head 1998 Sundance Film Festival Buzz
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1998 Sundance Film Festival Buzz
The Latest from Park City (January 19)

by Richard Schwartz

PARK CITY, Jan. 19 - What's grabbing the spotlight at the Sundance Film Festival:

Stratosphere Entertainment, the new independent film company formed by longtime producer Paul Cohen and takeover mogul Carl Icahn, introduced its inaugural slate of films here this weekend. Highlighting Stratosphere's film list is "One Tough Cop" a biographical crime drama starring Stephen Baldwin and Gina Gershon. Scheduled for a fall release, the script was penned by Martin and Michael Bregman and will be direcdted by Bruno Baretto of "Carried Away" fame.

Among the rest of Stratosphere's films are German jailhouse pic "Bandits," Adam Bernstein's black comedy "Six Ways to Sunday" and writer/director Dan Zukovic's satirical Hollywood send-up "The Last Big Thing." Cohen praised the roster of films. "These are challenging voices, but their independence and originality do not restrict them to a narrow audience," said the veteran "Bad Lieutenant" producer. "What will distinguish Stratosphere is our goal to exist at the crossroads where filmgoers match the daring of the filmmakers"...

The controversy over Nick Broomfield's documentary on celebrity, "Kurt and Courtney," is still heating up dinner converstations. After Sundance announced the film's withdrawal on the eve of the festival over "unresolved legal matters" including music rights, Broomfield sounded off to the trades. The British filmmaker claimed his insurance covered music rights and insinuated lawsuit threats by Courtney Love led to the film's removal from the fesitival. Holding court at a makeshift press conference in his hotel room, Broomfield - who is also a jury member for the documentary competition this year - confirmed that he'd been meeting with Slamdance officials to discuss screening "Kurt and Courtney"...

Even Robert Redford chimed in on the issue at his annual media press conference and brunch. Redford, who made a brief appearance at Sundance in between edit sessions for his film "The Horse Whisperer," said he had hoped the film would see the screen but was told the festival's "hands [were] tied." The Sundance founder even took a shot at Love, saying, "As an artist who's benefited so much from freedom of speech in her career, I find it highly ironic that she chose to prevent another artist from showing his work." Take that, Miss World...

Finally, one of the most bizarre cameos in recent memory can be found in the festival entry "Slam." An otherwise nameless film about street hoods in prison, "Slam" contains a curious choice of casting for the role of a drug abuse counselor - Washington, D. C. mayor and crack video star Marion Barry.

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