AFI DALLAS Announces Robert Towne and 10 Official Selections

Posted in Uncategorized by johnwildman on February 16, 2009

2009 AFI DALLAS International Film Festival

Presented by NorthPark Center, Founding Sponsor Victory Park
Announces

Robert Towne to Receive AFI DALLAS Star Award

Ten Titles in Official Selections

Dallas, TX, February 16, 2009—AFI DALLAS 2009 International Film Festival Presented by NorthPark Center, Founding Sponsor Victory Park announces that Academy Award® winner Robert Towne will be presented with the prestigious AFI DALLAS Star Award in recognition of his career as a filmmaker and screenwriter on the occasion of the 35th anniversary of the cinema classic, CHINATOWN.

AFI DALLAS also announces ten films that will screen at this year’s festival. Those films include an Academy Award nominee for Best Documentary Feature (Scott Hamilton Kennedy’s THE GARDEN); and the Jury and Audience winner for Best Documentary at last year’s AFI FEST as well as the SILVERDOCS Award (Kief Davidson’s KASSIM THE DREAM).

Adding to the list of films making their US premiere at AFI DALLAS, will be Topaz Adizes’s AMERICANA and Charles Binamé’s THE AMERICAN TRAP.

Adizes’s AMERICANA is a documentary following the experiences of two young men from a small town in Arizona as they prepare to join the military to fight in Iraq. That preparation involves travel abroad and encounters with people from other countries with varying views on what America means to them, as well as how their close-knit community handles their imminent deployment.

Also making its US premiere will be Binamé’s dramatic thriller, THE AMERICAN TRAP. Set in a world of global intrigue and corruption, the film stars Rémy Girard, Gérard Darmon and Colm Feore in a tension-filled story of a man attempting to uncover the truths behind the JFK assassination.

The first selection in the Environmental Visions Competition, UPSTREAM BATTLE was also announced. Ben Kempas’s documentary chronicles the battle between Native Americans and an energy corporation as they seek to protect the salmon they depend on for their survival. Their struggle may trigger the largest dam removal project in history. The film will vie for the Current Energy Filmmaker Award and the $10,000 unrestricted cash prize that comes with that award.

The first 2009 AFI DALLAS Star Award honoree announced, Towne will be presented with the Festival’s AFI DALLAS Star Awards (the award is designed from Steuben crystal, courtesy of Neiman Marcus) prior to a screening of CHINATOWN, for which he won an Academy Award for his original screenplay in 1974. Towne was also nominated in the same category for SHAMPOO (1975) and for his screenplay adaptations for THE LAST DETAIL (1973) and GREYSTROKE: THE LEGEND OF TARZAN, LORD OF THE APES (1984). The prolific writer’s credits include notable titles such as PERSONAL BEST (1982) which he also directed, TEQUILA SUNRISE (1988), DAYS OF THUNDER (1990), THE FIRM (1993), LOVE AFFAIR (1994), MISSION IMPOSSIBLE (1996), WITHOUT LIMITS (also written and directed – 1998), MISSION IMPOSSIBLE II (2000) and ASK THE DUST (2006). Following the screening of CHINATOWN, Towne will participate in a special Q&A moderated by TIME Magazine’s Richard Schickel.

“It is a thrill to honor an accomplished artist like Robert Towne,” said Michael Cain, AFI DALLAS Artistic Director. “This is someone that had a hand in creating some of the signature films of the 70s—one of the legendary fertile periods in American film history, not to mention the other major films within his body of work. And to have an opportunity to see a classic like CHINATOWN on the big screen and then have one of the architects of that film discuss it afterward? That’s a date you automatically mark on your calendar.”

The ten announced selections include:

AMERICANA (USA)
Director: Topaz Adizes
Documentary follows the experiences of two young men from a small town in Arizona as they complete their last semester of high school and enlist in the Army to join the fight in Iraq.

THE AMERICAN TRAP (Canada)
Director: Charles Binamé
Cast: Rémy Girard, Gérard Darmon, Colm Feore, Joe Cobden, Janet Lane
Thriller set in a world of global intrigue and corruption, as a man attempts to uncover the truths behind the JFK assassination.

EVANGELION 1.0 YOU ARE NOT ALONE (Japan)
Director: Hideaki Anno, Masayuki, Kazuya Tsurumaki
Film is the first in a four-part series adapted and re-imagined from the legendary NEON GENESIS EVANGELION anime series.

THE GARDEN (USA)
Director: Scott Hamilton Kennedy
Documentary traces the events that led to the creation of a 14-acre community garden in South Central Los Angeles and the struggle between the urban farmers, the City of Los Angeles and a powerful developer who sought to evict them and build warehouses on the property.

KASSIM THE DREAM (Uganda/USA)
Director: Kief Davidson
Documentary profiles Kassim ‘The Dream’ Ouma, who survived being a child soldier in Uganda to becoming a champion boxer.

LIKE DANDELION DUST (USA)
Director: Jon Gunn
Cast: Mira Sorvino, Barry Pepper, Cole Hauser
Drama pits a couple versus a parolee father who seeks to take custody of their six-year-old adopted son.

LYMELIFE (USA)
Director: Derick Martini
Cast: Alec Baldwin, Kieran Culkin, Rory Culkin, Jill Hennessy, Timothy Hutton, Cynthia Nixon, Emma Roberts
Drama set in Long Island during the late 1970s, follows the intertwining lives of two families focusing on the teenaged children and their attempts to cope with the times.

RUDO Y CURSI (Mexico)
Director: Carlos Cuarón
Cast: Diego Luna, Gael Garcia Bernal
Drama about the turmoil between two brothers who compete against each other in the world of professional soccer.

TYSON (USA)
Director: James Toback
Documentary takes an unvarnished view of the controversial former heavyweight champion boxer.

UPSTREAM BATTLE (USA)
Director: Ben Kempas
Documentary chronicles the battle between Native Americans and an energy corporation as they seek to protect the salmon they depend on for their survival.

AFI DALLAS 2009 will run March 26 – April 2, 2009. Passes go on sale February 6; tickets go on sale March 2. Passes and tickets will be made available via online (AFIDALLAS.com), phone (214.720.0663) and in person at the Box Office located at the AFI DALLAS locations at NorthPark Center and Victory Park.

About AFI DALLAS International Film Festival
The AFI DALLAS International Film Festival celebrates films and their impact on society, honors filmmakers and recognizes their achievements and contributions in enhancing the creative community, provides educational programs to students to develop better understanding of the role of film in today’s world, and promotes the City of Dallas and its commitment to the art of filmmaking. AFI DALLAS is a presentation of the nonprofit Dallas Film Society.

About NorthPark Center
As one of the premier shopping centers in the United States, NorthPark Center (www.northparkcenter.com) proudly offers shoppers the best of the best in every category represented, including the finest in luxury retail and exclusives in the Southwest. Offering an unparalleled selection of international designers set amid timeless modern architecture and a world-class art collection, NorthPark Center has established a new standard in the United States for innovative retail destinations.

NorthPark Center is owned, managed, operated and leased by husband and wife David J. Haemisegger and Nancy A. Nasher. After a $250 million expansion in 2006, NorthPark Center became the largest shopping center in North Texas and one of the top shopping destinations in the United States. NorthPark Center will continue to open more luxury boutiques, exclusive stores and dining options throughout 2009 and beyond, culminating in more than 235 stores and restaurants.

NorthPark Center is located at the intersection of North Central Expressway and Northwest Highway in the heart of Dallas. Stores are open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday. Department store, theatre, restaurant and spa hours vary.

About Victory Park
Victory Park is Dallas’ most dynamic urban neighborhood—and one of the most significant and innovative urban developments in the United States. The neighborhood is a carefully crafted collection of upscale retail shops, distinctive dining, modern office space, dramatic residential units, the W Dallas Victory hotel and signature entertainment venues, including the American Airlines Center and House of Blues. Victory Park is a development of Hillwood, a Perot Company. For more information on Victory Park, visit http://www.victorypark.com.

Additional Sponsors
In addition to NorthPark Center and Victory Park, AFI DALLAS 2009 major sponsors include American Airlines, Bank of America, Barefoot Wine, Blockbuster, Brierley+Partners, CBS Radio, City of Dallas, Current Energy, The Dallas Morning News, D Magazine, DG FastChannel, Dallas Film Commission, DART, DCVB, e-Rewards Market Research, Entertainment Partners, El Creative, Faulkner Design Group, Jones Day, KERA, MPS Studios Dallas, Neiman Marcus, Post Asylum, Premiere Video, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, Pure Evil Music & Sound, Reel FX Entertainment, Screen International, Scott Yung LLP, Sony, The State of Texas, Studio Movie Grill, Target, Temerlin Consulting, Texas Film Commission, TM Advertising, 2929 Entertainment, Texas Association of Film Commissions, TXMPA, vitaminwater10, W Dallas Victory, WFAA, Whole Foods and WRR.

PRESS CONTACT FOR AFI DALLAS
John Wildman
Director, Press and Public Relations
AFI DALLAS Presented by NorthPark Center,
Founding Sponsor Victory Park
Tel: 323.600.3165
Tel: 214.720.0555
Fax: 214.720.0551
jwildman@AFIDALLAS.com

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“I haven’t fallen in love yet, but I would sleep with PAPER HEART”

Posted in Uncategorized by johnwildman on January 20, 2009

Back at Sundance – Day #1

After two years away due to the initial AFI DALLAS launch and scheduling issues the second year, I’m back in Park City to get a head start working on the films we’ll be picking up, get some face time with the journalists in town and possibly help Artistic Director Michael Cain and the programming dynamic Dallas duo of James Faust and Sarah Harris maybe find a couple more must haves that they somehow didn’t catch in their exhaustive non-stop movie search. Oh – and I’m also doing a Sundance story for Envy Magazine as they continue to stretch the boundaries of the “local social/ entertainment” magazine.

First impression – the reminder that you can’t park a car in Park City. Unless of course, you have a roll of bills like a mobster at hand to pay or you won the parking lottery. Point is – they don’t want you to park here. They don’t want you to have even owned a car. Ever. It’s understandable why. I mean, of course, I get it. And the public transpo is great. But there’s kind of an angry aggressiveness about the parking moratorium. And the tow trucks? Like sharks. Trolling for cars left behind by the weak-willed and desperate to make a movie or a meeting.

Scary. If you happen to have a car here – like me.

Anyway, if you’ve been here before then you know the drill and if you haven’t, you’ll learn fast. And ultimately, you won’t care because it’s all about the movies. Because if you’re here, even if it is for work, you likely view movies a little differently than the general public. At my first press screening, I asked a guy what he had seen that he had loved. He said, “I haven’t fallen in love yet, but I would sleep with PAPER HEART.” He also said he would have a one-night stand with LYMELIFE. Which leads me to think he would also buy PAPER HEART dinner a couple times as well.

The first film I saw was BIG FAN. The film follows a sad sack parking lot attendant who loves his New York Football Giants like no other. Until a disastrous incident occurs during a flukish meeting with his all-time favorite player, that is. I’m interviewing Patton Oswalt, the star of the film, tomorrow – AND I had insider info that it was gonna be a good one so I was looking forward to it. And it didn’t disappoint. It’s funny in a “real” way and it’s not afraid to go to some serious places you wouldn’t expect of Mr. Oswalt. But not earnest Oscar grab kind of going to those places. Probably because that sort of play would never enter Patton’s head in the first place. Written and directed by Robert Siegel with the same unflinching look at both the humor and you have to say it – pathos, that he brought to the script for THE WRESTLER. There’s also a nice understated turn by Kevin Corrigan as Oswalt’s character’s partner in fandom. The film draws conclusions that may not be the best on paper for all concerned, but (and I’m going to hate myself as I write this) that’s why they play the game. Finally, BIG FAN has, hands down, one of the best payoffs I have seen in a very long time.

Nice start, huh?

Film number two was THE COVE. Again, I was looking forward to this one from the moment I heard about it. The film is an expose’ on the dolphin industry and in particular the wholesale slaughter of dolphins that takes place in a little cove in Taiji, Japan. And it is as riveting as it gets as we follow a group of activists who hatch and execute an elaborate OCEAN’S 11-type operation for the express purpose of filming and documenting what goes on there. Led by Ric O’Barry who has been on a crusade for some 35 years to thwart an industry he feels greatly responsible for inspiring due to his work as a dolphin trainer on the original FLIPPER TV series, the group and the film work toward unmasking the many wrongs – animal cruelty to the nth degree and the willful spread of mercury poisoning to the entire country (with an emphasis on their children) among them. THE COVE invites immediate comparisons to SHARKWATER, which we had at AFI DALLAS in 2007 and which won the prize for Best HD Feature. And that comparison weighs very heavily in THE COVE’s favor. While SHARKWATER’s campaign against the illegal shark finning industry was easily just as genuine, it was burdened by the weighty ego of its filmmaker and “star.” O’Barry and the principals involved with THE COVE never waver on where their focus and concern lies –with a species with an intelligence and self awareness that could possibly exceed our own. And our kind’s typical bent to destroy that. Don’t miss this film when you get the chance to see it.

Number three? Chris Rock’s documentary, GOOD HAIR. This was an eye opener. Black women’s (and some men’s) love affair with relaxer (or “creamy crack”) and weaves is equal parts hilarious and frightening. Not surprising, mind you. Not when, as Nia Long describes the desire for “white hair” – there has long been a steady drumbeat for generations of black women to seek “the lighter, the brighter, the better,” as she says. To see what the principal chemical component in relaxer can do to a coke can in 3 or 4 hours is bad enough. Realizing that same stuff is being put on the heads of children after hearing the horror stories of the scalp burn from people like Ice T (yes, that Ice T), places it in a whole other arena. And then there are the secret societies of women with weaves, descriptions of how they pay thousands upon thousands of dollars for those weaves and how women in India literally have their hair “stolen” – cut off while they’re asleep or watching a movie in a theater – to fulfill that demand/obsession. It’s a lot to take in. And while I laughed throughout, I actually have gained much empathy for the men who must negotiate their way around their woman’s weave. Because, Rock makes it very clear – she may be worth it, but that’s some heavy lifting.

Finally, it was off to Slamdance to see a film we are romancing to bring to AFI DALLAS – ROSENCRANTZ AND GUILDENSTERN ARE UNDEAD. First off, there was a gift bag on the seat for everyone attending the premiere with a poster, fangs, t-shirt, etc. Thoughtful. Vampire thoughtful. And the film was proceeded by a short film – bonus, right? Entitled HORSEFINGERS 3: STARFUCKER, it was everything you would hope from a twisted bizzaro little short about romance and tough it is already to date without also having to work around having two giant hooves (or “horsefingers”) on your hands.
While describing the film, the director (Kirsten Kearse) had the second best quote of the day, “People are boring. But put them in animal outfit…”

As far as the feature presentation is concerned, what can you say about a film that follows a theater director’s struggles as he finds himself caught in the middle of a two thousand year out conspiracy involving Shakespeare, the Holy Grail and vampires? It was funny, it was silly, it was inventive. That’s what you can say. You can also say it starred Jake Hoffman (displaying some natural dead pan talent), Devon Aoki, Ralph Macchio and Jeremy Sisto among an eclectic cast. And music by Sean Lennon. Mind you, I saw the film during its world premiere which might have doubled as a cast and crew screening so it was a mad house and a very happy, giddy mad house. But Jordan Galland’s dead little valentine would have held its own regardless and brought the funny. This will be a fun movie to have in Dallas and a great cast to have on a red carpet.