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DAILY NEWS: New This Week; and TLA Plans; More Shooting Gallery Letters

DAILY NEWS: New This Week; and TLA Plans; More Shooting Gallery Letters

DAILY NEWS: New This Week; and TLA Plans; More Shooting Gallery Letters

by Anthony Kaufman/indieWIRE

[EDITORS NOTE: The following is a new Wednesday item, looking at the new
films that are opening in theaters weekly.]

>> New This Week: “Baby” vs. “Lumumba;” “Kiss” Returns; and Euro-Round-up

(indieWIRE/06.27.01) — As Steven Spielberg‘s “collaboration” with Stanley
. “A.I.“, gets an edge on the 4th of July box office this weekend, a
number of indie releases also demand a share of attention. In a strangely
appropriate opening day rivalry today (Wednesday), John Singleton‘s
Hollywood tale of African American men in the hood, “Baby Boy,” opens
opposite Raoul Peck‘s international indie “Lumumba,” an ambitious historical drama about short-lived Congolese leader Patrice Emery Lumumba. After a string of popular festival screenings — including Lake Placid, San
Francisco’s Black Film Festival
, and the Human Rights Watch International
Film Festival
(where Peck received a Lifetime Achievement Award) — the
Zeitgeist Films release of “Lumumba” is poised to give the Haitian-born,
Zaire-reared, German-educated filmmaker the attention he deserves.

On Friday, political injustice goes to South America, as Strand Releasing
will reissue Hector Babenco‘s 1985 film, “Kiss of the Spider Woman,” which
stars the late Raul Julia and William Hurt as two political prisoners in an
unnamed country south of the border (read: Argentina). Since the film’s
original distributor Island Pictures folded, prints and videotapes have been
hard to come by in the last 15 years. Last year, when the film’s rights
reverted back to Babenco and the films’ producer David Weisman, they decided to stage a theatrical re-issue, rather than go straight to video. “I’d
rather let a new generation of movie-lovers discover the film’s uniqueness
than have MGM or Fox release the DVD and watch ‘Spider Woman’ get buried forever among the thousands of other titles in their library,” Weisman
recently told a Brazilian newspaper.

Let’s also not forget that “Kiss” was an indiefilm landmark in its day,
grossing $17 million and garnering multiple Oscar nominations, including a
Best Actor win for Hurt. It also taught the independents an important
counter-programming lesson: as John Pierson writes in “Spike, Mike, Slackers
& Dykes
,” “the film had broken the outdated commandment ‘Thou shalt not open
non-Hollywood pictures in hot weather'” — as one can see in this summer’s
expanded slate of independent film.

Just look at some of the mini-major releases this weekend. Perhaps in the
speediest acquisition-to-release ever, USA Films announced its purchase of
Julien Temple‘s latest UK feature “Pandaemonium” — about the collaboration between Romantic poets Wordsworth and Coleridge — just over a month ago and the movie hits theaters Friday (not much time for promotion and
advertising). The film premiered in Toronto where it created nary a peep
from critics. Temple’s most known for “Absolute Beginners,” and with the
lack of buzz surrounding his latest effort, it may stay that way.

After winning acclaim and attention with his French farcical hit “The Dinner
“, Francis Veber‘s latest situation comedy, “The Closet” (“Le Placard”), was nabbed by Miramax just prior to its Opening Night premiere at last
April’s City of Lights, City of Angels French Film Festival in Los Angeles.
While trivial fun, the film was a breakout success in France and has gone
onto receive popular praise at U.S. regional fests from Santa Barbara to
Seattle to its recent kick-off at Newport International earlier this month.

Another French box office bonanza hitting these shores is “Crimson Rivers
from actor-director Mathieu Kassovitz (“Le Haine“). One of the top grossing French films of the year, “Crimson Rivers” was acquired following the Cannes
2000 Market
screenings where companies were abuzz with the French thriller’s
crossover appeal. Sony — not Sony Pictures Classics, mind you — will try
to capitalize on another more recent lesson of independent distribution;
it’s called the “Crouching Tiger” tactic: subtitles don’t matter with action
films. [Anthony Kaufman]

>> TLA Releasing Seeks Indies for Video and Theatrical

(indieWIRE/06.27.01) — Philadelphia-based video retailer TLA Entertainment
has launched a new alternative distribution label. Called TLA
, the division will release up to 12 titles on DVD and video per
year, with many also being released theatrically. Two new titles have been
added to their library and are scheduled for a fall video release, Rosa von
‘s “The Einstein of Sex,” and “Waiting.” Philadelphia native
Patrick Hasson‘s debut, which follows one disastrous day in the life of a
waiter, “Waiting,” will receive a theatrical run in Manhattan beginning July
13. Other TLA titles include Amer-indies “Surrender Dorothy,” “Spin the
,” and “The Trio,” a gay-themed German film.

“TLA Entertainment has long had a commitment to promote independent,
international and gay/lesbian films,” commented TLA President Raymond Murray
in a prepared statement. “We therefore decided to secure the titles

To help with the distribution of their films, TLA has formed a partnership
with First Run Features, the venerable New York-based indie distributor,
whose recent titles include “Petites Freres,” “The Wolves of Kromer,” and
The Gospel According to Philip K. Dick.” According to First Run Features
Vice President Marc Mauceri, theatrical distribution will be on a film-by-film basis, with many of the titles being handled exclusively by TLA. [Anthony Kaufman]

For more information about TLA, visit their website:
http://www.tlavideo.com >

>> LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: in Response to “What’s Next For The Shooting Gallery? Questions Linger After Emotional Friday at TSG”


[Due to the number of letters we have received in response to Monday’s
article regarding Shooting Gallery, we are including additional comments

Dear Editor:

I read the article today on Shooting Gallery and all the questions and
compliments. Sandy Mandelberger is correct in [his] assessment and concerns.
I too have questions and concerns. I know and respect many people who have
worked and are working at Shooting Gallery. It is always hard to try to be
everything and anything to the Independent Film World. They were based on
being cautious and optimistic about their goals and visions. However, they
continued to alter their goals and purposes and seemed to stray away from
what made them the early success. Although Shooting Gallery is filled with
business and film talent, they seem to have been in a hurry to grow and
expand their services and programs.

I wish all the working force of Shooting Gallery the best of success as they
move forward. I respect all that they did and all that they continued to
try to do.


Corky Kessler
CEO Films 4 Auction
Entertainment Attorney, Entertainment Business Consultant

Dear Editor:

The Shooting Gallery began as a seeding area designed to help cultivate
young talent with limited budgets almost exactly 10 years ago in 1991. Beer
parties were thrown to pay the electric bills a day before shut off and
garbage bags were dropped off next to the local corner trash can to save the
$2/bag carting fee. A group of kids (Gosse, Meistrich, Whitney Ransick and
others) dreaming of producing films independently and taking the studio
system head on. The excitement, thrill and passion of actually building a
NY independent production facility from scratch was what inspired all who
worked there (most of whom didn’t get paid and had few sources of income).

In the 6 years since I left the company, I watched it grow from a $12/hour
casting room/dormitory/theatre loft space at 359 Broadway (where the
Shooting Gallery’s name was born out of the building’s history as the former
site of Mathew Brady’s “Gallery”) to an international entity with the “5
fingers” of production support that Meistrich had envisioned from the very

Although I had many differences with him, I could never get away from the
fact that I knew Larry would take the company to achieve most everything
he’d set out to. His drive, determination and willingness to take chances
over the years were the main factors responsible for TSG achieving the successes
it did.

The current indie landscape has dramatically changed in recent years, but
the need for a fertile, creative planting ground still exists. As it
matured, TSG may have lost some of it’s original focus. However (although
I may hate to admit it), the fact is I have little doubt that — after some
wound licking — Meistrich & his studio will eventually emerge from the
current difficulties more adaptable, wiser and stronger than ever before.

Larry Russo
Shooting Gallery Co-Founder

>> YESTERDAY in indieWIRE DAILY NEWS: SF Queer Fest Closes; SAG Chief; Nantucket Winners; Hypnotic & Sundance; Letter about Shooting Gallery

(indieWIRE/06.25.01) — The 25th San Francisco Lesbian & Gay Film Festival
closed over the weekend with record attendance, branding itself the largest
film event in California; John F. Cooke has been named to the new position
of Chief Executive Officer and National Executive Director of the Screen
Actors Guild (SAG)
; “An American Rhapsody” by Eva Gardos and Lukas Moodysson‘s “Together” won top prizes at the 6th Nantucket Film Festival; Sundance Channel and Hypnotic have announced a deal to produce a series of short film programs and finally, a letter from a reader commenting on
Shooting Gallery‘s demise.


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