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Black Filmmaker Magazine Online

DAILY NEWS: "Bully" Pulled; IFILM's Re-Launch; "Holy Grail" Returns; Human Rights Fest Honorees

by Eugene Hernandez, Anthony Kaufman and Maud Kersnowski/indieWIRE

>> "Bully" Pulled from Method Fest Opening Slot, Replaced with "Fast Sofa"

(indieWIRE/06.15.01) -- "It's been a nightmare scenario, regarding 'Bully,'" said Method Festival Director Don Franken. "We feel like we've been bullied." Originally slated to open the 3rd Method Fest Film Festival tonight (Friday) in Pasadena, Larry Clark's third feature "Bully" was pulled by distributor Lions Gate Films just days before the scheduled premiere. Salome Breziner's "Fast Sofa" will instead open the Festival this evening.

"In April, we were offered this film," continued Franken. "We have a very nice contract signed by president Tom Ortenberg." Franken even took Lions Gate to District Court on Wednesday, but the case was judged in the mini-major's favor, citing Ortenberg's deposition that a print of the film would simply not be ready in time.

As late as Friday, Lions Gate's West Coast publicity director Melissa Holloway contacted the festival to find out where to send the print. Franken considered this a tacit agreement that the print was coming. "Larry Clark and Melissa Holloway never indicated to us that the print wasn't ready," he said in a conversation with indieWIRE.

However, Holloway told indieWIRE yesterday, "Yes, I did make the motions to find out where to get my print shipped, but I had made it clear to him that I didn't have a print yet. We have not received the final print from the producers and the director. Until we receive the final print from them, the film is technically not our property." The first of the film's New York press is scheduled for next Wednesday, June 20th,

Method Fest organizers allege that Wild Bunch, Canal Plus' sales agency repping "Bully" internationally, are the real reason why the film was pulled. Wild Bunch's Carole Baraton sent an e-mail to Method Fest Programming Director Elaine Wood, which stated, "I'm sorry for the festival, but there is nothing I can do to help, since presenting the film as a world premiere in Pasadena goes totally against our international sales strategy." The e-mail went on to say, "We don't want to be difficult, but Lions Gate should have consulted us before taking any engagements."

"This is Wild Bunch pressuring Lions Gate and Lions Gate not willing to stand up to them," Franken said. Insiders are speculating that the movie will instead end up having an international festival premiere later this year. Lions Gate's Tom Ortenberg, which is only handling domestic distribution and will open the movie on July 13th, was not available for comment by press time.

Breziner's "Sofa" stars Jennifer Tilly, Adam Goldberg, Jake Busey, Crispin Glover, Natasha Lyonne, Bijou Phillips, Eric Roberts and R. Scott Loughran. [Anthony Kaufman]

[For more information, visit:

>> IFILM Re-Invents Itself for Consumers; New Site Debuts

(indieWIRE/06.15.01) -- IFILM's re-launch this week pushed the site further into the consumer online film market by expanding from shorts into feature films. The retooled and redesigned site focuses on IFILM's Internet Movie Guide that combines information, reviews and availability both on and offline for over 80,000 full length movies, 2,000 of which have links for online viewing. "It's really an extension of the strategy we always had. We were never interested in creating our own content," Executive Vice President of IFILM Network Frank Voci told indieWIRE. "I don't see this as shift as much as an expansion of what we've always done."

While no other site acts as a clearinghouse for all of the information IFILM now offers, there are established destinations carrying similar content, most notably the Internet Movie Database (IMDb). "You go to IMDb when you want to know who the 3rd grip on a movie was. You don't go to them when you want to know what to watch or to rent or see online. They don't go all the way through to viewing like we do," explained Voci.

IFILM, which began its life two years ago as an industry and shorts destination, has recently spun off a number of its industry oriented properties. IFILMPro and the Hollywood Creative Directory will continue to be offered as channels. And a large chunk of the offerings will continue to come from IFILM's 30 partners that link over 12,000 shorts to the site. Cinema Now, CinemaPop, LikeTelevision, MovieFlix, and New Gen Films now join the list as partners offering feature films.

In a tightening market that witnessed another prominent film site, Atom/Shockwave, gutting their staff recently, IFILM has also been forced to tighten spending. In the last year the number of employees were trimmed by a third and the company lost over $17 million, according to the Los Angeles Times. But IFILM still hasn't found its name popping up in lists of companies without hope. Last February when Los Angeles was fly-over country for venture capitalists, the company managed to raise $10 million mostly from repeat investors like Axiom Ventures, Eastman Kodak, Sony Pictures Entertainment and Paul Allen's Vulcan Ventures and added a few new names to the list, notably Yahoo!.

These votes of confidence from people who should know better seem to be based on the fact that IFILM is managing to create a community of highly focused, desirable users and target them with marketing that in some cases has a 10% click through. Add to that the general belief that a company that sends users to the other sites -- and manages to survive the current economic dodge ball -- will eventually be extremely valuable (not to mention the fact that investors, like Microsoft's co-founder Paul Allen, are willing to gamble a few million). "We're going to be the single place where people can find and watch shorts and films online," Voci declared. [Maud Kersnowski]

>> Python's "Holy Grail" is Back, In Stereo and With Added Footage

(indieWIRE/06.15.01) -- "Monty Python and the Holy Grail," the popular 1975 feature film from the famed British comedy group, returns to theaters today with a new print and additional footage, a full 24 seconds worth according to one member of the legendary troupe.

"This is the icing on the cake," Python member Terry Jones told indieWIRE, reached in the UK earlier this week. Jones added that the movie is now in stereo and has new music cues.

Recalling the first screening for investors back in 1974 -- Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Tim Rice, and Andrew Lloyd-Webber among them -- Jones explained that the film was hardly an immediate hit. "People laughed for the first five minutes," Jones told indieWIRE, "(then) people went dead."

Admitting that "Life of Brian" (1979) is much bigger with British audiences, Jones added that "Grail" is actually a favorite of Americans. The film will be released theatrically in 6 cities domestically.

Jones, busy as ever, explained that he is currently working on three screenplays, a television history of the world, and a book about Chaucer. [Eugene Hernandez]

>> Human Rights Watch Fetes "Spider Woman," Awards Peck and "Mujaheddin"

(indieWIRE/06.15.01) -- "This is the only festival we can hope one day won't be necessary anymore," said filmmaker Raoul Peck ("Lumumba") upon accepting his Lifetime Achievement Award at the Gala opening of the 12th Annual Human Rights Watch International Film Festival on Wednesday night at New York's Alice Tully Hall. But for the moment, as Peck declared, the HRWIFF is a "necessary forum for expression for filmmakers all over the world."

The festival officially opens tonight (Friday) with the U.S. premiere of another award winner, "Jung (War) In The Land Of The Mujaheddin." The movie's Italian filmmakers Alberto Vendemmiati, Fabrizio Lazzaretti and Giuseppe Pettito received the Nestor Almendros Prize for courage and commitment in human rights filmmaking for their documentary on an Afghanistan hospital threatened by strict Taliban rule. In accepting the award, Lazzaretti said he would "share the award with the staff of the hospital and all the Afghani people on both sides of the conflict...especially the women who are considered less than human beings." Presenting the award to the documentary team was venerable U.S. director Arthur Penn, who praised the documentary, saying, "It never flinches; I promise you."

The Gala opening night slot featured the premiere of the U.S. re-release of Hector Babenco's 1985 drama "Kiss of the Spider Woman" (which Strand Releasing will open in theaters on June 29). Kenneth Roth, Executive Director of Human Rights Watch, introduced the film as a landmark work, which exposed human rights abuses in Latin America, helping to bring about the current changes in the region. Director Babenco called the work, invoking its late author Manuel Puig, "a triumph of love over politics." Also on hand to celebrate the revival were stars William Hurt, who won on Oscar for his portrayal of flamboyant political prisoner Luis Molina, and Sonia Braga, the Spider Woman herself. The 12th edition of the Human Rights Watch festival runs through June 28. indieWIRE will publish a survey of some of this year's important entries next week. [Anthony Kaufman]

[For more information, visit: <>.]

>> YESTERDAY in indieWIRE DAILY NEWS: DNA Exec; Provincetown Plans; A Correction

(indieWIRE/06.14.01) -- DNA Studios defies the downsize trend and brings over Peter Dawes from USA Films to oversee New York expansion. Also, the Provincetown International Film Festival will open its 3rd annual event with Kate Davis' "Southern Comfort"."


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