Festival's premiere pix turn heads
PARK CITY — Deals are pending for more than a half-dozen films that have premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, including “Touch of Pink,” “We Don’t Live Here Anymore,” “The Woodsman,” “Super Size Me” and “November.”Execs gave “The Woodsman” high marks after its Monday night bow, but expressed concern over marketing a picture in which the film’s antihero is a pedophile who returns to his hometown. The film stars Kevin Bacon and was directed by Nicole Kassell. “Word Wars,” a competition documentary about Scrabble championships that also debuted Monday evening, received a rapturous audience response. In other fest news:
- The 2004 Sundance/NHK International Filmmakers Awards have been awarded to Hungary’s Gyorgy Palfi for “Taxidermia,” Brazil’s Andrucha Waddington for “House of Sand” and American filmmaker Miranda July for “Me and You and Everyone We Know.” Japanese filmmaker Kosuke Hosokami’s “Tepid Love” received an honorable mention. The annual award is presented to film directors from four global regions: the U.S., Europe, Latin America and Japan. It consists of $10,000 cash and a guarantee from NHK to purchase the Japanese television broadcast rights upon completion of the project. Winners were selected by an international jury on the strengths of their next script and past work. Jury members included Hossein Amini, Miguel Arteta, Toshio Endo, Rodrigo Garcia, Keith Gordon, Yoshio Kakeo, Nicole Holofcener, and Shun’ichi Nagasaki. Established in 1996, the Sundance/NHK International Filmmakers Award was created to honor and support the next generation of independent filmmakers. Sundance works closely with award recipients to provide creative support and assistance in seeking opportunities to finance and distribute their projects. Previous recipients include Walter Salles’ “Central Station,” Chris Eyre’s “Smoke Signals,” Rodrigo Garcia’s “Things You Can Tell Just By Looking at Her,” DeMane Davis and Khari Streeter’s “Lift” and Michael Burke’s “The Mudge Boy.”
- The Humanitas Sundance Feature Film Prize has selected eight trustees to choose the winning writer for the $10,000 cash prize. The winner is chosen among the writers of films that screen at the Sundance Festival or are produced in conjunction with one of Sundance’s filmmaking labs. Trustees are Tony Bui, Charles Burnett, Gina Prince Bythewood, Reggie Bythewood, Dante Di Loreto, Linda Goldstein Knowlton, Lifetime Television senior VP Kelly Goode and Peter Hedges. English-language narrative feature films screened in Dramatic Competition, American Spectrum, Frontier, World Cinema, Native Forum, Park City at Midnight and/or produced in conjunction with the Sundance Institute’s Screenwriter and Filmmaker Labs are eligible for the prize. Submission deadline is April 1. Past winners of the Sundance Feature Film Prize include “Love and Basketball,” “Green Dragon,” “Real Women Have Curves” and “Whale Rider.” This year’s award will be handed out at the Humanitas Prize 30th anniversary luncheon July 8.
- Seventh Art Releasing has acquired worldwide rights to the documentary “Bruce Haack: The King of Techno,” which premiered Monday at the 10th annual Slamdance Film Festival. Directed by Philip Anagnos, pic is a look at the late Haack, an enigmatic electronic musician and inventor whose work inspired Beck, the Beastie Boys and others. This is the feature directing debut for Anagnos, who also acted as producer, writer, cinematographer and editor on the pic.
- International distribution shingle New Films International has launched a feature film production and sales division, planning to produce two or three films a year and invest in projects in need of finishing money. Shingle has earmarked $10 million for the development and production of its own feature film projects this year, according to New Films president Nesim Hason. “We are very pleased to announce the company’s expansion into independent production and worldwide distribution here at the Sundance Film Festival,” Hason said. The company has opened three offices in Latin America and hired Izak Saul as VP of Latin American markets. Shingle, which also operates three movie theaters in Istanbul, has acquired the Latin America, Eastern Europe, Turkish and Baltic distribution rights to “The Merchant of Venice” from Arclight Films. Pic, directed by Michael Radford, stars Al Pacino, Joseph Fiennes and Jeremy Irons and is in production in Luxembourg. Deal was brokered by Ron Gell, VP of worldwide acquisitions and co-production for New Films International, with Arclight’s Nicolas Chartier.