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DAILY NEWS: “American High” Lives; Report from AFI Fest

DAILY NEWS: "American High" Lives; Report from AFI Fest

DAILY NEWS: "American High" Lives; Report from AFI Fest

by Eugene Hernandez and Andrea Meyer/indieWIRE

>> PBS Picks Up “American High” Series

(indieWIRE/ 10.26.00) — “American High,” documentary producer R.J. Cutler‘s look at one year in the life of a Chicago-area high school has found a new
home after been axed by the FOX television network following only four
episodes aired. According to the Associated Press, PBS will air the show
beginning in April.

Cutler, the producer behind “The War Room” and “A Perfect Candidate,”
captured the senior year of a group of kids at Highland Park High School
near Chicago with some footage shot by the teens themselves. The show
debuted over the summer on FOX amidst the groundswell of awareness for
reality TV given the success of “Survivor.” It was yanked from the network
after receiving positive critical notices but low ratings. [Eugene Hernandez]


+ INTERVIEW: R. J. Cutler’s “American High” Verite Factory

>>ON THE SCENE: AFI Worthy of Industry Home

(indieWIRE/ 10.26.00) — In this week’s LA Weekly, Manohla Dargis writes,
“Wow! After years of misguided, lackluster programming, the AFI film
festival again seems worthy of both its hometown and Los Angeles’
movie-crazed citizens. The man to thank is Christian Gaines, the festival’s
new programmer.” On day 5 of the weeklong event, the former director of the
Hawaii Independent Film Festival and programmer at Sundance shouted over the noise of a cocktail reception for Intel’s two-day digital symposium, “The
festival is going extremely well and I’m very pleased. I don’t know if it’s
just because I’m the ‘head guy,’ but I’m getting a lot of very nice compliments.”

Compliments he deserves for an impressive international program largely
handpicked from the world’s great festivals. Also noteworthy is the event’s
new home, spanning a couple of blocks, on Hollywood Boulevard east of La
Brea. Last year, the festival that has always taken place at venues
throughout this sprawling town settled down in Hollywood, with events
happening in some of the most glamorous old movie theaters in the historical
center of moviedom. Gaines says this move will insure “that in a city like
Los Angeles, which isn’t traditionally known for having a center or being a
walking city, that every single screening and panel and special event and
reception was in easy walking distance of each other.” Why Hollywood? “We
like it,” Gaines jokes. “It’s close to our office.”

According to Gaines, the other main goal was “to concentrate on being an
international film festival.” The wide-reaching selection of movies from
around the world certainly reflects this goal. International highlights
have included festival favorites “The Hundred Steps” by Marco Tullio
Giordana (Italy), “Harry, He is Here to Help” by Dominik Moll (France), “The
Widow of St. Pierre
” by Patrice Leconte (France), “Reef Hunters” by Marilou
Diaz-Abaya (Philippines), “A Time for Drunken Horses” by Bahman Ghobadi
(Iran), and “Suzhou River” by Lou Ye (China). Another stand-out is Leander
Haussmann’s portrait of a 17-year old in 1970’s East Germany, “Sun Alley.”
The young cast is universally captivating in a film that mocks pre-reunification Germany with equal parts hilarity and poignancy.

In addition to a program that includes European, Latin, documentaries,
American independents and new this year, an Asian showcase, along with a
retrospective of films by Philip Kaufman who was honored Wednesday night,
the festival also offered a two-day Digital Symposium with panelists such as
Jannat Gargi (Atom Films), Amy Talkington (“The New Arrival“), and Rachael Shapiro (Reelplay) and a day long screenwriters forum, with panelists like David O. Russell (“Three Kings“), Gavin O’Connor (“Tumbleweeds“), James Mangold (“Girl, Interrupted“), Mark Gill (Miramax), and Eric Roth (“The Insider“, “Forrest Gump“).

The festival closes tonight (Thursday) with a Gala awards ceremony, with
prizes being doled out in the international and documentary competitions, as
well as audience awards. Following the ceremony, the festival will screen
the premiere of Philip Kaufman‘s Marquis de Sade story, “Quills,” with a reception afterwards at the Egyptian Theater. [Andrea Meyer]

[indieWIRE will publish more from the AFI Film Festival tomorrow.]

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