Canadian pair seize ‘Moment’

The uphill, guerrilla-style journey of indie filmmakers Aaron Kim Johnston and Jack Clements from Winnipeg to the U.S. is a lot closer to completion with “For the Moment.”

Their second film, “Moment” is a $ 2.8 million period piece set on the Manitoba plains during World War II. It chronicles what happens to a quiet burg when ensigns from a nearby pilot school turn lives and loves upside down during a brief summer.

“Moment” stars burgeoning Oz star Russell Crowe (“Romper Stomper,” TriStar’s upcoming “The Quick and the Dead” with Sharon Stone) and Canadian thesps Christianne Hirt, Wanda Cannon and Scott Kraft.

Producer Jeff Dowd from Shadow Hill Entertainment (“Zebrahead”) has coached the duo. “I’ve worked with independents like John Sayles and the (Joel and Ethan) Coens, and these guys from the middle of nowhere somehow managed to make really good films,” he said.

Dowd went on to explain that “Moment” will be edited and shown to U.S. distribs after the holidays, with a likely release sometime next fall.

“This is a romantic film that would play to folks who liked ‘Enchanted April, ‘ ” Dowd said. “We’ll most likely get picked up by a specialized distribber like October or Sony Classics.”

Since “Moment” likely cannot get screen space until after next summer, Dowd said an added bonus is that the TriStar P&A train for “Dead” will only help Crowe — and “Moment.”

The filmers’ first outing, “The Last Winter,” fell between the distrib cracks both in Canada and the U.S. and survived only because they refused to give up.

“It was real tough to get a distrib deal on ‘Winter,’ ” said Clements, who wound up lugging the reels himself with Johnston, platforming screen by screen in 80 U.S. and 190 Canadian towns before landing a U.S. deal with Fox Video.

As a result, Carmike and Cineplex took note and laid the foundation for the duo’s second south-of-the-border excursion.

The National Film Board in Canada also helped bolster the northern run of “Winter.”

In Hollywood, the pair recently showed “Moment” to Creative Artists Agency and the William Morris Agency. They also set up private screenings with major helmers — all to get advice on where to cut the film before mounting the all-out attack on U.S. distribs and exhibs.

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