PARK CITY 2001 BUZZ: Sony's Twin Deal; Levin Screens "Babylon" Anyway; Bush II and the Arts
by Eugene Hernandez and Maud Kersnowski /indieWIRE
>> Sony Classics Hits Polish "Jackpot"
(indieWIRE/01.21.01) -- Sony Pictures Classics has announced the acquisition of Mark and Michael Polish's digital feature, "Jackpot." The movie, currently in post, was one of the first shot with the new Sony 24P digital camera -- the same one being used for the new "Star Wars"). The Polish Brothers' directed the 1999 Sundance entry, "Twin Falls Idaho," which was released by Sony Classics. The movie stars Daryl Hannah, Jon Gries, Anthonuy Edwards, Garrett Morris, Mac Davis, Peggy Lipton, and Adam Baldwin. [Eugene Hernandez]
>> Defiant Levin Screens "Babylon" at Slamdance After All
(indieWIRE/01.21.01) -- Slamdance's promised "surprise" opening screening yesterday turned out to be the originally scheduled "Brooklyn Babylon" by Marc Levin which was pulled Thursday under a cloud of legal threats from distributor/producer Artisan Entertainment. After a morning meeting between festival director Peter Baxter and Levin, Baxter told indieWIRE, "We're aware that there may be legal consequences but we want to stand by the filmmaker."
"There is no resolution on the situation between the two parties and it appears that the filmmaker has taken the matter into his own hands," an Artisan spokesperson said.
Communications broke down between Levin and Artisan president Amir Malin months ago. The filmmaker says they haven't spoken in more than six months. He reports making repeated attempts to contact Artisan in the last few days but without success except that, "They've added on that I'm damaging their reputation."
When Levin arrived in Utah yesterday he says he was so exhausted he didn't know if he had the strength to screen the film, but after sleeping for 12 hours, he turned on the TV. "I saw the inauguration happening and I knew we I had to go through with it," Levin explained.
Both Levin and Baxter are predicting that there will be an outpouring of support from other filmmakers in the next few days. "In the true indie spirit of helping the filmmaker as much as we can we decided show the film," Baxter said. "We won't be intimidated." [Maud Kersnowski]
>> The Future of Arts Funding in the Second Bush Administration?
(indieWIRE/01.21.01) -- Marc Levin wasn't the only person in Park City whose conversation was inspired by the Bush swearing-in yesterday. indieWIRE sat down with several notables from the documentary community to chat about the next four years with or without the NEA. Documentary filmmakers, whose public funding has continued to shrink over the past ten years, may find themselves with even less support in the next administration.
But with a close margin in the congress, Ruby Lerner, Executive Director of Creative Capital Foundation, thinks it's unlikely any radical changes will make it to the White House. "A 50/50 senate is the best protection we can have, but it also means that there won't be any big increases either," Lerner explained.
"The gestalt is, [this administration] has pledged to eliminate the NEA and NEH," says Elizabeth Peters, Executive Director of AIVF. Telling comments that have surfaced from key administration nominees like Attorney General hopeful John Ashcroft seem to lend credibility to this general angst. "The average guy [who] wants to go down and see Garth Brooks at the country concert, he doesn't get a federal subsidy, but the silk-stocking crowd wants to go to watch the ballet or the symphony orchestra, they get a subsidy," Ashcroft was quoted as saying by "The New Republic" in 1997.
Lerner pointed out that, "The Bush administration did some really innovative things in Texas