Reel World

S.F. International Film Festival; Quills Web site censorship

I Love TroubleEven as we speak, a whole lot of favor-trading and arm-twisting is going on off-camera at the S.F. International Film Festival. The annual dance between fest programmers and specialized distributors is more intense than usual this year, with three high-profile movies by local filmmakers on the horizon. Since Terry Zwigoff's Ghost World (Reel World, Feb. 14) is aimed at the younger moviegoers the fest is courting, the movie would be a swell choice for the May 3 closing night slot. In the fest's favor, MGM is tentatively planning to open the flick just three weeks later. However, there's always the chance that MGM might want to market the Daniel Clowes-penned opus as a teen flick without any art-house connotations.

A premiere of John and Jake Kornbluth's Haiku Tunnel would be a natural for the Kabuki's big house -- where the brothers could bask in the hometown applause. But until they iron out the details and sign a distribution deal with Sony Pictures Classics, no commitment is possible. In any event, a spring screening at the fest might not help Sony with a film it plans to open in mid- to late summer. Timing is also the key for David Siegel and Scott McGehee's Tahoe-set thriller, The Deep End, which Fox Searchlight hopes to release in late summer or early fall. If I were betting with your stock options, I'd take a stake in Ghost Town and Haiku Tunnel for the 2001 SFIFF.

Sleeping With the EnemyProducer Peter Kaufman calls it "that fiasco" when I reach him at the North Beach office he shares with his director dad, Philip. He's referring to Fox Searchlight's recent decision to shutter the "Vice" section of the Web site for his movie, Quills -- "Virtue" is still open -- after some kid's parents complained. "I'm surprised and disappointed," Kaufman says, pointing out that this solitary objection arose some three months after the site went up. "It's a thousand times less graphic than other things kids can dial up." (In an odd coincidence, Kaufman reports that the site was designed by Andrew Chapman, the son of Michael Chapman, the top-notch cinematographer who shot four of Phil's films -- and, famously, Scorsese's Taxi Driver.)

The site snafu is merely the latest unnecessarily cautious move by Fox, which displayed major jitters in rolling out the Marquis de Sade fable. For the first 3 1/2 weeks of its release, the film could be found at only nine theaters in the nation. South of the border, however, Quills opened much wider: "In countries where they're not afraid of sex -- Latin American countries -- we'll probably make many more times what we'll make in this country," Kaufman declares.

Conspiracy TheoryThe technical wizards at S.F.'s American Zoetrope are working on an expanded version of Apocalypse Now for DVD release and probable theatrical distribution, featuring several scenes omitted from the original 1979 cut. Economics being what they are, the home DVD market usually drives restorations and director's cuts -- but the curious thing is that Apocalypse Now is already out on DVD. Though my Zoetrope sources won't confirm what additional bonus material is included on the disc, my guess is that it will include Hearts of Darkness, the myth-making -- albeit less-than-flattering -- behind-the-scenes documentary conspicuously omitted from the first DVD.

 
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