DAILY NEWS: IFC Deal; Goodbye Phaedra; Cowboy Grows; and Gordon Parks' Finalists
by Eugene Hernandez, Anthony Kaufman and Brian Brooks/indieWIRE
>> “Big Bad” Loved by IFC Films
(indieWIRE/08.28.01) — Actor Arliss Howard‘s directorial debut, “Big Bad
Love,” has been acquired by IFC Films for U.S. distribution. A world
premiere in the Director’s Fortnight at Cannes 2001, the film is based on
Mississippi writer Larry Brown‘s short story collection and stars Howard
(“Full Metal Jacket,” “A Map of the World“) as Leon Barlow, a Vietnam vet struggling to be a writer. Howard’s real-life wife Debra Winger produced the film and co-stars as Barlow’s ex-wife. Rosanna Arquette, Angie Dickinson and Paul Le Mat have supporting roles.
In Cannes, indieWIRE reporter Michael Giltz wrote, “‘Big Bad Love’ develops
some well-earned power once real tragedy strikes. It even earned some
comparisons in the trades to Ed Harris‘s ‘Pollock.'” “Big Bad Love” will
screen at next month’s Toronto Film Festival in the Contemporary World
Cinema section. IFC Films is planning to release the film in February of
“We are really excited to work with Arliss — he’s made a poetic, intense
freight train of a film,” commented IFC Films’ Senior Vice President of
Marketing & Distribution Bob Berney in a prepared statement. “And it’s
great to see Debra back on screen.” While Howard added in a prepared
statement, “A lot of distributors said they loved the film, but Jonathan
Sehring promised me Knicks tickets and Bob Berney bought me a draft horse.
It was a no-brainer.” [Anthony Kaufman]
>> After Nearly Five Years, Phaedra Cinema Closes Its Doors
(indieWIRE/08.28.01) — Phaedra Cinema founder and president Greg Hatanaka has decided to shut down his nearly five-year old distribution company.
In an email message that was forwarded to indieWIRE, Hatanaka cited the
current business climate as the reasons for closing his company. “As you
know, the independent film industry continues to get worse and worse due to
a depressed market both domestically and internationally,” Hatanaka
indicated. Noting the recent shutdown of Shooting Gallery, he added,
“Drastic changes continue to occur with the out of business dot coms,
theater chains, and theatrical and video distribution companies — our
business has even been dealt major blows from shutter (sic) companies who
also owed us money.”
indieWIRE contacted Hatanaka seeking comment on his decision. Although he
sent an email indicating that he would contact us, Hatanaka had not returned
the call by late last night.
Phil Hall of Open City Communications, who handled PR for Phaedra releases dating back to their first (“Sudden Manhattan“) in 1997, sees the move as a
sign of the times. “It sends a very chilling message to other companies that
are distributing or planning to distribute eclectic titles,” Hall told
indieWIRE yesterday (Monday). “Because of the state of the industry and also
the state of the economy, I don’t think there is going to be a lot of
gambling on risky titles — it didn’t work, I don’t think that anyone else
is going to fill their shoes for the immediate future.”
Halls comments may resonate with some in the indie community, but small
distributors that are still in the game tend to take a different position.
Companies like Cowboy, Lot 47, IFC Films and others may be new to the scene, but executives remain optimistic amidst releases that sometimes offer mixed
returns (see today’s related story about Cowboy Pictures).
Among the films released by Phaedra were “The Terrorist,” “La Separation,”
“Bad Manners,” “Strawberry Fields,” “Men Cry Bullets,” “Floating” and “Cupid’s Mistake,” among others. Hatanaka previously served as the CEO of Filmopolis. [Eugene Hernandez]
RELATED ARTICLES @ indieWIRE.com:
+ (Jan 28, 1997) Phaedra Cinema Opens Shop With Films By Shelley And
+ (Nov 13, 1998) Phaedra Proves Indies Distribution is No Greek Tragedy
>> Cowboy Expands to Meet Growing Demands
(indieWIRE/08.28.01) — While companies like Shooting Gallery and Phaedra may not have survived, New York City has found a renewed sense of optimism
and excitement in some circles with a number of notable announcements, from
the word of Jeff Sackman & Mark Urman‘s plans for ThinkFilm to the news that Bingham Ray would anchor the new UA here in Manhattan (not to mention interest in the recently announced Manhattan Pictures). Along the way, Lot 47, IFC Films, and Cowboy have been quietly growing.
“I think we are in a particularly strong and great moment for distribution
in the US right now,” Cowboy Co-President Noah Cowan told indieWIRE
yesterday (Monday), “Downtown Manhattan is practically Paris.”
Noah Cowan and John Vanco‘s newly re-named Cowboy Pictures is riding high on
the news that three of its films Lucrecia Martel‘s “La Cienaga,” Catherine
Breillat‘s “Fat Girl,” and Shohei Imamura‘s “Warm Water Under a Red Bridge“) will screen at this year’s New York Film Festival. It has also announced a handful of staff changes and a re-location to new offices.
“Our new name indicates our resolve to continue as an active and growing
player in North American theatrical distribution,” Vanco said in a prepared
Among the notable new assignments at Cowboy are Julie Fontaine as Director
of Publicity & Promotions, Kenneth Keating as Vice President of Operations,
and Vicky Harstad as Manager of Special Projects. Cowboy now tops out at
nine employees and next month it will move to offices in the same building
as The Screening Room, a TriBeCa venue it books.
Alongside the upcoming higher profile theatrical releases, Cowboy is
expected to be nearing an announcement of its involvement in the new Miramax
foreign film series. Unable to break the news just yet, despite rumors in
the press and ongoing industry buzz, Cowan added, “Next year is going to be
very transformative for the company — both of us are really bullish on art
films at the moment.” [Eugene Hernandez]
>> IFP Announces Finalists for Gordon Parks Independent Film Awards
(indieWIRE/8.28.01) — The Independent Feature Project (IFP) has revealed its
finalists for this year’s Gordon Parks Independent Film Awards which will take
place concurrently with the 23rd annual IFP Market. The awards recognize
screenwriting and directing achievement by emerging African-American
filmmakers — this year’s October 3rd ceremony will be held at the DGA
Theatre in New York City. Both a director and a screenwriter will be
awarded $10,000 and Eastman Kodak will give the director $5,000 in product,
to while Final Draft will provide script software to the winning screenwriter.
The awards themselves are sponsored by Universal Pictures and co-sponsored
by the Directors Guild of America.
Finalists came from eligible work at this year’s IFP Market being held
September 30 to October 5 at the Angelika Film Center in Manhattan in
addition to direct submissions. Films from the finalists will be shown
during the Market.
Screenwriter Finalists include: “Blow Baby Blow” by Aida Croal; “k” by Sabu Quinn; “The Other Ones” by Jono Oliver; “Soul Alley” by Matt George; and “The Supermarvelous” by Yaphet Smith. Directing finalists are: “30
Years to Life” by Vanessa Middleton; “Money Matters” by Ryan Richmond; “The Dogwalker” by Jacques Thelemaque; “E Minha Cara/That’s My Face” by Thomas Allen Harris; and “X-Patriots” by Darien Sills-Evans. The IFP is a
non-profit membership group based in New York. [Brian Brooks]