Movie City Indie Archive for January, 2009

Oscar quotes: Milk screenwriter Dustin Lance Black

Mid-Oscar morn, studios email quotes from their nominees, and they’re often of the template of “so much fun working with,” “such great material.” Milk screenwriter Dustin Lance Black’s stands out: “I won’t lie, I was up at 4:30 AM Pacific Time this morning. I couldn’t sleep. I took a shower, I started washing dishes, I did a load of laundry… I was completely losing my mind waiting for that local ABC telecast. My heart jumped when Josh Brolin got nominated, but the tears started flowing when Gus got his. I couldn’t have asked for a better director for this project, a fiercer protector of this little spec script that meant so much to me. And that script would have been nothing without the dedicated talent of nominee Sean Penn, who truly inhabited Harvey’s soul, and Josh Brolin, James Franco, Emile Hirsch, Diego Luna, Alison Pill, Joseph Cross, and on and on. This film was a real team effort. By the time the nominations got to Best Picture, I was a wreck. Tears… lots of tears. I couldn’t breathe. My big hope had been that the Academy would recognize our film enough that Harvey’s story could get a wider release, but I could never have predicted 8 nominations including Best Picture. I’m still pinching myself. When I first heard Harvey’s story at 13, I was a closeted kid living in a conservative Mormon, military home. It was a rough time for me. Hearing Harvey’s story not only gave me the hope he talked so often about, it very likely saved my life. What happened this morning means this film WILL win a wider audience, and maybe, just maybe Harvey’s message will reach some of those kids out there today who have been told they are “less than,” that they are sick, that God does not love them, and perhaps, from the grave, 30 years later, Harvey might give those kids the hope and love he gave me so long ago. It might sound overblown to some, but I firmly believe these nominations are life-saving. I can’t thank the Academy enough.”

PR: Polanski goes Ghost

Over the transom: OSCAR-WINNING FILMMAKER ROMAN POLANSKI’S UPCOMING POLITICAL THRILLER THE GHOST TO STAR EWAN MCGREGOR, PIERCE BROSNAN, KIM CATTRALL, TOM WILKINSON, JIM BELUSHI AND OLIVIA WILLIAMS
Project to Begin Production in Germany February 2009
PARIS, January 21, 2009 — Academy Award®-winning filmmaker Roman Polanski is to direct his first contemporary thriller in more than twenty years. His new project, THE GHOST, will begin shooting in Berlin in two weeks’ time, on February 4th. The movie tells the story of a former British Prime Minister, Adam Lang, (played by Pierce Brosnan) who is holed up on an island off the Eastern seaboard of the USA in midwinter, writing his memoirs. When his long-standing aide drowns, a professional ghostwriter (played by Ewan McGregor) is sent out to help him finish the book. The anonymous ghostwriter is quickly drawn into a political and sexual intrigue involving Lang’s wife, Ruth (played by Olivia Williams) and his aide (played by Kim Cattrall). Hanging over Lang is the threat of a war crimes trial and a mysterious secret from his past that threatens to jeopardize international relations. Jim Belushi, Robert Pugh and recent Golden Globe® Tom Wilkinson have also joined the cast.

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Looking at Sundance

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I’m my posting Sundance images and video over at the MCN Sundance blog; the link is here.

IFC Films' Sundance Press release about VOD day-and-date for 5 films at SxSW

Jargon, yes, but an intriguing enterprise. Steven Soderbergh and an omelet bar were the headline attractions for an announcement about another permutation of IFC Films’ marketing. Here’s the release (bonus Bela Tarr news, too!).
ON THE EVE OF THE ON-DEMAND LAUNCH OF STEVEN SODERBERGH’S ‘CHE’, IFC FILMS ANNOUNCES NEW INITIATIVES AND ACQUISITIONS
IFC Films to partner with SXSW to create a first-ever nationwide on-demand festival experience; Joe Swanberg’s World Premiere ALEXANDER THE LAST, starring Jess Weixler, and produced by Noah Baumbach, Anish Savjani and Swanberg, will be the first film to premiere simultaneously at a festival and on movies-on-demand through IFC Festival Direct Company also announces a wide range of new acquisitions for IFC Festival Direct, including new films from Denys Arcand, Philippe Garrel, Amos Gitai,
François Ozon, and Hong Sang-soo.
Park City (UT) (January 19, 2009) – IFC Films, one of the leading foreign and independent film distributors, announced today an unprecedented partnership with the South By Southwest Film (SXSW) Conference and Festival, in which five films screening at SXSW will simultaneously be available nationwide on the IFC Festival Direct on-demand platform. The line-up will include Joe Swanberg’s latest film ALEXANDER THE LAST, which will be making its world premiere at SXSW and on IFC Festival Direct.
IFC Films also unveiled new acquisitions for IFC Festival Direct, as well as a new genre label “IFC Midnight” which will launch in February. IFC Festival Direct is a program from IFC Films which gives national exposure to critically-acclaimed independent films screened at film festivals each year. Every month, millions of viewers nationwide can choose from six new films that have premiered at major film festivals such as Cannes, Toronto, Venice, Berlin, Sundance, SXSW and AFI. These announcements come two days before IFC Films’ highly-anticipated on-demand release of Steven Soderbergh’s critically-acclaimed CHE, starring Benicio Del Toro. CHE is currently being shown theatrically in a complete ‘roadshow’ format, as well as in two separate parts – CHE PART ONE and CHE PART TWO. To date, CHE has grossed over $500,000 theatrically, and just this weekend had a stellar $10,000 per screen average on 16 screens for the three day weekend as it expanded outside of New York and Los Angeles to the top 10 markets. The on-demand release – to be offered in two parts beginning on Wednesday, January 21st – will make the film available to 50 million homes across the country as part of the IFC In Theaters on-demand platform. Additional films in this program for 2009 include Golden Globe nominees GOMORRAH and EVERLASTING MOMENTS, Oliver Assayas’ SUMMER HOURS, Steve McQueen’s HUNGER, Agnes Jaoui’s LET IT RAIN and Cedric Klapisch’s PARIS.
Said President of IFC Entertainment Jonathan Sehring, “At a time when the U.S. marketplace for truly American independent and foreign films is rapidly changing, and many films are having difficulty getting exposure, IFC Films has created new and exciting opportunities for a wide range of films to find an audience. Our innovative programs, which we began launching nearly three years ago, offer high-quality movie choices in an exceptionally diverse range of formats. We’re excited by the growing popularity of IFC in Theaters and IFC Festival Direct, not only among audiences, who are responding in ever-growing numbers, but also among filmmakers, who are recognizing the opportunity these platforms provide in terms of bringing their work to the largest possible audience.”
SXSW FILM FESTIVAL PARTNERSHIP
IFC Films and Austin’s South By Southwest (SXSW) Film Conference and Festival (March 13-21) are announcing an unprecedented new partnership which will give film lovers coast-to-coast the opportunity to experience one of America’s most vibrant and exciting film festivals as it happens. As part of this initiative, a select group of five exceptional films screening at the 2009 SXSW Film Festival will simultaneously be available nationwide on demand through IFC Films’ IFC Festival Direct program. New IFC Films acquisitions not previously announced are denoted below with an asterisk.
These films include the March 14 world premiere of ALEXANDER THE LAST* from acclaimed director and SXSW favorite Joe Swanberg (NIGHTS AND WEEKENDS, HANNAH TAKES THE STAIRS). Produced by Swanberg, Academy Award® -nominee Noah Baumbach (THE SQUID AND THE WHALE) and Anish Savjani (WENDY AND LUCY), the film stars Jess Weixler (TEETH), Justin Rice (MUTUAL APPRECIATION), Barlow Jacobs (SHOTGUN STORIES), Amy Seimetz (WRISTCUTTERS, A LOVE STORY), Josh Hamilton and Jane Adams in a tender exploration of the pleasures and pitfalls of creativity, and the impact that intimate professional relationships can have on a young marriage. This will mark the third time IFC Films and Swanberg have partnered together, following NIGHTS AND WEEKENDS and HANNAH TAKES THE STAIRS.
Additional films in the IFC Films-SXSW partnership include two SXSW premieres: Javor Gardev’s striking neo-noir ZIFT, Bulgaria’s official 2009 Oscar® entry; and Matthew Newton’s THREE BLIND MICE*, a dark comedy about three Australian naval officers on leave for one night before returning to Iraq. Also included as part of the partnership are two celebrated films from the 2008 SXSW Festival which will have encore screenings at this year’s festival: Barry Jenkins’ Independent Spirit and Gotham award-nominated MEDICINE FOR MELANCHOLY; and Joe Maggio’s poignant drama PAPER COVERS ROCK*.
Said President of IFC Entertainment Jonathan Sehring, “As IFC Festival Direct continues to grow and gain momentum, we are taking advantage of new opportunities like this partnership to make the platform even more timely, and even more closely related to the festival experience.”
Said filmmaker Joe Swanberg, “I am thrilled to continue my relationship with IFC Films. Their movies-on-demand platform allows personal independent films like mine to reach the widest audience possible, and this new collaboration will allow cinephiles outside of the major cities to participate in film culture as it happens.”
“SXSW, known for innovation and integration across its film, interactive, and music conferences, is thrilled to lead the way with this new initiative,” said Janet Pierson, Producer of SXSW Film Conference and Festival. “Conversations are getting louder about how festivals can and should aggressively help filmmakers use new technologies to reach a reach a broader audience, and IFC Films is a natural partner for us to make this happen. We share their goal of bringing new, exciting, high quality films to an eager audience. They are not only aesthetically aligned with our philosophies, but also truly supportive of our program, consistently buying many of our emerging films (eight alone in 2008), as well as bringing great films to show at SXSW.”
To raise awareness of the SXSW partnership, IFC Films will take advantage of its national reach and will run promotional ads that will appear on all major cable systems, as well as on the Independent Film Channel (IFC) television network throughout the month of March.

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Chicago in movies, Chicago in photographs: a portfolio

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A portfolio of fifty photographs of Chicago that parallel my memories of movies shot there is up at Film in Focus. From the introduction: “Movies, however great or awful, play in present tense. But memories deepen them, like in the most cryptic reaches of dreams. Movies go on location in search of this thisness, for authenticity. If you know a city, or wish you could know it, glimpses of a familiar or iconographic landscape will pull you into yourself. I feel that way thinking of movies set in Chicago. These pictures began as research for an as-yet unproduced screenplay set in the city where I’ve lived almost all my adult life. The images became a lucid dreaming of sorts, of customary paths and recurrent figures. But as well, they reflect impressions of half-remembered or misremembered movies set on this patch of prairie by the water, working as parallels of mood in mind, if not precisely what you would find slipping a DVD out of its case and into this moment in time.” [The portfolio is at the link.]

Sleepwalking through Bresson

Jonathan Rosenbaum has written about his encounters with Robert Bresson as a young cineaste in Paris, and he’s uploaded a frame grab of his moment as a Bressonian model. “ It was a fall evening, as I recall, not too far from the Palais de Chaillot, and a bit on the chilly side,” he notes. [More at the link.]

Cookin' with the Man In The Black Apron


Johnny Cash in the cucina.

Wim Wenders on speed

Park City bound: looking back and substantially west

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Between now and the end of Sundance, there will be non-Sundance items here, but the flurry of posts of photos, video, reviews and other stuff from my hand will be at the 10 Days of Sundance blog, which is also linked on the front page. It’s zero just past dusk in Chicago now: I look forward to the civil, silver powder of the Wasatch Range gleaming under the Wednesday night moon.

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[PR] Focus Features flacks their 2009 slate

NEW YORK, January 12th, 2009 – Focus Features CEO James Schamus today announced the company’s domestic theatrical release slate for calendar year 2009, confirming several dates for the seven titles total. Mr. Schamus said, “The 2009 releases from Focus represent the most diverse lineup in the company’s history. In addition to unveiling highly anticipated new films from directors with whom we have already had great success, such as Ang Lee, Jim Jarmusch and Joel and Ethan Coen, the complete slate covers a diverse range of genres including animation.”
The latter is represented by the company’s nationwide release on February 6th of LAIKA Entertainment’s Coraline, marking focuseryU567.jpgFocus’ first-ever animated movie. It is a stop-motion animated feature – and, as the first one to be conceived and photographed in stereoscopic 3-D, unlike anything moviegoers have ever experienced before. Combining the visionary imaginations of two premier fantasists, director/screenwriter Henry Selick (The Nightmare Before Christmas) and author Neil Gaiman (Sandman), Coraline is a wondrous and thrilling, fun and suspenseful adventure. The (voice) cast includes Dakota Fanning (in the title role), Teri Hatcher (in a dual role), Jennifer Saunders, Dawn French, Keith David, John Hodgman, Robert Bailey Jr., and Ian McShane. Coraline will open in 3-D-equipped theaters nationally and will also simultaneously open in non-3-D-equipped theaters nationwide.
Writer/director Cary Joji Fukunaga’s epic dramatic thriller Sin Nombre world-premieres in the dramatic competition at this month’s Sundance Film Festival, and will subsequently open in select cities on March 20th. The filmmaker’s firsthand experiences with Central American immigrants seeking the promise of the U.S. form the basis of the Spanish-language movie. The film stars Paulina Gaitan, Edgar Flores, Kristyan Ferrer, Tenoch Huerta Mejía, Diana García, Luis Fernando Peña, and Héctor Jiménez.
Independent filmmaker Jim Jarmusch’s new film, The Limits of Control, is the story of a mysterious loner (Isaach. De Bankolé), a stranger, whose activities remain meticulously outside the law. He is in the process of completing a job, yet he trusts no one, and his objectives are not initially divulged. The film is set in the striking and varied landscapes of contemporary Spain (both urban and otherwise). Joining Mr. De Bankolé in the cast for the writer/director are Hiam Abbass, Gael García Bernal, Paz De La Huerta, Alex Descas, John Hurt, Youki Kudoh, Bill Murray, Jean-François Stévenin, Tilda Swinton, and Luis Tosar. Co-financed by Focus with Entertainment Farm, The Limits of Control will be released in exclusive engagements on May 22nd.
Opening on June 5th in limited release is Away We Go, a contemporary comedy directed by Academy Award winner Sam Mendes from an original screenplay by Dave Eggers and Vendela Vida. The movie follows the journey of an expectant couple (John Krasinski of The Office and Maya Rudolph of Saturday Night Live), as they travel the U.S. in search of a place to put down roots and raise a family. Rounding out the cast are Jeff Daniels, Carmen Ejogo, Jim Gaffigan, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Josh Hamilton, Allison Janney, Melanie Lynskey, Chris Messina, Catherine O’Hara, and Paul Schneider. Away We Go is produced and co-financed with Focus by Big Beach.
Taking Woodstock, the new film from Academy Award-winning director Ang Lee, is a 1969-set true story about a man, Elliot Tiber (Demetri Martin), who inadvertently played a pivotal role in making the Woodstock Music and Arts Festival into the famed happening it was. Mr. Tiber found himself swept up in a generation-defining experience that would change his life, and American culture, forever. Based on the book by Mr. Tiber with Tom Monte, the screenplay adaptation is by Mr. Schamus. The cast also includes Emile Hirsch, Imelda Staunton, Henry Goodman, Jonathan Groff, Mamie Gummer, Eugene Levy, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, and Liev Schreiber. Taking Woodstock opens in select cities on August 14th.
Student Academy Award winner Shane Acker directs the animated fantasy epic 9, a feature-length expansion of his short film of the same name. Produced by Tim Burton, Timur Bekmambetov, and Jim Lemley, the surreal tale takes place in a world parallel to our own, a post-apocalyptic fantasy in which a band of courageous rag dolls battles for the survival of civilization. The voice cast includes Elijah Wood, Jennifer Connelly, Crispin Glover, Martin Landau, Christopher Plummer, and John C. Reilly; the screenplay is by Pamela Pettler. 9 will be released in exclusive engagements on September 9th – appropriately marking its release date as 9/9/09.
Academy Award-winning writer/directors Joel and Ethan Coen’s A Serious Man is the story of an ordinary man’s search for clarity in a universe where Jefferson Airplane is on the radio and F-Troop is on TV. It is 1967, and Larry Gopnik (Michael Stuhlbarg), a physics professor at a quiet Midwestern university, has just been informed by his wife Judith (Sari Lennick) that she is leaving him. She has fallen in love with one of his more pompous colleagues, Sy Ableman (Fred Melamed), who seems to her a more substantial person than the feckless Larry. Larry’s unemployable brother Arthur (Richard Kind) is sleeping on the couch, his son Danny (Aaron Wolf) is a discipline problem and a shirker at Hebrew school, and his daughter Sarah (Jessica McManus) is filching money from his wallet in order to save up for a nose job. While his wife and Sy Ableman blithely make new domestic arrangements, and his brother becomes more and more of a burden, an anonymous hostile letter-writer is trying to sabotage Larry’s chances for tenure at the university. Also, a graduate student seems to be trying to bribe him for a passing grade while at the same time threatening to sue him for defamation. Plus, the beautiful woman next door torments him by sunbathing nude. Struggling for equilibrium, Larry seeks advice from three different rabbis. Can anyone help him cope with his afflictions and become a righteous person – a mensch – a serious man?

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Wim Wenders short about the newest Leica camera

[PR] Che roadshow soldiers on: 9 more cities before VOD

In the morning mail: IFC FILMS TAKES “CHE” ON THE ROAD AGAIN
Roadshow Edition to open in 9 additional markets including San Francisco following sold out screenings in New York and Los Angeles
“IFC Films, one of the leading independent and foreign film distributors, announced today that it will take “Che,” the Special Roadshow Edition on the road again to 9 additional markets on Friday, January 16th following the huge success of the film in New York and Los Angeles. In just three weeks, the film has grossed $244,857 from single theater engagements with only two shows a day in New York and Los Angeles. The film will open in Chicago on Friday, January 16th at the Landmark Century Center.

“Che” had the highest week gross of 2008 at Landmark’s Nuart Theater in Los Angeles with a take of $26,130. At the IFC Center in NY, “Che” had an amazing run with a first week gross of $37,451, setting a new record for the IFCCenter as its top-grossing week ever. Its momentum continued to build in its second week, selling out 12 of its 14 shows, as its second week gross rose to $46,000.
On January 16th, “Che,” the Special Roadshow Edition, will unspool in 9 additional markets. Like in New York and Los Angeles, the film will be shown in its entirety, commercial and trailer free with an intermission and limited edition program book at every screening. Said Steven Soderbergh, “A lot of people told me I was crazy to push for a Roadshow presentation of ‘Che,’ because American moviegoers aren’t adventurous enough. Fortunately, the results in New York and Los Angeles prove otherwise. IFC Films has backed the Roadshow idea from the beginning and I am totally psyched that they are taking this version out on the road, where it belongs.”
Said IFC Entertainment President Jonathan Sehring, “’Che’ has turned out to be the event we hoped it would be. It has been thrilling to see the lines around the block, the cheering crowds and the discussions the film has caused. We’re thrilled we can make Steven’s original vision available with the support of Landmark Theaters and City Cinemas.” Beginning January 21, “Che” will also be available in homes nationwide via IFC In Theaters on-demand service. [Bookings and the rest of the release below.]

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Clown Carr: the Bagger undressed

Considering awards chances of The Dark Knight, David Carr, aka “The Bagger,” unexpectedly assumes a costume. I’d comment, but words race past far too fast to catch.

"Will you marry my son when he turns 18 in 15 years?"



It was worth watching one more of Charlyne Yi’s videos just to read that comment. She’s the star of Sundance entry Paper Hearts, along with bf Michael Cera.

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Trailering Astra Taylor's Examined Life



Fun but hardly light bits from the fine upcoming doc…

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Movie City Indie

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“Would I like to see Wormwood in a theater on a big screen? You betcha. I’d be disingenuous to argue otherwise. But we’re all part of, like it or not, an industry, and what Netflix offers is an opportunity to do different kinds of films in different ways. Maybe part of what is being sacrificed is that they no longer go into theaters. If the choice is between not doing it at all and having it not go to theaters, it’s an easy choice to make.”
~ Errol Morris

“As these stories continue to break, in the weeks since women have said they were harassed and abused by Harvey Weinstein, which was not the birth of a movement but an easy and highly visible shorthand for decades of organizing against sexual harassment that preceded this moment, I hope to gain back my time, my work. Lately, though, I have noticed a drift in the discourse from violated rights to violated feelings: the swelled number of reporters on the beat, the burden on each woman’s story to concern a man “important” enough to report on, the detailed accounting of hotel robes and incriminating texts along with a careful description of what was grabbed, who exposed what, and how many times. What I remember most, from “my story” is how small the sex talk felt, almost dull. I did not feel hurt. I had no pain to confess in public. As more stories come out, I like to think that we would also believe a woman who said, for example, that the sight of the penis of the man who promised her work did not wound her, and that the loss she felt was not some loss of herself but of her time, energy, power.”
~ “The Unsexy Truth About Harassment,” by Melissa Gira Grant