Columbia Produces!

(from left to right) Shilpa Makikar, Geoffrey Booth, Sarna Lapine, Molly Pearson
(from left to right) Shilpa Mankikar, Geoffrey Booth, Sarna Lapine, Molly Pearson

Congrats to our new Columbia producers. On January 31, four of our students presented their thesis films, the final step before graduating with their MFA in film with a concentration in producing. Our February graduates are Geoffrey Booth, whose thesis film is “Cemetery Club,” Molly Pearson with “Last First Kiss,” Sarna Lapine with “Sinkhole” and Shilpa Mankikar with “Security.” Watch for their films at film festivals throughout the world.

In the eye of the beholder

In the February 19, 1986 issue of The New York Times, Janet Maslin said in her review, “Most of ”Parting Glances” functions as a parade of homosexual stereotypes.” On the same day, several other mainstream reviews said basically the same thing. Meanwhile, every gay publication hailed the film as the first realistic portrayal of gay culture they had ever seen in a film. Due to the bad mainstream reviews, the film died a quick death at the box office (anyone remember the Embassy 72nd Street theater?). A generation later, the film is commonly thought of as a classic, a landmark film in the “New Queer Cinema.” When the film was restored and shown at Outfest earlier this year, the festival referred to it as “among the most beloved LGBT films of the last 25 years.”

Continue reading “In the eye of the beholder”

Is it sour grapes to ask?

Today’s Variety includes one of the many special sections that are geared toward the awards season. Today’s issue is called “Eye on the Oscars: Best Picture,” and like all of these special issues, it attempts to handicap the race. It lists the so-called “contenders” for the Best Picture category, but somehow it doesn’t include any, that’s right, ANY films that have not also bought ads in that publication over the last few weeks. Is there a connection between these things? Of course Variety would deny it. And by the way, I’m not singling out Variety. All the trades appear to operate the same way. Have any of these issues done feature articles on any films that have not bought trade ads?

Why does this matter? Academy members do not have time to see every eligible film before they vote. They depend to some extent on the handicappers to narrow down the field to a manageable number of films. These special sections are among the ways the race is handicapped. If you are not listed as a contender, you basically don’t exist. So, how much does it cost to get an Oscar thse days?

Thoughts on the Re-release of ‘Diva’

The re-release of Jean Jacques Beneix’s “Diva” has brought back a lot of memories for me. I was working at United Artists Classics when we released the film in the U.S., and I find it fascinating to read about the film’s history in the various articles that have appeared in the last week. Having been there when it all happened, there’s a lot of misinformation floating around. The film was NOT an instant hit or a sensation upon release. Quite the contrary. In fact the film was a complete flop when it was first released in France. No U.S. distributor was interested in it. The film came to us at U.A. and we passed on it…at least twice.

Continue reading “Thoughts on the Re-release of ‘Diva’”

Charles Burnett

Thanks to Charles Burnett for writing in to share his thoughts on “Honeydripper.” Charles is one of my favorite filmmakers, and it’s been such a thrill to see his early work being rediscovered. Check out Charles’ blog at http://emergingpictur.setupmyblog.com/?p=49. I hope Charles will keep contributing.

Opening Night of Independent Film Week

After a great response in Toronto, we had the New York Premiere of “Honeydripper” as the Opening Night of Independent Film Week. Lots of great coverage, but here’s one of the more comprehensive pieces…

http://www.thereeler.com/features/a_sayles_job.php

Honeydripper All-Star Band

I’ve always loved the summer in New York City. When others are running away to traffic-clogged resort towns, I like hanging around the city and taking in whatever surprises may be around the next corner. Among my favorite activities are margaritas at the 79th Street Boat Basin, bicycling on the path in Hudson River Park and kayaking in the Hudson itself. On days where I do all three of those things, I call it my triathalon.

My very favorite thing to do in the summer is to go to outdoor concerts, and last Tuesday night, I saw a great one. The Honeydripper All-Star band was performing at the River-to-River Festival in lower Manhattan. This is the house band from John Sayles’ new film “Honeydripper,” which Emerging will be releasing late this year. This particular night was only the second time the band had played together, but you wouldn’t have known it from watching them. They were hot! We’ve posted a clip from the concert at http://www.emergingpictures.com/hd_band.htm, so you can get a taste. This first clip features Gary Clark Jr., who in addition to being a major new music talent, is also the star of the film. We’ll post some more clips as the weeks go on, so you can see the other amazing musicians in the band. And watch for more information about the band’s upcoming performances. They may turn up in some unexpected places.

Now back to the triathalon…

Carbon Neutral Distribution

Anne Thompson recently wrote a column in Variety about the “greening” of Hollywood–the attempts by certain folks in the biz to make the process of making films more environmentally friendly. I wrote her a polite note telling her that she’d actually missed an obvious angle–the fact that the current 35mm theatrical distribution process is quite unfriendly to the environment. It would take a lot of carbon credits for the industry to overcome the many trucks and planes that are necessary to delivery those 35mm film cans, not to mention the process of making the prints, which requires putting petroleum-based substances into baths of toxic chemicals. Then consider what has to happen to all those prints when they are ultimately “destroyed.” In other words, theatrical distributors have a lot to answer for with Mother Nature.

But rather than fret about it, perhaps the studios should wake up to the fact that there is a better solution than paying for carbon credits–digital theaters. Imagine a world in which film prints are merely digital files, and those files can be delivered electronically without the need for airplanes and trucks. Hollywood doesn’t want you to know this, but this world exists right now.  Continue reading “Carbon Neutral Distribution”

No Clint?!

I can’t believe that Clint Eastwood isn’t making the cut. The only possible explanation is that his two films are splitting the vote. I completely get why that may have happened. Personally, I had a hard time choosing which of the films I would get behind if I had to pick one. Neither film is as impressive or as resonant individually as they are together. I’ve always said that my favorite film of all time is “The Godfathers,” meaning parts 1 & 2. This may be a similar situation. Sorry Clint…the rules are stacked against you this year.

10 Reasons Why I Can’t Write a 10 Best List

The offer from indieWIRE to publish 10 best lists from industry types and bloggers is a wonderful thing. The more voices we have out there, the less we are enslaved to the conventional critical wisdom. So why haven’t I posted something?

1. Academy Rules… As a voting member of the Academy (and BAFTA and the PGA), I am reminded at least once a year that we are not supposed to make our preferences known to the outside world, lest they be used to prognosticate the results. Nevermind that my Academy votes and my 10 best list might not resemble one another, because as we all know, voting for “Climates” for the Best Picture Oscar is about as useful as voting for Dennis Kucinich for President. Continue reading “10 Reasons Why I Can’t Write a 10 Best List”