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DAILY NEWS: Winstar Grabs “Billy”; Digital for Docs; and Ft. Lauderdale Winners

DAILY NEWS: Winstar Grabs "Billy"; Digital for Docs; and Ft. Lauderdale Winners

DAILY NEWS: Winstar Grabs "Billy"; Digital for Docs; and Ft. Lauderdale Winners

by Eugene Hernandez/indieWIRE with a report from Hugo Perez

>>Winstar Charmed by “Billy”

(indieWIRE/ 11.13.00) — Winstar TV & Video has acquired the North American
rights to William R. Pace‘s “Charming Billy,” Sr. VP of Acquisitions
Krysanne Katsoolis told indieWIRE on Friday. The company made the deal with
producers Alexa Fogel and Joe Infantolino‘s . The film was
the company’s first production, they also co-produced Jim McKay‘s “Our
.” “Charming Billy” stars Michael Hayden.

“We applaud the judgement and courage of Winstar in picking up this haunting
portrait of an ordinary man who snaps” commented Joe Infantolino in a
prepared statement. “Michael Hayden’s tour de force performance deserves to
be seen.” [Eugene Hernandez]

>>Pennebaker and Hegedus Exploring Digital with 3 New Docs

(indieWIRE/ 11.13.00) — “You can’t make ‘Remembrance of Things Past‘ with
film. People are approaching a whole new look at the world (with the new
technology) and it’s taken us a long time in the film world to catch up.
Extreme detail. Extreme life reality. You can’t even imagine doing that with
film,” said famed documentary auteur D.A. Pennebaker, who along with partner
Chris Hegedus sat on a panel discussion last Thursday night on The Impact of
Digital Technology on The Art of Filmmaking, hosted by Docuclub and
co-sponsored by HBO at the HBO Theatre in mid-town Manhattan.

The evening began with a sneak preview of clips from Pennebaker and Hegedus’
Down From the Mountain,” a concert film featuring the bluegrass musicians
brought together by the Coen Brothers to record the soundtrack to their
latest film, “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” It is one of three documentaries
currently in production at Pennebaker Hegedus Films. “This is the first time
we shot video, and now we’ve got three of them in production. I love it.
Now that I’ve started shooting video, I don’t even know where my Aaton is,”
added Pennebaker.

The panel, moderated by Docuclub’s Ricki Stern, also included David Leitner, a DP and documentary filmmaker who is well known in the documentary
community for his work as a programmer at DOCFEST, two Docuclub members,
Cynthia Wade, whose “Grist for the Mill” played on Cinemax, and Dempsey Rice, whose “Daughter of Suicide” played on HBO Signature, and Swiss Effects technical director Patrick Lindenmaier. Swiss Effects is one of the premiere video-to-film blow-up labs in the world, well known in the
documentary community for its work on “The Saltmen of Tibet” and the Academy Award nominee “On the Ropes.”

The bevy of filmmakers in attendance included Lisa Gossells, whose “Children
of Chabannes
” has received much critical acclaim, Victoria Leacock, daughter
of verite master Ricky Leacock, and Xan Parker from Maysles Films. Also in attendance was a representative from Kodak who during the pre-panel
reception was seen trying to peddle film to an increasingly digital community, “I can still give you a good deal on film.”

Among the issues discussed over the course of the evening were shooting film
vs. video, the current state of digital projection and where it might go in
the future, the role of the DP or cameraman in a time when more and more
filmmakers are acting as one man production units, and how filmmaking
technique has been altered by the new technology. Much of the discussion
centered on the impact that miniDV cameras such as the Sony VX1000 have had
on documentary filmmaking and weighing the advantages of being able to shoot
without having to worry about conserving film stock and the drawbacks of
wading through hundreds of hours of footage in your editing process.

What came out of the discussion ultimately was that the demands and
resources of each project should dictate the technique and technology used
by the filmmaker. Patrick Lindenmaier summed it up by saying, “In digital
filmmaking, you have to find your own path because maybe where you are going
no one has gone before you.”

Ironically, the message of an evening devoted to and consumed by a
discussion of technology was that technology needs to take a backseat to
directorial vision. DOCFEST head Gary Pollard summed up the feeling of many of the filmmakers in the audience, “We didn’t really talk about the art
tonight. You reach a point where you spend so much time talking about the
technology and you forget about what you are putting in front of the

Docuclub was founded in 1995 as a forum for documentary filmmakers to
workshop projects, and is well known for its works in progress screenings at
MoMA. The digital technology panel was the first in a series of workshops
co-sponsored by HBO to take place over the course of Docuclub’s new season.
For more information, check out Docuclub’s website: [Hugo Perez]

>>Ft. Lauderdale Wraps with Awards

(indieWIRE/ 11.13.00) — Broward County in Florida was decisive over the
weekend, announcing the winners of the annual Fort Lauderdale International
Film Festival
. The 15th annual event closed after screening more that 125
films during its month-long event. The Festival’s Best Film award went to
David Mamet‘s “State and Main,” while the audience prize was awarded to
Bahman Ghobadi‘s “A Time for Drunken Horses.” Irena Salina‘s “Ghost Bird” won the award for Best Documentary. [Eugene Hernandez]

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