Berney in 'Splendor'
PARK CITY — Bidders Tuesday at the Sundance Film Festival continued to fuss over dramatic competition titles like “Pieces of April,” “Thirteen” and “The Station Agent.” They also spent the evening standing in line for “Bookies,” the sophomore effort of “Happy, Texas” writer-director Mark Illsley that stars Nick Stahl and Lukas Haas.
However, the only company to close a deal was tiny Gotham distrib Women Make Movies, which quietly acquired North American rights to American Spectrum docu “Love & Diane.”
The directorial debut of Jennifer Dworkin, “Love & Diane” is the story of a recovering crack addict who is reunited with her children after years of addiction, only to discover that her oldest daughter seems to be about to repeat her mother’s tragic mistakes. Dworkin produced the pic, which was exec produced by Jennifer Fox.
The film will bow at New York’s Film Forum in April. It’s a presentation of the Independent Television Service and a co-production of France’s Arte. The BBC will broadcast the title in the U.K. this spring and it will air on PBS series “P.O.V.” in 2004. The Film Sales Co.’s Andrew Hurwitz reps the pic.
Another television production that seems destined for the bigscreen is “American Splendor,” an HBO Films production that premiered Monday night. Based on the underground comicbook series of the same name, “American Splendor” is the true story of Harvey Pekar, an eccentric and self-described flunky file clerk who finds salvation and a measure of fame by documenting his life in comics illustrated by artists like Robert Crumb.
Among the fans of “American Splendor” is Bob Berney’s Newmarket Films, which has established a solid relationship with HBO thanks to its successful distribution of “Real Women Have Curves.” However, no deal has been made.
Written and directed by Robert Pulcini and Shari Springer Berman (“Off the Menu: The Last Days of Chasen’s”) and produced by Ted Hope of Good Machine, “American Splendor” stars Paul Giamatti and Hope Davis and combines biopic, animation and documentary techniques.
The film also includes interviews with Pekar and his wife, Joyce Brabner, who were the guests of honor at an HBO-hosted dinner held at Main Street’s Wahso following the premiere. As the evening came to a close around 1 a.m. Tuesday, the voluble Pekar exhorted his wife to leave the party. (“The car’s waiting, Joyce!”) However, the self-possessed Brabner allowed fans to help her with her coat as she explained how she knew she was ready to marry him within hours of meeting.
“We had been corresponding for a long time, so I already knew we were well matched,” she said. “I just needed to see him in person to make sure he didn’t look like a Crumb drawing.”
Bids also are coming in for Summit Entertainment’s “dot the i” and ContentFilm’s “Party Monster.”