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DAILY NEWS: Lions Gate Wrestles with WWF; SFIFF Fest; LAIFF Shorts

DAILY NEWS: Lions Gate Wrestles with WWF; SFIFF Fest; LAIFF Shorts

DAILY NEWS:SXSW Winners; "Psycho" Continues; LAIFF News; AtomFilms & Oscar

By Eugene Hernandez/indieWIRE

>>Lions Gate Wrestles with WWF; SFIFF Fest; LAIFF Shorts

(indieWIRE/3.17.2000) — Controversy sells and with a number of
recent releases, Lions Gate has found itself at the center
brewing media scuffles. Last year, the company released Kevin
Dogma” when Disney found it too hot to handle and the
company has recently battled the MPAA over the rating of
Mary Harron‘s upcoming “American Psycho.”

Now, Lions Gate is at odds with the World Wrestling Federation
(WWF) and its chief Vince McMahon over Barry Blaustein‘s new
documentary, “Beyond the Mat.”

In newspaper ads, Lions Gate calls its doc, “The Movie Vince McMahon
Does Not Want You to See,” referencing WWF’s objections to advertising
for the new movie. McMahon is arguably objecting as a result of
his less-than-favorable depiction in the documentary.

The trouble began when WWF banned TV ads for the movie during its
programming on the USA Network and UPN. Lions Gate countered by
putting the ads on the movie’s website (
and adding the McMahon comment to its print and radio ads. WWF followed
with a letter, subsequently sent to indieWIRE by Lions Gate, which asks
that Lions Gate stop referencing WWF and McMahon in its marketing
for the movie.

“The WWF has gone to extreme measures to restrict our advertising
campaign for this fine film, claiming that it competes with their
product,” stated Lions Gate’s Tom Ortenberg in a prepared statement.

In its letter, WWF asked Lions Gate to stop using images of WWF
wrestlers in its ads and also asked the the distributor stop
referencing McMahon. “Failure to comply with these requests,” WWF
indicated in the letter, “will request (sic) in our instituting legal

The film tracks essentially the lives and families of three men,
WWF superstar Mick Foley (“Mankind“), aging wrestler Terry Funk and
former superstar Jack Roberts (“Jake the Snake“), with a section
about the controversial figure, McMahon.

In a press release this week, Lions Gate indicated that it is
rejecting WWF’s “cease and desist” letter. In a prepared statement,
Ortenberg said, “We have the contractual right to run the ads as they
are and will not be intimidated by WWF’s bully tactics, nor will we
give in to the WWF’s pressure to suppress this wonderful motion

>>SFIFF Opening with “Suicides” and Closing with “Hamlet”

(indieWIRE/3.17.2000) — The 43rd San Francisco International Film
will open on April 20th with Sofia Coppola‘s “The Virgin
” and close on May 4th with Michael Almereyda‘s “Hamlet,”
the festival confirmed yesterday.

San Francisco Film Society publicity director Hilary Hart told indieWIRE
yesterday that Abbas Kiarostami will receive the Festival’s Akira Kurosawa
Award for Lifetime Achievement in Film Directing, while actress Winona Ryder
will receive the Peter J. Owens Award for acting. Also, animator Faith
will be honored with the Golden Gate Persistence of Vision Award
for, according to Hart, her career as a non-feature filmmaker.”

[For more information, please visit the festival website at:]

>>LAIFF Unveils Shorts Lineup

(indieWIRE/3.17.2000) — The Los Angeles Independent Film Festival,
running April 13 – 18th, unveiled its short film lineup yesterday.
The six-day festival will screen 45 shorts, selected from over
1,100 submissions.

Commenting on the program in a prepared statement, programming
director Thomas Ethan Harris said, “This year’s program includes work
from animators, narrative filmmakers and documentary shorts that truly
represents the spectrum and range of creativity in short filmmaking.”


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