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TORONTO ’06 DAILY DISPATCH: Weinsteins Wild Over “Vaughn” & “Lane”; Audience Digs “The Lives of Othe

TORONTO '06 DAILY DISPATCH: Weinsteins Wild Over "Vaughn" & "Lane"; Audience Digs "The Lives of Othe

After the first weekend of movie-going at the Toronto International Film Festival buyers and moviegoers alike were buzzing about fest films. While audiences raved about Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck‘s “The Lives of Others,” which was nabbed by Sony Classics back in the Spring, The Weinstein Company nabbed the comedic doc, “Vince Vaughn’s Wild West Comedy Show: 30 Days & 30 Nights – Hollywood To The Heartland” after its Friday screening here in Canada and its Dimension Films division quickly grabbbed “All The Boys Love Mandy Lane. Meanwhile, MGM nabbed North American rights to Werner Herzog‘s “Rescue Dawn,” which also debuted here this weekend, and among other hot titles.

Weinstein Co. Captures “Vince Vaughn” and “Mandy Lane”

After falling for the Vince Vaughn comedy doc and the slasher film “All The Boys Love Mandy Lane” this weekend The Weinstein Company struck twice, annnouncing a pair of deals on Sunday at the Toronto International Film Festival. After Friday’s screening here in Toronto, The Weinstein Company acquired all rights to “Vince Vaughn’s Wild West Comedy Show: 30 Days & 30 Nights – Hollywood To The Heartland,” while Saturday night Dimension Films swooped in to grab worldwide rights to Jonathan Levine‘s “All The Boys Love Mandy Lane,” which debuted at Midnight on Saturday.

“Mandy Lane” was produced by Felipe Marino and Joe Neurauter of Occupant Films as well as Chad Feehan of Catch Fire Films. The film stars Amber Heard, Michael Welch, Whitney Able Edwin Hodge, Aaron Himelstein, Luke Grimes, Melissa Price and Anson Mount.

“‘Mandy Lane’ is a brilliant slasher film, which we instantly knew was a perfect fit for us,” said the company’s Michelle Krum in a statement Sunday. Glen Basner, president of TWC International, Krumm and Eric Roth, EVP of business and legal affairs for The Weinstein Company negotiated the deal on behalf of Dimension. CAA and Submarine represent the film and negotiated on behalf of Occupant along with Erik S. Hyman of Loeb & Loeb.
Michael Cole, co-president of production for The Weinstein Company announced the “Vaughn” deal Sunday. The doc, produced by Vince Vaughn and directed by Ari Sandel, chronicles the journey of Vaughn and four comedians as they travel over 6,000 miles and perform 30 shows in 30 consecutive nights in cities across the nation.

“We love this film,” Cole said in a statement Sunday. “Michelle Krumm and I laughed so hard Friday night that we just had to acquire it. It’s hysterically funny, original and has a nice human element woven throughout.” While Weinstein added, “Vince’s dedication to this project is what really convinced me to acquire it,” commented Harvey Weinstein in a statement. “Bob and I had a great time working together with Vince on ‘Swingers‘ and this project now brings us full circle.”

The movie features Ahmed Ahmed, John Caparulo, Bret Ernst, and Sebastian Mansicalco, with special guest stars Peter Billinglsey, Keir O’Donnell and Justin Long. The announcement was made today by Michael Cole, co-president of production for The Weinstein Company. Michelle Krumm identified the project for The Weinstein Company, and Michael Cole negotiated the deal on behalf of TWC, while Debbie Klein negotiated on Vince Vaughn’s behalf. [Brian Brooks and Eugene Hernandez]

New German Film “The Lives of Others” Wows Fest

Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck‘s first feature “The Lives of Others,” the new German film that was greeted with a lengthy standing ovation at the Elgin Theater here at the Toronto International Film Festival, is being hailed as one of early discoveries at the 2006 fest. After being rejected by both the Berlin and Cannes fests, Sony Pictures Classics nabbed the movie at the Cannes Market and launched it at last weekend’s Telluride Film Festival before officially debuting the movie here in Canada this week. “The Lives of Others” won seven German Film Awards back home, but reacting to the glowing reception here, filmmaker Henckel von Donnersmarck told indieWIRE, “Although people were deeply impacted by the film in Germany, and it did incredibly well, we never got that kind of direct appreciation and love because people were also troubled by the fact that we were telling them a story from their own past which in a way they’d rather not hear.”

“The Lives of Others,” starring popular German actor Ulrich Muhe, is the story of a seemingly cold, stone-faced Stasi agent who’s bugged the apartment of notable couple, a famous actress and her accomplished playwright boyfriend. The setting is GDR Berlin, 1984 and the meek agent, hoping to advance his career, spends hours tracking the couple’s every move, but gets more than he bargained for as he becomes better acquainted with the couple while spending endless hours listening in on their lives.

“With a knowing nod to Coppola‘s brilliant ‘The Conversation‘, Henckel von Donnersmarck has made one of the most powerful films to emerge from Germany in a decade,” noted festival co-director Piers Handling, in a TIFF description. It marks the filmmaker’s feature debut after studying at Oxford and the Munich Academy for Television and Film and making numerous short films.

“The Lives of Others” is movie that draws on the personal experiences of both its director and its star. Henckel von Donnersmarck explained that growing up the child of parents born in Nazi Germany, he learned how fear and self-censorship can become second nature and was taught that freedom is a luxury that must be savored. “I think that is the challenge, (to) try and tie as many knots between as many parts of your soul and the film as you can and it will become a better film for it,” the filmmaker, told indieWIRE, “I believe in deeply personal films.” And the film was even more person for the well-known German actor Ulrich Muhe.

After the Wall came down, Muhe discovered a massive Stasi file indicating that his own wife was an informer who had been spying on him throughout the 1980s. “It takes incredible courage to play [that] character,” explained Henckel von Donnersmarck, “I had everything to win, but he had everything to lose.”

“Here was an actor who played from the inside out, who basically played from his soul,” praised Henckel von Donnersmarck, “I believe that good acting is something almost supernatural — you have to capture the essence of something and channel it through your body, you become a medium.” Calling himself a bit of a shaman, the filmmaker concluded, “I think that’s my duty as a director, to tap into the supernatural resources which are there in the great artists that I work with.” [Eugene Hernandez]

[Get the latest from the Toronto International Film Festival throughout the day in indieWIRE’s special Toronto ’06 section.]

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