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Billy Gil graduated from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism and has worked for People and Daily Variety. He is the editor of the Pipeline section and IndieFile, both of which highlight independent films on DVD. For IndieFile tips and inquiries, email bgil@questex.com. For inclusion on IndieFile's Feedroom channel, contact Renee Rosado (rrosado@questex.com). Follow IndieFile on Twitter, at Twitter.com/IndieFile.


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22 Jun, 2011

AFM Launches Five-day Conference Series


The American Film Market, or AFM, has launched a five-day conference program at the 2011 AFM, which takes place Nov. 2 to 9 at and nearby the Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel in Santa Monica, Calif.

The conference series runs from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. daily Nov. 4-8. Topics will include finance, production, marketing, distribution and pitching. Additionally an Industry Conversations program includes 14 intimate discussions with industry experts, free to attendees, from 2:30 to 4 p.m. daily from Nov. 2-8.

“The AFM Conference Series and Industry Conversations are two significant initiatives that will bring greater value and benefit to our thousands of attendees,” said Jonathan Wolf, EVP of the Independent Film & Television Alliance and managing director of the AFM. “The AFM is unique as it’s the only event in North America that attracts thousands of leaders in motion pictures from more than 70 countries, giving us the opportunity to curate terrific conferences with top talent from both Hollywood and around the world.”

The conference series will be held at the Fairmont Miramar Hotel, near the Loews in Santa Monica. For a listing of the conferences and more information, visit www.AmericanFilmMarket.com/conferences.

 

By: Billy Gil


10 Jun, 2011

Sony Pictures Reunites 'Boyz,' 'Boot' Casts at LA Film Fest


Sony Pictures Home Entertainment is reuniting the cast and crew of the Oscar-nominated film Boyz in the Hood at the 2011 Los Angeles Film Festival, June 23 at at 8 p.m., to celebrate the film's 20th anniversary.

Sony Pictures releases the film as a 20th-anniversary Blu-ray July 19 at $19.95. Cuba Gooding Jr., Nia Long and filmmaker John Singleton will participate in a Q&A following a screening at Regal Cinemas L.A. Live Stadium 14.

Sony Pictures also will also screen the director’s cut of Das Boot at the fest, as the studio releases the film on Blu-ray July 5 at $34.95. The two-disc Blu-ray includes 60 additional minutes to the original film, a making-of documentary, seven vignettes touring a German U-boat, two featurettes with first assistant director Maria Petersen and a featurette about the making of the director’s cut, among other featurettes. Sony Pictures will hold the Das Boot screening June 21 at 7 p.m., with a Q&A with director Wolfgang Petersen and star Jürgen Procnow before the film.

By: Billy Gil


9 Jun, 2011

Tribeca Grabs ‘Shut Up Little Man!’

Eddie Lee Sausage and Mitch Deprey
Eddie Lee Sausage and Mitch Deprey

Tribeca Film has acquired select U.S. distribution rights to Shut Up Little Man! (which sounds awesome), including VOD, theatrical, digital, DVD and festival. The films comes to VOD and theaters Aug. 25.

The documentary, which premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, has a storied history: In 1987 two Midwest guys, Eddie Lee Sausage and Mitch Deprey, moved to the Lower Haight district of San Francisco where they could hear through their thin walls their middle-aged neighbors, homophobe Raymond Huffman and flamboyantly gay Peter Haskett. They began recording the late night skirmishes they overheard, which developed a cult following through tapes, CDs, comic artwork, plays and music.

“We are delighted to be releasing the film with Tribeca Film,” said director Matthew Bate. “It’s a great underground American story and we are particularly thrilled to see it in the hands of people who will love and nurture its life in cinemas and on the small screen.”

Shut Up Little Man! is a darkly comic documentary examining the blurred boundaries between art and exploitation,” said Geoffrey Gilmore, chief creative officer of Tribeca Enterprises. “The film depicts how counter-cultural phenomena spread in the pre-digital age, and we are looking forward to sharing it with audiences.”


 

By: Billy Gil


31 May, 2011

Cult Epics Bows ‘Camille 2000’

Cult Epics will release a new high-definition transfer of Radley Metzger’s erotic 1969 drama Camille 2000 June 28 on DVD at $29.98 and Blu-ray at $34.98.

Special features include a 30-minute featurette with actors Daniele Gaubert and Nino Castelnuovo as well as Metzger; the scene “Sylviane’s Bare Striptease,” which as cut from the film; the alternate take “Cube Love Scene”; an additional 12 minutes of outtakes; a before-and-after restoration comparison; and a commentary with Metzger and film historian Michael Bowen.

Two versions of the film will hit disc: The first will be released by CAV Distribution, with the 12 minutes of outtakes incorporated into the film; the second will come from eOne Entertainment, with the original theatrical version and the additional scenes as extras. Both versions will include the same bonus features otherwise, and will be listed at the same SRPs.

The film is a modern adaptation of Alexandre Dumas’ novel La Dame aux Cammelias, about the tragic affair between courtesan Marguerite (Gaubert) and Armand (Castelnuovo), which takes place through the lens of high fashion and fetish parties. It is celebrated for its psychedelic fashions, cinematography and for being ahead of its time.

In concordance with the releases, the UCLA Film & Television Archive will hold a five-night retrospective of seven of Metzger’s quintessential films. From June 2 to 17, the Billy Wilder Theater in Los Angeles will house screenings of Camille 2000, in addition to Carmen, Baby (1967), Therese And Isabelle (1968), The Lickerish Quartet (1970), Little Mother (1973), Score (1974) and The Image (1975).

 

By: Billy Gil


26 May, 2011

Barney’s Version a Feast for Actors

'Barney's Version'
'Barney's Version'

Barney’s Version, the filmed version of Mordecai Richler’s novel of the same name about a TV producer’s storied life, presents several actors of great renown (Paul Giamatti, Dustin Hoffman and Minnie Driver, among others) to sink their teeth into meaty roles that evolve over many years throughout the story. Sony Pictures Home Entertainment releases the film on Blu-ray/DVD combo pack June 28 at $38.96.

The combo pack includes a piece on Richler, a making-of featurette, a red carpet featurette from the Los Angeles premiere, a Q&A with Giamatti and a commentary with director Richard J. Lewis, writer Michael Konyves and producer Robert Lantos.

The film follows Giamatti as Barney Panofsky, a man who, after his first wife dies during his bohemian days in Rome, takes a job as a TV producer and marries a shallow woman (Driver) he is set up with, only to meet the love of his life (Rosamund Pike) on their wedding day. Although many of the proceedings in Barney’s life are dead serious, such as an accusation of murder and his struggle with alcoholism and the toll it takes on his third marriage, Giamatti says the film’s dark humor manages to sneak through.

“I actually think that the humor weirdly sustains all the way through, even when it gets dark and darker and darker, there’s still weird humor,” Giamatti said.

Although some have pointed out that the role of Barney is somewhat similar to that of Miles in Sideways, the first role for which Giamatti was nominated for a Golden Globe, Giamatti said his Golden Globe-winning role as Barney is unlike that of Miles, in that the previous role was more of a loveable loser type, while Barney seems to always come out on top.

“I suppose there are similarities in that they’re both prickly, difficult guys, but I was never thinking of that character,” Giamatti said.

“Barney’s more of an optimist than that character,” Pike said. “He’s very successful, he gets a lot done. …. There aren’t enough big livers. Everyone’s too worried about who they’re going to offend and what people are going to think of them. Barney doesn’t have any of those concerns. It’s so refreshing.”

Director Lewis said getting Giamatti on board was crucial.

“He just felt right,” Lewis said. “We knew that Paul was kind of the go-to guy. Once we started rehearsing with him … we knew that we had found our Barney. … With Paul and the script, I think we were able to get the attention of a lot of good actors, including Dustin.”

The film also offers strong roles for actors Scott Speedman (“Felicity”) as Barney’s aimless, alcoholic writer friend, Boogie, and particularly Driver as the sassy second Mrs. Panofsky, giving the role biting humor.

“I connected in terms of the self-destructive parts,” Speedman said of his role. “You know, everybody has a little bit of that. But I think he was a really talented guy who sort of loses his way.”

Of her role, Driver said: “I definitely grew up with a couple of girls who were very princessy, as it were. …It was an amalgam of a lot of different people. She was very well-written …I just added a bit.”

Producer Lantos said he wanted to make the film after reading the novel, which made him laugh and cry. Lantos also produced the 1985 film Joshua Then and Now, starring James Woods, which also was based on a Richler novel.

“I was on an airplane when I first read it, and I tried to hold back because there was a guy sitting right next to me, and finally I couldn’t,” he said. “… If it could do that to me, I just took it for granted that it could do that for others.”

 

 

By: Billy Gil


23 May, 2011

Herman’s Hermits Films Come Out of Hiding

Peter Noone
Peter Noone

Peter Noone led English beat band Herman’s Hermits in the 1960s to worldwide stardom on the strength of jangly hits such as “I’m Into Something Good” and “Can’t You Hear My Heartbeat.” Not as serious as the Beatles nor as goofy as The Monkees, the band nonetheless engaged in the trend prevalent at the time of making movies as a band.

Warner Archive has released two of those films: Hold On! and Mrs. Brown, You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter at $19.95 each. They are available at www.warnerarchive.com.

Noone, who led the band and provided its distinctive ultra-British accent, says it was refreshing to look back on the goodhearted films.

“It makes us look better than we really were,” he joked. “It makes us look like we knew what we were actually doing, which wasn’t true. We had no idea how a movie was supposed to be made; we were a rock ‘n’ roll band.”

Noone remembers director Authur Lubin asking him what a good Herman’s Hermits song would be as the band traveled off to space in Hold On!, which co-starred Shelley Fabares. The film includes their hits “Hold On!” and “A Must to Avoid.”

“I remember the Hermits and I looked at each other and said, ‘This is the script?’” he said.

Although Noone had been a TV actor before (and after) leading his band, the rest of the band — Keith Hopwood (guitar, vocals), Karl Green (bass), Derek “Lek” Leckenby (guitar, vocals) and Barry “Bean” Whitwam (drums) — had no idea what they were doing, Noone said.

“They’re all done with a great sense of fun. Like, the Hermits learning lines and then walking out and saying them,” Noone joked. “They had no experience in that. They didn’t know you had to read the whole script. But it was all a wonderful experience.”

Noone said the band primarily focused on making the music. Mrs. Brown, You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter includes “There’s a Kind of Hush” and the title cut, which was a No. 1 U.S. hit.

“We had seen all those Elvis Presley movies, and we knew what they really wanted was a soundtrack,” Noone said. “So we just concentrated on making the music really, really good. So if you didn’t see the movie you would still buy the record.

“In those days the Beatles had made a movie, and they weren’t actors; they were just being amusing and fun,” he added. “You know all those ‘run away from girls’ scenes? We slowed down for the healthy ones.”

Noone said fans have been clamoring for the titles on DVD for years now.

“The last copy I got was on VHS, and who’s got one of those now?” Noone said. “I’ve already signed a couple at concerts.”
 

By: Billy Gil


16 May, 2011

Cannes Acquisitions 2011


The Cannes Film Festival has begun, and studios are scooping up films. Here’s the latest in acquisitions so far.

- Tribeca Film has acquired U.S. rights to Romantics Anonymous, a French hit that premiered at the 2011 Tribeca Film Festival. The film has taken in $9 million in its native country.

The film follows a shy chocolate maker (Isabelle Carré, Private Fears in Public Places) and a similarly shy chocolate company owner (Benoît Poelvoorde, Coco Before Chanel) who must overcome their bashfulness to work together and admit their feelings for one another.

Romantics Anonymous will be released theatrically, through VOD, DVD, pay-TV and digital by Tribeca Film, a label run by Tribeca Enterprises.

“French films have the rare ability to transcend boundaries and bring audiences together. We’re enormously pleased to have reached a deal in Cannes for this film, which has great comic moments, wonderful characters and extraordinary performances,” said Geoffrey Gilmore, chief creative officer, Tribeca Enterprises. “Romantics Anonymous is universal in its appeal and its treatment of love and romance. We look forward to bringing it to a wider audience in the U.S.”

- Image Entertainment before the festival began picked up The Double, a crime thriller starring Richard Gere, Topher Grace and Martin Sheen, and is the directorial debut of Michael Brandt (Wanted).

“The performances in The Double are terrific and the production value is amazing,” said Mark Ward, VP of acquisitions at Image. “For a first-time director, Michael has hit it out of the park.”

The film is slated to release theatrically in fall, with a home video release to follow.

- The Weinstein Co. has acquired U.S. distribution rights to The Iron Lady, directed by Phyllida Lloyd (Mamma Mia!) and starring Meryl Streep as Margaret Thatcher. Jim Broadbent co-stars. The film is slated to hit U.S. theaters in 2011. Home video release dates have not yet been finalized.

“Having worked with both Meryl Streep and Jim Broadbent, I know that they are without peer as film actors,” said TWC co-chairman Harvey Weinstein. “Even so, I was absolutely blown away by what I saw of their performances as Margaret and Denis Thatcher. Phyllida is doing an incredible job.”


Please send any home video acquisition announcements to bgil@questex.com.

 

By: Billy Gil


16 May, 2011

Mormon Doc Wins GLAAD Award


Wolfe Video release 8: The Mormon Proposition won Best Documentary at this year’s GLAAD Media Awards, which are given to outstanding gay and lesbian films.

The film by Reed Cowan, the writer-director and journalist and former Mormon missionary, explores the Mormon Church's involvement in California’s Proposition 8, which outlawed same-sex marriage in the state of California.

“This award belongs to the brave men and women who have fought for marriage equality for decades,” Cowan said, accepting the award. “And especially those who were courageous enough to tell their stories to the international audience the film continues to reach. GLAAD is about protecting and celebrating the stories of our community, and our team is honored to be a part of a proud GLAAD awards legacy.”

The film is available on DVD at retail, WolfeVideo.com and through digital download channels.
 

By: Billy Gil


11 May, 2011

Film Movement Launches Jewish Film of the Month Club


Film Movement has launched a Jewish Film-of-the-Month Club, a subscription-based service that gives members in the United States and Canada access to a Jewish-themed film every other month before releasing it to the general public. The films will be made available on DVD and to view online. As with all Film Movement DVDs, each disc will include a bonus short film.

The first film available through the club will be The Human Resources Manager, which was Israel’s foreign language Oscar submission in 2011 and won five Israeli Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Screenplay.

“The Jewish Film Club was conceived because after a decade in search of the very best in independent and foreign film, we found that so many great Jewish films are produced every year and unfortunately only a handful ever get the recognition and viewership they so rightfully deserve,” said Adley Gartenstein, president of Film Movement. “We feel strongly that these films need a home — our home and your home — so that the wonder, richness and diversity of the Jewish culture, as expressed through film, can be appreciated by the widest audiences possible.”

Membership costs an annual fee of $108 (with free shipping), while six-month memberships will cost $68 (plus $3.25 shipping per DVD) and monthly subscriptions are $28 bi-monthly (plus $3.25 shipping per DVD). For more information, visit jewishfilmclub.com.
 

By: Billy Gil


11 May, 2011

Wolfe Acquires Five


Gay and lesbian film distributor Wolfe Releasing has acquired five titles: Trigger, Mangus, Judas Kiss, Leading Ladies and Suicide Room. The films will release on DVD and VOD this fall.

“These films tell stories that go beyond the coming-out genre,” said president Maria Lynn. “They will touch many audiences.”

Trigger tells of two women who start a successful rock band, only to have it, and their friendship, fall apart, and meet again years later. Dark comedy Mangus tells of a Texas high school senior who hopes to play Jesus in a local play (from Ash Christian of Fat Girls). Judas Kiss is a Sliding Doors-style film about a filmmaker who returns to his college and is allowed to reshape his future, starring Charlie David of Mulligans and “Dante’s Cove.” Leading Ladies is billed as an indie alternative to “Glee.” Suicide Room is a Polish film about a privileged teen realizing he is gay and retreating into the virtual online world.
 

By: Billy Gil