News from January 28, 2001

Once upon a time, some guy made this really cool post-modern gangster flick. It grossed a boatload of money and won an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. The film gave many people their first major introductions to some damn cool actors, while bringing a few out-of-favor actors back to the top of the game. And ever since then, we have had a rash of post-Tarantino crime flicks. most of which have been painful exercises to witness. They’ve come at us from America, from England, from Japan and Hong Kong and from most everywhere else in the world.

In Los Angeles on February 16th, the Danish will get their chance.

The name of the film is “In China They Eat Dogs,” and as is par for the course, is being compared favorably to “Pulp Fiction” and “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.” The film is about Avrid, an ordinary Joe who one day inadvertently stops a robbery, becoming a local hero. Avrid discovers the robber needed the money so he and his wife could have a child through artificial insemination, and ends up helping the robber get the money in what the film’s American web site calls “a wild, wacky ride through Copenhagen’s underworld”.

“Akira” is coming back to theatres this Spring. Reuters reports former laserdisc innovators Pioneer Entertainment is spending a million dollars to clean the print up and give it a Dolby Digital soundtrack. No word on who the distributor will be, only that the film will likely be released sometime in the spring, before its first ever DVD release at the end of the year.

Reuters also reports Universal Pictures is looking to pick up “About A Boy,” which New Line let go last week after Mike DeLuca’s departure. The $30M project, which already had Hugh Grant and the “American Pie” duo of Chris and Paul Weitz attached, was set free when new New Line head Toby Emmerich decided to bring the company back to the niche-driven films which made New Line one of the more successful indies 20 years ago.

In the increasinglystrange blurring of entertainment conglomerates and dot-coms, After teaming to give two unknowns parts in “American Pie 2,” Universal Pictures and Hypnotic.com have awarded New York filmmaker David von Ancken a one million dollar production deal prize. Von Aucken’s 16 minute short film “Bullet In The Brain” was one of five finalists in the first ever Million Dollar Film Festival. He and the other finalists were asked to submit a pitch or completed script for a film they felt could be made for a million dollars. Von Aucken was announced as the winner at the Sundance Film Festival. Von Aucken’s film will be released in theatres and video by Universal, while Hypnotic will retain online distribution rights.

Judging from the “First Annual” part of the title, there will be another Million Dollar Film Festival. Check Hypnotic’s web site later this fall for details of the next contest.

Is it censorship or a thinly veiled attempt to inject some hype into a sluggish company’s lackluster… well, luster. The Hollywood Reporter says IMAX executives have asked those companies who have IMAX screens in their complexes not screen the upcoming 3D computer animated film “Haunted Castle,” as the company feels the film’s violent images could tarnish Imax’s brand name with the film going community. Despite the film’s PG rating, the company feels Imax theaters “would not be well-served by the exhibition of this film.”

The three major American chains with IMAX screens, Edwards Cinemas, Loews Cineplex and Regal Cinemas, all plan on opening the film February 23. A spokesperson for Euromax, who operates 36 IMAX screens throughout the European Community, quite rightfully pointed out in a statement that “there is a huge kind of demand for a different kind of film to cater for a different audience, something beyond education that will drive through especially weekend and evening audiences.”

In our opinion, IMAX needs more films like “Haunted Castle” (and sadly, the upcoming N’Sync concert film) to break through the the doldrums the company has suffered through since the end of the “Fantasia 2000” run.

Well, the 2001 Sundance Award winners have been announced.

The Dramatic Grand Jury prize went to Henry Bean’s “The Believer,” the “based on the true story” telling about a religious student who becomes a rising star in the neofascist political world, while the Documentary Grand Prize went to “Southern Comfort”, about a dying female to male transsexual and his relationship with a male to female transsexual.

Audiences ironically gave their dramatic award to “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” John Cameron Mitchell’s adaptation of his own off-Broadway musical about a would-be rock singer who survives a botched male to female sex change operation, leaving her with a little something extra down there. (Mitchell, who also stars in the film, won the Dramatic Directing award). On the documentary side, the audiences split on “Scout’s Honor” (about the anti-gay policies of the Boy Scouts) and “Dogtown and Z-Boys,” which follows a group of Santa Monica skate punks. Dogtown’s director, Stacy Peralta (a former Z-Boy), won the Documentary Directing award, while Comfort also picked up the Freedom Of Expression Award.

Other award winners included:

  • “Children Underground,” a documentary about Romanian children living in a subway station, received a special jury award
  • Tilda Swinton-starrer “The Deep End” was gifted the Dramatic Cinematography award, with long time documentarian Albert Maysles given the Documentary Cinematography award for Lalee’s Kin: “The Legacy of Cotton”
  • “Gina, An Actress, Age 29” won the Grand Jury prize for short films
  • Sissy Spacek and Tom Wilkinson picked up special acting awards for their performances in “In The Bedroom”
  • Christopher Nolan got the Screenwriting Prize for “Memento”
  • Chinese director and film fest favorite Zhang Yimou snagged the World Cinema Audience award for his film “The Road Home”
  • “Without A Trace,” a Mexican road movie, shared the Latin American Cinema prize with “Possible Lovers,” while “Coffin Joe: The Strange World of Jose Mojica Marins,” about the eccentric Brazilian horror filmmaker, picked up the Latin American Documentary counterpart
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