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Ray Pride

By Ray Pride

Oliver's hijacking: Par shuts down WTC art project


The Smoking Gun headlines pages from the public filing of a lawsuit, “Paramount Sues Over Hijacked WTC Film.” The filing, in which we find Movie City Indie cited, states “The film… the first theatrical motion picture to deal with the bombing of the World Trade Center on 9/11 and the heroic efforts of countless rescue workers and regular citizens… is being directed by renowned director Oliver Stone and will star, among others, Nicolas Cage, Michael Peña, Maria Bello and Maggie Gyllenhaal.” Smoking Gun writes: “Paramount Pictures is suing a… D.C. filmmaker for copyright infringement, claiming that the man used a “bootleg script” to create a knockoff version of director Oliver Stone’s upcoming film on the September 11 attacks. The studio contends in a federal lawsuit that Chris Moukarbel, 28… obtained a copy of the screenplay for World Trade Center and used the script as the basis for a 12-minute film that mirrors “a significant portion” of Stone’s work…. Paramount’s June 16 complaint, a copy of which you’ll find [at the link], charges that Moukarbel’s film, like Stone’s production, centers around a pair of rescue workers trapped in debris following the collapse of the towers. Included… are nine pages from the World Trade Center screenplay that Paramount contends were used by Moukarbel for his unnamed work, which he posted online (but has since removed)… The Paramount complaint… seeks a permanent injunction barring Moukarbel from distributing his film. [Movie City Indie, which has no connection to and has had no contact with Mourkarbel, is cited in evidence, in having linked to the downed site, as having helped “the Infringing Picture” be “distributed to the public.” The illustration is from the side-by-side comparisons in the public filing of the lawsuit; the left side is Mourkarbel, the right is StoneParViacom.]

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“Ten years ago at Telluride, I said on a panel that theatrical distribution was dying. It seemed obvious to me. I was surprised how many in the audience violently objected: ‘People will always want to go to the movies!’ That’s true, but it’s also true that theatrical cinema as we once knew it has died. Theatrical cinema is now Event Cinema, just as theatrical plays and musical performances are Events. No one just goes to a movie. It’s a planned occasion. Four types of Event Cinema remain.
1. Spectacle (IMAX-style blockbusters)
2. Family (cartoon like features)
3. Horror (teen-driven), and
4. Film Club (formerly arthouse but now anything serious).

There are isolated pockets like black cinema, romcom, girl’s-night-out, seniors, teen gross-outs, but it’s primarily those four. Everything else is TV. Now I have to go back to episode five of ‘Looming Tower.'”
~ Paul Schrader

“Because of my relative candor on Twitter regarding why I quit my day job, my DMs have overflowed with similar stories from colleagues around the globe. These peeks behind the curtains of film festivals, venues, distributors and funding bodies weren’t pretty. Certain dismal patterns recurred (and resonated): Boards who don’t engage with or even understand their organization’s artistic mission and are insensitive to the diverse neighborhood in which their organization’s venue is located; incompetent founders and/or presidents who create only obstacles, never solutions; unduly empowered, Trumpian bean counters who chip away at the taste and experiences that make organizations’ cultural offerings special; expensive PR teams that don’t bring to the table a bare-minimum familiarity with the rich subcultural art form they’re half-heartedly peddling as “product”; nonprofit arts organizations for whom art now ranks as a distant-second goal behind profit.”
~ Eric Allen Hatch