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Kessel tops prod’n at Hart Sharp

New head to find, develop projects

NEW YORK — Fresh off the Venice and Toronto success of their film “Boys Don’t Cry,” producers John Hart and Jeff Sharp of the Gotham-based indie production shingle Hart Sharp Entertainment, are kicking it up a notch, tapping former Miramax acquisitions veep Robert Kessel to the newly created position of production head.

Kessel will be responsible for finding and developing projects for first- and second-time feature filmmakers. Hart Sharp intends to finance three to five films a year at the $2 million to $3 million range.

“This is a great opportunity to become involved with filmmakers whose work I have admired,” Kessel said. “It is our intention to be a true home for original voices and unique visions.”

Signal acquisitions

While at Miramax, Kessel spearheaded the acquisitions of “Kolya,” “Children of Heaven” and “Smoke Signals.”

In addition to the Fox Searchlight release “Boys,” which Hart Sharp co-produced with Christine Vachon’s Killer Films, the 3-year-old company has produced “Dark Harbor” and co-produced, with the Shooting Gallery, “You Can Count on Me,” the directorial debut of playwright Kenny Lonergan, which is now in post-production.

In fall 2000, Hart Sharp will re-team with Lonergan on the screen adaptation of his Off Broadway hit “This is our Youth.”