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October Films Circling Don McKellar’s “Last Night”

October Films Circling Don McKellar's "Last Night"

by Anthony Kaufman

Yesterday morning, the offices of October Films were ringing with congratulations
over the acquisition of Don McKeller’s directorial debut “Last Night.” Producers
of the film at Canadian production company, Rhombus Media, received a slew of
similar phone calls. This was before the two parties even officially met to talk
about a deal.

“It’s a good rumor,” said Niv Fichman, who runs Rhombus along with V.P. Daniel Iron,
“but it’s not confirmed.” Although Fichman concedes that there’s “pretty
significant interest” and that “they are in the thick of things,” nothing is in
writing — yet. “Certainly, by the end of the festival,” said Fichman yesterday
afternoon, who recounted the above story.

Rhombus Media also produced Francois Girard’s “Thirty-two Short Films about
Glenn Gould
,” as well as the Quebecoise’s Toronto fest opener, “The Red Violin,”
both films scripted by McKeller. “The Red Violin” is also up for sale in the
United States and Fichman said, “Like ‘Last Night’, we’re in serious discussions
and will hopefully know by the end of the festival.” Rhombus is also known
internationally for producing music projects — their PBS aired “Yo-yo Ma:
Inspired by Bach,” just won 2 Emmys for Best Musical Program and Best Visual

About October, Fichman said, “They’re a great company and we’ve always wanted
to work with them.” According to Fichman, Rhombus’s relationship with October
Films’s president Bingham Ray goes back to “Glen Gould”, of which the US distrib
was a fan. But “Glen Gould” eventually went to Samuel Goldwyn. Now, perhaps,
the two companies will have a chance to work together.

“Last Night” played to much applause at its Cannes debut earlier this year, in
the Director’s Fortnight section. Part of the “2000 Seen By. . .” series, ten
films about the turning of the millennium which includes works from Hal Hartley,
Alain Berliner, and Walter Salles, McKellar’s film is the wry, uniquely Canadian
entry in the collection about two strangers spending their last hours on earth
before Armageddon. After the successful French screening, the film sold to
roughly 10 territories, but US distribs either didn’t see the film, said Fichman,
or felt it wise to see how the pic would play to North American audiences here
in Toronto.

At the opening of Toronto’s Canadian Perspectives section, the reaction to “Last
Night” was extremely positive with a massive ovation. McKellar is on
the cover of numerous magazines here and his film is on everyone’s buzz list.
Now, in addition to distribs who caught the film at Cannes, a number of additional
distributors are gaining interest in the film. Said Fichman, “This is the positive
side of the American buzz system.”

With two prominent films here, “The Red Violin” and “Last Night” up for grabs
for US distribs, Rhombus is looking to do some serious business. A recent
developement, said Fichman, is that one company made an offer for both films.
Now the Canadian company, has to decide whether to go with a package or let
each of the films fend for itself. “Going with one company can maximixe Don’s
potential and Don can do a lot of promotion for both films, and they do come
from the same place, from us and from Don,” but contends Fichman, “I don’t
think that’s absolutely a crucial factor in the release of these two films.”

“The Red Violin” has one more industry screening this afternoon, so Fichman
noted that it’s likely no official announcement will be made until both films
have been viewed by all those who need to see them. “It’s a fluke that a small
Canadian company is ending up in this position,” Fichman said.

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