Brian Brooks is managing editor of MovieLine.
In the dog days of summer, several specialty releases hit theaters this weekend including two from high-profile filmmakers. Julie Delpy follows up her popular 2 Days In Paris with her (apparently final) followup, 2 Days In New York in which she stars opposite Chris Rock. Spike Lee rolls out his own Sundance ’12 opener Red Hook Summer in Manhattan and his beloved Brooklyn with his latest story about the borough. David Duchovny stars in Goats, which took a decade to make before its Sundance debut. And Holland’s famous prostitutes take the spotlight in Dutch documentary Meet The Fokkens, which begins its U.S. exhibition this weekend.
2 Days In New York
Director: Julie Delpy
Writers: Julie Delpy, Alexia Landeau, Alexandre Nahon
Cast: Julie Delpy, Chris Rock, Albert Delpy, Alexia Landeau, Alexandre Nahon, Daniel Bruhl
Distributor: Magnolia Pictures
“I never even thought of going to a studio,” co-writer/director/star Julie Delpy said about her latest project (actually all her directorial projects up until this one). I put the financing together through a European financing system and it’s not easy – it’s a struggle.” The followup to her 2007 feature 2 Days In Paris, which took in a cool $4.433 million Stateside for that film’s distributor Samuel Goldwyn Films, the current title basically replicates Paris’ dialogue-heavy banter, open talk about sexuality and crossing social taboos, but this time Chris Rock stars as her love interest and New York is the setting.
Though she has been acting since she was discovered by Jean-Luc Godard (who cast her in his 1985 Détective) and has a half-dozen features under her belt as director, the ever present challenge of financing played havoc with 2 Days In New York. “It’s fine if you have the money, and we had the money, but when the money fell apart at the last minute, it was just drama. It was the most painful experience to think you’re about to shoot and then everything just stops,” she said. Nevertheless, the production went on and the film debuted at the Sundance Film Festival in January where it was picked up by Magnolia Pictures. The distributor will open 2 Days In New York at the Angelika and Lincoln Plaza in New York this weekend followed by additional cities.
From conception to being “in the can,” Goats took 10 years to make. Director Christopher Neil optioned the material from Mark Poirier and worked with the author to adapt the script. Producer Daniela Taplin Lundberg first saw the script through Oliver Stone producer Eric Kopeloff while she was at Plum Pictures and tried to find financing. Eventually she formed Red Crown Productions and decided to make Goats her company’s first project. “We brought it to David Duchovny who loved the character of the Goat man and said it was like something he hadn’t done before,” Lundberg said. The film concerns a freshman who leaves his Tucson home for his freshman year at an East Coast prep school, leaving behind his New Age mother and the man he knows as his father, the Goat Man. While in pre-production in 2010 the project’s largest financier pulled out. “That was gut-wrenching,” said Lundberg. “But in early 2011 we got the financing together” (about $3.5 million).
“As challenging and difficult it was to get it all together, it was honestly one of the best production experiences I’ve had,” Lundberg said. “I’ve done 20 films. The cast came together and there were no egos on this.” Following a long editing process, production finished in late fall. “Sundance was the best place to premiere.” Image will open Goats in New York, Los Angeles, Tucson, Phoenix and Dallas this weekend with additional cities to follow.
Dutch filmmakers Gabrielle Provaas and Rob Schroder stumbled on the two women who would be the subjects of their film by chance. Provaas said her colleague moved to an Amsterdam neighborhood where local prostitutes ran their window-front enterprise, although it was not in the city’s famed sex worker district frequented by tourists and gawkers. “We were fascinated by the women working in the windows,” said Provaas. “This area where we found them is outside the main Red Light District and these women were their own bosses and doing it out of their own choice.” They soon wanted to make a film about the area weren’t sure how to proceed. “You can’t just tap the window and say, “Hey we want to make a movie about you.'”
Eventually the filmmaking duo befriended one woman and talked to her about doing a documentary. She agreed but said they would also have to include her twin sister. After figuring out their day-rate (“Obviously they’re prostitutes so we have to pay for their time,” noted Provaas), shooting began on the yearlong project. Financing came via the Netherlands’ generous mix of grants and TV rights. Meet The Fokkens debuted at last year’s International Film Festival Amsterdam, Toronto’s Hot Docs last spring and SilverDocs earlier this summer. Kino Lorber will bow Meet The Fokkens in New York this weekend followed by other cities.
Red Hook Summer
Writer-director: Spike Lee
Cast: Jules Brown, Thomas Jefferson Byrd, Toni Lysaith, De’Adre Aziza, Turron Kofi Alleyne
Distributor: Variance Films
Even after the filmmaking process is over, director/writer Spike Lee is staying in the loop with the rollout of his latest. Variance Films founder Dylan Marchetti told Deadline he’s working with Lee and his outfit 40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks as the film heads to theaters. “The key with this one, is that we’re working hand in hand with Spike and his team at 40 Acres. They’re savvy and they’re smart. He has a few tricks up his sleeve. I’ve never seen someone so busy and working hard. He doesn’t just do a New York press day and then call it quits.”
Marchetti said the film purposely does not draw conclusions and the audience will have to come up with their own. The film centers on a middle-class Atlanta boy who is sent to Brooklyn to spend the summer with his religious grandfather in the Red Hook neighborhood. “In a nutshell what’s interesting about RHS is that it’s personal for Spike,” said Marchetti. “He’s saying something but not telling people what to think and we’re tying our marketing to that. We want them to figure that out themselves and they’re a smart audience.” And that audience spans from the traditional art house crowd to the urban black audience and older folks, Marchetti said. Variance started the process of acquiring Red Hook Summer “45 minutes after its first screening at Sundance” in January. “It was what you look for, something that punches you in the stomach and makes you think about what you see,” he said. Variance picked it up in February just after the festival.
Variance Films will bow Red Hook Summer in Manhattan and Brooklyn this weekend. The distributor will hold off the following weekend beyond some possible additional venues in the New York City area and then will take the title to Atlanta, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Baltimore, Philadelphia and L.A. They’ll expand it further on August 31st, and it will also be available to audiences through online event-screening site Tugg beginning in early September.