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DAILY NEWS: Dispatch from Cannes; Michael Moore Doc Acquired in Major Deal; Weinstein Discusses New

DAILY NEWS: Dispatch from Cannes; Michael Moore Doc Acquired in Major Deal; Weinstein Discusses New

DAILY NEWS: Dispatch from Cannes; Michael Moore Doc Acquired in Major Deal; Weinstein Discusses New Euro Outfit, and Student Academy Award Winners Named

with articles by Eugene Hernandez, with reporting by Stephen Garrett

>> CANNES 2002: “Columbine” Remains Topic #1, Even as Auteurs Unveil Narrative Competition Entries

(indieWIRE: 05.18.02) — As it reaches the halfway point, Cannes is still
reeling from Michael Moore‘s “Bowling for Columbine,” which remains the
most-talked about film on the Croisette. The documentary about America’s
gun-and-fear culture (which UA picked up for U.S. distribution in a
seven-figure deal — see related story below) has been the flashpoint
for countless conversations, including Sunday’s IFP-sponsored
American Directors at Cannes panel discussion — held in the
poorly-ventilated and sauna-quality conference room downstairs in
the Variety Village.

“How is it here in Guam?” joked moderator Elvis Mitchell to one of the 11
participants, half of whom were documentarians — a first for the
12-year-old event. Non-fiction filmmaking dominated the talk, which started
with Moore pointing out that he hadn’t originally submitted his film as a
competition film. “On the festival website, the competition application even
said, No Documentaries,” said Moore. “And you know me, I always go by the
rules. Except this time, I really did, and just submitted it hoping for a
special screening. They called me with the news that it was in competition
on the morning of my birthday.”

When a question arose about moviemaking after September 11, Moore told the
audience that he was torn about including footage of the World Trade Center
attack in “Bowling for Columbine”; his line producer actually died in one of
the planes. Even more strange was the fact that the last time Moore had seen
fellow panelist Alexander Payne was at the 1999 New York Film Critics Circle
awards ceremony, which had been held in the restaurant Windows on the World,
atop the Twin Towers. And also at that ceremony were “South Park” co-creators
Trey Parker and Matt Stone, who introduced themselves to Moore, knew he was
making a film about guns in America and told him that they both had grown up
in Littleton, Colorado. They had taken their SATs in the Columbine cafeteria,
said Moore.

One audience member asked if the overwhelmingly positive French reception
to the film was simply because it fueled preconceived European notions of
American stereotypes. “There was that sort of arrogance 12 years ago when
I was here with ‘Roger and Me,'” said Moore. “But this time it wasn’t
the same — Europeans are afraid that they’re turning into us. Now, with
tragedies like the high school shootings in Germany a few months ago, they
have the sameshootings; and if they don’t do anything about it, the problem
is going to get worse.”

The documentary’s grip on the Croisette has been firm, despite new works
from bold-face-named auteurs such as Mike Leigh (“All or Nothing”), Manoel
De Oliveira
(“The Uncertainty Principle”), Marco Bellocchio (“The Religion
Hour (My Mother’s Smile”), Abbas Kiarostami (“10”), and Olivier Assayas
(“Demonlover”). Most of the pictures so far have been received with polite
admiration or muted disappointment, with the most emotionally charged
reaction saved for the critically maligned “Demonlover.” Assayas’ decidedly
odd corporate espionage thriller, set in the world of Japanese manga porn
and starring Connie Nielson, Chloe Sevigny, and Gina Gershon, was met with
boos and catcalls at the end of its first press screening. “A piece of
shit!” someone even yelled, although a lone “bravo!” meekly cut through
the derision.

One of the most bizarre sights in Cannes this week, though, has been Adam
Sandler sitting with a Perrier can and listening through interpreter
headphones to the world press. Here with Paul Thomas Anderson’s souffle of
a romance, “Punch-Drunk Love,” the $20 million comedian and former “Saturday
Night Live” clown cracked up a roomful of foreign journalists — as well as
Anderson and co-stars Emily Watson and Phillip Seymour Hoffman — with his
usual sweet, self-effacing frat-boy humor. “My feeling for Cannes is one
of respect,” he said. “No, actually, I don’t really feel that,” he
deadpanned. “I saw you all partying last night, but I stayed in my room
and watched MTV. I’m feeling good and I’m enjoying the food.” When asked
why he used Sandler, Anderson was effusive. “I love him,” he said. “I
absolutely think he’s the greatest. And he walks funny and his head is
funny. I haven’t seen him naked, but that might be funny too.”

The movie is a wild departure not only for Sandler, but also for Watson,
well-known for her ever-suffering characters in “Breaking the Waves” and
“Angela’s Ashes.” “I said to Paul that I don’t want to cry and I don’t want
to die,” she said. “And it wasn’t a movie where I had to do something — I
could just be there. It was delicious to do a romance.” “Punch-Drunk Love”
touches on loneliness, phone sex chat lines, supermarkets and life in Los
Angeles’ San Fernando Valley — elements close to Anderson’s heart. “I like
phone sex, I like supermakets, and I like the valley,” he said. “And I know
we all get lonely sometimes. I get lonely, too, which is why I write movies
— so I can be around people.” The biggest surprise about the film is
its running time: in contrast to his previous two epic-length films
(“Magnolia” and “Boogie Nights”), “Punch-Drunk Love” is a brisk 92
minutes. “One of my challenges was to make a 90-minute film,” he said,
“and save everybody a little time in their day.”

The clock-watching sentiment is appreciated here in Cannes, especially when
a few extra minutes can mean the difference between a seat in a screening
and the frustration of a “tout complet” shutout. And more hours in the
day also mean occasional trips to the festival’s film market for a taste
of more commercial fare, including Morgan J. Freeman‘s “American Psycho 2,”
Deepa Mehta’s “Bollywood Hollywood” and Ken Russell‘s “The Fall of the
Louse of Usher.”

The truly brave can take in a Troma movie, Dario Argento‘s latest splatter
flick “Sleepless or Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter,” Lee Demarbe‘s Ottowa-set
kung-fu musical horror movie about the son of God and his adventures facing
down a gang of lesbian bloodsuckers. Some may think the lowbow flicks
denigrate Cannes’ temple of art, but not Barbet Schroeder, here this year
with the out-of-competition selection “Murder By Numbers.” He first came
to the festival when he was 15 and stayed in a nearby hotel/bordello
while sneaking into all the movies he could. “Cannes is a market,” he
said. “If there weren’t all the crooks and the sleazy people in the film
business, the cinema would lose a lot of its vitality.” [Stephen Garrett
in Cannes]

>> CANNES 2002: Michael Moore’s “Bowling for Columbine” Quickly Picked Up by UA; Pact May Be Largest Ever for a Theatrical Doc

(indieWIRE: 05.18.02) — Michael Moore‘s latest documentary, “Bowling for
,” was acquired by United Artists on Friday, the first major deal
to come out of this year’s Cannes Film Festival. The film, the first doc to
play in competition at Cannes in 46 years, was on a fast track to deal even
before its first press screening on Wednesday. Buzz on the Croisette Friday
night pegged the pact as high as $3 million, on par with the same-sized Warner Bros.
deal for Moore’s “Roger and Me” back in 1989 (press reports on Saturday, though, said that the pact was a smaller $1.5 million). A source involved with the
deal would not comment on the numbers, but speculation called this among the largest ever for a theatrical documentary.

United Artists was said to have inked its pact for the film shortly before
Friday’s first public screening of the film at Cannes. While Miramax
reportedly made a pre-emptive low offer for the doc, Lions Gate was among
the distributors in the hunt for the film after its two rousing press
screenings. The film’s public screening Friday was met with a major ovation,
according to one attendee. Another attendee, quoting a source close to the
film, claimed that the post-screening ovation lasted 13 minutes and boasted that
it was the longest ever at the festival. The spin has clearly begun.

Distributors saw the film for the first time at Thursday’s press screening
and a deal was signed quickly. indieWIRE Cannes reporter Stephen Garrett saw
the film at the Thursday morning screening and in Friday’s edition of the
publication, called the movie “a ferocious condemnation of the culture of
fear bred so deeply into the American spirit.”

“What lingers longest,” Garrett reported in indieWIRE on Friday, “Is Moore’s
basic thesis — that America, more than any other society, breeds a powerful
paranoia among its population, fed mainly by the mainstream media and
sensationalistic TV news reports, which makes trigger-happy citizens and the
violence they perpetuate an inevitability. If some journalists were curious
why Moore’s film is the first documentary in competition at Cannes in 46
years, they need only pass the metal detector at the Palais entrance to see
its eerie prescience.”

Charlotte Mickie of Alliance Atlantis and John Sloss of Cinetic Media brokered the deal on behalf
of Alliance Atlantis. The movie was produced by Salter Street Films (a
wholly-owned subsidiary of Alliance Atlantis) and Moore’s Dog Eat Dog
Productions. [Eugene Hernandez in New York, with reporting by Stephen
Garrett in Cannes]

>> CANNES 2002: Harvey Weinstein on Miramax and TF1’s Plans for a New French Distribution and Production Outfit

(indieWIRE: 05.18.02) —Miramax Co-Chief Harvey Weinstein took the
spotlight in Cannes on Friday, taking time to meet the media at an afternoon
press conference. The news is that Miramax and Television Francaise 1 (TF1)
are forming an as yet unnamed joint venture that will encompass theatrical
distribution in France, as well as co-production and acquisitions. TF1
chairman and CEO Patrick Le Lay joined him at the conference.

The new outfit will have a French nationality, according to Weinstein. It
will have French management, will be based in Paris and will launch this
summer. The stand-alone entity will distribute Miramax and Dimension films
in France, with Steven Soderbergh’s “Full Frontal,” Rob Marshall’s “Chicago”
and Jan Sverak’s “Dark Blue World” among the first releases.

In terms of the co-production plans, Weinstein indicated that one of the
first potential co-productions is a remake of Etienne Chatillez‘s French hit,
Tanguy.” When pressed about the fact that one of the new company’s first
efforts may be an American remake of a French film, Weinstein related the
story of the American remake of “3 Men and a Baby,” which began with a
$500,000 deal for American remake rights. The movie went on to gross
$300,000 million according to Weinstein. “Patrick Le Lay and his team aren’t
that stupid,” quipped Weinstein.

Other intended productions for the new outfit include, according to Miramax,
“The Gate of Heaven,” an Italian-language drama dubbed “The Rose” and
“Colditz,” an action picture what will be shot in Europe, with a European

“You will see all the great Miramax directors as part of this deal,”
Weinstein told the press, singling out Quentin Tarantino, Martin Scorsese
and Roberto Benigni by name. While Scorsese’s “Gangs of New York” is not a
part of the deal, his next film will be, according to Weinstein.

Scorcese and Weinstein are among the notables scheduled to join Leonardo
and Cameron Diaz for a walk up the red carpeted steps of the Palais
on Monday when the director concludes his master class on Billy Wilder with
20 minutes of footage from “Gangs of New York.”

“I plan to be in business with Martin Scorsese for the rest of my life,”
Weinstein told the press on Friday, when pressed about his relationship with
Scorsese, “And at the rate its going, that will be three films.” [Eugene
Hernandez in New York, with reporting by Stephen Garrett in Cannes]

>> Student Academy Award Winners Named

(indieWIRE: 05.13.02) — (indieWIRE: 05.20.02) — The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) has named 11 film students from eight U.S. universities as winners of its 29th Annual Student Academy Awards. As part of the lead-up to the June 9
presentation of the awards, the winners will participate in a week of
industry and social events culminating with the ceremony at the Academy’s
Samuel Goldwyn Theater. Three people will be awarded in each category
receiving a gold, silver or bronze trophy with $5,000, $3,000 and $2,000 cash
prizes going to the respective recipients. The status of the winners will
be named during the June 9 ceremony. Additionally, the organization has
named Danish student Martin Strange-Hansen its Honorary Foreign Film Award
winner for his film, “Feeding Desire,” and he will receive a $1,000 grant.

Recipients for this year’s Alternative Category include Kazuo Ohno (“For Our
Man,” Columbia); and Soopum Sohn (“Island to Island,” NYU). Animation
winners are Don Phillips Jr. (“Passing Moments”); Dan Blank (“Shadowplay,”
NYU); and Jen Sachs (“The Velvet Tigress”). Documentary winners include Eva
(“Family Values,” NYU); Pin Pin Tan (“Moving House,” Northwestern); and
Thomas Burns (“Revolutions Per Minute,” Stanford). Narrative recipients
include Grace Lee (“Barrier Device,” UCLA); Helen Haeyoung Lee (“Sophie,”
Univeristy of Texas at Austin); and Jessica Sharzer (“The Wormhole,” NYU).

The Student Academy Awards were established by the Academy in 1972 to
support filmmaking at the university level. [Brian Brooks]

>> FRIDAY IN indieWIRE DAILY NEWS: Breaking News from Cannes, also:
Security, Gitail, and Michael Moore; Also, Miramax and Sony Classics
Acquisitions, and a new “Dogtown”

(indieWIRE: 05.17.02) — As the sun-bathed Mediterranean town of
Cannes fills up yet again with cineastes from around the world, a
new obstacle is greeting the masses: security guards waving metal
detector wands and checking every bag and purse. Safety is the
rule at the 55th Cannes Film Festival, and each inspection is a
subtle but persistent reminder that the World’s most media-saturated
film festival is also a logical, though hopefully unlikely, target
for terrorism. Also from France, Sony Pictures Classics has
jumpstarted its presence in Cannes, announcing the acquisition
of all U.S. rights for the Alliance Atlantis film, “Owning Mahowny
directed by Richard Kwietniowski. In other news, Miramax has
acquired the rights to Brazilian director Fernando Mereilles
Cidade de Deus” (City of God); Stacy Peralta, director of the
acclaimed skate doc, “Dogtown and Z-Boys,” has written the script
for the narrative feature, “Lords of Dogtown,” a new film that
will be directed by Limp Bizkit singer Fred Durst.


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