Indie Roundup

Before we look back at the past week, let's peak at what's opening this weekend: Francis Ford Coppola's family drama Tetro; Duncan Jones' sci-fi trip Moon; Daryl Wein's AIDS activist doc Sex Positive; Tommy Wirkola's Nazi zombie flick Dead Snow; Robert Kenner's appetizing (maybe) doc Food, Inc.; and Chai Vasarhelyi's music / tolerance plea Youssou Ndour: I Bring What I Love (poster and more info after the jump).

Box Office. Opening in four theaters, Sam Mendes' Away We Go scored a smashing $32,603 per-screen average last weekend, according to Box Office Mojo. The road trip comedy / drama, starring John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph as anxious, expectant parents searching for a place to raise their family, far outpaced other debuting indies, which had, on their own terms, decent returns: Seraphine ($6,640 per-screen at four theaters), Unmistaken Child ($6,293, one screen), and 24 City ($6,082, one screen). Our critic William Goss feels that Away We Go is "easily among the very best films that the year has offered so far." I was less impressed; the real test will come as it expands over the next couple of weeks.

Deals. Our friends at indieWIRE have details on the recent acquisitions of Laura Gabbert and Justin Schein's doc No Impact Man, due September 4 from Oscilloscope; Jonathan Parker's comedy (Untitled), due September 18 from Samuel Goldwyn Films; and Kenneth Bi's The Drummer, due this fall from Film Movement.

Online Viewing Options. New selections at iTunes Movie Store include Bob Odenkirk's comedy Melvin Goes to Dinner; Scott Smith's dysfunctional 60s family drama Falling Angels, with Miranda Richardson; and Mike Akel's mockumentary Chalk, which school teachers have assured me is very funny (it drove me this former bad student nuts).

After the jump: CineVegas, the "Mile High Mutiny," and a sweet-looking poster.



Festivals. The motto, "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas" will, hopefully, not apply to CineVegas, which begins tonight in the gambling mecca of the Western world. First up, the fest has clarified its leadership position. Mike Plante has been promoted to Director of Programming, reports indieWIRE, while Trevor Groth remains on board as Artistic Director. I thought that Groth would be moving on, now that he's been named the Director of Programming for the Sundance Film Festival. I was under the impression that the Sundance post was a year-round, full-time gig, but evidently not -- unless the CineVegas Artistic Director job is more ceremonial in nature and doesn't require more than a few meetings annually.

In any event, CineVegas under Groth has built up its reputation as more than a dumping ground for Sundance rejects. As Eric D. Snider previously posted, "The opening-night gala will center around Saint John of Las Vegas starring Steve Buscemi as a recovering gambling addict whose job requires him to return to Sin City. Sarah Silverman, Tim Blake Nelson, John Cho, and Peter Dinklage co-star, which means hilarity cannot fail to ensue."

Redland is one of the films that will enjoy its world premiere at the fest, and Erik Davis gave us a look at an exclusive image and trailer. More information is available at the festival's official site. Like last year, Cinematical's Eric D. Snider will be on the ground at CineVegas with reports and reviews throughout the fest.

The other big film festival story this week was the breathless tale of the "Mile High Mutiny," as broken by indieWIRE. Reportedly, no one on the Denver Film Society staff was happy with the new executive director, and so the Festival Director, Artistic Director, co-founder, and much of the staff resigned in protest. The walkout worked; the new executive director was removed and the staff returned to work. The next Denver Film Festival will be held November 12-22.

Spotlight. As noted above, music doc Youssou Ndour: I Bring What I Love opens in New York at three locations (The Paris Theater, IFC Center, and BAM Rose Cinemas) on Friday. From the official synopsis: "Ndour is the highest selling African artist of all time and has collaborated with musical superstars like Bono, Neneh Cherry and Peter Gabriel ... The film chronicles Ndour, a devout Sufi Muslim, as he releases a deeply personal and religious album called Egypt in the hope of promoting a more tolerant face of Islam. Almost instantly, his fellow Senegalese reject the album, and denounce his actions as blasphemous."

The poster is evocative, to say the least. The trailer and other information is available at the film's official site. It will open in Los Angeles on July 3 and then play in 25 additional markets throughout the summer.

Poster for 'Youssou N'Dour: I Bring What I Love'