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DAILY NEWS: “Scratch” Deal; New Directors Opens; and IFILM’s Awards; and Oscar Predictions

DAILY NEWS: "Scratch" Deal; New Directors Opens; and IFILM's Awards; and Oscar Predictions

DAILY NEWS: "Scratch" Deal; New Directors Opens; and IFILM's Awards; and Oscar Predictions

by Eugene Hernandez, Anthony Kaufman and Brian Brooks /indieWIRE

>> Palm Nabs Doug Pray’s “Scratch”

(indieWIRE/03.23.01) — Palm Pictures has acquired Doug Pray‘s doc,
Scratch,” Screen Daily reported today. According to the publication,
the company intends to release the movie this summer.

“Scratch,” which debuted at Sundance, is a doc about DJ’s. Pray, is
also known for his recent doc about the Seattle music scene, “Hype,”
that movie was released by Lions Gate. Jeff Dowd repped the film in
the negotiations. [Eugene Hernandez]

>> New Directors/New Films Nets Newcomers

(indieWIRE/03.23.01) — “The New York Film Festival is about films, and
New Directors/New Films is about directors,” explained The Film Society
of Lincoln Center
‘s Richard Pena, one of the six-member selection
committee for the festival, co-presented each year with the Museum of
Modern Art

Opening tonight (Friday) with the under-whelming comic pairing of
Jonathon Parker‘s “Bartleby” and Dalibor Matanic‘s “The Cashier Wants To Go To The Seaside,” the New Directors/New Films series has its equal share of hits and misses. But as Pena told indieWIRE, “In New Directors,
we’re looking for new talent and fresh voices, and even if the final
product is not as perfect or well-realized as one might like, it still
deserves a place for those who could emerge to be new talent.”

So viewers must look with patience at the 21 feature films, one
featurette, 7 shorts, and the unclassifiable, hilarious discovery
of this year’s selection: “The Fuccon Family,” Yoshimasa Ishibashi‘s
series of strange vignettes, which center around a happy Caucasian
mannequin family, speaking in Japanese voice-over, as they sleep around,
have exorcisms, and much, much more! Though 37 minutes of the Fuccons
may be a bit too much to take in one sitting, its freshness certainly
fulfills Pena’s requisite for festival selection. The New Directors
selection committee whittled their tight program from roughly 800
features and more than 400 shorts considered for the event.

In addition to Ishibashi — apparently already somewhat of an
international art star — other foreign directors with promising
futures include Korea’s Lee Chang-Dong (the cynical, potent “Peppermint
“), Italy’s Mimmo Calopresti (the careful, but incomplete “I
Prefer the Sound of the Sea
“), France’s Abdel Kechiche (the overly
long, but humanistic “La Faute a Voltaire“), Ilan Duran Cohen (the
witty, but minimal “Confusion of Genders“), Poland’s Lech J. Majewski
(the surreal Bela Tarr-ish “Wojaczek“), and Argentina’s Fabian Bielinsky (the conventional, Mamet-derived “Nine Queens“).

American films honored with ND/NF film festival selection — and the
all-important New York Times review that comes with it — include
Michael Cuesta‘s intriguing suburban tale “L.I.E.” (acquired shortly
after Sundance by Lot 47), DeMane Davis and Khari Streeter‘s smart urban Sundance pic “Lift,” which should land distribution after what
is sure to be a rousing NY reception, Bob Giraldi‘s shallow restaurant
drama “Dinner Rush,” acquired by new distributor Access Motion Pictures
, and two documentaries, Jessica Glass and David Ellenberg‘s “On Common Ground,” which is engaging for what is said by its U.S. and
German WWII veterans as much as what’s unsaid, and Monteith McCollum‘s
recent SXSW winner “Hybrid.”

In the shorts category, look out for Senegal’s Laurence Attali (the
magical “Baobab“), Sundance winner Paul Harris (the cleverly scripted
Gina, An Actress, Age 29“), and Marion Lee (the sentimental, but
delicate “Salty“).

Notably absent from this year’s line-up are recent Miramax acquisitions,
Todd Field‘s “In the Bedroom” and Lone Scherfig‘s “Italian for Beginners,” two films which would have been strong ND/NF’s selections. According to Pena, both were unavailable. “We’d be delighted to have Miramax Films
and Miramax is generally willing to have their films with us, but this
is a case,” he said referring to “In the Bedroom,” “where the producer
and the director mentioned that they continue to work on the film.” As
for “Italian for Beginners,” Pena noted, “Miramax decided they wanted
to hold off on the film for awhile. We have to work with distributors
within their schedules.” [Anthony Kaufman]

>> IFILM Announces First Online Award Winners

(indieWIRE/03.23.01) — Media Trip‘s “George Lucas in Love” and IFILM‘s “405: The Movie” were the big winners at the first Online Movie Awards competition,IFILM announced earlier this week. “Lucas” took away the
most awards including Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Story and Best
Satire. Best Picture, however, went to “405” which also won in the
Best Director (live-action) and Best Film Under Three Minutes categories
while IFILM’s “Killer Bean 2: The Party” won Best Director (animation),
Best Animated Character and Best Animation.

Also recognized were Shockwave‘s “Stainboy” by Tim Burton, which won Best Web Series. “South Park” creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker were given the Online Pioneer Award in recognition of their work in the medium. The
nominating committee was comprised of Academy Award winning writer/director
Nora Ephron, producer Peter Guber and “Blair Witch Project” writer/director duo Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez in addition to actor Michael Rappaport, IFILM CEO Kevin Wendle and Nibblebox co-founders Doug Liman (“Swingers” and “Go” director) and David Bartis, and Steve McKenna of Sun Microsystems.

Slamdance co-founder and former AFI festival director Jon Fitgerald as
well as Jesse Jacobs, co-founder and former director of the Yahoo! Internet
Life Film Festival
— both now with IFILM — organized the competition.
“We are excited to provide a platform for the best in online film, and
to recognize the talent that goes into making short films for the Web,”
said IFILM Editor-in-Chief Lew Harris in a prepared statement,
“We congratulate the winners and all of the creative pioneers who
participated.” IFILM is an online film site that connects viewers
with over 15,000 shorts and features. [Brian Brooks]

>> DISPATCH FROM LA: Filling Out the Oscar Pool With Only Two Days to Go

(indieWIRE/03.23.01) — With the Academy Awards only a few days away,
speculation about the winners intensifies as industry observers consider
the conventional wisdom. All of this with an annual ritual in mind — the
Oscar pool. When viewers gather in front of their televisions this Sunday
many will race to finish their predictions as Joan Rivers fumbles through
interviews with the stars on her pre-ceremony arrivals show. The highest
profile prizes are “the big eight” Oscars — picture, director, actress,
supporting actress, actor, supporting actor, original screenplay and
adapted screenplay. All are categories with nominees that we have
covered this year in indieWIRE, so on this Friday before the Academy
Awards, a bit of prognosticating is in order based on the current
conventional wisdom her in LA.

The annual Academy Awards pool is a time-honored tradition in Tinsel Town.
Offices around the city buzz as staffers frantically file their final votes.
Some years the guessing game is rather boring for indie-minded moviegoers,
given the proliferation of Hollywood movies anticipated to win the golden
trophies. But this year, the success of “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
and “Traffic” has many hoping for an upset when the last award is finally
presented on Sunday night.

Yes, “Gladiator” remains the likely winner of the Best Picture prize,
but the potential for the “Tiger” to roar on Sunday is strong. In fact,
the only sure bet for Oscar night is the Academy Award that will be
presented to Julia Roberts for Best Actress in “Erin Brockovich.” In
the Best Actor category, previous Oscar winner Tom Hanks would seem
like the obvious choice for his role in “Cast Away,” but the film lacks
the awards season momentum of “Gladiator” or even “Traffic.” At the end
of the day, Russell Crowe stands the best chance of heading home a winner
for “Gladiator.” And with the recent news that a kidnapper is pursuing
the star, expect his likely Oscar statue to be is safe hands.

Acclaimed actor Albert Finney is the favorite for “Erin Brockovich” in
the supporting actor category, but Benecio del Toro‘s win at the SAG
Awards last week (albeit in the Best Actor category) helped his chances
and might be enough to put him over the top. But, don’t count out Joaquin
if “Gladiator” is sweeping up on Oscar night. While in the Best
Supporting Actress category Kate Hudson is almost a sure thing for
Almost Famous” — the Academy often chooses to single out an up-and-coming
young actress. However, if the voters are feeling sentimental and go for
Albert Finney, they just may stand up and cheer for Judi Dench in

In the case of the screenwriting categories, look no further than the
recent WGA Awards, a perfect barometer for how the Academy is likely to
vote. Safe money is on Sundance honoree Kenneth Lonergan in the original
category for “You Can Count on Me” and Stephen Gaghan for “Traffic” in
the adapted category.

Keep in mind that all of this is based on the conventional wisdom here
in La La Land, not necessarily an indication of how this reporter would
vote. If given the opportunity, the “big eight” portion of that ballot
would read as follows: “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” Javier Bardem,
Ellen Burstyn, Ang Lee, Benecio Del Toro, Marcia Gay Harden, “Billy Elliot,” and “Wonder Boys.” As for the rest of the Oscar pool, that
takes some serious analysis. [Eugene Hernandez]



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