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Bright indie lights gather for Variety party

MATT JAMES Of the Record staff
Swedish director Josef Fares was recognized for his film, Zozo, and was among the seven directors present at Stein Eriksen Lodge on Monday Night. Scott Sine/Park Record.
2Ten-Directors

Making an independent film is no easy task. Most producers want their directors to have a list of credentials and successes, and few are willing to take a risk on an inexperienced filmmaker.

So directors are grateful for every little bit of recognition when seeking funding for their projects.

Monday evening, 10 directors received a bit of that help. They were selected as 10 Directors to Watch for 2006 by Variety magazine.

Among those included are six with films in this year’s Sundance Film Festival. Hilary Brougher, Ryan Fleck and Chris Gorak all have films screening in this year’s American Dramatic Competition "Stephanie Daley," "Half Nelson," and "Right at Your Door," respectively and are joined on the list by Neil Marshall, who directed the Midnight category film "The Descent," and Patrick Stettner and Neil Burger, whose films, "The Night Listener," and "The Illusionist," respectively, are screening in the Premier category.

German director Marc Rothemund and Swedish director Josef Fares with films "Sophie Scholl" and "Zozo" coming outside the film festival both attended as well, and Joe Wright and Bennett Miller, directors of "Pride and Prejudice" and "Capote," respectively, rounded out the list. "I’m just honored to be here with this list of directors," said Fleck.

His comment echoed the rest of the group that night. Seven of the 10 directors were present at the proceedings, with Wright and Miller unable to attend and Gorak in town, but according to Variety publisher Charlie Koones, the director was working toward a deal to sell his film.

The rest of the directors seemed happy enough to be included on the list.

"It’s a great honor of course," said Fares. "Honestly, I never expected it."

"I was fully shocked," said Brougher.

Speaking to the audience at the event, Koones noted that this year marked the tenth anniversary of the 10 Directors to Watch list.

"If you look at the alumni list of the 10 Directors to Watch, it’s a veritable who’s who of independent film directors," he said.

Among those in the past are Ira Sachs Jr., director of "Forty Shades of Blue," which won last year’s Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize, and in 2004, Joshua Marston, director of "Maria Full of Grace." This year’s crop of filmmakers hoped they could achieve such heights, but when asked about how much this might help them most weren’t sure.

"It can’t hurt," said Stettner.

The exposure and the recognition helps, noted Burger. Fleck had an even simpler reply.

"I have no idea," he said with a shrug and a humble smile. "We’ll see."

But Rothmund, for his part, said he had seem some positive results already. He said he had already garnered a few meetings and some talks with an agent because of the award, and some new opportunities were beginning to roll in.

Such a sight would likely be a welcome one for any of the directors present, most of them just entering the very final stages of their involvement with their projects, nurturing them through their premiers with the hopes of a distribution deal.

For the evening, though, the predominant emotion was fairly straightforward. The directors simply seemed happy to be on the list.

"I just hope to live up to the honor," said Stettner.


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