NEW YORK — Just three weeks after the attacks that destroyed the World Trade Center, the Big Apple’s film community is doing its best to prove that the show, as it were, is going on.
The Mayor’s Office of Theater, Film and Broadcasting is issuing lensing permits for all locales except south of Canal St., the area closest to Ground Zero.
And the fall flurry of events that helps bring together the close-knit indie film community, while somewhat subdued, have carried with them a renewed pride in all things Gotham.
IFP in the middle
Leading the charge is the Independent Feature Project’s annual film market — this year, Sept. 30-Oct. 5 — where budding auteurs and low-budget producers converge on SoHo’s Angelika Film Center in the hopes of finding financing or, in rare cases, a distributor for their arthouse-oriented pics.
Another piper to the pic parade is the New York Film Festival, which kicked off Sept. 28 with Jacques Rivette’s “Va Savior” (Who Knows?).
Other events included the Friar’s Club comedy roast of Playboy founder Hugh Hefner on Oct. 1 at the New York Hilton, and Radio City Music Hall’s packed tribute to John Lennon. Kevin Spacey, host of the Lennon event, led a crowd prone to standing ovations at the mere mention of “New York” or “firefighter.”
In the middle of the screenings and seminars, the IFP also hosted the Gotham Awards at Chelsea’s Pier 60. The celeb-studded event, which celebrated its 11th anniversary this year, is the organization’s biggest fund-raiser.
While the IFP has never encouraged it, over the years the market has built somewhat of a reputation for the bizarre, often ill-advised publicity stunts and marketing experiments undertaken by attending filmmakers. Although this year did feature a fair share of stunts that no studio would ever attempt — including promotional condoms and a filmmaker dressed completely in tea bags — the atmosphere was considerably more subdued.
The need to acknowledge the tragedy was included in the market’s program, which in addition to the traditional informational panels focusing on financing and production also included a seminar titled “WTC Aftermath: Changing Times, Changing Stories.”
Chaired by IFP founder Sandra Schulberg, the discussion included remarks from actress Parker Posey, director Jim McKay and HBO’s Sheila Nevins.
Traditionally, the Gotham awards are marked by the levity and celebration of indie community spirit. All but one of the prize-winners are announced in advance, and the networking cocktail party lasts almost as long as the actual show.
This year, the change in tone was best expressed by Robert De Niro, who was awarded the lifetime achievement award by longtime collaborator Martin Scorcese.
“I can thank the IFP for this award,” said De Niro, “but I really want to thank every fireman, policeman and rescue worker who died.”
After a brief speech, the self-effacing thesp used his time at the microphone to bring onstage Tribeca Grill chef Don Pintabona, who along with De Niro and Tribeca Films founder Jane Rosenthal helped organize the Spirit of New York food cruises for rescue workers at Ground Zero.