Indie Roundup, your weekly dose of what's happening (slightly) outside the mainstream.
Deals. Via our friends at indieWIRE, we learn that Brian Baugh's faith-based To Save a Life will be released by Samuel Goldwyn Films in January 2010. The film follows an "all-American teen" boy dealing with the aftermath of a friend's death. Cross-cultural romantic drama Cairo Time, starring Patricia Clarkson, will hit theaters and on-demand home viewing systems sometime in the new year, courtesy of IFC Films. Bradley Rust Gray's The Exploding Girl will open in early 2010 through Oscilloscope Laboratories. Zoe Kazan stars as a young college woman dealing with conflicting romantic feelings while home in New York for spring break.
Online / On Demand Viewing. Two recommendations this week, both for titles that are newly available through Amazon's VOD service. Susan Seidelman's Smithereens is a quintessentially New York picture and a fiercely independent experience from a time when indies were few and far between. It's a blast of fresh air about Wren (Susan Berman), a rough-talking young woman, and her travails through the seedier side of life as she tries to make something of herself. It's essential viewing, especially if you've been disappointed by one too many slick faux-indies. Musician Richard Hell is great, too.
Much less essential, but no less vital viewing, is Arlene Nelson's Naked States, which trails along as Spencer Tunick engineers massive works of art composed by live, naked human flesh. Tunick is a fascinating photographer / hustler, and so are the people who decide to bare all for the sake of art.
Activity of a different kind, Chilean cleaning, and AFI Fest -- after the jump!
Indie Weekend Box Office. The little indie horror flick that could, Paranormal Activity, rose to the top of the box office heap last weekend, as Eugene Novikov reported. Its earnings have now surpassed $61 million in five weeks of release, according to Box Office Mojo. By per-screen average ($10,850), it was bested only by the debut of Lars von Trier's stridently horrific arthouse horror Antichrist (pictured; $11,900 per screen at six theaters) and Lone Scherfig's romantic drama An Education ($11,851 per engagement as it expanded onto 31 screens in its second week of release).
The Maid continues to clean up. After its strong debut in New York, the well-reviewed Chilean comedy opened in several theaters in Los Angeles ($7,051 per screen at six locations in all), and is poised to open in more theaters in the coming weeks. Initially, the engagements are mostly in the Northeast and California, but other parts of the country will have a chance to see it too -- check the official site for theaters and showtimes.
Lacking any big-name stars in the cast, the Coen Brothers' A Serious Man is drawing respectable but limited numbers. In its fourth week of release, the black comedy earned $6,211 per-screen at 176 theaters, bringing its total take to $3.1 million.
Film Festivals. Los Angeles filmgoers can groove on the superb program assembled for AFI Fest, which kicks off with Wes Anderson's Fantastic Mr. Fox on Friday night, along with a half dozen other movies. The schedule begins the next morning at 10:00 a.m. sharp; in the evening the tough choice would be between Bong Joon-ho's Mother and Joe Dante's The Hole, but the hilarious, unexpectedly moving doc Best Worst Movie should be everyone's pick after that.
AFI Fest concludes its Hollywood run on Thursday, November 5 with a selection of films that includes Tom Ford's wildly praised A Single Man before moving to Santa Monica for more screenings over that weekend, presented in association with the American Film Market.
On the other side of the country, tonight marks the opening of the South Asian Film Festival in beautiful New York City. The world premiere of Sujay Ghosh's Aladin, a modern version of the fairy tale, gets things started, and then it's off and running through next Tuesday, November 3, as the festival showcases the rich diversity of films from South Asia. Check the fest site for information on the program, tickets,and showtimes.