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The Indie Biz: Up Next

The next generation generating big buzz

Variety surverys the next generation of execs, filmmakers, agents and producers generating biz buzz.


Bocco, 38, has taken on more positions than a yoga instructor — from Fine Line to Miramax, from the Gersh Agency to IFC Entertainment, where she is now veep of acquisitions and productions. In her new role, Bocco has been busier than ever, acquiring 24 films annually for IFC’s First Take day-and-date program. She sealed several high-profile Cannes acquisitions, including winners “4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days” and Gus Van Sant’s “Paranoid Park.”

Overheard: “Impeccable taste,” “great connections,” “a good businesswoman”


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Known as a producer with sass and savvy, Brown, 35, just saw her most recent pic, Sundance fave “Rocket Science,” hit theaters via Picturehouse. She’s currently raising money for six more films. Among them, Caran Hartsfield’s “Bury Me Standing,” with Alfre Woodard, Mos Def and Kerry Washington, to shoot in Philadelphia in October; romantic comedy “Bobby Zero,” also with Mos Def, set to shoot in January; and Lynn Hershman’s Tilda Swinton-starrer “Gene to the 4th.”

Overheard: “Excellent talent relationships,” “has an extremely winning and fun way about her,” “relaxed and in charge even during the insane process of raising money and putting together the pieces of a film, ” “makes it happen every time”


Cho, 38, launched Korean distrib Sponge in 2000, building a strong and profitable brand based on arthouse films. He started with imports from Pedro Almodovar to Wong Kar-wai, then had an incredible moneymaking run with a series of Japanese indies. Recent pickups include “Babel” and “Sicko.” Runs two dedicated theaters, and now also produces low- to mid-budget Korean fare, including an omnibus project set in Tokyo with segments by Michel Gondry, Leos Carax and Bong Joon-ho.

Overheard: “Very sincere and decent,” “has shown Korea how to make money from small films,” “set up a very efficient distribution system”



Money and taste don’t always go hand in hand, but Colson, co-managing director of Celador Films, has got both. The money comes from Celador’s owner Paul Smith, who became a multi-millionaire thanks to gameshow “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” A former Miramax exec, Colson, 38, is the man responsible for spending it. By coming up with hot projects like Danny Boyle’s “Slum Dog Millionaire” and Stephen Frears drama “Selma,” he’s proving himself up to the challenge.

Overheard: “Plays the business like a poker game (he used to play pro),” “has an amazing nose for a great story and doesn’t take it all too seriously”


Lebanese-born, Paris-based Dagher was among the first producers Michael Moore pitched “Fahrenheit 9/11” to in a lengthy, passionate email. Moore eventually set up the pic with the Weinsteins, but the helmer still saw fit to credit Dagher as associate producer. She balances her role as head of acquisitions at Gallic shop Wild Bunch with running her own shingle Yalla Films, and is increasingly becoming the go-to producer for hot-button projects. Dagher, 40, has Barbet Schroeder’s feature-length docu “Terror’s Advocate” and Kevin Macdonald’s “My Enemy’s Enemy” at Toronto. She has two pics — including one about Romanian street kids living in a post-Ceaucescu society — in production.

Overheard: “Ballsy,” “favors timely projects with a kick,” “irrepressibly passionate”


An aggressive lit agent who set up his own shop, the Featured Artists Agency, early last year. L.A.-based Dreyfuss, 38, has a knack for talent spotting and developing fledgling writer-directors, including Rian Johnson (“Brick”), Patricia Riggen (“Under the Same Moon”), David Ross (“The Babysitters”), Trygve Diesen (“Hold My Heart”), and Nick Mastandrea (“The Breed”).

Overheard: “Unlike any agent in town in the sense that he’s almost like a producer,” “will go to the end of the world to make a project happen,” “loyal and willing to go to the mat for his clients,” “looked at the landscape and figured out what he could do with his clients”  



Fox, 35, is head of international sales at Bill Block’s financing-producing outfit QED, where she’s known for her tenacity and ability to make deals happen quickly. Along with handling inhouse pics (“The Hunting Party,” “The Lucky Ones,” “Smart People”), Fox also reps third-party projects (“The Echo,” “The Girl in the Park,” “Powder Blue”).

Overheard: “Tremendously professional,” “one of those people you can always rely on,” “driven,” “fast dealmaker”



Aside from being Lars von Trier’s producer at Danish production company Zentropa, Foldager, 33, is charged with finding and developing new talent. Has produced critical and B.O. hits such as “King’s Game” and “Angels in Fast Motion” (while at Nimbus Film) and “Island of Lost Souls” and “The Boss of It All” at her new shingle. Next is von Trier’s “Wasington.”

Overheard:“Talented — and brutal,” “looks for projects with bite,” “biggest producer talent in Denmark”


With a close eye on the international publishing marketplace, Focus Features production VP Gerson, 31, keeps the company’s global ambitions on target, cultivating material and talent worldwide. The Toronto native has been a creative executive on a number of high-profile Focus projects, including Terry George’s “Reservation Road,” and adaptations of Bob Drogin’s nonfiction book “Curveball”; Yasmina Khadra’s “The Attack,” to be directed by Ziad Doueiri; and most unique, he admits, is “9,” an animated fantasy epic based on an Oscar-nominated short film.

Overheard: “Truly film literate,” “savvy,” “smart,” “not just a development guy”


Going into year two as a film finance agent at CAA, Green, 35, has already helped orchestrate some innovative deals that give filmmakers creative control. He assembled slate financing with GE Capital for Mexican helmers Alejandro Gonzales Innaritu, Alfonso Cuaron and Guillermo Del Toro (Cha Cha Cha); and coin for Rian Johnson’s $20 million “The Brothers Bloom.” Former head of sales/financing operation Cinetic, Green’s past year also included some lucrative deals for Sundance docs “In the Shadow of the Moon” and “My Kid Could Paint That,” as well as the untitled Bill Maher/Larry Charles religion docu.

Overheard: “One of the few people that appreciates this industry for what it is: art meets commerce,” “knows the audience, understands his client, and knows what the distributor is looking for,” “refreshingly calm,” “a great musician,” “trust him”


The Brazilian brothers run rising production company Gullane Filmes, a small player until they made Cao Hamburger’s Berlin competitor “The Year My Parents Went on Vacation.” Gullane’s upcoming slate is stacked with local indies with commercial potential: Carlos Cortez’ “Quero,” Johnny Araujo’s “The Magnate,” Lais Bodanzky’s “Chega de Saudade,” and Jose Mojica’s “Devil’s Reincarnation.” Brothers also are lensing two international co-prods: Marco Bechis’ “Birdwatchers,” with Italy’s Classic and RAI, and Nelson Yu Likwai’s “Plastic City,” with China’s Xstream Pictures.

Overheard: “Know how to select strong projects,” “good at identifying business opportunities,” “they gravitate to the international co-production model”


Harris, 39, was appointed topper of the South Australian Film Corporation (SAFC) in June, giving him the reins of one of Oz’s best-regarded state agencies. As chief of the Australian Directors’ Guild, he had a key hand in lobbying for the most sweeping changes in federal government funding of the Oz film biz announced in May. New gig gives him exec producer-like power over projects under $A5million and the ears of local talent including Scott Hicks, Rolf de Heer, Mario Andreacchio, Sarah Watt and Craig Lahiff.

Overheard: “He’s being rewarded for his years of full-throttle lobbying for his constituents”


The friendly face, and m.d., of Entertainment Farm, the Japanese development and finance outfit that is growing a wide-ranging crop of local and international films. Kito, 44, worked in L.A. for JVC before returning to Japan with distrib Media Suits and then Taka Ichise’s Oz production shingle. Recent credits include Mira Nair’s India-U.S. identity drama “The Namesake,” Wayne Wang’s “A Thousand Years of Good Prayers” and its companion piece “Princess of Nebraska.” Next up is Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s “Tokyo Sonata.”

Overheard: “Has great taste and great width,” “makes use of the contacts and experience she gained in Asia and the U.S.”


In the last year, Lau, 32, Fortissimo’s senior VP of sales and acquisitions, has established a U.S. presence for the Hong Kong-Amsterdam sales company with an office in New York. But one would be hard-pressed to catch her in Gotham, as the Rotterdam-born exec is constantly traveling to markets and fests, taking meetings and discovering scripts (in six different languages). She most recently worked on Martin Scorsese’s Rolling Stones docu “Shine a Light” and “Annie Leibovitz: Life Through a Lens,” and continues to cultivate close relationships with directors such as Pen-ek Ratanaruang and Wong Kar-wai.

Overheard: “On the ball,” “professional,” “loyal,” “hard-working and responsible”


VP of international sales at Mandate Pictures, Lee-Kim, 37, has been cultivating relationships since her days at AFM parent company IFTA. Repped over 25 films in the past three years, including “White Jazz,” “Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium,” “Stranger Than Fiction” and “Sleuth.” 

Overheard:“She treats her colleagues like family,” “a tough negotiator,” “you might leave the room without a deal but you’ll still have a smile on your face”


As head of film at Barcelona-based production shingle Mediapro, Mendez, 34, oversees a prolific, often socially driven film slate. He was instrumental in luring Woody Allen to shoot in Spain this summer. Slate also includes Jean-Jacques Annaud’s “His Majesty Minor” and Annemarie Jacir’s “Salt of This Sea,” a co-production with Danny Glover’s Louverture and Jacques Bidou’s JBA.

Overheard:“Quick to spot a good project,” “intelligent, determined,” “good at numbers, you see his business background”


Collective of DIY directors that includes Joe Swanberg, Andrew Bujalski, Jay & Mark Duplass, Aaron Katz, Ry Russo-Young, Michael Tully, Arin Crumley and Susan Buice. The 20- to 30-somethings are at the forefront of a growing movement of young, tightly knit filmmakers who cross-pollinate creatively while also seeking new distribution modes. Among their overlapping work, Swanberg-helmed “Hannah Takes the Stairs” features Duplass, Russo-Young and Bujalski as actors and co-writers.

Overheard: “Creating new models for every aspect of movie making,” “a desire to use and play with digital imagery for its own merits, not just as a substitute for film,” “the first generation that has grown up with that constant, saturated, interactive buzz of digital communication as the norm, and that’s absolutely driven how they think about narrative”



Senior VP of acquisitions for Magnolia Pictures, Quinn, 37, handles both theatrical and straight-to-DVD pickups. Previously

acquisitions veep at Samuel Goldwyn Films, he’s respected for his wide-ranging taste. His latest buys include Barbet Schroeder’s doc “Terror’s Advocate,” David Mackenzie’s “Hallam Foe” and Chalerm Wongpim’s “Dynamite Warrior.”

Overheard: “Covers the waterfront better than anyone,” “orchestrates creative and unexpected deals,” “keeps a vastly open mind about where and what he discovers,” “his passion, drive and instincts in the independent film business are unmatched by any of his peers” 


Stier, 47, joined Paramount Vantage as senior VP of production and development just as the company was ramping up. He oversaw completion of such high-profile pics as Sean Penn’s “Into the Wild” and Paul Thomas Anderson’s “There Will Be Blood” and has developed a range of projects including “A Good and Happy Child,” with producer Nick Wechlser, and “A Jealous Ghost” for Kirsten Dunst. A veteran of Valhalla and Mirage Enterprises, and an exec producer on Ira Sachs’ latest “Marriage Life,” Stier also championed Vantage projects such as Ed Zwick’s WWII-set “Defiance,” with Daniel Craig, and Todd Louiso’s “The Marc Pease Experience.”

Overheard: “He’s the sharpest (studio specialty exec) right now,” “a hardass… (like the) best teacher you ever had,” “has backbone and deep knowledge”


Head of Orange Entertainment, a third-party acquisitions outfit for international distribs from Europe (such as Indie Circle), Australia (Rialto), Latin America (Sun Distribution) and Asia, Wertheim, 40, has shown a knack for finding quality projects while still in the script stage (“Thank You for Smoking,” “Girl in the Park,” “Black Book”), then setting them up in multiple territories.

Overheard: “Represents an extraordinary collection of buyers,” “understands the business inside and out,” “taste is astute, commercial and spot-on”

Michael Bodey, Marcelo Cajueiro, Adam Dawtrey, Emiliano De Pablos, Patrick Frater, Emma Gray Munthe, Ali Jaafar, Anthony Kaufman, Darcy Paquet, Mark Rabinowitz, Matthew Ross, Sharon Swart

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