a Picturehouse release, will open in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco, and in other cities including Austin, Boston, Chicago and several more next week, followed by a further subsequent expansion.
A high profile doc opening this weekend is acclaimed Women Make Movies film "Sisters in Law" by Florence Ayisi and Kim Longinotto, a fascinating true story of state prosecutor Vera Ngassa and court president Beatrice Ntuba, who utilize law to enforce women's rights against abuse, rape and other offenses in the West Cameroon village of Kumba. The determined women liberally dispense vocal retorts against male perpetrators and compassion for victims in an area still in the clutches of male domination. "Sisters in Law" won prizes last year in Cannes and the International Documentary Festival Amsterdam (IDFA), where it took the audience award, and also screened in Telluride and Toronto. The film will play for two weeks only at New York's Film Forum April 12 - 25, before heading to other cities.
Among other films opening are Brant Sersen's humorous mockumentary "Blackballed: The Bobby Dukes Story" from The 7th Floor, Lionsgate's release of its Toronto '05 acquistion "Hard Candy" by David Slade and another Lionsgate release, Ricardo de Montreuil's "La Mujer de Mi Hermano." As well as Doug Biro and Jon Fine's doc "Herbie Hancock: Possibilities" from Magnolia, Lu Chan's "Mountain Patrol: Kekexili" from Samuel Goldwyn Films/IDP, a Pacific Northwest relesae of Peter Naess' "Mozart and the Whale" from Millenium Films, Indican's "My First Wedding" by Laurent Firode, and Arthur Allan Seidelman's "The Sisters."
Rounding out the roster of new films this week is "Kinky Boots" by Julian Jarrold, from the Edinburgh and Sundance film fests, among others. It is opening in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco Friday from Miramax. The British comedy stars Joel Edgerton and Chiwetel Ejiofor in the story of a man who receives the help of a cabaret singer in order to save his father's shoe factory. "Kinky Boots" received nominations for best actor and best screenplay at the 2005 British Independent Film Awards.
At the film's premiere in New York City this week, new Miramax president Daniel Battsek greeted well-wishers and expressed enthusiasm for the release of the film. When asked by indieWIRE for a comment on the fact "Kinky Boots" will face tough competition at the box office, Battsek smiled and said, "There is only one film opening this weekend."
[indieWIRE has done its best to gather complete information about new films opening theatrically this week. Please contact us regarding any corrections, clarifications or omissions.]
"Blackballed: The Bobby Dukes Story," directed by Brant Sersen
"Blackballed: The Bobby Dukes Story" is Brant Sersen's mockumentary starring the Daily Show's Rob Cordry as a former paintball superstar who is trying to make a comeback and reclaim his title ten years later. (The 7th Floor)
"Hard Candy," directed by David Slade
David Slade's psychological thriller "Hard Candy" is about a a teenage girl who meets a 30-year-old fashion photographer on the internet. The potential pedophile, played by Patrick Wilson, tries to lure the teenager into his world but is met with a unexpected surprise. (Lionsgate)
"Herbie Hancock: Possibilities," directed by Doug Piro and Jon Fine
Doug Biro and Jon Fine's documentary "Herbie Hancock: Possibilities" profiles the legendary musician as he collaborates with artists such as Christina Aguilera, John Mayer and Carlos Santana during recording sessions for a new album. (Magnolia Pictures)
"Kinky Boots," directed by Julian Jarrold
Julian Jarold's comedy, "Kinky Boots" is about a drag queen named Lola who helps an average guy save his father's shoe factory by converting it into a factory that produces stilettos. (Miramax Films)
"La Mujer de Mi Hermano," directed by Ricardo de Montreuil
Ricardo de Montreuil's "La Mujer de Mi Hermano" is about a women who gets board of her marriage of 10 years and finds herself seduced by her husband's brother. (Lionsgate)
"Look Both Ways," directed by Sarah Watt
"Look Both Ways" is Australian director Sarah Watt's story about a woman who is a chronic worrier and encounters a man who is dealing with his own catastrophe. (Kino International).
"Nathalie," directed by Anne Fontaine
Anne Fontaine's "Nathalie" is about a prostitue hired by an upper-middle class woman to confirm suspicions of her husband's infidelity. (Koch Lorber Films).
"The Notorious Bettie Page," directed by Mary Harron
Mary Harron's ""The Notorious Bettie Page" is based upon the life of the iconic 1950s pin-up model. (Picturehouse)
"Mountain Patrol: Kekexili," directed by Lu Chuan
"Mountain Patrol: Kekexili" is Chinese director Lu Chuan's film about a true story of the struggle to protect the Tibetan antelope from poachers in the Kekexili animal reserve. (Samuel Goldwyn Films/IDP)
"Mozart and the Whale," directed by Peter Naess
"Mozart and the Whale" is Peter Naess romantic comedy about the lives of an autistic couple, written by Ron Bass and starring Josh Hartnett and Radha Mitchell. (Millennium Films)
"My First Wedding," directed by Laurent Firode
In Laurent Firode's "My First Wedding", a young bride-to-be unknowingly confesses her secrets to a carpenter pretending to be priest in order to seduce her. (Indican Pictures)
"The Sisters," directed by Arthur Allan Seidelman
Arthur Allan Seidelman's "The Sisters" is about three sisters and one brother who, are struggling with the death of their father and attempt to try to reconcile the relationships in their own lives. (Arclight Films)
"Sisters in Law," directed by Kim Longinotto and Florence Ayisi
Kim Longinotto and Florence Ayisi's "Sisters In Law" takes place in a court house in Cameroon where two female prosecutors have set out to help women in their village fight cases of abuse. (Women Make Movies)
[Tamara Schweitzer and Helen Silfven contributed to this article.]