Oscar winner nabs Tisch's Riese Award

Academy Award winner Keiko Ibi, the New York U graduate student whose thesis film — “The Personals: Improvisations on Romance in the Golden Years” — won this year’s Oscar for best short documentary, recently received another honor: $10,000 from restaurateur and patron of the arts Dennis Riese, prexy-CEO of the Riese Organization.

The Riese Award is part of the Dennis Riese Film Production Fund at the Tisch School of the Arts. It’s granted annually to a deserving film student near completion of his or her pic to help defray the costs of post-production.

Ibi’s documentary, which had its HBO Signature premiere April 25, follows a group of Jewish senior citizens on the Lower East Side of Manhattan as they rehearse and perform an original play about older people looking for dates through the personal ads. The film depicts members of the group on- and offstage, presenting a portrait of lonely seniors hungry for love, sex and companionship.

“With Keiko winning her award, we have both won, we have both fulfilled a dream,” said Riese, a member of the Dean’s Council of the Tisch School of the Arts. “It is my intent that the Dennis Riese Film Production Fund be expanded to include a series of awards designed to assist various undergraduates in production of their senior thesis film.”

To that end, Riese announced plans to create a $5,000 Keiko Ibi Award to be granted annually.

The Riese Organization operates approximately 130 restaurants in the New York City area, including Martini’s Restaurant & Bar where the honorary reception was held.

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Film, photo and TV production crews can have a ringside seat at New York’s Church Street Boxing Gym in downtown Manhattan. Showtime shot the promo for its Rocky Marciano special there.

The gym offers ceilings nearly 30 feet high, an 80-foot-long catwalk for shooting overhead ring angles, two completely separate boxing areas with elevated regulation-sized rings, ample power supply, hardwood floors and historic atmosphere complemented by Joe Louis and Jack Dempsey murals.

Church Street also will make its professional and amateur boxing clientele available for casting and supply boxing prop rentals.

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North Carolina remained among the top U.S. filmmaking states in 1998 with an estimated $323 million in movie, TV and commercial revenues, according to a recently released Commerce Dept. report.

The state hosted 40 major productions last year, including TV series “Dawson’s Creek” and 16 feature films with Universal’s “Patch Adams,” DreamWorks’ “Forces of Nature” and MGM/UA’s “The Rage: Carrie II” topping the list.

Commerce reported direct spending statewide of $64.8 million from feature film production; $39 million from 19 TV episodes, four TV movies and one TV pilot; $119 million from commercials; and $100.8 million from indigenous production and support services.

This activity created 23,500 jobs for North Carolinians.

The report, compiled by the North Carolina Film Office and the state’s regional film commissions, confirmed that Canadian financial incentives impacted North Carolina’s industry revenues, which were down 1% in 1998 — $6 million — from the $329 million reported in 1997.

While the loss was not enough to affect North Carolina’s standing among top filmmaking states in the country, officials admitted measures are being planned to counteract the Canadian threat.

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