Volcano ash disrupts showbiz plans

Grounded industryites struggle to make alternate plans

The Icelandic volcanic eruption continues to affect film and music bizzers jetting to and from Europe.

This week’s City of Lights, City of Angels French film festival is among the Los Angeles events most affected, as filmmakers await word whether they will be able to fly out of France.

A handful of acts missed their dates at the Coachella music festival over the weekend, and several delegations at the AFCI Locations Trade Show last week that had planned to return home to Northern Europe, or had flights connecting through airports in that region, were left stranded in Santa Monica as the volcanic ash in the atmosphere continued to disrupt air travel.

Olivier-Rene Veillon, director of the Ile de France Film Commission, intends to leave Wednesday so he can attend meetings scheduled in Paris on Friday. But he acknowledged he may have to change those plans. Meanwhile, cancellations of U.S.-bound flights from Gaul have impacted meetings Veillon has planned at the studios early this week, as key participants weren’t able to make the trip.

Veillon particularly regrets the adverse effect on the City of Lights, City of Angels fest, which runs Monday through Sunday.

Colcoa fest director Francois Truffart said the festival has nearly all the prints needed, so the event will proceed as planned. But some filmmakers are unlikely to participate in Q&A’s and events planned for them. American co-screenwriter of tonight’s opening night film “Heartbreaker,” Jeremy Doner, will attend, but director Pascal Chaumeil was not sure if his flight would be cancelled. “It is really a nightmare,” Truffart said.

Stockholm film commissioner Ingrid Rudefors is flying to New York today to meet with a Swedish delegation attending the Northern Exposures Swedish Cinema fest at Lincoln Center that runs April 16-May 4. Her plans to return home Saturday, however, are in limbo, as are those of her fellow Swedes in Gotham. “We have a lot of people from the business stuck in the States right now,” she said. “It’s a weird feeling.”

Robert-James Bova, head of locations and production support for the Abu Dhabi Film Commission, is one of the lucky ones, having booked a nonstop flight to the Middle East that travels over the Arctic, bypassing the ash cloud. Less fortunate is commission topper David Shepheard, who was booked Sunday on a flight via London. Instead he went to Malibu to “chill out.”

Belle Doyle of Scottish Screen, Scotland’s film office, plans to leave L.A. on Thursday but isn’t optimistic. Her hotel in Santa Monica, the Sheraton Delfina, has offered to extend the special AFCI rate to attendees unable to return home, and Doyle intends to make the most of it. “There are worse places to be stranded in than sunny L.A.,” she said.

(Pat Saperstein contributed to this report.)

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