6 items from 2005
TORONTO -- The Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival on Wednesday said it has hired Sean Farnel away from the Toronto International Film Festival to become its first-ever director of programming. Farnel, who most recently programd documentaries at the Toronto festival since 2000, will join Hot Docs, North America's largest documentary festival, in November. Over the last five years, Farnel brought a host of award-winning docs to TIFF, including Spellbound in 2002, The Story of the Weeping Camel and The Yes Men in 2003, and Gunner Palace last year. In between his TIFF duties, Farnel programd Hot Docs' monthly documentary series, Doc Soup, which he will continue to do. The 13th edition of Hot Docs is set to run from April 28 to May 7. »
ThinkFilm and HBO/Cinemax Documentary Films have jointly acquired Jeff Zimbalist and Matt Mochary's documentary Favela Rising. ThinkFilm, the New York-based indie distributor, and HBO, the Time Warner cable service, previously collaborated on the distribution of the Oscar-nominated docu Spellbound and the Oscar-winning docu Born into Brothels. Favela, which had its world premiere at this year's Tribeca Film Festival, where it won the best new documentary filmmaker prize, has just been short-listed for two International Documentary Assn. awards, competing for the best feature prize as well as the Pare Lorentz Award honoring activism and lyrical vision. »
Director Jeffrey Blitz is following his Oscar-nominated documentary Spellbound with the feature Rocket Science for indie production company Duly Noted. The film is one of eight new films in the development and production pipeline for the Los Angeles-based company headed by Effie Brown. Science centers on average 15-year-old boy Hal Hefner (Reece Thompson), who despite his terrible stuttering joins a high school debate team. He soon finds himself immersed in the ultracompetitive world of high school debating. Like the story's protagonist, Blitz suffered from a stuttering problem at an early age, which he credits with starting his fascination with speech and storytelling. Brown brought the project under the Duly Noted banner this year. "This was exactly the kind of project I was looking to get behind," she said. "It is great storytelling with believable, human characters. Jeff has a unique perspective that lends this project a thoughtful authenticity." »
SYDNEY -- Leading Australian independent distributor Hopscotch Films has jumped ahead of its rivals to make a pair of acquisitions in the days leading up to the Toronto International Film Festival, the company announced Monday. The company acquired Australian rights to Sergie Bodrov's Mongol from Beta Entertainment and dance documentary Ballets Russes, which Zeitgeist Films is distributing in the U.S. Hopscotch has previously found success with the acquisition of such hot non-fiction titles as Bowling for Columbine, Fahrenheit 9/11, Spellbound and Travelling Birds. Ballets Russes will play at Toronto alongside other Hopscotch releases Mrs. Henderson Presents, Transamerica and Live and Become. »
Premiered at this year's Slamdance Film Festival, the film follows a diverse group of fifth-graders from three equally contrasting New York schools as they rumba, meringue, tango, foxtrot and swing their way into an annual intracity competition.
Playing like gangbusters with thoroughly engaged audiences, the Paramount Classics release, which eschews fancy technical footwork in favor of straight-ahead storytelling, could find itself dancing off with some similarly spellbinding, all-ages business.
First introduced in two schools a decade ago, the American Ballroom Theater's nonprofit Dancing Classrooms provides ballroom instruction in more than 60 New York public schools.
For their purposes, director Marilyn Agrelo and Amy Sewell chose to limit their attention to P.S. 150 in trendy Tribeca, P.S. 115, located far uptown in lower-class, heavily Dominican Washington Heights and P.S. 112 in Bensonhurst, a traditionally Italian Brooklyn neighborhood that, because of a recent spike in immigration, is now half Asian.
Each school definitely has its distinct flavor and its own assortment of colorful, affable personalities. Among them are brainy, no-nonsense Cyrus and aspiring superstar Tara at P.S. 150, the shy but remarkably handsome Wilson over at P.S. 115, a kid with preternaturally breathtaking ability on the dancefloor; and at P.S. 112, friends Priscilla and Jai-Wen and buddies Ronnie and pint-sized Michael who prove to be quite astute when it comes to assessing the opposite sex.
During the 10 weeks of intense classes leading up to the big event, the film not only provides the chance to watch a lot of promising young talent strutting their stuff, but also, thanks to cinematographer Claudia Raschke-Robinson's gently probing camera, it also offers encouraging glimpse into the minds of an articulate group of average, everyday students on the cusp of adolescence. »
SYDNEY -- Leading independent distributor Hopscotch revealed its 2005 lineup Thursday, a slate hailed by co-owner Troy Lum as festival-lauded and director-driven. Set for release are Murderball, about wheelchair rugby players; Gregg Araki's Mysterious Skin; Wong Kar Wei's 2046; German smash hit Der Untergang (The Downfall); and Kim Ki-Duk's Bin-jip (3-Iron). In addition, Hopscotch will handle an Australian film, Craig Monahan's Peaches, starring Hugo Weaving, Jacqueline McKenzie and newcomer Emma Lung. Hopscotch, shared by partners Lum, Sandie Don and Frank Cox, almost doubled its first year boxoffice takings in 2003 of AUS$13 million to AUS$22 million ($17 million) in 2004. Successful releases in 2003-04 included Fahrenheit 9/11, Goodbye Lenin!, Nowhere in Africa, Somersault, Spellbound and Touching the Void. »
6 items from 2005
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