TIFF's Canadian Plans; New Productions in Texas; Trailer Awards & More
by Wendy Mitchell
INDUSTRY MOVES: Samuel Goldwyn Films has hired Tamara Lecker as manager of development & acquisitions. She will pursue projects from the New York office and will work with both Julie Huey, VP of development, and Peter Goldwyn, director of acquisitions, on pre-buys and completed films. Lecker had worked in acquisitions and production at Lions Gate Films/Artisan Entertainment.
DOOR OPENS: The parties started early for the upcoming Focus Features release "The Door in the Floor," directed and written for the screen by Tod Williams. The film will hit theaters on June 23, but there was a party for the film last week at New York's hip Maritime Hotel, attended by Williams and his fiancee Gretchen Mol, producers This is That and Revere Pictures, the Cinetic Crowd, Focus' David Linde and many more. The film is adapted from John Irving's "A Widow for One Year," and it stars Jeff Bridges, Kim Basinger, and Bijou Phillips.
CANADIAN PRIDE: The Toronto International Film Festival is revamping its Canadian programming. The fest has announced two new programs to support young Canadian filmmakers. Canada First! will showcase first-time feature filmmakers or filmmakers showing a feature for the first time at TIFF. Short Cuts Canada will screen 30-40 short films from Canadian filmmakers. The new programs will replace the former Canadian survey section, Perspective Canada, which has run for 20 years. Established Canuck filmmakers will of course appear throughout the fest's sections, and the Canadian Retrospective and Canadian Open Vault sections will still present classics. This year's festival will run September 9-18.
TOBACK TROUBLES: Lake Placid isn't quite living up to its name... ahead of this weekend's Lake Placid Film Festival, the producers of James Toback's new film "When Will I Be Loved" have pulled it from a world premiere screening in the closing-night slot. In a statement, Toback said, "Unfortunately, the legal documents to be worked out between the distributor, IFC Films, and the financier, Little Wing Films, have not been completed and an opening date has therefore not been set. The decision was then made to halt all festival plans until that date is set. I am at least glad that I will be teaching a master class at the [Lake Placid] Festival." The film stars Neve Campbell as "a young Manhattan woman exploring her sexuality."
TEXAS TIP: Burnt Orange Productions, the new production company launched by the University of Texas, has announced its first three projects. Zalman King's "Austin Angel," a musical, is the story of a country singer looking back at his life, while Jamie Babbitt's "Dot" is described as a teen thriller about deaf orphan who joins a seemingly typical American family. The film is from a screenplay that was workshopped at the 2003 Sundance Institute Filmmakers Lab. Also on tap is Carlos Carrera's "The Marfa Lights," a coming-of-age story from the director of "The Crime of Father Amaro." It will be co-produced by Terrence Malick. WMA Independent, the indie unit of the William Morris Agency, has signed on to help Burnt Orange secure film distribution deals and to advise them in other areas including financing.
Burnt Orange, headed by producer and former AFI exec Carolyn Pfeiffer, does co-productions with budgets of $1-3 million will let students serve as apprentices, and in-house digital productions from $500,000-$1 million with students taking key creative roles. Burnt Orange plans to produce about eight indie features during its first three years. Other staffers at Burnt Orange include financial manager Sam Marshall, who was formerly the manager of business development at RKO Pictures, and development exec Alicyn Peck, who previously worked for People magazine. For more information, visit www.burntorangeproductions.com.
RIDING GIANTS CONTEST: Surf's up at Sony Pictures Classics, which has launched a new contest connected to Stacy Peralta's surfing documentary "Riding Giants." Fans can go to www.ridinggiantscontest.com to enter a trivia game to win various prizes, including a grand prize of a trip for two to Australia.
AIVF WORKSHOPS: The AIVF has recruited film directors from the trenches to teach its two-part Filmmakers Journey workshops on June 5 and 12 in New York. Greg Pak ("Robot Stories") will screen his film and then discuss self distribution and marketing on June 5. On June 12, Rodney Evans will screen his Sundance 2004 film "Brother to Brother" and then talk about creative writing and funding. A networking reception will follow the talks. For details, visit www.aivf.org.
TOP TRAILERS: The indie winners at the fifth-annual Golden Trailer Awards included "Osama" (best foreign), "21 Grams" (best voice over), "City of God" (best foreign independent), "The Triplets of Belleville" (best music), "Spellbound" (best doc), "Lost in Translation" (best independent), "Northfork" (Golden Fleece award), and "The Cooler" (best romance).
BLOOM ON FILM: You can celebrate the 100th anniversary of Bloomsday (not to mention BUZZ's birthday) on June 16 with the release of "Bloom," a new feature film based on James Joyce's "Ulysses." Odyssey Pictures will open the film -- starring Stephen Rea -- at colleges, museums, and art-house theaters in select cities. A DVD release from MTI Home Video will follow on August 24.
SUMMER SCREENINGS: InStyle magazine's Drive-In Movies at Rockefeller Center, programmed by IFP/New York, will offer free public screenings June 8-10 of three new summer films. This year's flicks are Sundance hits "Garden State" from "Scrubs" star turned director Zach Braff; Jared Hess' comedy "Napoleon Dynamite," as well as Toronto International Film Festival 2004 closer "Danny Deckchair," starring Rhys Ifans.