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Newton bears ‘Cross’ as kudos hopeful

Helmer pushes late Roy Scheider personal entry

A World War II revenge drama has hit the screens with hopes of awards.

No, it’s not “Inglourious Basterds,” which recently moved into its DVD window, but “Iron Cross,” which played for an Academy-qualifying run in late December in West Hollywood, and at industry screenings.

Produced, written, directed and edited by British indie film entrepreneur Joshua Newton, “Iron Cross” stars Roy Scheider in his final role. The film is Newton’s “what if” personal journey to Nazi Germany, in which he tries to purge the demons that have long haunted him and his late father, a holocaust survivor.

Newton shot “Iron Cross” digitally, mainly in Germany and Poland, in 2007. Post-production took place in Newton’s Beverly Hills home, which he equipped with millions of dollars’ worth of leased equipment. Composers worked in the basement, the vfx team on another level, and Newton installed the edit bay behind a curtain in his bedroom.

Clearly, Newton’s mantra is “do it yourself.”

He finished the locked version on Dec. 13 and immediately sent screeners to HFPA members — too late to swing enough Golden Globes votes his way. Nevertheless, he continues his awards-season campaign.

“Our pre-distribution marketing costs will reach over seven figures,” he says.

In the pic, Scheider plays a retired and widowed NYPD cop — also a holocaust survivor — who travels to his boyhood Germany to reconcile with his estranged son. Once there, he encounters the now elderly SS officer who he thinks murdered his family during the war and becomes obsessed with revenge.

“Roy’s character is inspired by my dad,” says Newton, “and the relationship between that character and his screen son mirrors my relationship with my dad.” The screen son is played by Newton’s son, Alexander, now 17.

While Newton realizes his Oscar campaign for “Iron Cross” is an uphill battle, he hopes at least to secure an acting nod for Scheider — previously nominated for “All That Jazz” and “The French Connection” — who was battling cancer during production of his final film and died in February 2008.

“He had multiple myeloma,” says Newton, “which is coincidentally the same disease that killed my dad exactly six months earlier. We’re doing everything we can to get Roy nominated.”

Newton dismisses any similarities between “Iron Cross” and Quentin Tarantinos “Basterds,” distributed by the Weinstein Co.

“I wrote mine first,” he says.

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