DAILY NEWS: Bitan Leaves for HIQI; Hamptons Lineup; New Atom Fans; and Cinema Now/Lions Gate
by Eugene Hernandez/indieWIRE
>> Bitan Leaves 7th Art for Start-Up, HIQI
(indieWIRE/ 9.27.00) — After four years at 7th Art Releasing, Oren Bitan
has left the company to create HIQI Media, a new company that will produce
and distribute music documentaries. Overseas, the company will sell titles
to television and other outlets, but in the United States the outfit will
offer the Hiqi Film Series, a package of music-themed docs presented on
tour. The whole effort will be supported by a website that will stream clips
from HIQI’s slate of movies.
“There is an opening in the market,” commented Oren Bitan in a conversation
with indieWIRE yesterday. “I wanted to come up with a new way of getting
small films that I was confident there was a model for.”
Bitan is producing and directing “Goodvibe,” one of the films on HIQI’s
slate. The doc is a look at indie hip-hop label Goodvibe Recordings. Also
on board for the Film Series, which will offer 7 features and 3 shorts when
it launches in April, are Rolfe Belgum‘s “Driver 23,” Theodoros Bafaloukos‘ classic reggae doc, “Rockers,” and Valerie Bennett‘s “Synergy: Visions of Vibe.”
While at 7th Art Releasing, Bitan was involved with acquiring and
distributing numerous documentaries, including “American Pimp” and “Speaking in Strings.” However, he singles out 7th Art’s success with the rave doc,
“Better Living Through Circuitry,” and Radiohead‘s “Meeting People is Easy,” as proving to him that there is a market to be tapped.
Noting the success of the Shooting Gallery Film Series, Bitan indicated that
he is using it as a model, but in the HIQI version all of the films will
travel together, rather than individually. Bitan added that he will
announce HIQI’s slate at the International Documentary Filmfest Amsterdam
(IDFA) this fall. [Eugene Hernandez]
>> Hamptons Sets Lineup for 8th Fest
(indieWIRE/ 9.27.00) — At a press conference in New York City yesterday,
the Hamptons International Film Festival announced the lineup for its 8th
annual event. Running October 11 – 15, the festival received more than 1,000
entries this year and will offer 15 world premieres, 2 North American
premieres, and 3 US premieres.
Co-directors of programming Linda Blackaby and Lynda Hansen announced that the Festival will open with Maggie Greenwald‘s “Songcatcher,” while it will close with Tom Gilroy‘s “Spring Forward.” Spotlight films include Bob Giraldi‘s “Dinner Rush,” E. Elias Merhige‘s “Shadow of the Vampire,” Linda Yellen‘s “The Simian Line,” and David Mamet‘s “State and Main.” Also on tap is Ed Harris‘ “Pollock,” set on the East End of Long Island.
The Festival is offering a number of cash and goods & services prizes this
year: $25,000 cash for a movie in the Films of Conflict and Resolution,
$25,000 cash for a film exploring science and technology, $5,000 for the
film with the best cinematography, and $25,000 for the student film awards.
For the Festival’s annual Golden Starfish Competition, a total of $10,000
will be awarded to the winner of the documentary prize and $5,000 for the
short winner, this is all in addition to the more than $200,000 in good
and services prizes that will presented. Eugene Martin, director of the
1998 Golden Starfish winner, “Edge City,” will return with his new film,
“Diary of a City Priest,” which was made with his recent winnings.
Competing in the Golden Starfish Feature Competition are Matthew Tabak’s
“Auggie Rose” (world premiere), Mia Trachinger’s “Bunny,” Dan Cohen’s
“Diamond Men” (world premiere), Dani Minnick’s “Falling Like This” (world premiere), Abraham Lim’s “Roads and Bridges,” and Michael Bregman’s “Table One” (world premiere). In the Golden Starfish Documentary
competition, the festival is offering Alex Nohe’s “Burning Man: The Burning
Sensation,” Amir Ber-Lev’s “Fighter,” James Brih Abee’s “Full Blossom,” Kim A. Snyder’s “I Remember Me,” and Vincent Fremont and Shelly Dunn Fremont’s “Pie in the Sky: The Brigid Berlin Story.”
Other festival sections include world cinema, short films, a group of Friday
the 13th thrillers, archival films, student films, movies made by locals,
and films for families. [Eugene Hernandez]
>> Leonardo DiCaprio and Spike Jonze On Board with AtomFilms
(indieWIRE/ 9.27.00) — On Monday, Atom added Volkswagen owners and
enthusiasts to the list of Internet film viewers. Now, Leonardo DiCaprio
fans have been recruited.
In its continuing exploration of new audiences, Atomfilms teamed up with
Leonardo DiCaprio’s Birken Interactive Studios to establish “Savage
Sideshow,” an international online Internet-film festival. The site
(www.savagesideshow.atomfilms.com) allows filmmakers to show their works of
30 minutes or less to a panel of Hollywood brass — actors, directors,
producers, execs. — who give feedback and award prizes like cash,
equipment and meetings with entertainment industry gurus.
The contest-of-sorts breaks films into four categories (narrative,
documentary, animation, alternative) and stresses a “leveling of the
playing field,” inviting both experienced filmmakers and those who have
never stood in front of or behind a camera to pitch their ideas and
shorts. A submission application can be downloaded from the site.
Birken Interactive Studios is a cyber-company founded by DiCaprio.
It launched his fan site, www.leonardodicaprio.com.
In a separate announcement today, director Spike Jonze is joining Atom
as one of its “insiders.” Jonze, director of “Being John Malkovich,” will be
available for online chats and will allow AtomFilms exclusive distribution
rights for many of his short films. He will also create, with Atom, three
shorts for exclusive AtomFilms distribution. [Jeffrey M. Barker]
>>Lions Gate Linked to CinemaNow
(indieWIRE/ 9.27.00) — Due to Lions Gate Film‘s pending acquisition of
Trimark Pictures, CinemaNow has linked with the company to become a premier site for watching feature-length films over the Internet.
Already a distributor and syndicator of more than 700 films — 200 of them
available to its online audience — CinemaNow will soon have access to
the Lions Gate library and plans to partner with them to find and
distribute original made-for-Internet content.
The partnership is one of the larger collaborations between Hollywood and
the online film audience. Recently, similar deals have brought about both
cynicism and celebrations. While some view Hollywood’s interest in online
film as legitimization of the space, others say it is assimilation,
denying online film its own space. [Jeffrey M. Barker]