Natl Film Title Weekend Gross % B.O. Theatrs Rank LDS/Mormon Filmmaker/Star Total Gross Change $/Thtr Days --- --------------------------- ----------- ------ ------- ---- 1 The Cat in the Hat (NEW) 38,329,160 -- 3,464 3 Eric McLeod (exec. producer) 38,329,160 $11,065 Aldric La'Auli Porter (assoc. producer/1st A.D.) Danielle Chuchran (actress) 47 S.W.A.T. 33,766 -- 69 108 LDS character 116,877,597 $489 57 The Book of Mormon Movie Vol. 1 20,846 -23.5% 19 73 Gary Rogers 1,064,914 $1,097 (writer/producer/director) Craig Clyde (screenplay) David Hales (co-producer, editor) Ira Baker (editor) Robert C. Bowden (composer) Actors: Bryce Chamberlain, Mark Gollaher, Jan Broberg Felt, Cragun Foulger, Jacque Gray, Kirby Heyborne, Michael Flynn 67 Shackleton's Antarctic Adventure 14,895 -39.6% 9 1018 Scott Swofford (producer) 15,493,920 $1,655 Reed Smoot (cinematographer) Sam Cardon (composer) Stephen L. Johnson (editor) 95 Galapagos 4,640 -22.1% 3 1487 Reed Smoot (cinematographer) 14,205,919 1,546 100 The Legend of Johnny Lingo 2,829 -92.2% 5 87 Gerald Molen (producer) 747,381 $565 John Garbett (producer) 105 Cirque du Soleil: Journey of Man 2,429 -2.1% 3 1290 Reed Smoot (cinematographer) 15,589,398 $809 108 Cremaster 3 1,817 +4.3% 2 213 Mathew Barney 505,671 $908 (writer/producer/director/actor) 129 China: The Panda Adventure 279 -41.8% 1 850 Reed Smoot (cinematographer) 3,538,719 $279
If one ALSO counts movies starring LDS/Mormon actors (even without an LDS director, producer, writer, D.P., editor, or composer) "The Cat in the Hat" would currently be in 3rd place on the LDS-made box office chart, behind "2 Fast 2 Furious" (starring Mormon actor Paul Walker, $127 million) and "Final Destination 2" (starring Latter-day Saint actress A.J. Cook, $47 million). In its first weekend "The Cat in the Hat" vaulted ahead of not only "The R.M." and numerous lower-grossing LDS-starring films released this year, but also ahead of four other movies starring LDS and/or Mormon actors in lead roles or poster-billed supporting roles: "The Core" (Aaron Eckhart, $31 million), "Piglet's Big Movie" (Ken Sansom, $23 million), "Wrong Turn" (Eliza Dushku, $15 million) and "Le Divorce" (Matthew Modine, $9 million).
"The Cat in the Hat" stars non-LDS actors Michael Myers (as the Cat), Kelly Preston (as the Mom) and Alec Baldwin as the next-door-neighbor. Audiences may love it. It cost $109 million to make (not to mention $40 million P&A). To give you an idea of how much that is, we could have made 112 Jack Weyland novels into movies for that amount -- but not with Michael Myers as the star.
At RottenTomatoes.com the early reviews of the "Cat in the Hat," of which there are dozens, have the movie running at about 11%... But I won't tell you whether that's 11% of the reviews positive, or 11% are negative... Okay, I'll tell you. 11% are positive.
But I can assure you that Sister Danielle Chuchran's performance as "Thing One" is flawless, and is one of the main reasons to see it. The other reasons are the undeniably high production values, brought to you by Bro. Aldric Porter (1st assistant director and associate producer) and Bro. Eric McLeod (the movie's executive producer).
Locally, the Deseret News gave "The Cat in the Hat" 1 star out of 4, and the Salt Lake Tribune gave the movie zero stars. But in doing so they really misrepresented what is truly a quality family movie. I saw it with my children. It certainly kept their attention, and mine. I laughed quite a few times. I can see the movie lacks a certain elitist air that critics might prefer, but I believe general moviegoers will enjoy it. The occasionally mentioned crude jokes in this PG-rated movie could have been left on he cutting room floor, but they are few in number, very slight, unnoticed by children and relatively innocuous for adults. If you weren't offended by the content of "God's Army" you probably won't be offended "The Cat in the Hat."
Yes, it was largely panned by film critics, and not, it's not a "great movie," but expect it to make a lot of money, fueled by positive word of mouth spread by us "less discerning" types and those interested in a fun family movie they can take kids to. The Washington Post gave it a very positive review, particularly praising the performance of non-LDS lead actress Dakota Fanning (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A2183-2003Nov20.html), and there were other positive reviews as well.
DANIELLE CHUCHRAN, LDS STAR OF "THE CAT IN THE HAT": The Deseret News published a detailed profile of young actress Danielle Chuchran and her role in "The Cat in the Hat." Her previous films include "Little Secrets," "Handcart" and some Church films. Read: "Utahn a talented little 'Thing'", by Sharon Haddock, 20 Nov. 2003, Desert News (http://deseretnews.com/dn/view/0,1249,525039190,00.html).
JARED HESS'S 'NAPOLEON DYNAMITE' ACCEPTED INTO SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL: Latter-day Saint BYU film student Jared Hess recently completed production of his feature-length directorial debut "Napoleon Dynamite," a comedy about a quirky teenager growing up in Idaho. The movie is a sequel or expansion of Hess's previous award-winning short film "Peluca," which was one of the top films at last year's Slamdance Film Festival.
No less than two major Latter-day Saint feature film directors have written to us to praise Hess's accomplishment with "Napoleon Dynamite" and inform us that it has been accepted into the world's most important film festival for independent films: the Sundance Film Festival.
One of the people writing with the news was Scottish Latter-day Saint filmmaker Andrew Black, who last year beat Hess in the Slamdance Film Festival when his own short film "The Snell Show" won the top honor as Best Short Film over "Peluca." Black and another director of LDS Cinema have praised Hess's work and thrown around words such as "genius." These are filmmakers who themselves have been winning awards at film festivals across the country, and the way they both insist that admire Hess as a filmmaker forces us to conclude that Hess must truly be filmmaker's filmmaker.
Hess's films have sometimes received less attention in the local press and may not be as familiar to LDS audiences because they are not LDS-themed or LDS Cinema, but they are certainly worth watching for. The acceptance of "Napoleon Dynamite" into Sundance bodes well for that film's chances for theatrical distribution. It would not be surprising if local niche distributors such as Excel and Halestorm end up vying with national distributors for the opportunity to represent this unusual, side-splitting movie.
"PRIDE & PREJUDICE" WILL ROCK YOUR WORLD: "Pride & Prejudice: A Latter-day Comedy" opens in Utah theaters on December 5th... just over two weeks away.
Rarely has an LDS Cinema movie had this much buzz associated with it! "American Idol" fans are talking about this, exciting about seeing Carmen (or dreading it, as the case may be). Jane Austen fans are legion. Whodathunk a dead British gal would be such a pop celebrity? Fans are burning up the Net Boards talking about the pros and cons of Scottish LDS director Andrew Black's new interpretation of Austen's novel... a movie which is already being compared favorably to "Clueless."
A song Carmen Rasmusen sings in the movie is getting airplay on the radio, and the song can be listened to on the net. It's fantastic, by the way, I've heard it! Very unusual, which is what you'd expect with Carmen's voice. Hers is a distinctive unusual voice in pop music today, not at all the cookie cutter blandness that one expects from Brittany et al.
Some of the harshest critics of LDS Cinema have already weighed in on "Pride & Prejudice"... They LIKE it!
The only bad thing about the movie is the fact that it is likely to bring out some silly statements from local movie critics, saying THIS is the way LDS Cinema should be done, even though everything about the movie is OPPOSITE what you find in the movie the critics have praised most strongly thus far: "Brigham City." Note to critics: If it's a good movie, it's because it's an entertaining, well-made movie... as judged on its own merits, not because it follows some prescriptive set of rules that you make up and don't even follow consistently.
We already know know "P&P" is a great movie... Investors are anxious to see how audiences respond (and early indications are that there will be huge box office enthusiasm for this). We're anxious to see how critics respond... with the big question being: Can "Pride & Prejudice" top "Brigham City" and take the pole position? Or will Dutcher continue his reign at the top, poised next to fend off "Saints and Soldiers", "The Home Teachers", "The Best Two Years" and "Eat, Drink and Get Married."
But the bigger question is... How long before Hollywood itself will fall before the fearsomely moral and cinematically excellent might of the Four Horsemen of the LDS Cinema Un-Apocalypse -- Black, Little, Anderson and Vuissa? The First Horseman -- the Black Knight -- rides December 5th. His name is Pestilence, his Plague of choice is Love, and his scimitar is engraved with two words: "Pride" on the handle, and "Prejudice" on the blade.
SISTER STOTT TAKES 3RD PLACE IN NATIONAL "TODAY SHOW" SUPER STAR COMPETITION: 18 Nov. 2003: I'm very, very sorry to report that Sister JoDee Stott is out of the Today Show Super Star competition. This morning the votes were announced and she doesn't proceed. The scraggly-haired white guy and the clean cut car salesman black guy proceed as the two finalists.
This means that Sister Stott, a Native American Latter-day Saint from Ogden, Utah, came in third place in the competition, out of 6,000 people who submitted audition tapes.
Seriously, I think Sister Stott was the strongest singer of the group, certainly better than the two remaining guys. Maybe people didn't think she looked the part. I don't know.
Carmen came in 6th place on "American Idol." Kelly Wiglesworth and Neleh Dennis both came in 2nd place on "Survivor." True, the Today Show isn't a prime time series and wasn't as widely watched as "Survivor" or "American Idol," but an out-and-out win would have been nice this time. Many say that Julie Stoffer can be considered the "winner" of her "Real World" season, as she emerged the star of the year and was the one featured in the final episode's closing credits. But it was not an actual competition. Still, all of these women have acquitted themselves nicely on national TV. Why aren't LDS men picked for high-profile reality TV? Did anybody actually see Dagen Merrill on Ben and Matt's reality series.
On the other hand... 3rd place in a national singing competition isn't bad, you know? Jenna Webb said in a recap story on "The Today Show" which ran a few days after the contest closed: All 8 of the finalists are have already won. I was disappointed that JoDee didn't come in first place. But I'm sure we'll see more of her. She really did have a phenomenal voice and presentation, even if the 35-year-old mother of three didn't LOOK like a traditional "super star."
PRIDE AND PREJUDICE TRAILER ON APPLE'S QUICKTIME TRAILER SITE: Thanks to LDS musician Michael R. Hicks for this tip: The LDS Cinema movie "Pride and Prejudice: a latter-day comedy", directed by Andrew Black and featuring LDS "American Idol" star Carmen Rasmusen, is available on Quicktime.com, which is Apple's big trailer page -- the most popular movie trailer page on the Internet. This is major exposure: http://www.apple.com/trailers/ This is the first time a trailer for an LDS Cinema movie has been featured on Apple's trailer website. This is yet another feather in the hat for "Pride and Prejudice," which is clearly still in the running as of the Four Hot New LDS Cinema Movies vying to be the fabled "B.C. Killer," the first movie to top the critical acclaim received by "Brigham City." The other 3 movies are "The Best Two Years," "Saints and Soldiers," and "Eat, Drink and Get Married." All of these represent a whole new wave in quality LDS Cinema... but which one will emerge on top? And will that top put it ahead of "Brigham City" in critic's hearts, or even (less likely, but possible) ahead of "The Other Side of Heaven" at the box office?
BYU DAILY UNIVERSE REVIEW OF HALESTORM DIRECT-TO-VIDEO/DVD RELEASE "IT'S LATTER-DAY NIGHT": Writing for BYU's newspaper The Daily Universe, staff writer Joe Ghiz ("Film Viewpoint: LDS comedy DVD hits some, misses some:, 18 Nov 2003, http://newsnet.byu.edu/story.cfm/46927) reviewed "It's Latter-day Night!" the 1-hour live concert film that was just released by HaleStorm Entertainment directly to video and DVD. After releasing its theatrically shown feature films "The Singles Ward" and "The R.M.", this is HaleStorm's first direct-to-video release. Ghiz gave restrained but mostly positive review to "It's Latter-day Night!" All five of the comedians who perform are Latter-day Saints. But Ghiz noted:
"Surprisingly, the comedians branch off from easy LDS jokes and have their own material at times. Don't get me wrong, though: most of the material can only be understood by a Mormon audience."Ghiz concluded:
"As with most comedy, 'It's Latter-day Night' will find its success when watched by a large crowd. Comedy is contagious, and when one person laughs, others tend to follow. Some comedians are better than other comedians and some jokes are funnier than other jokes, but everyone who watches the show will find humor at different times. If you liked 'The Singles Ward' or 'The R.M.,' you'll enjoy this DVD. For those of you looking for good clean laughs, 'It's Latter-day Night' might be what you're looking for."
KSL AIRS SPECIAL REPORT ON LDS CINEMA: On 17 November 2003 KSL news aired a special report by arts and culture reporter Carole Mikita about LDS Cinema. The report was called "Mormon Filmmakers: The Sequel," and observed that a new wave of LDS Cinema films are on their way, representing a new level of quality and talent. The emphasis of the report was on the upcoming LDS Cinema movies "Saints & Soldiers", "Pride & Prejudice" and "The Best Two Years." Clips were shown from the movies. The report noted that, "'Saints and Soldiers' has shown in 12 film festivals around the country this year and won the jury prize or audience choice award at all 12!" "Saints and Soldiers" producer Adam Abel was shown saying, "It has only shown at one festival here in what would be termed as The Jello Belt. The rest of it is on the west coast and east coast, and then in the midwest as well. So, there's been a large reception to it." The report notded that the Box Office Magazine reviewer gave "Pride & Prejudice" four stars [out of a possible 5], calling it "spectacularly entertaining." HaleStorm's "The Home Teachers" and the planned Deseret Book production "The Work and the Glory" were also mentioned, as were Richard Dutcher's "God's Army 2" and "The Prophet." Kurt Hale (director of "The Singles Ward", "The R.M." and "The Home Teachers"), Richard Dutcher (writer/director/star of "God's Army" and "Brigham City") and Jeff Simpson (president of Excel Entertainment, the largest distributor in the niche) also appeared in the report. The report includes the following not entire clear line: "And Val Kilmer is on board, pending again (edit) to play the part of Joseph Smith." You can read the report here: http://tv.ksl.com/index.php?sid=59094&nid=66
NEW KIETH MERRILL ARTICLE IN MERIDIAN MAGAZINE titled "God's Purpose for the Artist in the Gospel Plan," published 20 November 2003. Bro. Merrill is the Academy Award-winning director of such films as "Amazon," "The Great American Cowboy", "Legacy" and "Testaments." Read the article at: http://www.meridianmagazine.com/arts/031120artists.html
VUISSA REPORTS ON "UNFOLDING" AND "ED&GM": Award-winning Austrian Latter-day Saint filmmaker reports that his short film "Unfolding" is now nearing the end of its festival run, having been screened at the Eclipse Film Festival last week. "Unfolding," which was written and directed by Vuissa and featured a moving classical and film score by Thomas C. Baggaley, now been screened at 12 film festivals and won 4 awards. "Unfolding" is available on video only from LDS Video Store. The director reports that a DVD version will not be available until 2004, as his efforts are currently focused on his feature film debut, "Eat, Drink and Get Married." Vuissa reports that the "rough cut" for "Eat" is nearly ready. Vuissa's short film "Roots & Wings", for which he received the Association for Mormon Letters 2002 Award for Film, is currently available on video and DVD at LDS Video Store and in LDS bookstores around the country.
WRIGHT IN HOLLYWOOD FEATURE: People know Michelle K. Wright as one of Utah's most prominent casting directors. Wright has cast many popular LDS Cinema feature films, including "The Singles Ward" and "The R.M." She is also an actress in her own right. A few people saw her in the female lead role in the recent LDS Cinema movie "Day of Defense." More people may see her in a "Think Tank," a SAF feature film she just completed working on in Los Angeles. "Think Tank" stars Avery Johnson, known for his starring role in the TV series "The Fresh Prince of Bell Aire).
DAVE SKOUSEN COMMERCIALS TO AIR: Latter-day Saint photographer and filmmaker has completed a series of television commercials which will air in Utah in November and December 2003. The cinematically filmed commercials for Medical Supply Company are: "24 Hour Roadside Assistance", "Gangster" and "Crash & Burn." He also filmed a new cinematic commercial for a Cadillac dealership titled "Out of this World." Most of Skousen's professional filmmaking has been in TV commercials, but he is also the director of some narrative films, including the action movie spoofs "The Legend of Pretty Boy" (2001) and "The Legend of Pretty Boy II" (2003), which he made with Latter-day Saint filmmaker Paul Green, and which have been sold on DVD locally and online by the filmmakers. Green and Skousen, who both live in Orem, Utah, recently made a dramatic film titled "Sea Angel." The film, which has fantasy elements, is set during the Vietnam War.
FOR TIME AND ALL ETERNITY WRAPS: "For Time and all Eternity," a documentary about Latter-day Saint marriage directed by Trevor Hill, has wrapped filming. Editing is complete on the first of 4 parts. In the first part Latter-day Saints share their views on the significance of the concept of eternal marriage. The new link for the film web site is: http://fishbowlmediaarts.com/film/time_eternity/index.html. Screenings planned for December in California and Utah.
ANNE PERRY ARTICLE MENTIONS THE MOVIE ABOUT HER AND RECOUNTS THE STORY FROM HER PERSPECTIVE: The British publication the Guardian published details from an interview with celebrated Latter-day Saint author Anne Perry. None of the general details are news, but it is an interesting article. Perry, one of the world's best-selling mystery novelists, recently published her latest book, "No Graves As Yet." The article notes that the movie "Heavenly Creatures" (directed by Peter Jackson of "Lord of the Rings" fame) portrays what happened to Sister Perry whens he was a 15-year-old living in New Zealand. Perry's character is layed by Kate Winslet, who went on to greater fame as the star of "Titanic." Only one of Perry's books has been filmed as yet: "The Cater Street Hangman" was made into a TV movie. The article mentions that after being released from jail where she was incarcerated for what happened when she was a teenager, she "became a Mormon and moved to a small, secluded community in Scotland... Perry's books grapple with questions of sin and repentence, the price of redemption and forgiveness. 'It is vital for me to go on exploring moral matters,' she says... [When details about Perry's past were publicized], Perry asked a senior figure in the Mormon church if her membership would be affected. 'He said 'your calling comes from God and He knows',' Perry recalls. 'He also told me I would not lose a single friend over it. It didn't seem possible, but I have learned how decent and compassionate people can be. Not a single friend has gone. That surprised the hell out of me.'" The article features extensive details about the events that happened while Sister Perry was a teenager. See: books.guardian.co.uk/departments/crime/ story/0,6000,1083042,00.html
ECLIPSE FILM FESTIVAL WINNERS ANNOUNCED, SAINTS AND SOLDIERS AND OTHER LDS-MADE FILMS WIN BIG: Below is the complete list of winners at this year's Eclipse Film Festival, which was held last weekend (the weekend of Nov. 14th). This prestigious international film festival, which is open to filmmakers of all backgrounds, is held annually in St. George, Utah.
The roster of judges this year was predominantly LDS, headed up by Latter-day Saint feature film directors Richard Dutcher ("God's Army", "Brigham City", "The Eleventh Hour Laborers") and Rocco DeVilliers ("Only Once", "Pure Race", "Fly Boys"). Rocco DeVillers' brother Jason DeVilliers was the co-founder of the Eclipse Film Festival, along with Nathan Fackrell and Matt Fackrell. The other judges this year were: Gerald Gordon (producer/director/acting coach, a resident of Las Vegas, Nevada; produced "The Fantasticks" in Los Angeles, which holds the record for the longest running musical stage show in Los Angeles theatre history; was acting coach to Academy Award-winning actor Adrien Brody; other former students include Bruce McGill, Christopher Titus, Andrew Lauer); Lisle Moore (film composer; grew up in Missouri; now lives in Utah; credits include numerous Sony playstaion games, trailers for major feature films, and "Pure Race" directed by Rocco DeVilliers); Tim Bywater (Associate Professor of English, Dixie State College of Utah, the campus hosting the Eclipse Film Festival).
5 films competed in the Feature Film category, including the LDS Cinema movies "Saints and Soldiers" and "The Best Two Years", and the action adventure martial arts science fiction epic "The Collectors," directed by Latter-day Saint filmmaker John Lyde ("In the Service of God", "The Field is White", "Mariah's Prayer") with cinematography by Kels Goodman (director of the LDS Cinema movie "Handcart").
The judges picked "Clipping Adam," which was NOT directed by a Latter-day Saint (as far as we know). I don't know anything about "Clipping Adam," but it must be a decent flick if it beat out "Saints and Soldiers" and "Best Two Years." "Saints and Soldiers" has racked up the top award -- either the jury prize or the audience choice award -- at every film festival it has entered so far, which includes over 5 major national and international film festivals.
Although "Saints and Soldiers" didn't win the jury prize at Eclipse, it DID win the Audience Choice.
Jim Orr, cinematographer of "Clipping Adam", was also the cinematographer for "Fly Boys," directed by festival judge Rocco DeVilliers and filmed in southern Utah. Orr won multiple awards at last year's Eclipse Film Festival as well.
This year's Best Cinematography award went to veteran LDS film director T.C. Christensen for his inspirational Latter-day Saint-themed short film "A Pioneer Miracle."
Latter-day Saint film editor Wynn Hougaard received the Best Editing award for his work on "Saints and Soldiers." Hougaard's previous credits include "The R.M.", "Out of Step", and "The Singles Ward."
Latter-day Saint filmmakers Nate and Chris Smith won the Best Animation award for "Johnah: A Great Fish Story", which is based on the art of legendary Latter-day Saint fantasy painter James C. Christensen.
KC Clyde, who is one of the co-leading actors in "Saints and Soldiers," was nominated for Best Upcoming Actor. He recived two out of the five votes cast by the festival judges. But the 14-year-old in "Clipping Adam" won with 3 votes cast for him.
http://www.eclipsefilmfest.com/winners.html 2003 Winners Best Feature Film - "Clipping Adam" (USA) Feature Writer/Director/Producer: Michael A. Picchiottino Director of Photography: Jim Orr 35mm / 90 min. 22 sec. - - - - - - - - Best Short Film - "Die Kurve" (Germany) Foreign Short Director: Felix Fuchssteiner 35mm / 45 min. - - - - - - - - Audience Choice - "Saints amp; Soldiers" (USA) Feature Drama Producer: Adam Abel Director/Producer: Ryan Little 35mm / 90 min. - - - - - - - - Best Cinematography - T.C. Christensen - "A Pioneer Miracle" (USA) Short Drama Director/Cinematographer: T.C. Christensen Super 16mm / 13 min. 30 sec. - - - - - - - - Best Director - Felix Fuchssteiner - "Die Kurve" (Germany) Foreign Short 35mm / 45 min. - - - - - - - - Best Editing - Wynn Hougaard - "Saints & Soldiers" (USA) Feature Drama Producer: Adam Abel Director/Producer: Ryan Little 35mm / 90 min. - - - - - - - - Best Screenplay - Tankred Dorst and Katharina Schode - "Die Kurve" (USA) Short Drama Director/Cinematographer: T.C. Christensen Super 16mm / 13 min. 30 sec. - - - - - - - - Best Animation - "Johnah: A Great Fish Story" (USA) Short Animation Director/Producer: Nate Smith and Chris Smith 35mm / 17 min. - - - - - - - - Best Documentary - "Lolita: Slave To Entertainment" (USA) Documentary Director: Timothy Gorski DV / 58 min. - - - - - - - - Best Student Film - "Band Camp" (USA) Student Short Writer/Director: Tara Pinley Producer: Christina Ferguson and Marcy Patterson 16mm / 13 min. 30 sec. - - - - - - - - Best Actor - Evan Peters - "Clipping Adam" (USA) Feature Writer/Director/Producer: Michael A. Picchiottino Director of Photography: Jim Orr 35mm / 90 min. 22 sec.
DESERET NEWS NOTES "SAINTS AND SOLDIERS" WIN AT ECLIPSE: Deseret News noted the Eclipse Film Festival winners ("'Saints & Soldiers' wins in St. George", 21 Nov. 2003, http://deseretnews.com/dn/view/0,1249,525039322,00.html). Excerpts of his brief write up appear blow:
The locally produced feature "Saints & Soldiers" continues to win awards, this time taking home two honors from last weekend's Eclipse Film Festival in St. George.
Director Ryan Little's World War II drama won the Audience Choice Award, while Wynn Hougaard won Best Editing honors for the film.
Last month, "Saints & Soldiers" took home the top prize from the Indiana-based Heartland Film Festival, and it has also won audience awards at events in Telluride and Sacramento...
Other winners were T.C. Christensen, who won the best-cinematography award for "A Pioneer Miracle"; Nate and Chris Smith, best animation for "Jonah: A Great Fish Story"...
It was the fifth year for the independent short-film festival. For more information on the event and past winners, check the official Web site, www.eclipsefilmfest.com.
ALL-OUT LDS EPISODE OF COMEDY CENTRAL'S "SOUTH PARK": A subscriber wrote us a note about Friday night's episode of "South Park" (an animated series for adult viewers on the Comedy Network, created by Trey Parker). The entire episode conveyed an essentially accurate account of the Joseph Smith story, and then concluded by telling viewers that the story was dumb and untrue.
A plot synopsis published in the Deseret News TV section described the episode thus:
This episode of the rude, crude, animated series wasn't available for preview, but the cable channel describes it like this: "A Mormon kid moves to South Park and Stan has to kick his (butt). . . . When Stan and his dad meet their new Mormon neighbors, they become fascinated with how genuinely nice they are. While the other boys mock Stan relentlessly for wimping out, the rest of the town starts to believe that Mormons may not be so bad after all.
This is interesting, but not atypical for writing by a writer such as Trey Parker who is non-LDS but grew up around many LDS people. According to his own accounts, Parker's first girlfriend was a Latter-day Saint. Latter-day Saint friends and neighbors exerted a strong influence on him, which is something that he is still trying to come to terms with.
What you saw in the episode of "South Park" continues from frequent previous references to the Church on the "South Park" series, including one in which the series determines that of all the world's religions, Mormonism is the one true faith [see details below]. This Joseph Smith episode, and of course Trey Parker's pre-South Park movie "Orgazmo" are good examples of a writer not so much exploring the topic of Mormonism, but rather utilizing the faith's power and richness for his own literary and/or entertainment purposes, while at the same time publicly grappling with it in his own mind. The author attempts to come to terms with something which he witnessed up close and personal which clearly exerted great power, yet which remains inexplicable to him as an outsider.
Numerous important and/or popular non-LDS authors, such as Ray Bradbury, Piers Anthony, Greg Bear, Robert A. Heinlein, John F. Buckley Jr., Avram Davidson, Thomas M. Disch, Harry Turtledove, Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Neal Stephenson, Howard Waldrop, Brian Aldiss, Philip K. Dick and Tom Clancey, have written fiction about Mormons in ways which exhibit the same psychological motivations. These authors express sincere admiration yet also disbelief. Edgar Rice Burroughs (the creator of Tarzan) lived among Mormons much of his life, in southern Idaho and for a time in Salt Lake City, and he even wrote an entire book adapted from a story in the Book of Mormon. Look at how closely Trey Parker's "South Park" episode is in substance and in its conclusions to Piers Anthony's writing about Brigham Young and the early origins of the Church in his Tarot series, in which the protagonist marries a Latter-day Saint and professes great admiration for the ethical and moral example of the Church despite disbelief regarding its origins. In some ways closer because it is an episode of a recent television series, is the Mormon episode of "X-Files" written by David Duchovny, who has discussed his fascination with the Church in media interviews.
Just during the past week, for example, Whoopie Goldberg told a Mormon joke on her TV sitcom "Whoopie" (referring to Liza Minnelli and David Gest, Whoopie said "Even the Mormons couldn't straighten that couple out") and the drama "Law and Order: Criminal Intent" made mind-numbingly stupid references to Utah and fundamentalist polygamists living there when the episode's murderer (a non-LDS New Yorker who used his knowledge of the book "Siddhartha" to brainwash teenage girls) attempted to take a harem of girls to Utah where he could pass unnoticed among the local population. (But virtually ever episode of "Law and Order: Criminal Intent" shocks me with its stupidity and bad writing, so this was not particularly surprising).
References to Latter-day Saints on television and movies are numerous and will only increase in frequency. Negative references, including those rooted in 19th Century stereotypes which were never even truthful in the first place, will continue, but over all the depiction of Latter-day Saints in media will become increasingly accurate, contemporary and layered. Hacks will always vent their bigotry through ethnic and religious slurs, but perceptive, meaningful writers who strive for honesty in their writing create a more positive picture.
SONS OF PROVO: NEW LDS CINEMA MOCKUMENTARY (APPARENTLY) FROM HALESTORM ENTERTAINMENT: Here's a sneak peak at "The Sons of Provo":
Some of this is pretty strange, so allow me to interpret... As far as I can tell, "Sons of Provo" is real CD which you can purchase now which features music which is professionally produced and well-made, but the lyrics are somewhat of a tongue-in-cheek satire of contemporary pop music, as well as contemporary popular LDS music.
The CD is identified as a "soundtrack CD," even though it is associated with a mockumentary movie that you've never heard of, but which may or may not actually exit... Two of the three members of the band "Everclean" (a sort of fictional Jericho Road) are Kirby Heyborne and Will Swenson, who previously starred together in both "The Singles Ward" and "The R.M." The names are changed slightly in the website information.
From the order page for the "Sons of Provo" soundtrack CD on the HaleStore website, run by HaleStorm Entertainment:
Sons of Provo - HOT New Music Sensation
It's the hit music from the soon-to-be breakout band, Everclean. Everclean recently began supervising the production of the feature film "Sons Of Provo"--which features the story of their rise to stardom...
Everclean is breaking all the barriers of hip hop, rap, and pop music with their album for the film. Featuring the talents of Will and Danny Jenson, and Kirby Laybourne, Everclean is sure to replace your old cds of 'Nsync, 98 Degrees, Britney Spears AND Eminem.
"EVERCLEAN" was created by Provo brothers (and youth-pageant-champions), Will and Danny Jensen. They recently lost their third member, but they"ve bounced back. Way back. Finding a replacement in Kirby Laybourne, (a scrapbooking specialist at a Provo craft store, who also performs in local community theaters) the three of them make up "EVERCLEAN" and their music is nothing short of illustrious glory. What"s even better, you can hear and see it all in the documentary film that chronicles their meteoric rise to stardom. Their newfound glory never compromises their spirituality. Keep your eyes peeled for their movie, 'SONS OF PROVO' at your local movie theater." --Talmage R. Leavitt, The Provo Semi-Annual Star. Nov. 15, 2003
Notes about the "Sons of Provo" movie and Soundtrack CD:
It's the hit music from the soon-to-be breakout band, Everclean. Everclean recently began supervising the production of the feature film "Sons Of Provo"--which features the story of their rise to stardom. Everclean is breaking all the barriers of hip hop, rap, and pop music with their album for the film. Featuring the talents of Will and Danny Jenson, and Kirby Laybourne, Everclean is sure to replace your old cds of 'Nsync, 98 Degrees, Britney Spears AND Eminem.
What the critics are saying:
By complete coincidence I happened upon this "Spiritchal Sensation and a Triple Combination" as I stopped into a Fillmore, Utah Gas N"Git. It was Fall. In the corner of the rusty dining room with a musty smell and a dusty stage, I heard "EVERCLEAN" sing. They were fresh, they were clean-shaven and they ARE the newest sensation on the Mormon pop charts. If you haven"t heard of them yet, watch out and give a listen, cause they"re coming at you like a runaway locomotive on greased railroad tracks.
LETTER TO EDITOR: GOD'S ARMY CAN CONVERT (Published 17 Nov 2003 in BYU newspaper, Daily Universe http://newsnet.byu.edu/story.cfm/46870):
I have a confession to make: I was at the "world premier" of "God's Army" when it opened at Jordan Commons over three years ago. I enjoyed the movie, but felt, like so many others, that it had absolutely no value as a missionary tool. I would like to report though, that "God's Army" has changed the life of at least one person I know.
While living in Chicago two years ago, my wife and I helped the missionaries teach a woman the gospel. She was introduced to the church when she randomly rented "God's Army" at Blockbuster. After watching the movie, her curiosity peaked, she found the church's Web site and called the number to get a Book of Mormon. She later began taking the discussions, became converted to the gospel and got baptized. Although "God's Army" played little to no role in her actual conversion, it was the reason she was introduced to the church in the first place.
Although I would never recommend any of these movies to a non-member friend, I can appreciate the fact that some of these movies are being rented by people that have never been, and may never be introduced to the church. As long as these movies help us enjoy our culture in a non-sacrilegious way then I think they serve a useful purpose, even if people are making money on them.
LDSFilm.com mailing list subscriber Hunter Hale had these comments (which we are posting with his permission) in response to this letter about "God's Army":
Very interesting response to GOD'S ARMY. What disturbs me is the apathy of many LDS members in and around Salt Lake City. Films like GOD'S ARMY, BRIGHAM CITY and the current BOOK OF MORMON MOVIE are received far more favorably outside of Utah. President Sprencer W. Kimball said that the time would come when there would be Mormon themed movies made by Mormon filmmakers dotting the screens of the world. I for one am so pleased that these films have come about in my lifetime. I've always loved film but have responded less and less to the commercial works offered by Hollywood. There are still great Hollywood films being made -- but the majority of them carrying offensive material that dulls the spirit. Now the LDS themed films have come and while not everyone is great, there have a have been several that are both well made and uplifting. THE OTHER SIDE OF HEAVEN and CHARLY as well the Ductcher films amaze me. And there are others that show great promise from the people making them. In the short time and with the small funds that have been available to the filmmakers, it is remarkable what they have been able to achieve.
JOHNNY LINGO PASSES SHAPE OF THINGS, BOOK OF MORMON MOVIE JUMPS A NOTCH ON CHRISTIAN MARKET CHART: "The Legend of Johnny Lingo" increased its box office total to $747,381 over the weekend, nudging past "The Shape of Things," the Neil LaBute movie released earlier this year, which earned a total of $732,241 at the U.S. box office. This means that "Lingo" passed "The Shape of Things" on the Films by LDS Directors, Films by LDS Writers, and Films by LDS Producers charts. With 5 movies and over $43 million in box office revenue, LaBute remains the box office leader among Latter-day Saint directors of non-documentary, non-animated movies alive today. Steven Ramirez, however, does not move up a position on the career total box office chart because LaBute has released many other movies. "Lingo" producers Jerry Molen and John Garbett don't move on the producers career total chart because they have produced other movies. (Molen is already at the top of the chart anyway.) But "Lingo" executive producer Brad Pelo moves ahead of LaBute on the producer chart. LaBute took his first producer credit on "Shape."
"The Book of Mormon Movie, Vol. 1: The Journey" passed the "Extreme Days" on the Christian market box office chart over the weekend.
"Luther" continued to be one of the strongest-ever Christian market feature films, and is inching up on "Megiddo: Omega Code 2," looking like it will probably take the 3rd place spot on the chart soon. Although the movie garnered tepid reviews, one has to be impressed by the Lutherans in making and supporting his movie, exhibiting a rare degree of interest in a denomination, heritage culture which is generally considered lacking in passion and contemporary relevance.
"The Gospel of John," a general Christian film which has a long running time but received generally very positive reviews, continued to climb the box office chart, at the same time that it is being released directly from the producers onto DVD and video. It is closing in on "God's Army" on the Christian market chart.
Title Year US BoxOffice Budget - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie 2002 25,571,351 21,000,000 The Omega Code 1999 12,614,346 8,000,000 Megiddo: Omega Code 2 2001 6,047,691 22,000,000 Luther 2003 5,667,046 30,000,000 The Other Side of Heaven 2001 4,720,371 7,000,000 Left Behind 2000 4,224,065 17,400,000 China Cry: A True Story 1990 4,212,828 ? The Judas Project 1993 2,850,135 ? God's Army 2000 2,628,829 300,000 The Gospel of John 2003 2,327,165 10,000,000 Carman: The Champion 2001 1,765,751 ? Joshua 2002 1,374,143 9,000,000 Time Changer 2002 1,283,925 1,275,000 The Singles Ward 2002 1,250,798 500,000 The R.M. 2003 1,111,615 500,000 The Book of Mormon Movie 2003 1,064,914 2,000,000 Extreme Days 2001 1,047,553 ? Brigham City 2001 905,073 900,000 Jack Weyland's Charly 2002 813,685 950,000 Manna from Heaven 2002 454,623 4,000,000 Road to Redemption 2001 236,823 2,200,000 Revelation 1999 206,755 5,000,000 Mercy Streets 2000 173,599 600,000 Hangman's Curse 2003 136,812 2,000,000 Handcart 2002 98,666 300,000 The Ride 1997 86,307 ? Out of Step 2002 80,000 700,000 The Work and the Story 2003 4,642 120,000
PRESS RELEASE: VOLUNTEERS SOUGHT FOR PROMOTION OF ABBY SINGER AT SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL: ["Abby Singer" is an independent feature-length film made entirely in Utah by Utah filmmakers, a mix of Latter-day Saints (including lapsed) and filmmakers of other backgrounds. The movie is not LDS Cinema, but the main character is a Latter-day Saint, albeit a schizophrenic one. The movie features a large number of cameos by Hollywood celebrities.] Jeffrey Gold sent the following press release, November 20, 2003:]
Abby Singer Operation ALTITUDE
Ladies and Gentlemen,
23 Stars 1 Lunatic 0 Budget 250 Volunteers
We have some exciting news concerning the award-winning film Abby Singer. As many of you know, Abby Singer won the two major awards at the New Orleans Media Experience---the Fleur de Lis awards for BEST INDEPENDENT FILM and BEST FEATURE FILM. Here are some of the new developments that have happened since the award ceremony at the Prytania Theatre in New Orleans.
In what will be an unprecedented, historic event in Park City this January 15-25, 2004, the Abby Singer crew is now enlisting 193 more individuals for a 250-strong volunteer army of Olympic proportions for the Abby Singer Sundance/Slamdance Campaign 2004 (Operation "ALTITUDE"). This Abby Singer army mobilization will be covered by the press, including the illustrious Tim Cooper for the UK Guardian Observer (see Tim Cooper's article "20th Century Foxed" about Abby Singer Operation "NIGHTHAWK" at http://observer.guardian.co.uk/magazine/story/0,11913,1046269,00.html).
Even if this does not apply to you, please forward this email to someone who would be interested in becoming a volunteer for OPERATION ALTITUDE, an event, no doubt, that will go down in independent cinematic history.
Volunteers can sign up at http://www.abbysinger.com/volunteers.html
Abby Singer now has an official listing on the Internet Movie Database (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0384792/). IMDb is still adding/verifying/correcting information on a daily basis.
The Abby Singer website now has a guestbook available, so please sign our guestbook (http://www.abbysinger.com/public/guestbook.html) when you get a chance.
Abby Singer has received more local and national press, including the Deseret News, Digital Producer, indieWIRE, and the Bayou Buzz. Please visit the Abby Singer Press Office on the Abby Singer website http://www.abbysinger.com by pressing on the PRESS OFFICE link, or directly by clicking on this link: http://www.abbysinger.com/pressoffice.html.
NEW ORLEANS REVISITED
Photos from the New Orleans Media Experience are now available on the website by clicking on the FESTIVALS link or directly by clicking on http://www.abbysinger.com/nome.html. Photos are being added on a weekly basis, so check back often. We are still waiting for photos from the many other photographers at the New Orleans Media Experience, particularly from the esteemed photographer Scott Alan who captured the many highlights of the extravaganza.
We really enjoyed ourselves mingling with the talented filmmakers at the New Orleans Media Experience, including Mark Gantt, Art Cohan, Mark Yturralde, Jeff Scheftel, and Doug Cox. Many of them were recipients of the Fleur de Lis awards listed on the official New Orleans Media Experience website at http://www.neworleansmediaexperience.com/spevents_awards.html
Please visit our website http://www.abbysinger.com often for new information, especially as we approach Sundance/Slamdance 2004. We hope to see you there in Park City and we will be disappointed if you don't join us in the festivities.
23 Stars 1 Lunatic 0 Budget 250 Volunteers
The Abby Singer Crew
UPCOMING FEATURE FILMS MADE BY LATTER-DAY SAINTS: [Salt Lake Tribune movie reviewer Sean P. Means wrote the following round-up of movies being released during the Holday season, such as "Return of the King" and "Pride and Prejudice". I have abridged the article and added observations in brackets about some of the many Latter-day Saint actors and filmmakers who made these movies. Means' original article, titled "The rule for Oscar contenders: Do not open until Christmas", was published 21 November 2003 (URL: http://www.sltrib.com/2003/Nov/11212003/friday/friday.asp)]
What do department-store Santas, gingerbread eaters and movie watchers have in common? They all cope with extra weight during the holidays. For the movie crowd -- critics, Oscar voters and the public at large -- the weight comes from the number of movies, and from the heavy drama contained in many of them. Hollywood traditionally loads the Christmas season with award-bait, and often it pays off; all five of last year's Best Picture nominees opened in December.
The season's biggest movie by any measure -- budget, box-office clout, award potential, epic scope, running time and audience anticipation -- is "The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King" (opening Dec. 17). After two brilliant chapters of J.R.R. Tolkien's trilogy of hobbits and orcs and wizards and elves, director Peter Jackson would have to screw up big time not to deliver in the concluding film. Hollywood is salivating so much for "Return of the King" that there already is talk of the movie and Jackson being prohibitive favorites at the Oscars next February, in part as recognition of the Herculean achievement of the trilogy as a whole. [Tolkein was a devout Catholic, and his Lord of the Rings trilogy is in many ways profoundly Catholic. But director Peter Jackson was introduced to the series through the writings of a Latter-day Saint. Jackson has said that he was originally inspired to read the Lord of the Rings series after seeing the 1978 animated version, which was written by Latter-day Saint screenwriter Chris Conkling.]
If there is a movie that might beat "Return of the King," it's "Cold Mountain" [more about this movie]...
Other contenders for best picture coming this season, according to handicappers like Movie City News (http://www.moviecitynews.com), include: [In America; Big Fish; The Last Samurai]... Ron Howard's dark Western "The Missing" (Nov. 26), starring Tommy Lee Jones and Cate Blanchett [Latter-day Saint actor Aaron Eckhart has a supporting role in "The Missing." Latter-day Saint filmmaker Aldric La'Auli Porter as the associate producer and First Assistant Director for "The Missing." These are the credits he is usually given for the movies he works on, including the Church film "Testaments of One Shepherd and One Fold"]; and ["House of Sand and Fog"] (This doesn't count the potential best-picture nominees already out there, like "Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World," "Mystic River" and "Finding Nemo." ["Finding Nemo" is the latest blockbuster from Pixar, the computer graphics (CGI) animation studio founded jointly by LDS computer graphics pioneer Edwin Catmull and Apple computer founder Steve Jobs. Today Catmull is the president of Pixar. "FInding Nemo" was a joint production of Pixar and Disney Animation Studios. The President of Disney animation is Pam Coats, also a Latter-day Saint.])
[Other upcoming movies, mentioned as possible Oscar contenders in Actor/Actress awards: The Company; Elephant; Sylvia; Mona Lisa Smile; Something's Gotta Give; Monster; 21 Grams; Lost in Translation; The Singing Detective; Shattered Glass; The Cooler; The Girl With the Pearl Earring; The Statement]
Kids and family fare: Mike Myers plays Dr. Seuss' housewrecking feline, "The Cat in the Hat" (opens today) [stars Latter-day Saint child Danielle Chuchran as "Thing One." Sister Chuchran's previous films include the Church-produced short film "Love Thy Neighbor", which is shown in the Visitor's Center at Temple Square, the feature film "Little Secrets" (2002), directed by LDS filmmaker Blair Treu, the HBO movie "Shot in the Heart", an adaptation of the autobiographial account by Mormon writer Mikal Gilmore, and the LDS Cinema movie "Handcart." "The Cat in the Hat" was executive produced by Eric McLeod, a Latter-day Saint from southern Utah, and the associate producer/first assistant director was LDS filmmaker Aldric La'Auli Porter]; Eddie Murphy moves into "The Haunted Mansion" (Wednesday), Disney's latest attempt to make a movie out of a theme-park ride; Steve Martin and Bonnie Hunt care for a large brood in a remake of "Cheaper by the Dozen" (Christmas Day); Jeremy Sumpter plays the boy who won't grow up in a live-action "Peter Pan" (Christmas Day); and "The Young Black Stallion" (Christmas Day), a prequel to the 1979 adventure, gallops across large-format screens. [The Director of Photography for "The Young Black Stallion" is Brother Reed Smoot, who has worked extensively on Church films, IMAX films, and feature films, and is the leading LDS cinematographer alive today.]
Action fare: Scientists go back to the 14th century in Michael Crichton's "Timeline" (Nov. 26) [starring non-churchgoing LDS actor Paul Walker in the top-billed role]; Ben Affleck tries to get his memory back in the futuristic "Paycheck" (Christmas Day) [starring LDS actor Aaron Eckhart in the 2nd-billed role. "Paycheck" is based on a story by Philip K. Dick. Despite the fact that author Philip K. Dick wrote extensively about Utah, Latter-day Saints, and LDS characters, he himself was never a member of the Church; he was an Episcopalian]... Bubba Ho-Tep...
Comedy: Billy Bob Thornton plays a safecracking St. Nicholas in the scathingly profane "Bad Santa" (Nov. 26) [a previous "dark Christmas" feature film featuring a criminal Santa was "Silent Night, Deadly Night" (1984), which was directed by Latter-day Saint filmmaker Charles E. Sellier Jr. Sellier is not an active church-goer at this time.]; Mormon Cinema tries its hand at Jane Austen in an adaptation of "Pride & Prejudice" (Dec. 5) [enough said]; [Also mentioned: Stuck on You; Love Don't Cost a Thing; Can't Buy Me Love; In July; Don't Tempt Me; The Barbarian Invasions; The Triplets of Belleville; Party Monster; Madame Sata; Honey; The Event; Carnage; OT: Our Town; Tibet: Cry of the Snow Lion; The Weather Underground; Stoked: The Rise and Fall of Gator; Confessions of a Burning Man].
BYU HOLDS ANNUAL "FINAL CUT" FILM FESTIVAL FOR ITS FILM STUDENTS: "Final Cut takes film festival feel," by Brittany Bowden, BYU Daily Universe, 18 Nov 2003 (http://newsnet.byu.edu/story.cfm/46928). The article quotes Roxanna Boyer, media arts program assistant. Excerpts from the article:
The BYU Theater and Media Arts Department is holding their annual Final Cut showcase of student films through Nov. 22.
Final cut shows some of the best work done by students throughout the year, putting them in a film festival setting.
The festival is an annual department screening of the best films of the year produced through the Theatre & Media Arts department...
None of the student films or videos are automatically accepted for inclusion. All films are submitted to and screened by the Final Cut selection committee.
A wide variety of film styles are presented, including narrative, documentary, animation and experimental pieces. Films vary from one minute to a half hour in length...
Some examples include a film about students from Palestine and their impressions of BYU, and an animation piece titled "Lemmings" that has received awards. The students who produced "Lemmings" received jobs in the film industry based on their entry.
Final Cut features two programs, one showing all of the films and another showing the most popular. The audience votes on their favorite films to be shown at "The Best of Final Cut."
MORMON TABERNACLE CHOIR MENTIONED IN NEW ROBERT DOWNEY JR. MOVIE: In "The Singing Detective," a new feature film remake of a classic British comedy, Robert Downey Jr. has the lead role as "Daniel Dark. The movie was directed by Dennis Potter. The British publication Telegraph published a scathing review of the movie (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/arts/main.jhtml?xml=/arts/2003/11/14/bfsing14.xml&sSheet=/arts/2003/11/14/ixtop.html). The write-up notes that Downey's character mentions the Mormon Tabernacle Choir:
Potter's own superficial grasp of American culture is apparent in the scene in which Dark reels off a list of the most boring things imaginable to stop himself becoming aroused while his dry, scabby body is being greased by a comely nurse (charming Katie Holmes): "The Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Snoopy. Pina colada. Old baseball players."
ROBERT HALL DEVELOPS SCREENWRITING SOFTWARE: LDSFilm.com mailing list subscriber Robert L. Hall writes:
I am a Los Angeles-based filmmaker who will potentially be working with a team to produce screenwriting software, and I am trying to get a general feeler from screenwriters for innovative and creative software solutions. I am largely interested in the LDS community, it is true, but this is really for anyone. If anyone out there has interest in screenwriting and/or programming, I have prepared an informal (non-statistically sound) survey.
I created this not only to get a "feeler" for the community of screenwriters out there, but to also put those of you out there who may have something to offer on a project such as this in touch with me. I hope this doesn't seem too impersonal. If you would rather contact me direct with questions, I would be happy to respond: Robert@wrcinema.com
While specifics of the software solutions are not yet up for grabs, the model is an innovative collaborative tool that will largely facilitate what the Internet was first designed to do: facilitate WYSIWYG style interaction. If this means zilch to you, suffice it to say the term "collaborative" is key. (For definitions, see: http://whatis.techtarget.com/definition/0,,sid9_gci213392,00.html , or http://www.webopedia.com/TERM/W/WYSIWYG.html) If any of you are technically savvy, then, or just interested in what this portends, please either contact me (email above) or follow this link to the informal survey:
PREMIER COMING UP FOR MADE-IN-UTAH SHORT FILM "13:59" [PRESS RELEASE] We have scheduled the premier for "13:59." It will be Wednesday, December 3rd at 7:00 pm sharp. The location is the Tower Theater, 900 South 900 East. There is a $3 fee per person, this is only to help cover the cost of the theater so we all can see it on an appropriate screen, not by any means a profit. We are excited for this. Everyone is welcome! The premier is followed by a premier party. Everyone involved in the making of this movie will be given a free VHS copy at the premier. We hope to see everyone there. For any further information see our most coolest website at www.customovie.net, click on the link for 13:59 info.
Geoff K. Goodenough
"LATTER DAYS" GETTING MIXED REVIEWS: The LDS/GLBT-themed independent feature film "Latter Days" continues to play be screened in major GLBT film festivals nationwide. This week new newspaper reviews written by festival attendees present very different takes on the film.
Rene Rodriguez, film critic for the Miami Herald gave "Latter Days" just 1 out of 4 possible stars when she saw the film at the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival (http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/entertainment/7249956.htm). Rodriguez called the movie "a well-intentioned but horribly trite drama about acceptance and fulfillment that plays like an after-school special with naughty words and sex thrown in... Latter Days simultaneously tracks Christian's realization that his hedonistic life is hollow while Farren struggles with his fears about giving in to his sexuality. It's all woefully familiar, but the movie might have gotten by if it had enough wit and personality to disguise its lack of originality. But the dialogue is drab... the situations hokey (Farren's fellow Mormons walk in on him just as he's locking lips with Christian) and the performances are shaky, rendering Latter Days as a movie that you've seen before, and done better, too."
Steven Morris, covering the Fifth Annual Lesbian and Gay Film Festival in Dallas, Texas for the GLBT newspaper The Triangle liked "Latter Days" more (http://www.txtriangle.com/archive/1206/coverstory.htm). Morris wrote, "...this is no Reese Witherspoon sappy comedy" [C.J. Cox wrote both "Latter Days" and "Sweet Home Alabama"]... A surprisingly funny and moving script is punctuated by well-rounded performances from the young cast. Veterans Jacqueline Bissett and Mary Kay Place co-star and Cox is scheduled to attend the screening."
Nearly all of the reviews that have been published thus far about "Latter Days" have been very positive, but almost all appeared in GLBT publications or were written by GLBT writers. It remains to be seen whether other mainstream takes on the movie will be as dismissive as the Miami Herald's.
PRESS RELEASE SENT TO LDSFILM.COM BY DISTRIBUTORS OF "LATTER DAYS" ABOUT THE MOVIE'S UPCOMING COMMERCIAL THEATRICAL RELEASE:
TLA Releasing and Funny Boy Films announce theatrical dates for Latter Days, the directorial debut from the screenwriter of Sweet Home Alabama
TLA Releasing and Funny Boy Films announces theatrical dates for LATTER DAYS: a Directorial debut from the screenwriter of Sweet Home Alabama will open in New York and Los Angeles (November 18, 2003 Philadelphia, PA) TLA Releasing and Funny Boy Films are thrilled to announce the theatrical dates for their new romantic drama, Latter Days, a film written and directed by C. Jay Cox, screenwriter of Sweet Home Alabama. The film will open January 30, 2004 in New York at The Quad Cinemas and in Los Angeles at Laemmles Sunset 5. The film will open in wider release shortly after the January date.
Latter Days is about Gay Mormons, an oxymoron because the Church of the Latter Day Saints does not accept homosexuality and a person can be ex-communicated for being openly gay. In fact, select Mormon groups across the country have begun petitions to ban the films release. However, this is already a celebrated film in the gay community and it has won audience awards at every film festival its played, including the highly-competitive Outfest, the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Film Festival.
Latter Days is the charming ultra-sexy feature that is the directorial debut of screenwriter C. Jay Cox. Best characterized as a romantic story and the resolution of faith and sexuality, Latter Days is about Christian, a buff waiter at a L.A. restaurant who brags to his co-workers that he can seduce one of four cute Latter-Day Saints who have moved into his apartment complex. But he gets more than he bargained for when he puts the moves on the delectable Aaron. It is a charming, funny and moving tale that will leave you believing in the transformational power of love.
Featuring a stellar cast including Jacqueline Bisset, Mary Kay Place, Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Manic, 3rd Rock from the Sun) , Erik Palladino (Joan of Arcadia), Rebekah Jordan (Liberty Heights), and Amber Benson (Buffy the Vampire Slayer). The film also marks the theatrical feature film debuts of Wes Ramsey (Guiding Light) as Christian and newcomer Steve Sandvoss as Aaron
To coincide with the films theatrical debut, Alyson Publication will publish a novelization of Latter Days, a collaboration that is a first in the gay and lesbian independent film industry and the gay/lesbian independent publishing industry.
For up-to-date information on LATTER DAYS, please visit the website at www.latterdaysmovie.com
National Press Liaison
234 Market Street, 5th Floor
Philadelphia, PA 19106
215.733.0608 ext. 227
LATTER DAYS are coming - January 2004
FURTHER EDITORIAL DISCUSSION OF CHRIS HICKS AND HIS CRITICISM OF THE MISOGYNISTIC FILM "LOVE ACTUALLY": Last week the Deseret News published a letter by Red Magazine media writer Jeremy Mathews criticizing Latter-day Saint feature section editor (and former movie reviewer) Chris Hicks of the Deseret News for expressing his opinions about the new movie "Love Actually" (which was NOT made by any Latter-day Saint filmmakers). Another letter defending Hicks' opinions and his right to express those opinions was published this week in the Deseret News ("Movie's trailer misleads", 18 November 2003, http://deseretnews.com/dn/view/0,1249,525038574,00.html):
Jeremy Mathews criticizes Chris Hicks' remarks on the "Love, Actually" trailer by saying, in effect, "the film's rating doesn't matter." It's not just a large minority of Utahns who disagree with this assessment; so does Hollywood.
One does not need to watch the movie to determine that there is a sense of false advertising here: Universal is selling a cute, funny, kids-appropriate movie -- with an R rating. The sexual content -- porn stars or no -- renders this film unsuitable for common family consumption, according to the MPAA. To dismiss that in advertising is misleading to the consumer. Hicks is right on in his assessment -- and the marketing people at Universal should take notice.