Thursday, January 23, 2003

Director falls to pieces during movie's premiere

Sundance Film Festival notes


PARK CITY, Utah - The world premiere of Pieces of April turned out to be an emotional event, with director Peter Hedges even shedding a few tears to commemorate the event.

"Oh, everyone's used to it," he told the audience after the screening, referring to his tears. "I cried on the set every day."

The film stars Katie Holmes as April, a young woman who decides to cook Thanksgiving dinner for her family. Patricia Clarkson (Far From Heaven) portrays April's mother, who has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. Oliver Platt (Queens Supreme) is April's father, with Derek Luke (Antwone Fisher) playing April's African-American boyfriend and Sean Hayes as an upstairs neighbor who kidnaps April's turkey.

Pieces of April was shot on digital video over 16 days in California. The actors were given a share of the film in lieu of a salary. But for Mr. Hedges and the cast, it was a labor of love.

"I had to make this film," he said, adding that financing for the film fell through three different times. Just as the film almost stalled, InDigEnt came in and picked up the bill to produce it.

The film received a standing ovation from the crowd, which packed the 1,300-seat Eccles Black Box theatre.

Mr. Hedges, who wrote the novel and the screenplay What's Eating Gilbert Grape, as well as the screenplay for About a Boy, thanked the Sunday morning audience for "skipping church" to see his film.

"This is the first audience we've ever had, and they do say that you always remember your first," Mr. Hedges smiled.

Dane's dream film: Danish director Thomas Vinterburg (The Celebration) unveiled his newest film, It's All About Love, Tuesday night

Set in a near-future world where environmental damage has caused a variety of "cosmic disturbances" (flash floods in the desert, worldwide snowstorms), the film stars Joaquin Phoenix and Claire Danes as John and Elena, a couple on the verge of divorce. On a business trip, John stops in New York to have Elena, a famous figure skater, sign their divorce papers. Before she can make it official, John discovers that the head of Elena's entourage has a malevolent plan that threatens both their lives.

Inserted into this world is John's brother, played by Sean Penn, who spends his life aboard planes after overdosing on fear-of-flying pills.

"The film is about John and Elena and the love hiding underneath, under every move they make, unspoken," Mr. Vinterburg said.

In describing the origins of the screenplay, which was co-written by Mogens Rukov and Mr. Vinterburg, he said, "We wanted to make a millennium film . . .about people constantly moving but also about souls never resting. All the years that go by that you don't remember because you were everywhere and nowhere at the same time.

"In all humbleness, this is my dream about the state of the world."

He studies war
Heart run poster grabs 'your eyeballs'
KNIPPENBERG: Knip's eye view

'Proof's story and surprises delight
'Posse' casts long shadow over rap acts

Musical cultures blending, pianist says
'Rings' a 'wow' moment in life
Dancin' in the bright lights
Director falls to pieces during movie's premiere
Top 10s
The Early Word
Get to it!