Film Notes: Pittsburgher wins screenwriting prize
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Pittsburgher Stephanie Lord has won a prestigious fellowship presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Her entry, "Palau Rain," was one of five chosen from 4,899 submissions for the 21st Don and Gee Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting, worth $30,000 each.Steve Wilkie
Tobin Bell, who plays the killer Jigsaw in the "Saw" series of films, will be coming to Pittsburgh for a less scary role in "Don't Think About It."
Click photo for larger image.
The Oakland resident, 41, was among six winners (two collaborated on a single script) who will receive the first installment of the prize money at a gala dinner in Beverly Hills later this month.
Lord, born and raised in Panama, moved to Washington, D.C., in 1987 to continue her studies at George Washington University. She earned an undergraduate degree in creative writing from the University of Pittsburgh in 2001 and is pursuing a master of fine arts there and working for Pitt's School of Medicine.
During the fellowship year, the winners are expected to complete a new feature-length screenplay.
Lord, who plans to stay in Pittsburgh, has lots of ideas (including focusing on working-class families and neighborhoods here) but isn't sure which one she will pursue. "Palau Rain" is about a 9-year-old African boy who lost his father to AIDS and whose mother is now sick, too.
Since the program started in 1985, 98 fellowships have been awarded. Among the recent success stories is Doug Atchison, who directed his Nicholl-winning script, "Akeelah and the Bee," to excellent reviews earlier this year.
The competition is open to any individual who has not sold or optioned a screenplay or teleplay for more than $5,000 or received a fellowship or prize that includes a "first look" clause, an option or other quid pro quo involving the writer's work.
In other news, the Academy Foundation is giving the 2007 Three Rivers Film Festival $5,000 for artist travel. That's part of $290,000 in grants to 27 American film festivals being made for next year. They range from $25,000 (a single allocation to Seattle) to $5,000.
Vying for Oscar
A record 61 countries (three more than last year) have submitted films for consideration in the foreign language category of the Academy Awards.
One of the new entrants is Kazakhstan, which has been in the news because of fictional correspondent Borat. The country's entry is "Nomad," which cost a reported $40 million and boasts elaborate costumes, sets and a cast of a thousand or so, according to Variety.
Among the submissions are a couple of movies playing during the Three Rivers Film Festival, including "Ten Canoes" from Australia and "Avenue Montaigne" from France, plus films such as "Water" and "Lunacy," which already screened here. The list will be whittled to five and announced Jan. 23, with the other nominations.
Osment gains co-star
Jigsaw is coming to town.
Well, actually, actor Tobin Bell, who plays Jigsaw in the "Saw" series. The third installment, which opened last Friday, has already earned $34 million and spawned plans for a fourth.
Bell has joined the cast of "Don't Think About It," a direct-to-DVD movie being shot in Pittsburgh and scheduled for a Halloween 2007 release. It will be far more family-friendly than "Saw."
It features Emily Osment as a 13-year-old who feels like an outsider in her new school and neighborhood. She cooks up pranks on her classmates, but a mysterious stranger has a plan for her, as well.
Bell, who is married with two children, has a long list of credits beyond "Saw." His many TV roles include Ted Kaczynski in "Unabomber: The Real Story," while his movies include "Mississippi Burning," "Ruby," "In the Line of Fire" and "The Firm."
"Don't Think About It," a $3 million movie that will bear the "R.L. Stine Presents" banner, found its way to Pittsburgh through Steeltown Entertainment. Universal Studios Home Entertainment, and The Hatchery LLC will market and distribute it and future installments, which will be based on Stine's "The Haunting Hour."
Northway days numbered
The underserved North Hills is about to get even more underserved when it comes to movies. The eight-screen theater at Northway Mall is scheduled to close in January.
National Amusements, the Dedham, Mass., company that operates the mall location, along with Showcase Cinemas North and West, said in a statement yesterday, "Our lease expires in January, and the landlord has announced plans to develop the space in retail or another use."
Cinemas 8 opened roughly 18 years ago. In November 2001, it changed from a second-run theater to a first-run operation.
Ross planners got a first look last week at a proposal to transform Northway Mall into "The Shoppes at Northway." Plan elements include construction of three free-standing buildings on the Browns Lane side of the mall and demolition of the theater.
Music and movies
A string quartet from Duquesne University will serenade moviegoers heading to "The Queen" (or any other movie) today at the SouthSide Works Cinema. The free concert of classical music will be from 6:30 to 7:45 p.m. and then again from 9 to 9:45 p.m. in the theater lobby, which is open to the public.
People also can enter to win afternoon tea for two at the Omni William Penn, Downtown. No purchase is necessary and entries are available in the theater lobby. The winner will be selected on Nov. 24 and notified by e-mail.
Call for entries
May seems like a long time off but not in film-festival land, where preparations start months in advance.
The Silk Screen Asian American Film Festival, which debuted earlier this year in Pittsburgh, is accepting submissions of feature-length narrative films from Asia or films made by or about Asians or Asian-Americans for its 2007 event.
The next festival will be May 11-20. Early deadline is Dec. 3, with a $25 entry fee. Late deadline is Jan. 5 with a $35 entry fee. Fee is waived for submissions outside North America. Go to www.silkscreenfestival.org for submission guidelines and other details.
Documentarians Robert and Mary Matzen will give a sneak peek of their latest film -- "Pursuit of Honor: The Rise of George Washington" -- at screening tomorrow, part of the annual Braddock Road Preservation Association's seminar today and tomorrow, 887 Jumonville Road, Hopwood.
This, the Matzens' third feature documentary about Washington, was recently entered into the Sundance Film Festival. The 10-minute preview segment will precede a lecture by Patricia Brady, whose latest book is "Martha Washington: An American Life." The Matzens have consulted with Brady to create an accurate portrayal of the first first lady.
The 10-minute preview will begin at approximately 10:15 a.m. tomorrow, followed by Brady's lecture. The event is open to the public. For more information and online registration, visit www.braddockroadpa.org. Learn more about the film at www.gwmovie.net.
First Published November 3, 2006 12:00 am