Film Scouts Diaries

1998 Karlovy Vary Film Festival Diaries
Day 4 - July 6

by Henri Béhar

Day 4 - Monday, July 6, 1998

Over the week-end, the screening of Nick Gomez's "Laws of Gravity" kicked off the tribute to - and that's unusual - a film company. More specifically, The Shooting Gallery. In 1990, before independent film rose (again?), producer Larry Meistrich and independent filmmaker Bob Gosse founded The Shooting Gallery to create a home for the struggling independents in New York City (thanks in a large part to an in-house financing division). The principle was to offer directors, writers and actors unparalleled creative freedom to create quality product, offering them also production and consultation services. "Laws of Gravity" was the first of such self-financed film, the most famous (to date) being Billy Bob Thornton's Academy Award winning "Sling Blade" and the most recently released, Hal Hartley's "Henry Fool".

Meanwhile, a subsidiary of The Shooting Gallery, Gun-For-Hire, comes in on other units' films, be it Warner Bros', Miramax's, Universal's or Showtime's, with a full range of production services, including line-producing, which is pretty unusual, and probably unique (They are involved in Al Pacino's next directorial effort, "Chinese Coffee").Due to their success, they now also own, manage and operate all of their ancillary businesses, and they're branching out in all sorts of niche-type directions, including foreign sales and music (with Island Records)

Whole bunch of films this w.e.: Shown in the Forum of Independents section, Ramin Naimi's "Somewhere in the City", has a strong cast going for it - Sandra Bernhardt, Bai-Ling, of "Red Corner" fame, Peter Stormare, Bulle Ogier, and Ornella Muti. Weaving together the stories of six residents in a New York City tenement apartment building, « Somewhere...» presents itself as a "black screwball comedy". Not too many people shared that view. Anyway, Ornella Muti is to come into town... in a couple of days.

Already seen in a sidebar at Cannes, Darezan Omirbaev's "Killer" (here in the official competition) is a Khazakhstani-French coproduction. It is also a gem (Yes, Virginia, they make movies over there. Different from ours -- mercifully, wouldn't you say?). It's about Marat, a driver working for the Director of the National Institute of Scientific Research. Marat's wife has just had a child. Driving her back from the hospital, he bumps into another car, whose driver suggests they don't report the accident if Marat agrees to pay for repairs on both cars. Marat agrees, borrows money at high interest but then loses his job and through a whole series of events, is forced to become a hitman for the local Mafia. Marat is remarkably played by Talgat Assetov. The direction is subtle, and part of the tension comes from the fact that most characters, who rarely speak, spend most of their time looking over their shoulders. Nothing is said -- yet everything is said. Wanna bet it will be snatched by a Miramax, a Sony Classics or a Fine Line?

"Two Moons, Three Suns" is a Russian-Ukranian co-production. Directed by Roman Balayan ("Lady Macbeth of Minsk"), it's a melodrama where an archaeologist whose brother was killed, not in a civil war zone, but a hit man in the streets of Moscow. He tracks down the killer, seeking for revenge, but falls in love with the killer's wife -- and her little boy who cannot count and therefore, instead of "two nights and three days", innocently says "two moons, three suns". Yes, Virginia, it's just as icky as it sounds.

Based on a best-seller (in the Czech Republic and in Slovakia) by Peter Pistanek, "Rivers of Babylon", directed by former docu-maker Vlado Balco, traces the (ir)resistible rise of a brute (dare we say "hairy ape"?) from the boiler room to big business and political power (did you say "Arturo Ui"?). The whole thing spells "METAPHORE" in flicking neon lights, you get the message by the end of reel two.

The first full-fledged Karlovy Vary Film Market opens, actor Robert Forster arrives into town for the gala presentation of Quentin Tarantino's "Jackie Brownova".

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