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indieWIRE This Week: U.S. Film Festival Lineups, Acquisitions and a Breakout Indie

Photo of Nigel M Smith By Nigel M Smith | Indiewire April 3, 2010 at 1:33AM

THE WEEK IN NEWS: A string of spring American film festivals announced their lineups, docs and narrative feature deals, and one low-budget romantic comedy created buzz for its release.
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THE WEEK IN NEWS: A string of spring American film festivals announced their lineups, docs and narrative feature deals, and one low-budget romantic comedy created buzz for its release.

FILM FESTS: With SXSW and Sundance all having wrapped, the coming months will see a slew of niche festivals invade cities throughout the U.S. On the West Coast, the L.A. Comedy Shorts Film Festival (April 15-18) will feature 74 short films, including entries from Norway, the UK, Australia and Canada. Screening blocks include “I’d Rather Be Pissed Off than Pissed On,” “Mmmm…Tasty!,” “Screw You,” “You Got Schooled,” “In Days of Old,” “You’re Killing Me, Larry,” “Age Before Bootie,” “Men Behaving Badly,” You Kiss Your Mama With That Mouth?,” and “Take This Job and Shove It.” It's a comedy fest folks!

Also in Hollywoodland, the 14th Annual City of Light, City of Angels Film Festival (April 19-25) promises to be an entirely different affair, with an announced lineup of 52 French films, along with some international titles. Included in the lineup is Joann Star's anticipated bio pic "Gainsbourg: Je t'aime...Moi Non Plus" that chronicles the life of famed singer (and father of Charlotte) Serge Gainsbourg.

Nearby at the upcoming 11th Newport Beach Film Festival (April 22-29) Danny Buday's "Five Star Day" starring "Twilight" heartthrob Cam Gigandet will kick off the week, while Gary Winick's "Letters to Juliet" starring Amanda Seyfried and Vanessa Redgrave will close the fest.

Up the coast the San Francisco International Film Festival (April 22-May 6) will screen a whopping 177 films from 46 countries in 31 different languages. Jean-Pierre Jeunet's latest "Micmacs" is the opening night film. Fresh from a great reception at Sundance, Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg's doc "Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work" will cap things off.

Finally back on the East Coast, the Independent Film Festival of Boston (April 21-28) will feature 120 film screenings, including fest opener "The Extra Man" directed by Robert Pulcini and Shari Springer Berman ("American Splendor"), and starring Paul Dano, John C. Reilly and Kevin Kline.

ACQUISITIONS: Arthouse obtained U.S. rights to Lucy Walker's doc "Waste Land," winner of audience awards at both the 2010 Sundance and Berlin film festivals. Another doc (albeit one generating a lot more controversy), "The Sun Behind the Clouds: Tibet's Struggle For Freedom," will be released in U.S. theaters this spring by Balcony Releasing.

On to narrative films. The opener of Boston's Independent Film Festival, "The Extra Man," was acquired by Magnolia Pictures for U.S. distribution. Meanwhile, U.S. rights to Academy Award nominee Bruce Beresford's ("Driving Miss Daisy") "Mao Last Dancer" were picked up by Samuel Goldwyn Films.

"BREAKING UPWARDS": Daryl Wein's romantic bittersweet drama "Breaking Upwards," released at the IFC Center and on VOD this week, has been generating buzz on the independent film circuit since it first screened at SXSW last year. iW profiled Wein for our newly launched FUTURES column, where iW will profile an up-and-coming folks each week.

Wein's film also got mention in Eugene Hernandez's weekly column, where he breaks down whether "Breaking Upwards" (made for only $15,000) can break even in the end.

For more of this week's new be sure to check out the links below...

NEWS:

MoMA Celebrates Creative Capital with A Series of Screenings
The opening night, “Here [The Story Sleeps]” features a one-night-only live performance of a collaboration between the filmmaker Braden King, the composer Michael Krassner, and the eclectic avant-garde collective Boxhead Ensemble.

Box Office Quarterly: Without a “Slumdog” in 2010, “Heart” & “Writer” Lead
“To compare this year to last year [is difficult],” Ted Mundorff, CEO of Landmark Theatres, the largest art house movie theater chain in the United States, told indieWIRE yesterday. “Because last year just had an extraordinary run of films that we’ve never, ever had before. And if you judge ‘Slumdog’ on its own, it outgrossed anything else collectively."

New Distribution Lab Taking Root for Indies
Twenty projects (evenly split between narratives and documentaries) will be selected from a national candidate pool to gain marketing and distribution guidance from IFP’s network of industry and filmmakers.

“Freakonomics” Doc Closing Tribeca Fest
A documentary based on Steven Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner’s bestselling book, “Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Exposes the Hidden Side of Everything,” will close the 2010 Tribeca Film Festival this year.

Box Office: “Chloe” Finds Fair Numbers; “Tattoo,” “Greenberg” Fight Sophomore Slump
Considering its generally negative reviews and high screen count, those are by no means disastrous numbers for “Chloe,” and the film has already out-gross Egoyan last film, “Adoration” (also distributed by SPC) by more than double.

FEATURES:

Cannes Wish List 2010: 40 New Films to Hope For
Already announced is Ridley Scott’s “Robin Hood” as a big studio opener for this year’s fest, while earlier this week Anne Thompson said that insiders should keep an eye on Oliver Stone’s “Wall Street 2,” Terrence Malick’s “The Tree of Life” and Woody Allen’s latest, “You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger.”

Stuart Urban on “Tovarisch”: Presto, the Elements of a Movie were There! (Watch It Now)
I sat down with Urban to discuss his long gestating documentary, “Tovarisch I Am Not Dead” - available in its entirety at the bottom of this page courtesy of SnagFilms, about his father Garri, a survivor of both the Gulag and the Holocaust.

Film Critics in Focus, Again: New Theories, No Consensus
“Maybe criticism mattered once, but the conventional wisdom insists that it doesn’t any more,” A.O. Scott writes this week, in a piece to be published in print this weekend but that was released online the other day.

18 ND/NF Directors In Their Own Words
The following is a series of interviews with directors whose films are screening at the New Directors/New Film Festival.

James Franco, Joan Rivers, and Ice Cube Set For Tribeca’s Panel Series
“The Tribeca Talks series offers the public and industry insiders alike the opportunity to explore these subjects with some of the biggest names in film, literature, and media.”

“Bomb” Leads Winners at Heavily Attended Cleveland Fest
“Bomb” had world premiered at the fest, and both Siskel and Jacobs were on hand at the ceremony to emotionally accept their awards, admitting they had completed post-production on the film just a week prior to its premiere at the festival.