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DAILY NEWS: “In the Bedroom” Awards; DGA Discusses Distribution

DAILY NEWS: "In the Bedroom" Awards; DGA Discusses Distribution

DAILY NEWS: "In the Bedroom" Awards; DGA Discusses Distribution

with articles by Eugene Hernandez/indieWIRE and David Geffner

>> Los Angeles Critics Hail “In the Bedroom”

(indieWIRE: 12.17.01) — “In the Bedroom,” an independent production that
debuted at Sundance in January, is hitting it big this awards season.
Over the weekend the film (which was acquired by Miramax and is currently
in limited-release), won the Best Picture award from the Los Angeles Film
Critics Association
. It received three awards from the New York critics
group late last week.

Sissy Spacek, who stars in the movie with actor Tom Wilkinson, won the Best Actress award from the LA critics group. The award for Best Actor went to
Denzel Washington for his role in “Training Day.” Kate Winslet won the Best Supporting Actor Award for “Iris,” while Jim Broadbent won the Best Supporting Actress award for “Iris” and “Moulin Rouge.”

The Los Angeles Film Critics Association gave its award for best director to
David Lynch for “Mulholland Drive,” while Christopher Nolan won the screenwriting award for “Memento.” The cinematography award went to Roger Deakins for “The Man Who Wasn’t There.”

In other awards, Agnes Varda‘s “The Gleaners and I” won the Documentary award and Danis Tanovic‘s “No Man’s Land” won the Foreign Film prize. The New Generation Award went to John Cameron Mitchell for “Hedwig and the Angry Inch.” Howard Shore was recognized for his “Lord of the Rings” score, Catherin Martin won the production design prize for “Moulin Rouge” and “Shrek” was named the best animated film. Ennio Morricone was chosen to receive the career achievement award from the organization. [Eugene Hernandez]

[indieWIRE is providing links to articles about some of the winning
films in today’s edition of indieWIRE: DAILY.]

>> Distribute This! Indies Discuss Options

by David Geffner

(indieWIRE: 12.17.01) — The Directors Guild of America‘s gleaming glass
headquarters, on Sunset Boulevard in the heart of Hollywood, was not the
obvious flashpoint for hundreds of independent filmmakers to hash out the
current crisis in indie distribution. But for one night in early December,
a panel headed by Eamonn Bowles, former president of Shooting Gallery
and now head of Magnolia Pictures, and Bob Berney, Senior V.P. of Marketing and Distribution for IFC Films, attacked the issue with
promising real-life examples. Berney and Bowles were joined last week
by filmmakers Allison Anders and Penelope Spheeris, producer Doug Mankoff, Showtime V.P. of Acquisitions Gary Garfinkel, and Mike McClellan, V.P. and co-head film buyer for Landmark Theaters, for Distribute This!, a two-hour seminar hosted by the DGA’s Independent Directors Committee

Falling just a month before Sundance, Distribute This! was an event sorely
needed for West Coast indies. Despite successful runs at big-time festivals
like Sundance, Toronto, Cannes, or Berlin, many filmmakers in the room were still lacking channels to show their wares. In his welcoming remarks to the
seminar audience, IDC co-founding member George Hickenlooper, whose current
The Man from Elysian Fields” remains without distribution, singled out
other directors like Tony Barbieri (“One“), Lisanne Skyler (“Getting to Know You“), and Rob Schmidt (“Saturn“), whose films have all blown away fests and critics, yet are still searching for wider release.

“The most accurate definition of independent film today means films
independent of distribution,” Hickenlooper announced. “Independent film
distributors have become dependents, owned by conglomerations, who are now
in the business of applying the same formula to independently produced films
as they do to Hollywood movies. Tonight we hope to ask: What can be done
before it gets worse?”

Moderator and New York Times film critic, Elvis Mitchell, emphasized the
positive with a case study of “Memento.” Christopher Nolan‘s offbeat tale of
memories lost and stolen has garnered over $25 million. Co-producer,
Jennifer Todd, and “Memento” marketing and distribution consultant, Berney,
shared how they did it.

“I was told by everyone in the distribution community,” Berney said, “that
audiences would reject ‘Memento’ out of hand because of its complexity and
switch ending.” “We screened the film for every indie distributor in the
business on the Friday night before the Academy Awards, and didn’t get a
single bite,” Todd added. “The producers asked Bob [Berney] how much it
would take to self-distribute.” “They wrote me a check for a million
dollars,” Berney marveled, “and let me pick the release date. We kept the
film out there for six months, because we didn’t give in to the pressure the
large chains put on to add more runs and nullify our core runs in the
specialty houses.”

Landmark Theater buyer McClellan talked about working directly with Penelope Spheeris to self-distribute “The Decline of Western Civilization: Part III.” “Unlike most theater chains,” McClellan laughed, “Landmark actually takes
filmmakers’ calls and will consider their movies without a distributor
involved — assuming we love the film and can see the passion [to
self-distribute] from its creators.”

While the veteran indie executives on the panel provided real-world tips to
help survive in a Hollywood-dominated market, the DGA audience came alive
when Allison Anders described why she sold her Sundance hit, “Things Behind
The Sun
,” to Showtime, rather than accept a theatrical offer on the table.

“I called up a friend of mine at the Sundance Channel,” Anders said,
referring to then Sundance exec Liz Manne. “She told me that if I could
get past the vanity of the theatrical screening, then I’d see there was no
downside [to screening the film on cable TV]. ‘Things Behind The Sun’ is
about a very personal and important subject to me: rape. On Showtime,
it premiered in three different time zones, to around five million
people,” Anders marveled. “In the end it came down to numbers – far
more people were exposed to the film with a cable TV premiere, compared
to a few weekends in an art theater.”

Urged by moderator Mitchell to end the seminar on a high note [after plenty
of gloomy forecasting about the glut of indie product on the market], IDC
co-founder Spheeris offered these insights: “We’ve talked a lot tonight
about marketing, P & A, and other gimmicks to get your films sold,” she said
earnestly. “But we’ve ignored the fact that we’re making these movies for
the pure love of filmmaking. Never once in my career did I ever think about
all these other considerations that are clearly our nemesis. I just went
about making the movies because that’s all that I could do. I just had to
make the movies.” [David Geffner]

[David Geffner is writing about the panel for an upcoming issue of DGA

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