Fort Lauderdale film fest weathers storm

DESPITE UNCERTAINTY in the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew, the Fort Lauderdale Intl. Film Festival has plans to go full-speed ahead with its seventh annual event Nov. 5-22.

As previously reported, the status of the film festival was thrown into question after the cancellation of the second annual Fort Lauderdale Film Market , which was set to run concurrently with the festival. But, fest director Gregory von Ausch said, “We never planned to cancel the event.

“It’s not Pompeii here,” von Ausch said. “Not only have we not canceled the event, we’ve increased the size and scope of the festival.”

The only adjustment made this year will be less emphasis on public galas run in conjunction with the event, von Ausch said. Known for its nightly galas, the fest will decrease the number of public parties this year to four, while more discreet private parties will be held nightly.

“We felt the extensive parties and galas would be in bad taste, given the human tragedy that has happened to our neighbors in the South,” said von Ausch.

More than 30 movies will be screened at the event. The list of festival films includes the opening-night screening of “In the Soup,” Triumph Releasing’s “Zebrahead,” RKO Pictures’ “Laws of Gravity,” SC Entertainment’s “Equinox,” the Swiss film “Kinder Der Landstrasse” and the closing-night screening of the Miramax release “Strictly Ballroom.”

Among luminaries slated to attend the fest are “In the Soup” director Alexandre Rockwell, Betty Buckley, Michael Moore, Jennifer Beals, Les Blank and Robert Burk.

Sponsors include Italian air carrier Alitalia, Delta Airlines, Cellular One and locally based corporations Blockbuster Entertainment and Alamo Rent-a-Car. The Guest Quarters Suite Hotel is the host hotel for fest’s fifth consecutive year. For more information, call von Ausch at (305) 764-4900.

IN OTHER HURRICANE Andrew developments, the Miami-Dade Office of Television & Print announced that more than $ 4.5 million in production dollars have been spent in the area during the five weeks after the big blow.

First Group Intl.’s “Extra Large,” Gecko Films’ “River of Stone,” Capitalvision’s “Marielena” and Low Key Prods.’ “Key West” continued production after brief delays, while Freestone Pictures’ “Only the Strong” and Les Film Vision 4’s “La Florida” started in the weeks after the storm hit.

THE IOWA FILM OFFICE announced that the Mary Beth Hurt starrer “Shimmer” recently completed filming in the tiny town of Toledo, Iowa (pop. 2,500). More than 100 Iowans were used in the cast. Also, second-unit work on the ITC feature “Second Coming” and ABC-TV’s “Coach” was scheduled to wrap this week.

In the first three months of fiscal 1992, total production spending charts out at roughly $ 1.7 million. Much of the early spending came from Grossbart/Barnett Prods.’ telepic “The Woman Who Loved Elvis” (aka “Graced Land”), which starred Roseanne and Tom Arnold under the direction of Bill Bixby. The project was shot in Ottumwa, Iowa (pop. 2,800).

“Filmmakers are always in search of that Americana look that they see in small-town America,” said Film Office manager Wendol Jarvis. “With more than 950 towns (of roughly 1,000 municipalities in the state) below the population of 3, 000, we have many towns untouched by time–perfect for period filmmaking.”

For the fiscal year ended June 30, the Iowa Film Office reported total production spending at $ 5.7 million, up from the $ 5.6 million charted in fiscal 1991. The state record is $ 7.3 million in fiscal 1988, when “Field of Dreams” was produced in the state. For more information on production in Iowa, call Jarvis, (515) 242-4726.

CITING CONCERNS over its impact on the state’s film industry, Nevada Commission on Economic Development has dropped efforts to force film and TV producers working in the state to register with the Motion Picture Division.

The proposal was submitted by film agency chief Robert Hirsch, who wanted filmmakers to submit their scripts to the state agency for review. The idea was dropped after critics called it an infringement of free speech guarantees. Hirsch said the intent was not to censor scripts but to allow the agency to keep track of what productions were under way in the state.

IN AN EFFORT to enhance its status as a production location, the original Las Vegas–in New Mexico– has released an eight-minute videotape to the film, video and advertising industries entitled “Alive Again: America’s Oldest Film Location , Las Vegas, New Mexico.”

A true community effort, the non-profit production was funded by donations from local businesses and individuals. More than 600 videotapes have been donated for Hollywood distribution by Albuquerque-based Duke City Studio and Duke City Dubs.

The Southwestern town (pop. 15,000) has staked its claim as the oldest non-Hollywood film location in the United States, where “hundreds of Westerns, melodramas and serials were shot over a three-year period beginning in 1913.”

Excerpted on the video are Las Vegas footage from Romaine Fielding’s 1913 melodrama “The Rattlesnake” and the 1916 Tom Mix starrer “Local Color.” More recently, Las Vegas has hosted such movies as “Easy Rider,””Convoy,””The Evil, “”Red Dawn” and “Fool for Love.”

The videos are being distributed to location scouts and production companies by the Las Vegas-San Miguel Chamber of Commerce and local Blue Canyon Prods. producer Jim Kerr.

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