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US in Progress & The Champs Elysees Film Festival, Part 1

US in Progress & The Champs Elysees Film Festival, Part 1

I love Paris!  Serving on the jury of U.S. in Progress to judge five American independent films in post
production, bonding with filmmakers, organizers and the beautiful city itself, being
part of a larger festival which featured films I particularly enjoyed like Nina
Simone, Love Sorceress… Forever
, It
Felt Like Love
by Eliza Hittman, Umbrellas of Cherbourg,
what’s not to love?

The friendly openness of
everyone at the festival made the event special.  Sophie
, the festival’s founder (and distributor, producer and exhibitor) whom
I interviewed
last year
and again, almost as old friends again this year (see upcoming
blog!), the publicist and programmer, Maxine Leonard, the staff,
the US in Progress organizers – Adeline
(now also US representative for Unifrance), Ula Śniegowska,
Artistic Director of Wroclaw, Poland’s American Film Festival
and Mobile New Horizons, my fellow jury members for USinP, and of course, the
filmmakers themselves created a fun and inspiring event.  What a great international film business we
are in!

As I write this, the
mailman just delivered a book, entitled Titra Film, A Cinematographic and
Family Chronicle
, sent to me by my fellow jury-member, Isabelle Frilley,
who now, along with her children, owns and operates Titra, now called TitraTVS, the sub-titling company founded by
her grandparents in 1933 shortly after talkies made subtitling de riguer
involved in the world of cinema, and inspired by her literary tastes, Isabelle has
also helped develop multi-lingual subtitling for cinema, subtitling for the
hearing impaired, and audio-description for the visually impaired. For many
years, Isabelle Frilley has been a member of the juries of “Ciné en
” (for Latin-American cinema,
in Toulouse), of “Cinéma en Mouvement” (for
Mediterranean cinema, in San Sebastian), and of the Caméra d’Or in Cannes.  She is only one of the illustrious jury among
whom I was honored to count myself. 
Others included Julie Bergeron who runs Cannes Marche’s Producer Network among other things, Europa Distribution
Eve Gabereau of Soda Pictures, a London-based indie distributor, Ciné Cinéma’s
Bruno Deloye, Firefly’s Philippe Reinaudo, Commune Image’s Michael Werner, Eaux Vives Production’s  Xénia Maingot, and
 Matthias Lavaux, the cofounder of touscoprod,
the French crowdfunding website dedicated to movies, launched in January 2009.

1982 by Tommy Oliver

USinP’s winner, Tommy
, whose previous film Kinyarwanda was a favorite of mine at
Sundance a couple of years ago which Roger Ebert ranked 6 on his top ten
films of 2011, is now in post on 1982 and
won US$60,000 worth of post production services.

Tommy’s directorial debut, 1982, starring Hill
,  Sharon
, La La Anthony, Bokeem Woodbine, Wayne Brady
and Ruby Dee,  tells the story of a black father whose wife succumbs
to a crack cocaine addiction and his efforts to shield their 10-year old
daughter from the ill effects of having a drug addicted mother while trying to
wean her off of her addiction.  It’s set in 1982 in Philadelphia at the
very onset of the crack cocaine epidemic and ultimately, it’s a story about a
father doing whatever he can to protect his family. It’s semi- autobiographical
story and inspired by true events.

He also wrote and produced 1982 which also received a
prestigious San Francisco Film Society KRF grant .

Tommy himself is a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University, a
Microsoft alum and founder of Seattle-based interactive media firm Viliv
Studios as well as LA- based production company Confluential Films, which he
started with actor/ author/ speaker Hill Harper.

I can confidently predict that this film will be seen on the
festival circuit as it brings a humanity to the issue we’ve seen dozens of time
– crack in communities – but never like this.  We don’t see the ugly
community violated by violence.  We see a loving family coping with a
personal and private disaster.  Hill Harper plays a loving, compassionate
good man.  Comparisons will be made with Fruitvale Station, another
African American “issue” film (police brutally killing an innocent family man)
which will be released July 12 by The Weinstein Company. We need more
such films to create a consistent pipeline for audiences who will pay to see
these films.  AFor his film 1982, he has devised a
super-sophisticated, break-the-record domestic marketing plan.  I am eager
to watch the trajectory of this one.

The runner-up film, BFE
was supported
with great gusto by its director and producer, Shawn Telford and producer, Mark
Carr who brought a special energy to the entire event and were full of fun
throughout.  Shawn charmed his French
hosts with his French.  Watch for the
film and with it, watch for Shawn!

I BELIEVE IN UNICORNS is the feature debut of director Leah Meyerhoff. It
was nominated for a Calvin Klein grant at the 2012 Gotham Independent Film
Awards and stars Natalia Dyer, Peter Vack, Toni Meyerhoff, Julia Garner, Joshua
Leonard and Amy Seimetz.

As noteworthy as the film is and as talented as Leah is, the
producers themselves are also notable and prolific! Allison Anders, Katie Mustard
and Heather Rae who also
produced the Academy Award nominated film Frozen
, starring Melissa Leo, which won the 2008 Grand Jury Prize at
Sundance, opened the New York Film Society’s New Directors/New Film series and
was acquired by Sony PicturesClassics. She won the 2008 Independent Spirit
Award for her production work on Frozen River. Heather also produced Mosquita Y Mari (Sundance 2012),  Backroads
(Sundance 2000), Trudell (2005
Sundance Film Festival), IBID (2008
SXSW), The Dry Land (Sundance 2010),
Magic Valley (Tribeca 2011), and is
currently in post-production on Five
(with Tom Sizemore), Ass
(with Alicia Silverstone and Vincent D’Onofrio) and Plastic Jesus (with Paul Schneider and
Mackenzie Foy). For six years she was a programmer for the Sundance Film
Festival and ran the Native Program at the Sundance Institute and recently
joined the Sundance Board of Trustees.


Michael Tully made his directorial debut, Cocaine Angel, world
premiered at the 2006 International Film Festival Rotterdam, Michael Tully (Director) was
named one of Filmmaker Magazine’s 25 New Faces of Independent Film. His
follow-up, Silver Jew, world premiered at the 2007 South By Southwest Film
Festival. In 2011, he wrote, directed, and acted in Septien, which world
premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and was picked up for distribution by
Sundance Selects. He’s currently in post-production on his newest feature, Ping
Pong Summer, which he wrote and directed. Since 2008, he has been the head
writer/editor of, a website devoted to championing ambitious

Producers: George Rush,
Brooke Bernard, Ryan Zacarias, Michael Gottwald, Billy Peterson, Jeff Allard

Main Cast :
John Hannah,
Leah Thompson,
Judah Friedlander, 
Amy Sedaris


Director : Jaffe Zinn Producer : Jaffe Zinn and Sterling

from the jury, the films were seen by members of Europa Distribution:

Alpha Violet – Keiko Funato
& Virgine Devesa – France – Sales agent Bac Films – Crasset Véronique – France – Sales agent &
Distributor Bankside – Alice
Ramsey – UK Sales Agent
Chrysalis –
Camille Lopato – France – Distributor Content – Toby Melling –
UK – Sales Agent
Coproduction Office –
Marina Perales & Philippe Bober – France – Sales Agent Distrib Films – François Scippa-Kohn –
France – Distributor
Equation –
Didier Costet – France – Distributor
– Manon Galibert – France – Distributor
Film Republic Rashid Xavier UK sales agent
Films Boutique – Jean-Christophe Simon – Germany – Sales Agent
Hanway – Fabien Westerhoff – UK –
Sales Agent
Happiness – Isabelle
Dubar – France – Distributor
– Laurent Aléonard & Goldfain Philippe – France – Distributor
Imagine – Bral Tinne – Benelux –
Jour 2 Fête – Sarah
Chazelle – France – Distributor
K5 Intl
– Oda Schäfer – Germany – Sales Agent
KMBO – Grégoire Marchal – France – Distributor
Le Pacte – Nathalie Jeung – France –
Sales Agent & Distributor
Level K –
Freja Johanne – Denmark – Sales agent
Film Festival – Aurélie Godet – France – Festival
Memento Film – Tanja Meissner &
Ram Murali – France – Sales Agent & Distributor MK2 – Emmanuelle de Couesbouc / Juliette Shramek – France – Sales
Agent Premium Films – Karwan
Kasia – France – Sales Agent & Distributor
Reel Suspects – Frederic Gentet – France – Sales Agent
Rezo – Sebastien Chesneau – France –
Sales Agent & Distributor
– Louise Bellicaud – France – Producer
Soda Pictures – Eve Gabereau – UK – Distributor
Sophie Dulac Distribution – Eric
Vicente – France – Distributor
Works – Steve Bestwick – UK – Sales Agent
Tribeca Film Festival – Frédéric Boyer – USA – Festival
Trust Nordisk – Silje Glimsdal –
Denmark – Sales Agent
Urban –
Claire Charles-Gervais – France – Sales Agent & Distributor
Versatile – Violaine Pichon & Pape
Boye – France – Sales Agent
Management – Loïc Magneron – France – Sales Agent
Wild Bunch – Emmanuelle Fellous –
France – Sales Agent & Distributor
– Martine Scoupe – France – Distributor


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