- ANIMATORS, MEET THE ACADEMY: An Oscar for feature-length animation
has been introduced by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts &
Sciences, making it the first new category in almost 20 years.
The first animation award could be presented at the March 2002
ceremony, but it will only be handed out during years when more
than eight films are eligible. Variety 09/28/00
COMMERCIALISM? The state-funded Australian Broadcasting
Company looks to be pursuing e-commerce opportunities in new-media.
That has some critics concerned: "Content will be assessed
on its commerciality primarily, and over time depart from the
charter obligations of the ABC. We should not be in the business
of designing content solely to draw audiences for advertising
..." The Age (Melbourne) 09/28/00
OFF YOUTH: Why did Canada's CBC take serious classical music
programming off its Radio Two network? "Young people, the
CBC thinks, are basically dumb: You can only appeal to them
with bubblegum and the Internet. Youth equals light. So we will
ensure that the cultural radio station appeals only to the old
and sentimental, and thus ensure the reality of the presumption."
The Globe and Mail (Toronto) 09/28/00
REVOKED: Ireland's censor has just revoked a ban on a 1967
movie version of Joyce's "Ulysses." "The production,
which contains all the sexually explicit language that made
the novel notorious, is expected to be released to cinemas here
for the first time. Film censor Sheamus Smith said it was 'innocent
stuff now', and has granted a certificate for showing to audiences
aged 15 and older." Nando Times
ME THE MONEY: In India, where the average income is about
$215 a year, the Indian version of "Who Wants to Be A Millionaire"
has become a wild hit. "Streets are half deserted when
'KBC' comes on, suddenly it's easy to get a seat at late evening
movies, pubs in some cities say business has been hit, and bookshops
are packed with books to guide you through the quiz programme."
The Times of India 09/26/00
HAVE ALL THE AUDIENCES GONE? For nine weeks in a row now,
movie admissions in the US have been down compared to a year
ago. So far in September, ticket sales are down 22 percent,
and some movie people are beginning to worry- "Did we do
something to drive people away?"
Inside.com 09/26 00
THIS: "A week ago, Congress used its authority to force
the major television networks to explain at a hearing their
marketing of violence to children. Rep. Solomon Ortiz, D-Texas,
chairman of the arts and entertainment caucus, says similar
tactics could be used to have the networks explain why there
are so few Latinos on TV shows." Nando
SILVER SCREEN PROBLEM: Why is it that great stage musicals
rarely translate well to film? The release of "The Fantasticks"
after sitting around for five years on the shelf after it was
made, gives some clues. Los Angeles
The Australian government wants to look at allowing film directors
the ability to copyright their work. The
Age (Melbourne) 0922/00
A WIDE NET: Director Roman Polanski placed an ad in the
London Guardian to find a man to play Polish composer Wladyslaw
Szpilman in his next film, “The Pianist.” The ad read: “Looking
for a sensitive, vulnerable and charismatic man, acting experience
DISTRIBUTORS IN SEARCH OF AN AUDIENCE: How to market an
independent art film on a tiny distribution company’s budget
and reach an audience that isn’t growing at the pace of the
releases? “[Distributors] will tell you that there are too many
films vying for the attention of an audience that is no larger
than it was in the '70s. The pie is the same size, but it's
being cut into smaller slices.” Village
OUT TO SHOCK? Austria's Ars Electronica Festival, Europe's
most prominent electronic arts festival, was controversial both
among artists and Austrians. "No matter what you think
of the artistic quality of the festival, it had the undeniable
effect of enraging local politicians from the Freedom Party."
The New Republic 09/18/00
ARE THE YOUNG? Movie attendance in Europe and Australia
for those under the age of 25 has fallen off. Movie theatre's
blame the drop on the growing popularity of computers and cell
GOOD MOVIES: Movie attendance this weekend was the lowest
in the US since 1997. The Olympics and a lack of good films
FOR FIRST: Toronto Film Festival concludes with awarding
its top prize to "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon"
a "unique and sumptuous martial arts adventure by Taiwanese-American
filmmaker Ang Lee."
Chicago Tribune 09/18/00
TORONTO: "The rap against this year's festival is that
the Hollywood studios have hijacked the event. This observation
comes not only from the Canadian media but some of the top American
critics as well."
The Globe and Mail 09/18/00
ME, HEAR ME: Some movie theatres are installing technology
to help blind and deaf people enjoy movies. For the deaf, "rear-window
captions display the dialogue and certain sound effects. Blind
moviegoers get a special headset to listen to a description
of the visual elements of a film."
Ottawa Citizen (AP) 09/17/00
BETTER RATINGS: Eight prominent Hollywood directors advocate
scrapping the current movie ratings system, saying that it is
unworkable. In its place, they propose a ratings system that
would apply to all popular culture.
TO HAVE LOVED AND LOST? There’s never been a shortage of
filmmakers (from “The Agony and the Ecstasy” to “Basquiat”)
trying to get inside a painter’s mind and tell the imagined
backstory of a work of art. Spanish director Carlos Saura’s
new film, “Goya in Bordeaux” blames a thwarted love affair for
the Spanish master’s nightmarish masterpieces.
The Guardian (London)
So we're back to being offended about violence in entertainment
again. But what a a paper issue. "Some of the current sanctimony
is sincere. But come on: since the 1960s, if not earlier, the
cultural contradictions of capitalism have been the cultural
contradictions of capitalism. Our ferociously efficient free-market
system, the one bubbling along so nicely just now that Al Gore
will be elected president, requires revenue maximization, which
means every prospective buyer of every legal, medically safe
product must be targeted.
LOOKS AT KIDS’ PROGRAMMING: A day after a federal report
excoriated Hollywood for marketing violent content to children,
the FCC urged the television industry to adopt a voluntary code
to ensure children’s programming is age-appropriate during the
hours they’re likely to watch. On Thursday the FCC will discuss
advertising practices during children’s programming.
News (Reuters) 09/12/00
TAKES AIM AT ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY: "This Big Tobacco-type
drubbing comes from the Clinton-Gore administration just 28
days - long enough for the checks to clear? - after the same
entertainment industry whooped the city of Los Angeles into
one, huge week-long fund-raising party for Hillary Clinton,
Al Gore and the Democratic Party."
UP - CONGRESSIONAL HEARINGS: "Wednesday, Lynne
Cheney, wife of GOP vice presidential nominee Dick Cheney
and a longtime leading figure in the culture wars, will
be called to testify. And she is only the latest high-profile
figure from both parties eager to take part in what is
shaping up to be such a congressional gangbang that representatives
from the entertainment industry have decided to pull out
of the hearings."
OUTCOMES: Expect protests from the entertainment industry
and a lot of grandstanding from politicians, but don't
expect any legislation. The entertainment industry will
remain self-regulated, but it will be encouraged to get
a lot better at that self-regulation. If it doesn't, it
will face a full-on assault, much like the tobacco industry
has faced in the last several years. Inside.com
PONDERS DAMNING REPORT: Hollywood was busy digesting
Monday's report by the US Federal Trade Commission on
violence which concluded that "the movie, music and
video game industries undermined their own rating systems
by advertising to audiences for which the content is deemed
COSTS OF NOT WORKING: The 19-week strike by actors against
commercial producers has cost the Los Angeles economy $200
million, says an economist.
IS TOPS: "Other events may have made their mark by
being snobbish, elitist, difficult. Not Toronto. Celebrating
its 25th anniversary this year and generally considered the
top festival in North America and the most important in the
world after Cannes, Toronto has become the destination of
choice for filmmakers and journalists largely by being appreciative,
hospitable and sane."
Los Angeles Times 09/12/00
GLUT: "The proliferation of new theaters was supposed
to usher in a golden new era of moviegoing, with screens available
for new hits, the classics and indie films. In 1995 there were
27,805 screens in the United States. By last year the number
had jumped 34 percent to 37,185." Now some chains are going
out of business because of the overbuilding.
AWARDS: "West Wing" wins. List of winners. New
York Times 09/11/00 (one-time
registration required for entry)
FESTIVAL WINNER: An Iranian film wins the Venice Film Festival.
" 'The Circle' tells the story of eight Iranian
women struggling with the restrictions their society places
on them because they are women."
The Age (Melbourne) 09/11/00
THE WAR: It seems like recording companies and the entertainment
industry are winning their battles with the new digital cowboys.
But it's not so: "What's happening to the entertainment
industry is the same thing that happened to the brokerage business
when on-line stock trading appeared: An industry built on one
business model feels fear when something new appears that threatens
that way of doing business. The New Economy word for this kind
of thing is 'disintermediation', and it's breaking out all over
thanks to the Internet."
The Globe and Mail (Toronto) 09/10/00
DOWN CANADIAN FILM PRODUCERS: Canadian film production
houses are hurting, despite an abundance of work. The reason
is an ongoing scandal at production house Cinar, which is "under
investigation for taking illegal tax credits, allegedly by using
Canadians to cover for American writers who didn't qualify under
Canadian content rules, and misappropriating $86 million (U.S.)
in unauthorized investments." Inside.com
HAVE THE LITERARY FILMMAKERS GONE? "The posh literary
film (or PLF) is one of the relatively new petit-bourgeois enjoyments.
Since the 1980s, indeed, we've had nearly all of EM Forster,
a good deal of Henry James, more than half of Jane Austen, a
bit of Orwell and Wilde and Graham Greene and, any minute now,
no doubt, a Technicolor account of Pope's Dunciad, starring
every British actor who ever failed O-level English - which
would make it a cast of thousands." The
Telegraph (London) 09/08/00
YOU WANT TO BE A SCREENWRITER... A new paper by the
Australian Film Commission says that 1,200 to 1,400 feature
scripts have been developed here in the past three years. And
the number that reach the screen? About 25 to 30 a year."
Sydney Morning Herald 09/08/00
FEST COMES OF AGE: The Toronto International Film festival
turns 25 this year - “an event that not only has grown into
one of the world's most important film markets but also has
become the prime launching pad for Oscar bait.” New
York Times 09/07/00
(one-time registration required for
ART FILM LIVES: Back in the 1970s it looked like big
commercial Hollywood blockbusters would take over the world.
Toronto was begun as an antidote to that. The festival quickly
proved that "in a miraculously sustained but constantly
shifting way, international cinema refuses to lie down and
die. You can starve it and stomp on it with Sylvester Stallone
movies, but its lifeblood keeps pumping, and it keeps growing
and Mail (Toronto) 09/07/00
FILMGOERS: It’s commonly believed that big film awards -
an Oscar or a Palme d’Or - work wonders for a filmmaker’s career.
Not so for Bruno Dumont whose “l'Humanité” took home best actor,
best actress, and the Grand Jury Prize in Cannes. “Depending
on who you listen to, ‘l'Humanité’ is stultifyingly boring/
hypnotically entrancing, intellectually intriguing/exploitatively
hollow, etc. Some audience members have insulted Dumont; others
have held his hand and wept.” The
Guardian (London) 09/07/00
TO DEATH: The movie theatre business is hemorrhaging money
- several are on the verge of collapse, even as the movie business
itself is doing just fine. So what's the problem with theatres?
Overbuilding. "It was a mass suicide. They see their competitors
putting up new attractive theaters, so they think that to be
competitive they have to do that, too."
New York Times 09/04/00 (one-time
registration required for entry)
GOES THE ART FILM: As our diversions become more and more
tied to audience numbers and popularity, can difficult or subtle
art films survive? The evidence is mixed.
York Times 09/01/00 (one-time registration required for entry)
THE FALK? An Argentine actor/director goes to the Falklands
with a crew posing as tourists and without permission and films
a movie covertly in nine days. The movie "tells the story
of an Argentine man visiting the islands with the aim of...
umm ... impregnating as many British women as possible, thereby
achieving the takeover that 72 days of fighting at a combined
cost of 891 lives and $2 billion could not."