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DAILY NEWS: The Latest from the Berlinale; French Films Set for NYC Debut; and Picture This! Deal

DAILY NEWS: The Latest from the Berlinale; French Films Set for NYC Debut; and Picture This! Deal

DAILY NEWS: The Buzz from the Berlinale; and Lions Gate's "Liam"

by Eugene Hernandez and Anthony Kaufman/indieWIRE

>> DISPATCH FROM BERLIN: American Indies & the European Market; Oscar Anticipation

(indieWIRE/02.13.01) — Even though the Berlinale continues through the week,
buyers attending the concurrent European Film Market seem anxious to move on.
Many will head to L.A. for the upcoming AFM — many of the same movies will
screen, more deals may close and buyers will vie for previews of movies that
will be in the market at Cannes in just three months.

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Sandi Simcha Dubowski (“Trembling Before G-d”) and rep Lynda Hansen pictured at the IFP/Kodak dinner at Diekmann in Berlin.

Photo: Eugene Hernandez/indieWIRE

Some here were buzzing about Harvey Weinstein‘s pop-in to purchase the rights
to the Danish Dogme film, “Italian for Beginners” (for more on the movie, see today’s indieWIRE review), while others are moaning and groaning about the
crop of pictures, quipping that no one ever buys movies in Berlin anyway. Of
course, as with the famed deal for “Mifune,” and now this year’s pact for the
latest Danish Dogme entry, there are exceptions to that rule.

Among the filmmakers hoping for some business action are a crop of American
Independent films being shepherded here by the IFP. Ten American indies, some
of which are screening in the Berlinale, are debuting for buyers here in the
IFP Market Showcase. The group were invited after screening in the IFP Market
last Fall. From their popular “North Americans in Berlin” booth on the market
floor, the IFP team are networking the films to international buyers and
others. The site has also become a popular hub for American festival and
market attendees looking for a familiar face or guidance.

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Also at the IFP/Kodak dinner, Kate Davis (director of “Southern Comfort”) with Lola Cola.

Photo: Eugene Hernandez/indieWIRE

On Sunday night, IFP and Kodak welcomed filmmakers, distributors, sales
agents and friends to the Diekmann restaurant in the western part of Berlin
for an annual networking dinner. Notably, duos from three leading indie
distributors made the meal: Nancy Gerstman & Emily Russo from Zeitgeist, Jon Gerrans & Marcus Hu from Strand, and Noah Cowan & John Vanco from Cowboy. Lola Cola, a subject of the award-winning documentary “Southern Comfort” (screening here in the Panorama and at the IFP Market Showcase), joined director Kate Davis for the evening gathering and the two mingled with the crowd and received warm wishes following their success at Sundance last month. Clearly moved by the positive reactions the film enjoyed in Park City, Ms. Cola posed for a few pictures and then expressed her personal gratification that the story has struck a chord with more than just queer audiences. The film will hit theaters next month when it open at New York’s
Film Forum.

While “Southern Comfort” is clearly the highest profile movie of the group,
others are familiar as well. Edet Belzberg‘s “Children Underground” is fresh
from Sundance, while Joe Maggio‘s “Virgil Bliss” screened at Slamdance this year. From the Forum here in Berlin, as well as last year’s Venice Festival, is Shelly Dunn Fremont and Vincent Fremont‘s “Pie in the Sky: The Brigid Berlin Story.” Peter Hyoguchi‘s “First, Last and Deposit” screened at last year’s LAIFF and at the Viennale and Justin Shapiro & B.Z. Goldberg‘s “Promises” is fresh from Rotterdam. Rounding out the list are Alexandra Shiva, Sean MacDonald, and Michelle Gucovsky‘s “Bombay Eunuch,” Tom Zuber‘s “Lansdown,” Jim Swaffield‘s “Legend of the Cornbomb Space,” Yale Strom‘s “On the Q.T.

* * *

Indie folks typically grumble about the annual Academy Award nominations,
but tomorrow’s Oscar nominees announcement will certainly be monitored by
industry and filmmakers, whether they be in New York and Los Angeles or here
in Berlin. Of particular interest this year is the Best Foreign Language Film
category. Reps from competing companies vying for the nods will be gathered
together in front of televisions this afternoon (8:30 a.m. ET) to witness the
live announcement. Attendees are scheduling the announcement into their
Festival plans alongside screenings and meetings.

46 countries are pursuing the foreign language Oscar this year and there are
a number of notable entries. Ang Lee‘s “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” a Taiwanese entry, is the shoe-in. Notably, the Sony Classics film passed the
$100 million mark worldwide this week and has also passed $50 million mark
in the U.S. to set a new record. Competing for the other four slots are a
high-profile group of acclaimed foreign entries, including Andrucha
‘s “Me, You, Them” from Brazil, Denis Villenueve‘s “Maelstrom” from Canada, Agnes Jaoui‘s “The Taste of Others” from France, Wong Kar-Wai‘s “In the Mood For Love” from Hong Kong, Bahman Ghobadi‘s “A Time for Drunken Horses” from Iran, Im Kwon-taek‘s “Chunhyang” from Korea, and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu‘s “Love’s a Bitch” from Mexico.

Of course, don’t be surprised when a lesser-known foreign film nabs a
nomination tomorrow. [Eugene Hernandez]

>> 13 New Films Set for French Rendez-vous

(indieWIRE/02.13.01) — Eight North American and five U.S. premieres have
been selected to screen as part of the Film Society of Lincoln Center‘s
annual Rendez-vous with French Cinema series. Now in its sixth year, the
festival has served as the first U.S. proving ground for many popular French
films; past entries that have received distribution after the fest include
Dry Cleaning,” “A Single Girl,” “Those Who Love Me Can Take the Train,” “Venus Beauty Institute,” “Romance,” and “Place Vendome.” This year’s program features an auspicious who’s who of contemporary French cinema and popular titles from the world’s most esteemed film festivals.

Two films will screen fresh off their Berlin 2001 premieres: Jean-Pierre
‘s “Murderous Maids,” an adaptation of the life of the Papin sisters,
most notable as the basis for Jean Genet‘s play “The Maids,” and Philippe Le Guay‘s working-class story “Nightshift.” Other North American premieres include: “According to Matthew,” Xavier Beauvois‘s follow up to “Don’t Forget You’re Going To Die;” Arnaud Desplechin‘s third feature (following “La Sentinelle” and “My Sex Life“), the English language Cannes entry “Esther Kahn,” which was on indieWIRE’s list of top films of 2000 without U.S. distribution; “A Crime in Paradise” by “Children of the Marshland” director Jean Becker; and three films by women directors Jeanne Labrune‘s comedy “Tomorrow’s Another Day;” Patricia Mazuy‘s multiple Cesar-nominated “Saint-Cyr” (Prix de la jeunesse winner, Cannes 2000)l; and Agnes Obadia and Jean-Julien Chervier‘s sexual-coming-of-ager “Hair Under the Roses.”

As in years past, women directors serve as a major component of the series’
selections; the festival will also showcase the U.S. premiere of Chantal
‘s “La captive,” and Anne-Sophie Birot‘s debut, “Girls Can’t Swim,” acquired by Winstar following its Toronto premiere. Remaining U.S. premieres include Benoit Jacquot‘s “Sade,” recently acquired by Offline Releasing (“Taste of Others“) for a September 2001 release, Philippe Faucon‘s Venice and Toronto selection “Samia,” and “Marius and Jeannette” director Robert Guediguian‘s “The Town is Quiet.” [Anthony Kaufman]

>> Picture This! Goes for “Confusion of Genders”

(indieWIRE/02.13.01) — Picture This! Entertainment has announced the
acquisition of the French film, “Confusion of Genders” (La Confusion des
genres), written and directed by Ilan Duran Cohen. The movie had its North
American premiere at last month’s Sundance Film Festival.

“We are particularly excited about releasing ‘Confusion of Genders’ in the
U.S. because its comic appeal has great crossover potential while its gay
themes will guarantee a core opening audience,” commented Picture This!
President Doug Witkins in a prepared statement. “It really represents the
best of mainstream French cinema, including a great discovery in the new
young star Cyrille Thouvenin.”

The film will be the company’s fourth theatrical release, with “Come Undone
(Presque Rien) hitting in June, following recent releases of “Lola and Billy
the Kid
,” and “From the Edge of the City.” [Eugene Hernandez]

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