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DAILY NEWS: Miramax Marketers in Cannes; Showtime Gets Cannes Shorts; HBO Unveils 9/11 Doc and Palm

DAILY NEWS: Miramax Marketers in Cannes; Showtime Gets Cannes Shorts; HBO Unveils 9/11 Doc and Palm

DAILY NEWS: Miramax Marketers in Cannes; Showtime Gets Cannes Shorts;
HBO Unveils 9/11 Doc and Palm Picks Up a "Killer"

with articles by Eugene Hernandez and Matthew Ross/indieWIRE with a report from Stephen Garrett in Cannes

>> CANNES 2002: A “Gang” Mentality; Robert Evans On the Scene; Strong Screenings From Brazil and Canada

(indieWIRE: 05.22.02) — Journalists in Cannes were whipped into a media
feeding frenzy on Monday when Martin Scorsese unveiled selected scenes from
his upcoming Christmas release, “Gangs of New York.” What was really nothing
more than a 20-minute show reel became the subject of unprecedented pomp and
circumstance, as the festival gave the black-tie, red-carpet treatment to
Scorsese, producer Harvey Weinstein, and stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Cameron Diaz. Guests in attendance included David Cronenberg, Juliette Binoche, MPAA honcho Jack Valenti, and jury member Sharon Stone (who amused more cynical onlookers with her unabashed joy in being photographed by the international paparazzi — she even turned back for more adoration after cameras had shifted to a waiting-in-the-wings Milla Jovovich).

The Miramax marketing presentation, which kicked off with a rousing standing
ovation for Scorsese, was fleshed out with a non sequitur lecture about
Billy Wilder, in which Scorsese credited the recently deceased director as
being a huge inspiration. Clips from Wilder’s films were shown and then
followed by the “Gangs” promo, which revealed what looks to be a majestic,
sumptuous, and brutal period piece with many strong performances and
promising moments of absorbing drama. When it ended, the audience delivered
warm and respectable applause. It was nothing like last year’s fervent
clapping and whistling after New Line unspooled its 25-minute sneak peek at
Lord of the Rings,” but also hardly a disappointment. It is impossible,
though, to judge the quality of the reportedly 2-hour and 40-minute movie
based on this material — although that didn’t stop the festival edition of
the Hollywood Reporter from running a gushing “preview review” on its front
page the next morning.

Fittingly, the crush of bodies greeting the consequent “Gangs” press
conference was reminiscent of the street fights in Scorsese’s show reel. “We
are human beings!” screamed one pushy hot-headed scribe to a French bouncer
who physically blocked his entrance. “You can’t treat us this way!” (Moments
later, that same reporter greedily dug his elbow into the ribs of another as
he tried to strong-arm his way to the front of the line.) Then again, for
those privileged few press corps members allowed into the event, it was a
pyrrhic victory as they simply got an earful of the same defensive,
exasperated retorts from Scorsese and Weinstein that have been in the news
for the past few months. “People ask what Leo was doing at night during the
shoot,” said an ill-tempered Weinstein. “I’ll tell you what the fuck he was
doing: he was reading his goddamn script and preparing.” A less foul-mouthed
Scorsese agreed. “We all made this movie,” he said. “Harvey Weinstein is
excitable and I’m excitable. And I always want to make a five-hour movie.
But then I look at the footage and I realize that I can cut it down. There
will be no director’s cut DVD. What you see is what you’re going to get.”

Outside of the “Gangs” hoopla was a much less splashy but more sentimental
red-carpet walk for Robert Evans, the 71-year-old legendary Hollywood studio
executive and producer whose autobiographical documentary, “The Kid Stays in
the Picture
,” received a special screening in the Palais, followed by a
swank dinner party on the beach of the Martinez Hotel. “There’s a lot of
great pussy in this room, Bob,” said a well-wishing dinner companion to a
smiling, sunglassed Evans at the evening reception, where the guests
included Vivendi Universal executive Barry Diller (whose Focus/USA Films is releasing the documentary) and Vanity Fair editor and “Kid” producer Graydon Carter. The flu-struck Evans, whose 103-degree temperature kept him away from the Croisette until the very last minute, only stayed in Cannes for 48
hours — he got up at 7 the next morning to get back to the States (for good
reason — Evans will be honored with the unveiling of his star on the
Hollywood Walk of Fame on Thursday morning).

As the week progresses, more movies have begun to capture the imagination of
festivalgoers. Generating a groundswell of buzz since its premiere over the
weekend is the ultra-violent “Cidada de Deus” (“City of God”), a Brazilian
film screening out of competition and picked up by Miramax prior to the
festival. With rapid-fire editing, a generous use of flashbacks, and a muted
color palette that ranges only from milky sepia to pitch black, director
Fernando Meirelles and producer Walter Salles (the director of “Behind the Sun“) have concocted a blistering and poignant look at gang warfare,
loyalty, and redemption in one of the world’s most decrepit slums near Rio
de Janeiro. The film spans the late 1960s through the 1980s, and is based on
the novel by Paulo Lins, who grew up in the area and wrote his novel
incorporating factual events. Ear-shatteringly loud gunfire ricochets
onscreen alongside heartbreaking images of children shooting and killing
each other for control of the slums’ lucrative drug trade. Although the film
borrows heavily from many gangster pics (“Goodfellas” immediately comes to
mind), the story manages to avoid the usual gang template by threading a
multi-faceted, hopeful story amidst the barrage of gunfire and death.

Two strongly anticipated Canadian entries have also made their debut: the
competition selection “Spider,” from David Cronenberg; and Atom Egoyan‘s out-of-competition drama “Ararat.” Jean-Luc Godard once said that the best way to critique a movie is to make another movie, and with “Spider,” which stars Ralph Fiennes as the title character, a man living with schizophrenia,
Cronenberg delivers a stinging rebuke to “A Beautiful Mind.” In a talk
Tuesday afternoon at the American Pavilion, Cronenberg made the distinction
between his film and Ron Howard‘s Oscar-winning drama. “I can summarize the difference very simply,” he said. “There is ‘Spider-Man,’ and there is
‘Spider.’ I watched ‘A Beautiful Mind,’ and on a mechanical, professional
level it works. But I loathed and despised the film. It betrayed itself. Let
me put it this way — the character Spider does not win the Nobel Prize.”

With “Ararat,” which has received a mixed reaction from the press since its
Monday morning screening, Egoyan tackles a subject that has haunted him
since he was a teenager: the Armenian genocide. More than 1.5 million
Armenians were slaughtered by the Turks in 1915, a chapter in their history
that the Turks still deny. “The responsibility of this film is to deal with
denial,” said Egoyan during a lunch at the Savoy Hotel. “There is no issue
about the truth of this genocide. The Turkish press says there are two
sides, but there really isn’t.” Egoyan also takes on the subject not by
making a film about it directly, but by making a film about the making of a
genocide film — distancing himself from it helps him to come closer to
doing justice to the genocide. “When you create something that is direct,”
he says, “I don’t think people can relate to that. Why not show a film
that’s being compromised — it has the right intentions, but it’s
compromised because it is too aware of what it’s trying to do. Art is the
savior, and if something is desecrated, you respond by creating something
sacred. It’s the creative impulse that gives hope.” [Stephen Garrett in

>> CANNES 2002: Showtime Gets “Ten Minutes Older”; Project Includes Shorts by Wenders, Jarmusch, Bertolucci, Denis, and Others

(indieWIRE: 05.22.02) — Americans who didn’t make it to Cannes this year
will soon have a chance to catch work from this year’s festival by
filmmakers Mike Figgis, Wim Wenders, Aki Kaurismaki, Spike Lee, Jim Jarmusch, Werner Herzog, Chen Kaige, Istvan Szabo, Michael Radford, Claire Denis, Bernardo Bertolucci, and others, simply by turning on their Television sets. Showtime has acquired a series of shorts, by the acclaimed auteurs, collectively dubbed “Ten Minutes Older.”

In the series, which is currently being screened as part of the Cannes Film
Festival, each director is given 10 minutes on screen through which to
explore the passing of time. Showtime will air the first set of seven short
films on seven consecutive installments on Mondays beginning July 1. The
second set of seven shorts will air later this year. [Eugene Hernandez in
New York]

>> HBO’s “In Memoriam” Re-captures 9/11, Through the Eyes and Ears of Many

(indieWIRE: 05.22.02) — Among the notable members of New York’s indie film
community who gathered at an IFP Market town meeting in New York City a few
weeks after September 11 were HBO‘s doc chief Sheila Nevins. She joined an array of filmmakers and others to talk about the impact of the tragedy. The
seeds for HBO’s ambitious tribute to the victims of September 11 (airing
this weekend on the cable network) were clearly planted during that period.

HBO unveiled the anticipated September 11 documentary on Monday night in New
York City during a special screening at Lincoln Center‘s New York State
. Dubbed “In Memoriam New York City 9/11/01,” the doc takes viewers
back to that fateful morning, looking at it through the eyes (and lenses) of
numerous people (and filmmakers). Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani narrates much
of the movie, sharing his own story alongside the experiences of members of
his administration and other city officials.

While the idea of reliving the horror, fear and sadness of September 11 is
tough to embrace, this documentary aims to offer a definitive historical
snapshot of the tragedy. It succeeds. Expertly edited, the film weaves
together bits of footage from professionals and amateurs alike to give
viewers a peak at what people throughout the city saw and heard from even
the moment before the first plane hit, through to the days that followed the
tragedy. Quickly cutting from inside the towers to the view from a police
helicopter and to views from across the river or from a moving subway train,
the result yields countless “you are there” verite moments. That it
incorporates footage from so many sources (each credited on screen every
time a new source is used) and that it captures the horrified and tearful
reactions of so many people, underscores the enormity of the event.

Calling the project “heartbreaking, but essential,” HBO chairman and CEO
Jeff Bewkes introduced Giuliani to a standing ovation at Monday night’s
screening and also singled out the contribution of Nevins. Tissues were
essential after the first few moments of the doc, which as it proceeded had
many in the large audience sniffling and teary.

“The only way you grow in life is by facing the truth,” Giuliani told the
audience, underscoring the importance of such a film. “We can’t let
ourselves forget it.” Attendees talked about where they were on September
11 as they made their way to the post-screening dinner, their memories
clearly jogged by the powerful images and stories.

When asked, back at the IFP Market event in October, how non-fiction
filmmakers might react to September 11, HBO’s Nevins offered, “We can’t be
sure yet,” adding, “But I don’t think the way we do things will change

Continuing during the IFP Market town meeting of indies, she concluded, “The
role of the documentary filmmaker has always been to look at people one by
one, one person, one story, so people don’t become numbers. And our role
doesn’t change: to help our viewers understand that the person next door to
them, or across the world, is not so different. That every life is worth
saving.” [Eugene Hernandez]

>> CANNES 2002: Palm Hires “Fulltime Killer”

(indieWIRE: 05.22.02) —Chris Blackwell‘s Palm Pictures picked up North
American distribution rights to the Hong Kong hit and Cannes market film,
Fulltime Killer.” The deal was negotiated by Palm’s head of acquisitions and
co-productions David Koh and TeamWork Motion PicturesEsther Koo. The action thriller, directed by Johnny To and collaborator Wai Ka Fai, was released in Hong Kong earlier this year. It was produced by To, Ka Fai, and Andy Lau and his TeamWork Motion Pictures company.

Adapted from the best-selling novel by Edmond Pang, “Fulltime Killer” tells
the story of a master assassin who is pursued by a young, flamboyant hitman
who wants to usurp the veteran’s place as number one killer, and the cop
closing in who won’t give up until he brings the killer down. The film was
Hong Kong’s official Academy submission this year.

“We look forward to working with Johnnie To and bringing his work to
American audiences,” said Koh. “He has a great visual style. Our large and
devoted Manga audience will love it and embrace it. We hope to work with To
on other projects.” Palm Pictures plans to release the film theatrically in
late 2002 or early 2003, prior to a spring 2003 DVD release. [Matthew Ross]

>> TUESDAY IN indieWIRE DAILY NEWS: P.O.V. Summer Doc Lineup; Weekly Box Office; New York Queer Fest Plans and LA Film Fest Special Screenings

(indieWIRE: 05.21.02) — PBS’ annual summer doc showcase, P.O.V., has
announced the lineup for its 2002 series, the program’s 15th anniversary;
Magnolia Pictures had something to celebrate with its limited release of
Dover Kosashvili’s “Late Marriage” this weekend; The New Festival has
revealed the opening night film on June 6 will be the world premiere of
“Notorious C.H.O.”; And, “Lovely & Amazing,” Nicole Holofcener’s second
feature, starring Catherine Keener and Brenda Blethyn, will open this
year’s Los Angeles Film Festival on June 20.”


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