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indieWIRE This Week: Oscar and Spirit Nominees, New Releases & More

indieWIRE This Week: Oscar and Spirit Nominees, New Releases & More

THIS WEEK IN FILM: A slew of nominees sat down to chat with iW. Some exciting festival favorites made their way to theaters. Meanwhile, Sundance films continue to find distributors.

iW NOMINEE INTERVIEWS: In anticipation of two upcoming (and wildly opposing) film events taking place in Los Angeles next week – the 2010 Film Independent Spirit Awards and the 82nd Academy Awards – indieWIRE has been posting daily interviews with an array of nominees to satiate your pre-awards appetite. For the Spirit Awards, indieWIRE is profiling Best First Feature and John Cassavetes Award nominees, including “Crazy Heart” director Scott Cooper, “Paranormal Activity” director Oren Peli and designer Tom Ford, who helmed his critically lauded first feature “A Single Man.” indieWIRE wasn’t as selective with their Oscar interviews, instead choosing to interview an array of nominees, including “The Hurt Locker”‘s Jeremy Renner, “Precious”‘ Gabby Sidibe, surprise nominee Maggie Gyllenhaal for her work in “Crazy Heart,” and Oscar front-runner Christoph Waltz (“Inglourious Basterds”).

FILMS RELEASED THIS WEEK: iW provided coverage on two festival darlings that finally made their way to select cinemas this week. “Prodigal Sons,” Kimberly Reed’s searing documentary that chronicles her quest to uncover her family roots, has been slowly gaining momentum with wins at the Florida Film Festival and the Nashville Film Festival, to name a few. Her recent appearance on Oprah and a profile in Details Magazine has further propelled the film and Reed into the national consciousness. Brian Brooks got to chat with Reed in a revealing interview where Reed touched upon sibling rivalry and her experience promoting the film thus far.
Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at last year’s Cannes, Jacques Audiard’s “The Prophet” is also being released in select theaters this weekend. An unflinchingly violent and deeply humane crime saga that’s being touted as France’s answer to “Scarface,” the film is France’s nominee for Best Foreign Film at this year’s Oscars. Eugene Hernandez profiled the lead actor Tahar Rahim, from a press conference in Cannes.
Michael Koresky reviewed “Prodigal Sons,” while Anthony Kaufman took on “The Prophet.”

ACQUISITIONS: While not quite reflecting the bustling nature of last week, this week saw a handful of films acquire distributors. Neil Marshall’s latest action film, was bought up by Magnet Releasing, a genre arm of Magnolia Pictures, for U.S. distribution. Leon Gasta’s Sundance award-winning documentary “Smash His Camera” will be heading to HBO, with a theatrical and DVD release remaining an open-ended possibility. And U.S. rights for Sundance competitor “Holly Rollers” were acquired by First Independent Pictures.

For more of this week’s news be sure to check out the links below…

NEWS:

Miramax’s Putnam Tapped to Head Sundance Institute
Recent Miramax Films production President Keri Putnam has been named the new Executive Director of the Sundance Institute.

12th Annual Method Fest Announces Actor-Centric Lineup
Actors to showcase their new films include Anthony Hopkins, Laura Linney and Charlotte Gainsbourg in James Ivory’s latest “City of Final Destination,” Carey Mulligan in Shana Feste’s “The Greatest” and Richard Dreyfuss in Daniel Adams’ “The Lightkeepers.”

“Cunningham” & “Mother” Bookend New Directors/New Films
Richard Press’ documentary “Bill Cunningham New York” will open the 39th New Directors/New Films series and Xavier Dolan’s “I Killed My Mother” (J’ai tué ma mère) will close the program this year.

Campion Denies Sexual Harassment Claims Against Indian Film Festival
Articles like The New Zealand Herald subsequently reported that Campion “described the India International Women’s Film Festival as a scandalous fraud, saying she only attended because organisers told her it was being backed by the Ministry of Urban Development.”

Walmart Buying Vudu Online Movie Service
“The real winner here is the customer,” said Eduardo Castro-Wright, vice chairman for Walmart in a statement. “Combining VUDU’s unique digital technology and service with Walmart’s retail expertise and scale will provide customers with unprecedented access to home entertainment options as they migrate to a digital environment.”

B-Side Closing Doors March 1st
“The timing is especially disappointing, as the past year has been our best ever. In 2009, we opened our New York office and launched a new distribution business, successfully releasing 8 films. We grew to 220 film festival partners worldwide and started off 2010 with our widely praised Sundance collaboration.”

“The Hurt Locker” Dominates BAFTA Awards
Another female-helmed film – Andrea Arnold’s “Fish Tank” – took the night’s biggest Brit-centric prize, topping “An Education,” “Moon,” “Nowhere Boy” and “In The Loop” for the Best British Film award.

Prince William Appointed BAFTA President
Prince William’s Presidency of BAFTA follows in a long line of Royal Family involvement with the Academy and its predecessors.

Box Office: Polanski’s “Ghost” Haunts Specialty B.O. While Scorsese’s “Island” Soars
With a whopping $44,750 average, Roman Polanski’s “The Ghost Writer” stormed the specialty box office this weekend, according to estimates provided by Rentrak.

FEATURES:

For Your Consideration: Predicting The Animated, Foreign & Doc Feature Winners
Best animated feature and best documentary both appear to have very significant frontrunners and its probably very safe to say Pete Docter’s “Up” and Louie Psihoyos’ “The Cove” are headed for wins in those categories.

“Dungeon” Master: Keven McAlester Talks His D&D Doc
The film, which premiered at the 2008 Toronto Film Festival, follows its protagonists as their baroque fantasies clash with mundane real lives and they find it increasingly difficult to reconcile their fear, loneliness, and disappointment with the game’s imaginary triumphs.

indieWIRE@Berlin: Rounding Up the Fest
With festival dispatches from Shane Danielsen and updates from editors Eugene Hernandez and Brian Brooks, we give to you, indieWIRE’s take on the 2010 Berlin Film Festival.

CINEMADAILY:

cinemadaily | Burton’s “Wonderland” Premieres

cinemadaily | Of “Art” & “Sons”

cinemadaily | Rep Round Up: “Five Easy Pieces,” Bong, More

cinemadaily | Film Comment Selects Its Annual Grab Bag of Gems

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