"Stander" Party; Brian Dannelly Gets Romantic; Gael Shoots in Texas; Fest Winners & More
by Wendy Mitchell
INDUSTRY MOVES: Michelle Coe has joined Women Make Movies, overseeing the Production Assistance program, doing development, and handling promotions and publicity. She had been at First Run/Icarus.
True West Films has appointed a new VP, Henrik Meyer, who will serve in the company's new Vancouver office. Meyer was formerly based at Studio Hamburg in Germany; True West is now working with Studio Hamburg on the mini-series "Miss Texas."
"STANDER": An intimate crowd turned up at downtown Manhattan eatery "Butter" Tuesday evening for cocktails and hors d'oeuvres to commemorate the opening of Bronwen Hughes' "Stander," which Newmarket is releasing today. Hughes and actor Thomas Jane ("The Punisher") socialized informally with the crowd along with Newmarket chief, Bob Berney. The film is the true story of the life of Andre Stander, the youngest Captain in the Johannesburg police department who is also South Africa's most notorious bank robber. Portrayed by Jane, Andre Stander is a young, white policeman enjoying the comforts of middle-class married life in late-1970s South Africa, a country riven by Apartheid. Deeply affected by the indiscriminate killing he witnesses and takes part in during Riot Patrol, Stander wordlessly makes a decision to defy the very system he has spent a lifetime enforcing. Stander's form of civil disobedience, however, takes an unusual form: a series of audacious, high-flying bank robberies, with the young police officer oftentimes returning to the scene of the crime as the lead investigating officer. Newmarket acquired the film last year at the Toronto International Film Festival.
DANNELLY'S LATEST: "Saved!" director Brian Dannelly has signed on for his next directorial effort, "The Guided Man." Sobini Films' Mark Amin, Robin Schorr, and Cami Winikoff are producing the romantic comedy. Curtis Burch, who originally developed the script, will also produce along with Kathleen Haase. The screenplay, based on a 1952 story by L. Sprague De Camp, will be co-written by Steve Adams ("Envy"), Dannelly, and Dannelly's "Saved!" writing partner Michael Urban. Sobini describes the film as a "modern Cyrano story" about an introverted guy who gets hooked on a service to make him more confident. Production is expected to start in early 2005. Sobini previously produced "The Prince & Me" and is also working on streetracing drama "Quattro Noza," psychological horror story "Dark Sister," and an adaptation of Dan Millman's "Way of the Peaceful Warrior."
EMERGING TALENTS: Asian CineVision, hosts of the 27th Asian American International Film Festival in New York, announced the winners of its third-annual emerging director prize: they are Steve Mallorca for "Slow Jam King" and Khyentse Norbu for "Travelers and Magicians." The two films are very different: comedy "Slow Jam King" is about a would-be gangsta who drops out of college to become "The Filipino Warrior," and "Travelers and Magicians" features fable-like tales about two men in Bhutan.
"KING" IS ALIVE: ContentFilm announced that production has started in Austin, Texas, for James Marsh's "The King," starring Gael García Bernal, William Hurt, Laura Harring, Paul Dano, and Pell James. Shooting continues through mid-September. The film is about young man (Bernal) who tries to find the father he never knew (Hurt), only to realize the father may not want this son intruding on his picture-perfect life. Marsh co-wrote the script with Milo Addica ("Monster's Ball"); Addica and James Wilson are producing with Content's Ed Pressman, John Schmidt, and Sofia Sondervan executive producing. Marsh previously directed British documentaries and the doc/narrative hybrid "Wisconsin Death Trip."
PAYNE HONORS: Filmmakers Alliance has selected Alexander Payne ("Election," "About Schmidt") for its fifth-annual Vision Award. The group will present Payne with the award at their 11th annual gala to be held at the DGA in Hollywood on August 18th (members' short films will also be screened). Payne's in good company -- past recipients are Wim Wenders, Mike Figgis, Terry Gilliam, and Allison Anders. For details on the event, visit www.filmmakersalliance.com.
STONY BROOK WINNERS: The Stony Brook Film Festival wrapped on July 31, with its grand prize going to Stephen Whittaker's "The Rocket Post," The jury awards went to Ryan Little's "Saints and Soldiers" (best feature) and Chris Tashima's "Day of Independence" (best short). The audience picks were Mark J. Gordon's "Her Majesty" (best feature) and Eva Saks' "Colorforms" (best short). Patricia Neal was honored with a lifetime achievement award and "Broadway: The Golden Age" director Rick McKay was given then the contribution to film award.
AUSTIN GEARS UP: The Austin Film Festival has set dates for its 11th annual event: October 14-21. As in year's past, the festival will pay special attention to screenwriters, and it has already confirmed that Garry Shandling will be attending (schedule permitting) to receive the festival's outstanding television writer award. Speakers slated to attend so far include Shari Springer Berman & Robert Pulcini ("American Splendor"), David Berenbaum ("Elf"), Tom McCarthy ("The Station Agent"), and Andrew Stanton ("Finding Nemo").
[Brian Brooks contributed to this article]