News in Brief

Sundance announces 2002 programming line-up; Future of NATPE in question; Granada reports losses.
November 29, 2001

The Sundance Film Festival has announced its programming line-up for the 2002 event, which will run January 10 to 20 in Park City, Utah. A total of 16 films will screen in the Documentary Competition, the most coveted of the festival’s doc slots. They are: Amandla! A Revolution In Four Part Harmony, directed by Lee Hirsch; American Standoff, directed by Kristi Jacobson; Blue Vinyl, directed by Judith Helfand and Daniel B. Gold; Close to Home, directed by Vanessa Roth and Alexandra Dickson; The Cockettes, directed by Bill Weber and David Weissman; Daddy and Papa, directed by Johnny Symons; Daughter from Danang, directed by Gail Dolgin and Vicente Franco; Derrida, directed by Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering Kofman; The Execution of Wanda Jean, directed by Liz Garbus; Family Fundamentals, directed by Arthur Dong; How to Draw a Bunny,directed by John Walter; Miss America, directed by Lisa Ades; Ralph Ellison: An American Journey, directed by Avon Kirkland; Senorita Extraviada, directed by Lourdes Portillo; Sister Helen, directed by Rebecca Cammisa and Rob Fruchtman; Two Towns of Jasper, directed by Whitney Dow and Marco Williams.

An additional eight documentaries will screen in the American Spectrum, Frontier, Native Forum, Premieres, and Special Screenings programs. They are: Caminantes, from Spanish director Fernando Leon de Aranoa; Devil’s Playground, directed by Lucy Walker; The Kid Stays In The Picture, from Brett Morgen and Nanette Burstein; Miss 501 (A Portrait of Luck), by Canadian Jules Karatechamp; On_Line, directed by Jed Weintrob; Rancho California, directed by John T. Caldwell; Texas, directed by Circumstance; and That’s my Face, from director Thomas Allen Harris

This year, 444 docs were submitted to Sundance, an increase from last year’s 390.

NATPE organizers have cancelled hotel reservations in New Orleans for 2003 and 2004, suggesting the syndication market might be nearing its end. In a letter to the hotels, the event organizers blamed the September 11 attacks and their aftermath as the primary reason for the cancellation.

Granada announced plans to reduce ITV Digital costs by £145 million (US$207 million) in 2002 – a move that will result in the loss of about 430 jobs. Over the last 12 months, Granada reduced its work force by 650 and Granada’s losses at ITV Digital grew to $333 million, compared to $262 million in 2000. For the year ending September 30, 2001, Granada recorded a pre-tax loss of $264 million.

In related ITV news, the U.K. government has revealed media ownership reforms that will enable Granada and Carlton Communications to finally merge. The reforms do not, however, lift the current ban preventing non-European Union companies from owning terrestrial broadcasters in the U.K.

In the U.S., ABC says it might be considering putting Who Wants to be a Millionaire out to pasture. Although the show had traditionally been a network ratings winner, last season saw Millionaire consistently lose ground each week.

In related Millionaire news, the BBC reports that Richard Rosner, a former contestant on the show, is suing ABC for not providing him with the opportunity to choose a correct answer. Rosner was asked to name the capital city at the altitude highest above sea level, but failed to pick Quito, Ecuador, the highest of the four options he was offered. Although it wasn’t one of the four alternatives, Bolivia’s Paz is the highest capital.

PBS in the U.S. is accepting proposals for the 2002 fall season of ‘Independent Lens’, its independent film and video series. Program lengths may vary. All submissions should be received by December 21, 2001.

Court TV has gained over 15 million new subscribers since last December, making it the third fastest growing basic cable network in the U.S., behind Fox News Channel and FX. The channel, owned by AOL Time Warner and Liberty Media Corp., increased its subscription base by 32% over last year. Court TV now has close to 66 million subscribers.

The U.K.’s Film Council has handed out a second round of development funds, totaling US$1 million, to six British prodcos. On the factual front, October Films received about $107,000 of the funds to help finance its foray into features.

The IDA has honored five docs with a Distinguished Achievement Award. The awards, which will be presented December 7, go to Children Underground (directed by Edet Belzberg), (Chris Hegedus and Jehane Noujaim), On Tiptoe: Gentle Steps to Freedom (Eric Simonson), Abraham and Mary Lincoln: A House Divided (David Grubin) and Hitler’s Lost Sub (Kirk Wolfinger).

Imax has opened a £1.5 million (US$2 million) screen at Belfast’s Odyssey Centre, which also houses a 10,000-seat indoor hockey rink and a science center. Now the biggest film screen in Ireland, it will open with a run of Everest.

Mexico’s Televisa has picked up Big Brother for next season. The Endemol format will be available on terrestrial, pay and online.

About The Author
Daniele Alcinii is a news reporter at realscreen, the leading international publisher of non-fiction film and television industry news and content. He joins the rs team with journalism experience following a stint out west with Sun Media in Edmonton's Capital Region, and communications work in Melbourne, Australia and Toronto. You can follow him on Twitter at @danielealcinii.