Event: January 15th – New Trends in Licensing for Film and Television

January 6th, 2014

I’m moderating this great event next week! Would love to see you there.

New Trends in Music Licensing for Film and Television
Date/Time: Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2014
6:30 PM
Pricing: Free for NYWIFT and Women in Music members
$15 to Nonmembers
RSVP online by January 14th, 5pm (EST)
Location: BMI
7 World Trade Center/250 Greenwich Street, NYC
30th Floor
check in at security desk downstairs

Women in Music has partnered with New York Women in Film & Television to bring you an experienced and passionate panel of experts in the world of music in film, TV, commercials and audio-visual works.

Music is an integral creative element of television programs, films and commercials. Music licensing generates a significant income stream for those in the music industry. The audiovisual and music industries have much to learn from each other on how to grow effective businesses and incorporate music in video successfully and effectively. From the nuts and bolts of music supervising and licensing to inside information on the businesses that are innovating solutions on the digital forefront, this panel will present information on some of the latest licensing deals, price points and platforms in the sync licensing space.  The process of track placement, the art of music supervising, what creators of audio-visual product are searching for and challenges they face will be discussed, along with how music creators and copyright owners can increase sync license placements for their catalog.

Please join us as our two communities come together to exchange and discuss the latest trends and issues in sync licensing.

Please RSVP by no later than January 14th at 5pm EST.  Photo I.D. is needed for entry into the building.

PANELISTS
Susan Arnold
, VP Commercial Music Group, SONY/ATV Music Publishing
Stephanie Diaz-Matos, Music Supervisor, Search Party (The Vow, Lost, Six Degrees, Smash, Friends with Kids)
Mark Frieser, CEO, Sync Exchange
Adam Kane Norcott, Director, Business Development & Creative Strategy, Music Dealers
Bentley Weiner, Director and Coordinating Producer, HBO Sports (Multi Emmy Award-winning series24/7)
Moderator: Jennifer Newman Sharpe, Esq., Entertainment Attorney and VP/General Counsel of Women in Music

Susan Arnold is an attorney whose practice has emphasized music business licensing transactions for more than two decades. She has worked for several major global companies, including Sony ATV Music Publishing, EMI Music Publishing and Sony Music Entertainment. Susan’s music business career began when she was in-house counsel and Business Affairs VP for PMG, an independent distributor of midline and budget physical product. She served for four years as the head of Sony Music’s Product & Copyright Administration department, which was responsible for the copyright registration and mechanical and synchronization licensing of all Sony Music domestic releases. She then served for six years as lead lawyer for EMI Music Publishing’s synch team. Arnold is currently directing sync licensing business affairs for Sony ATV’s Commercial Music Group.

Mark Freiser is an experienced executive and thought leader in the fields of music, entertainment and technology. He has developed and produced more than 200 business seminars, concerts and events, and co-developed and launched the official US Ringtone charts with Billboard Magazine. Under his leadership, the charting system launched in October 2004 within 180 days of development, tabulating more than 85% of US sales weekly, thereby establishing the foundation for Nielsen Mobile. He also launched and managed mobile market research consultancy, Consect, and is a regular columnist on music licensing for Billboard. Consect successfully organized mobile entertainment industry conferences for audiences, and developed content businesses for companies like Largardere and France Telecom. Frieser is responsible for a number of industry firsts, including helping to conceive the first hip-hop ringtone brand and label (Blingtones), the first mobile entertainment partnership with a major celebrity (Carmen Electra) and the first SMS-based game of skill for prizes and rewards (Text2WIN). As Senior Vice President of Marketing (BD and Content) at Zedge.net, he co-managed and developed the site’s redesign, grew its membership from 5 to 13 million, implemented SMS-based content services and managed high-level branded collaborations with Lionsgate, Overture Films, Starz Media, Thomas Dolby and many others.

Adam Kane Norcott is a strategic, music business professional based in New York City with several years of music licensing, publishing, sales, marketing and high level client management experience in North America and Australia (Asia Pacific). Adam previously worked for a division of EMI-Sony ATV Music Publishing for several years in New York City, placing artists works into television shows and promos produced by clients such as Showtime, HBO, Bell Media Canada, Yes Networks and PBS. He also consulted with a number of music licensing start-ups focused on helping independent artists to monetize their work by harnessing the power of synchronization. Adam is unique in that he is also a professional musician who has recorded, produced and written 4 independent albums to date. He has toured extensively in Nashville, Toronto, New York City and Sydney, Australia while enjoying radio play on NPR in the USA, and Triple J/FBIFM in Australia. Adam is very excited to bring his professional experience to Music Dealers. Adam is currently heading up their New York office, attending to the specific music and budgets needs of film, television and brand clientele on the East Coast and Canada.

Bentley Weiner has worked at HBO Sports for the past thirteen years, producing and directing a variety of programs. She is currently the Coordinating Producer of the network’s acclaimed sports documentary series, 24/7, and oversees all aspects of production on the show, including music discovery, selection and placement. She has also commissioned composers to score original pieces for the series, as well as for other projects she’s directed.

Moderator Jennifer Newman Sharpe is an attorney with a practice focusing on entertainment, intellectual property and media law.  Jennifer works closely with creative, entrepreneurial, and innovative clients to develop strategies and negotiate agreements in order to maximize their opportunities, build positive relationships with collaborators, and protect and leverage their creative works.  Her clients include musicians, producers, filmmakers, designers, artists, theater companies, authors, composers, recording studios, publishing companies, record labels and start ups.  In addition, Jennifer’s firm also offers rights clearance services for producers, filmmakers, video game and digital content creators and record labels.  Jennifer is vice president, general counsel, and a board member of the organization Women in Music.

2013 Academy Awards Nominations Announced

January 10th, 2013

The 2013 Academy Awards nominees were announced today. Lincoln leads with 12 nominations, with Life of Pi close behind with 11. Both Les Miserables and Silver Linings Playbook both received 8.  Some of the major categories are listed below.

Best Picture
Beasts of the Southern Wild
Silver Linings Playbook
Zero Dark Thirty
Lincoln
Les Miserables
Life of Pi
Amour
Django Unchained
Argo

Best Director
David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook
Ang Lee, Life of Pi
Steven Spielberg, Lincoln
Michael Haneke, Amour
Benh Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild

Best Actress
Naomi Watts, The Impossible
Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty
Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook
Emmanuelle Riva, Amour
Quvenzhané Wallis, Beasts of the Southern Wild

Best Actor
Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln
Denzel Washington, Flight
Hugh Jackman, Les Miserables
Bradley Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook
Joaquin Phoenix, The Master

Best Original Screenplay
Zero Dark Thirty
Django Unchained
Moonrise Kingdom
Amour
Flight

Best Supporting Actor
Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained
Philip Seymour Hoffman, The Master
Robert De Niro, Silver Linings Playbook
Alan Arkin, Argo
Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln

Best Supporting Actress
Sally Field, Lincoln
Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables
Jacki Weaver, Silver Linings Playbook
Helen Hunt, The Sessions
Amy Adams, The Master

Best Adapted Screenplay
Lincoln
Silver Linings Playbook
Argo
Life of Pi
Beasts of the Southern Wild

Best Animated Film
Frankenweenie
The Pirates! Band of Misfits
Wreck-It Ralph
Paranorman
Brave

Best Foreign Feature
Amour
A Royal Affair
Kon-Tiki
No
War Witch

Best Original Song
“Before My Time” from Chasing Ice
“Everybody Needs A Best Friend” from Ted
“Pi’s Lullaby” from Life of Pi
“Skyfall” (Adele) from Skyfall
“Suddenly” from Les Misérables

Best Original Score
Dario Marianello, Anna Karenina
Alexandre Desplat, Argo
Mychael Danna, Life of Pi
Thomas Newman, Skyfall
John Williams, Lincoln

Best Visual Effects
Life of Pi
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
The Avengers
Prometheus
Snow White and the Huntsman

Best Cinematography
Skyfall
Anna Karenina
Django Unchained
Life of Pi
Lincoln

Best Costume Design
Anna Karenina
Les Miserables
Lincoln
Mirror Mirror
Snow White and the Huntsman

Best Documentary Feature
Searching for Sugar Man
How to Survive a Plague
The Gatekeepers
5 Broken Cameras
The Invisible War

Best Documentary Short
Open Heart
Inocente
Redemption
Kings Point
Mondays at Racine

Best Film Editing
Lincoln
Silver Linings Playbook
Life of Pi
Argo
Zero Dark Thirty

La-la-lawsuits: A Look at November’s Most Litigious Moments

December 1st, 2012

Pandora is suing ASCAP, one of the largest performance rights organizations, to implement lower statutory rates for songwriters.  Pandora has called the current rates as “ill suited and not reasonable”.  The major problem with this suit is that publishers, on the other hand, are trying to drive statutory rates up, not down.  This is because Pandora currently pays record labels over ten times more on a song play than they do to publishers and songwriters.  Furthermore, Sony/ATV isn’t making the suit easier for Pandora, since after recently acquiring EMI’s publishing catalog, Sony/ATV is pushing for their own independent royalty rates.  This move by Sony/ATV is yet another reason why Pandora is pushing so hard to lower the rates.

A 2006 divorce between Tory Burch and Chris Burch has turned into a legal battle between the two, totally unrelated to any actual marital issues.  In October 2011, Chris had opened up his own store, C Store, that is more affordable than the Tory Burch company line.  However, the C Store’s appearance and inventory look a little too similar to the Tory Burch company’s merchandise and stores.  Meanwhile, both Tory and Chris still own stake in the popular clothing line company.  Mr. Burch filed a complaint earlier this month accusing Tory of delaying the sale of his shares of the Tory Burch company, along with other accusations regarding inappropriate board behavior (a breach of fiduciary duties).  Tory answered the complaint with various counterclaims, including accusations that he is stealing the company’s trade secrets.  The bottom line issue is whether the existence of C Wonder will negatively effect the value of the Tory Burch company.  We will have to wait and see.

The Talent Agencies Act (TAA) in California is under attack by former personal managers of various stars.  The TAA states that only licensed agents can procure employment for their clients.  It was further decided that this restriction applies not only to talent agents, but personal managers, as well.  In mid-November, The National Conference of Personal Managers (NCOPM) sued the CA governor, attorney general, and labor commissioner, claiming that the TAA is entirely unconstitutional and that is violates “due process, equal protection, involuntary servitude, and interferes with interstate commerce and free speech”.  Essentially, clients can fire their managers and refuse to pay any commission to them because they weren’t licensed and technically not legally employable under the TAA.

Hurricane Sandy left quite a path of destruction, not only physically, but now also legally.  New York resident, Irwin Bard, and his son are suing Cablevision for $250 million for non-existent cable, Internet, and phone services during the time of the power outages.  Bard demands a rebate to all customers who were affected by this unfair charge.  Cablevison assured their customers, however, that anyone who was overcharged can visit the Cablevision website and ask for a credit back.  However, the issue is whether this should be automatic versus an “opt-in” action.  The case is still undecided as of now.

 

Sundance Film Fest Announces Lineup

November 29th, 2012

I am very excited to be headed back to Sundance this year.  I’m representing a number of private events and may be throwing an intimate party  for my firm as well – details will be announced in the coming month!

Here is the official lineup, announced yesterday by Sundance.  I never see as many films as I intend to (that’s actually an understatement) but so many of these screenings look too good to miss.

The big list! :

U.S. DRAMATIC COMPETITION
The world premieres of 16 American narrative feature films.

Afternoon Delight / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Jill Soloway) —  In this sexy, dark comedy, a lost L.A. housewife puts her idyllic hipster life in jeopardy when she tries to rescue a stripper by taking her in as a live-in nanny. Cast: Kathryn Hahn, Juno Temple, Josh Radnor, Jane Lynch.

Ain’t Them Bodies Saints / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: David Lowery) — The tale of an outlaw who escapes from prison and sets out across the Texas hills to reunite with his wife and the daughter he has never met. Cast: Rooney Mara, Casey Affleck, Ben Foster, Nate Parker, Keith Carradine.

Austenland / U.S.A., United Kingdom (Director: Jerusha Hess, Screenwriters: Jerusha Hess, Shannon Hale) — Thirtysomething, single Jane is obsessed with Mr. Darcy, as played by Colin Firth in Pride and Prejudice. On a trip to an English resort, her fantasies of meeting the perfect Regency-era gentleman become more real than she ever imagined. Cast: Keri Russell, JJ Feild, Bret McKenzie, Jennifer Coolidge, Georgia King, James Callis.

C.O.G. / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Kyle Patrick Alvarez) — In the first ever film adaptation of David Sedaris’ work, a cocky young man travels to Oregon to work on an apple farm. Out of his element, he finds his lifestyle and notions being picked apart by everyone who crosses his path. Cast: Jonathan Groff, Denis O’Hare, Corey Stoll, Dean Stockwell, Casey Wilson, Troian Bellisario.

Concussion / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Stacie Passon) — After a blow to the head, Abby decides she can’t do it anymore. Her life just can’t be only about the house, the kids and the wife. She needs more: she needs to be Eleanor. Cast: Robin Weigert, Maggie Siff, Johnathan Tchaikovsky, Julie Fain Lawrence, Emily Kinney, Laila Robins.

Emanuel and the Truth About Fishes / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Francesca Gregorini) — Emanuel, a troubled girl, becomes preoccupied with her mysterious, new neighbor, who bears a striking resemblance to her dead mother. In offering to babysit her newborn, Emanuel unwittingly enters a fragile, fictional world, of which she becomes the gatekeeper. Cast: Kaya Scodelario, Jessica Biel, Alfred Molina, Frances O’Connor, Jimmi Simpson, Aneurin Barnard.

Fruitvale / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Ryan Coogler) — The true story of Oscar, a 22-year-old Bay Area resident who crosses paths with friends, enemies, family and strangers on the last day of 2008. Cast: Michael B. Jordan, Octavia Spencer, Melonie Diaz, Ahna O’Reilly, Kevin Durand, Chad Michael Murray.

In a World… / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Lake Bell) — An underachieving vocal coach is motivated by her father, the king of movie-trailer voice-overs, to pursue her aspirations of becoming a voiceover star. Amidst pride, sexism and family dysfunction, she sets out to change the voice of a generation. Cast: Lake Bell, Demetri Martin, Rob Corddry, Michaela Watkins, Ken Marino, Fred Melamed.

Kill Your Darlings / U.S.A. (Director: John Krokidas, Screenwriters: Austin Bunn, John Krokidas) — An untold story of murder that brought together a young Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs at Columbia University in 1944, providing the spark that led to the birth of an entire generation – their Beat revolution. Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Dane DeHann, Ben Foster, Michael C. Hall, Jack Huston, Elizabeth Olsen.

The Lifeguard / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Liz W. Garcia) — A former valedictorian quits her reporter job in New York and returns to the place she last felt happy: her childhood home in Connecticut. She gets work as a lifeguard and starts a dangerous relationship with a troubled teenager. Cast: Kristen Bell, Mamie Gummer, Martin Starr, Alex Shaffer, Amy Madigan, David Lambert.

May in the Summer / U.S.A., Qatar, Jordan (Director and screenwriter: Cherien Dabis) — A bride-to-be is forced to reevaluate her life when she reunites with her family in Jordan and finds herself confronted with the aftermath of her parents’ divorce. Cast: Cherien Dabis, Hiam Abbass, Bill Pullman, Alia Shawkat, Nadine Malouf, Alexander SiddigDAY ONE FILM

Mother of George / U.S.A. (Director: Andrew Dosunmu, Screenwriter: Darci Picoult) — A story about a woman willing to do anything and risk everything for her marriage. Cast: Isaach De Bankolé, Danai Gurira, Anthony Okungbowa, Yaya Alafia, Bukky Ajayi.

The Spectacular Now / U.S.A. (Director: James Ponsoldt, Screenwriters: Scott Neustadter, Michael H. Weber) — Sutter is a high school senior who lives for the moment; Aimee is the introvert he attempts to “save.” As their relationship deepens, the lines between right and wrong, friendship and love, and “saving” and corrupting become inextricably blurred. Cast: Miles Teller, Shailene Woodley, Brie Larson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Kyle Chandler.

Touchy Feely / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Lynn Shelton) — A massage therapist is unable to do her job when stricken with a mysterious and sudden aversion to bodily contact. Meanwhile, her uptight brother’s foundering dental practice receives new life when clients seek out his “healing touch.” Cast: Rosemarie DeWitt, Allison Janney, Ron Livingston, Scoot McNairy, Ellen Page, Josh Pais.

Toy’s House / U.S.A. (Director: Jordan Vogt-Roberts, Screenwriter: Chris Galletta) — Three unhappy teenage boys flee to the wilderness where they build a makeshift house and live off the land as masters of their own destiny. Or at least that’s the plan. Cast: Nick Robinson, Gabriel Basso, Moises Arias, Nick Offerman, Megan Mullally, Alison Brie.

Upstream Color / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Shane Carruth) — A man and woman are drawn together, entangled in the life cycle of an ageless organism. Identity becomes an illusion as they struggle to assemble the loose fragments of wrecked lives. Cast: Amy Seimetz, Shane Carruth, Andrew Sensenig, Thiago Martins.

U.S. DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION
The world premieres of 16 American documentary films.

99% – The Occupy Wall Street Collaborative Film / U.S.A. (Directors: Audrey Ewell, Aaron Aites, Lucian Read, Nina Kristic) — The Occupy movement erupted in September 2011, propelling economic inequality into the spotlight. In an unprecedented collaboration, filmmakers across America tell its story, digging into big picture issues as organizers, analysts, participants and critics reveal how it happened and why.

After Tiller / U.S.A. (Directors: Martha Shane, Lana Wilson) — Since the assassination of Dr. George Tiller in 2009, only four doctors in the country provide late-term abortions. With unprecedented access, After Tiller goes inside the lives of these physicians working at the center of the storm.

American Promise / U.S.A. (Directors: Joe Brewster, Michèle Stephenson) — This intimate documentary follows the 12-year journey of two African-American families pursuing the promise of opportunity through the education of their sons.

Blackfish / U.S.A. (Director: Gabriela Cowperthwaite) — Notorious killer whale Tilikum is responsible for the deaths of three individuals, including a top killer whale trainer. Blackfish shows the sometimes devastating consequences of keeping such intelligent and sentient creatures in captivity.

Blood Brother / U.S.A. (Director: Steve Hoover) — Rocky went to India as a disillusioned tourist. When he met a group of children with HIV, he decided to stay. He never could have imagined the obstacles he would face, or the love he would find.

Citizen Koch / U.S.A. (Directors: Carl Deal, Tia Lessin) — Wisconsin – birthplace of the Republican Party, government unions, “cheeseheads” and Paul Ryan – becomes a test market in the campaign to buy Democracy, and ground zero in the battle for the future of the GOP.

Cutie and the Boxer / U.S.A. (Director: Zachary Heinzerling) — This candid New York love story explores the chaotic 40-year marriage of famed boxing painter Ushio Shinohara and his wife, Noriko. Anxious to shed her role as her overbearing husband’s assistant, Noriko finds an identity of her own.

Dirty Wars / U.S.A. (Director: Richard Rowley) — Investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill chases down the truth behind America’s covert wars.

Gideon’s Army / U.S.A. (Director: Dawn Porter) — Gideon’s Army follows three young, committed Public Defenders who are dedicated to working for the people society would rather forget. Long hours, low pay and staggering caseloads are so common that even the most committed often give up.

God Loves Uganda / U.S.A. (Director: Roger Ross Williams) — A powerful exploration of the evangelical campaign to infuse African culture with values imported from America’s Christian Right. The film follows American and Ugandan religious leaders fighting “sexual immorality” and missionaries trying to convince Ugandans to follow biblical law.

The Good Life / U.S.A. (Directors: Sean Fine, Andrea Nix Fine) — Dr. Leslie Gordon and Dr. Scott Berns fight to save their only son from Progeria, a rare and fatal disease for which there is no treatment or cure. In less than a decade, their work has led to significant advances.

Inequality for All / U.S.A. (Director: Jacob Kornbluth) — In this timely and entertaining documentary, noted economic-policy expert Robert Reich distills the topic of widening income inequality, and addresses the question of what effects this increasing gap has on our economy and our democracy.

Manhunt / U.S.A., United Kingdom (Director: Greg Barker) — This espionage tale goes inside the CIA’s long conflict against Al Qaeda, as revealed by the remarkable women and men whose secret war against Osama bin Laden started nearly a decade before most of us even knew his name.

Narco Cultura / U.S.A. (Director: Shaul Schwarz) — An examination of Mexican drug cartels’ influence in pop culture on both sides of the border as experienced by an LA narcocorrido singer dreaming of stardom and a Juarez crime scene investigator on the front line of Mexico’s Drug War.

Twenty Feet From Stardom / U.S.A. (Director: Morgan Neville) — Backup singers live in a world that lies just beyond the spotlight.  Their voices bring harmony to the biggest bands in popular music, but we’ve had no idea who these singers are or what lives they lead – until now. DAY ONE FILM

Valentine Road / U.S.A. (Director: Marta Cunningham) — In 2008, eighth-grader Brandon McInerney shot classmate Larry King at point blank range. Unraveling this tragedy from point of impact, the film reveals the heartbreaking circumstances that led to the shocking crime as well as its startling aftermath.

WORLD CINEMA DRAMATIC COMPETITION
Twelve films from emerging filmmaking talents offer fresh perspectives and inventive styles.

Circles / Serbia, Germany, France, Croatia, Slovenia (Director: Srdan Golubovic, Screenwriters: Srdjan Koljevic, Melina Pota Koljevic) — Five people are affected by a tragic heroic act. Twenty years later, all of them will confront the past through their own crises. Will they overcome guilt, frustration and their urge for revenge? Will they do the right thing, at all costs? Cast: Aleksandar Bercek, Leon Lucev, Nebojsa Glogovac, Hristina Popovic, Nikola Rakocevic, Vuk Kostic. World Premiere

Crystal Fairy / Chile (Director and screenwriter: Sebastián Silva) — Jamie invites a stranger to join a road trip to Chile. The woman’s free and esoteric nature clashes with Jamie’s acidic, self-absorbed personality as they head into the desert for a Mescaline-fueled psychedelic trip. Cast: Michael Cera, Gabby Hoffmann, Juan Andrés Silva, José Miguel Silva, Agustín Silva. World Premiere.DAY ONE FILM

The Future / Chile, Germany, Italy, Spain (Director and screenwriter: Alicia Scherson) — When their parents die, Bianca starts to smoke and Tomas is still a virgin. The orphans explore the dangerous streets of adulthood until Bianca finds Maciste, a retired Mr. Universe, and enters his dark mansion in search of a future. Cast: Manuela Martelli, Rutger Hauer, Luigi Ciardo, Nicolas Vaporidis, Alessandro Giallocosta. World Premiere

Houston / Germany (Director and screenwriter: Bastian Günther) — Clemens Trunschka is a corporate headhunter and an alcoholic. Drinking increasingly isolates him from his life and leads him away from reality. While searching for a CEO candidate in Houston, his addiction submerges him into his own darkness.Cast: Ulrich Tukur, Garret Dillahunt, Wolfram Koch, Jenny Schily, Jason Douglas, Jens Münchow. World Premiere

Jiseul / South Korea (Director and screenwriter: Muel O) — In 1948, as the Korean government ordered the Communists’ eviction to Jeju Island, the military invaded a calm and peaceful village. Townsfolk took sanctuary in a cave and debated moving to a higher mountain. Cast: Min-chul SUNG, Jung-won YANG, Young-soon OH, Soon-dong PARK, Suk-bum MOON, Kyung-sub JANG. International Premiere

Lasting / Poland, Spain (Director and screenwriter: Jacek Borcuch) — An emotional love story about two Polish students who fall in love with each other while working summer jobs in Spain. An unexpected nightmare interrupts their carefree time in the heavenly landscape and throws their lives into chaos. Cast: Jakub Gierszal, Magdalena Berus, Angela Molina. World Premiere

Metro Manila / United Kingdom, Philippines (Director: Sean Ellis, Screenwriters: Sean Ellis, Frank E. Flowers) — Seeking a better life, Oscar and his family move from the poverty-stricken rice fields to the big city of Manila, where they fall victim to various inhabitants whose manipulative ways are a daily part of city survival. Cast: Jake Macapagal, John Arcilla, Althea Vega. World Premiere

Shopping / New Zealand (Directors: Mark Albiston, Louis Sutherland, Screenwriters: Louis Sutherland, Mark Albiston) — New Zealand, 1981: Seduced by a charismatic career criminal, teenager Willie must choose where his loyalty lies – with a family of shoplifters or his own blood. Cast: Kevin Paulo, Julian Dennison, Jacek Koman, Alistair BrowningWorld Premiere

Soldate Jeannette / Austria (Director: Daniel Hoesl) — Fanni has had enough of money and leaves to buy a tent. Anna has had enough of pigs and leaves a needle in the hay. Cars crash and money burns to shape their mutual journey toward a rising liberty. Cast: Johanna Orsini-Rosenberg, Christina Reichsthaler, Josef Kleindienst, Aurelia Burckhardt, Julia Schranz, Ines Rössl. World Premiere

There Will Come a Day / Italy, France (Director: Giorgio Diritti, Screenwriters: Giorgio Diritti, Fredo Valla, Tania Pedroni) — Painful issues push Augusta, a young Italian woman, to doubt the certainties on which she has built her existence. On a small boat in the immensity of the Amazon rain forest, she faces the adventure of searching for herself. Cast: Jasmine Trinca, Anne Alvaro, Pia Engleberth. World Premiere

Wajma (An Afghan Love Story) / Afghanistan (Director and screenwriter: Barmak Akram) — A young man in Kabul seduces a girl. When she tells him she’s pregnant, he questions having taken her virginity. Then her father arrives, and a timeless, archaic violence erupts – possibly leading to a crime, and even a sacrifice. Cast: Wajma Bahar, Mustafa Abdulsatar, Haji Gul, Breshna Bahar. World Premiere

What They Don’t Talk About When They Talk About Love / Indonesia (Director and screenwriter: Mouly Surya) — Mouly Surya’s film explores the odds of love and deception among the blind, the deaf and the unlucky sighted people at a high school for the visually impaired. Cast: Nicholas Saputra, Ayushita Nugraha, Karina Salim, Anggun Priambodo, Lupita Jennifer. World Premiere

WORLD CINEMA DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION
Twelve documentaries by some of the most courageous and extraordinary filmmakers working today.

Fallen City / China (Director: Qi Zhao) — Fallen City spans four years to reveal how three families who survived the 2008 Sichuan earthquake to embark on a journey searching for hope, purpose, identity, and to rebuild their lives in a new China torn between tradition and modernity. North American Premiere

Fire in the Blood / India (Director: Dylan Mohan Gray) — In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Western governments and pharmaceutical companies blocked low-cost antiretroviral drugs from reaching AIDS-stricken Africa, causing 10 million or more unnecessary deaths. An improbable group of people decided to fight back. North American Premiere

Google and the World Brain / Spain, United Kingdom (Director: Ben Lewis) — In the most ambitious project ever conceived on the Internet, Google has been scanning the world’s books for 10 years. They said the intention was to build a giant digital library, but that involved scanning millions of copyrighted works.World Premiere

The Machine Which Makes Everything Disappear / Georgia, Germany (Director: Tinatin Gurchiani) — A film director casting a 15-23-year-old protagonist visits villages and cities to meet people who answer her call. She follows those who prove to be interesting enough through various dramatic and funny situations. North American Premiere

The Moo Man / United Kingdom (Directors: Andy Heathcote, Heike Bachelier) — A year in the life of heroic farmer Steve, scene stealing Ida (queen of the herd), and a supporting cast of 55 cows. When Ida falls ill, Steve’s optimism is challenged and their whole way of life is at stake. World Premiere

Pussy Riot – A Punk Prayer / Russian Federation, United Kingdom (Directors: Mike Lerner, Maxim Pozdorovkin) — Three young women face seven years in a Russian prison for a satirical performance in a Moscow cathedral. But who is really on trial: the three young artists or the society they live in? World Premiere

A River Changes Course / Cambodia, U.S.A. (Director: Kalyanee Mam) — Three young Cambodians struggle to overcome the crushing effects of deforestation, overfishing, and overwhelming debt in this devastatingly beautiful story of a country reeling from the tragedies of war and rushing to keep pace with a rapidly expanding world. World Premiere

Salma / United Kingdom, India (Director: Kim Longinotto) — When Salma, a young girl in South India, reached puberty, her parents locked her away. Millions of girls all over the world share the same fate. Twenty-five years later, Salma has fought her way back to the outside world. World Premiere

The Square (El Midan) / Egypt, U.S.A. (Director: Jehane Noujaim) — What does it mean to risk your life for your ideals? How far will five revolutionaries go in defending their beliefs in the fight for their nation? World Premiere

The Stuart Hall Project / United Kingdom (Director: John Akomfrah) — Antinuclear campaigner, New Left activist and founding father of Cultural Studies, this documentary interweaves 70 years of Stuart Hall’s film, radio and television appearances, and material from his private archive to document a memorable life and construct a portrait of Britain’s foremost radical intellectual.World Premiere

The Summit / Ireland, United Kingdom (Director: Nick Ryan) — Twenty-four climbers converged at the last stop before summiting the most dangerous mountain on Earth. Forty-eight hours later, 11 had been killed or simply vanished. Had one, Ger McDonnell, stuck to the climbers’ code, he might still be alive. International Premiere

Who is Dayani Cristal? / United Kingdom (Director: Marc Silver) — An anonymous body in the Arizona desert sparks the beginning of a real-life human drama. The search for its identity leads us across a continent to seek out the people left behind and the meaning of a mysterious tattoo. World Premiere. DAY ONE FILM

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Pure, bold works distinguished by an innovative, forward-thinking approach to storytelling. Digital technology paired with unfettered creativity proves the films selected in this section will inform a “greater” next wave in American cinema.

Blue Caprice / U.S.A. (Director: Alexandre Moors, Screenwriters: R.F.I Porto, Alexandre Moors) — An abandoned boy is lured to America and drawn into the shadow of a dangerous father figure in this film inspired by the real life events that led to the 2002 Beltway sniper attacks. Cast: Isaiah Washington, Tequan Richmond, Joey Lauren Adams, Tim Blake Nelson, Cassandra Freeman, Leo Fitzpatrick.

Computer Chess / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Andrew Bujalski) — An existential comedy about the brilliant men who taught machines to play chess – back when the machines seemed clumsy and we seemed smart. Cast: Patrick Riester, Myles Paige, James Curry, Robin Schwartz, Gerald Peary, Wiley Wiggins.

Escape from Tomorrow / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Randy Moore) — A postmodern, surreal voyage into the bowels of “family” entertainment; an epic battle begins when an unemployed, middle-aged father loses his sanity during a close encounter with two teenage girls on holiday. Cast: Roy Abramsohn, Elena Schuber, Katelynn Rodriguez, Annet Mahendru, Danielle Safady, Alison Lees-Taylor.

I Used to Be Darker / U.S.A. (Director: Matthew Porterfield, Screenwriters: Amy Belk, Matthew Porterfield) — A runaway seeks refuge with her aunt and uncle in Baltimore, only to find their marriage ending and her cousin in crisis. In the days that follow, the family struggles to let go while searching for things to sustain them. Cast: Deragh Campbell, Hannah Gross, Kim Taylor, Ned Oldham, Geoff Grace, Nick Petr.

It Felt Like Love / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Eliza Hittman) — On the outskirts of Brooklyn, a 14-year-old girl’s sexual quest takes a dangerous turn when she pursues an older guy and tests the boundaries between obsession and love. Cast: Gina Piersanti, Giovanna Salimeni, Ronen Rubinstein, Jesse Cordasco, Nick Rosen, Case Prime.

Milkshake / U.S.A. (Director: David Andalman, Screenwriters: David Andalman, Mariko Munro) — In mid-1990′s America, we follow the tragic sex life of Jolie Jolson, a wannabe thug (and great-great-grandson of legendary vaudevillian Al Jolson) in suburban DC as he strives to become something he can never be – black. Cast: Tyler Ross, Shareeka Epps, Georgia Ford, Eshan Bay, Leo Fitzpatrick, Danny Burstein.

Newlyweeds / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Shaka King) — A Brooklyn repo man and his globetrotting girlfriend forge an unlikely romance. But what should be a match made in stoner heaven turns into a love triangle gone awry in this dark coming-of-age comedy about dependency. Cast: Amari Cheatom, Trae Harris, Tone Tank, Colman Domingo, Isiah Whitlock Jr., Adrian Martinez.

Pit Stop / U.S.A. (Director: Yen Tan, Screenwriters: Yen Tan, David Lowery) — Two working-class gay men in a small Texas town and a love that isn’t quite out of reach. Cast: Bill Heck, Marcus DeAnda, Amy Seimetz, John Merriman, Alfredo Maduro, Corby Sullivan.

A Teacher / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Hannah Fidell) — A popular young teacher in a wealthy suburban Texas high school has an affair with one of her students. Her life begins to unravel as the relationship comes to an end.Cast: Lindsay Burdge, Will Brittain, Jennifer Prediger, Jonny Mars, Julie Phillips, Chris Dubeck.

This is Martin Bonner / U.S.A.(Director and screenwriter: Chad Hartigan) — Martin Bonner has just moved to Reno for a new job in prison rehabilitation. Starting over at age 58, he struggles to adapt until an unlikely friendship with an ex-con blossoms, helping him confront the problems he left behind. Cast: Paul Eenhoorn, Richmond Arquette, Sam Buchanan, Robert Longstreet, Demetrius Grosse.

La-la-lawsuits: A look back on January’s finest litigious moments

January 30th, 2012

EMI is suing MP3 reselling startup ReDigi.

More EMI lawsuits.. The company (via the Irish Music Rights Association) has now sued the entire country of Ireland in a High Court action for not doing enough to require ISPs to block websites that are engaging in piracy.

The Velvet Underground has sued the foundation that manages the legacy of Andy Warhol arguing that the artist of their iconic ‘banana’ album cover artwork has no copyright or trademark ownership over the image.

PacketVideo and Spotify have settled the lawsuit brought by PacketVideo, alleging that Spotify infringed its patent relating to streaming music from a central source.  Details of the settlement have not been disclosed.

Former Disney executive VP Glen Lajeski filed a lawsuit against the studio alleging that his contract was breached when the company fired him last June.  Lajeski was let go purportedly without any cause and without the opportunity to cure.  His employment contract was not due to expire until January 1, 2013.

La-la-lawsuits: A Look Back at December’s Finest Litigious Moments

December 30th, 2011

Croatian journalist James Braddock has sued Angelina Jolie for copyright infringement of his book, The Soul Shattering (his website discusses the legal dispute in detail).  Braddock claims Jolie’s directorial-debut documentary, In the Land of Blood and Honey, infringes upon his 2007 book.  Braddock allegedly discussed the book in detail with the Bosnian producer of the film before the film was made.  The movie commenced production in 2010, and Braddock only recently filed the lawsuit, just weeks before the scheduled release.  Because of the late timing, the judge seemed reluctant to grant Braddock’s motion for a temporary restraining order and Braddock withdrew the motion before the decision was finalized.  The case was filed with the federal court in Illinois, but the judge has indicated a likelihood he will transfer it to California, given that the parties – Croatian and Californian – have pretty much no connection to the midwest state.

The Meester family will be having a peaceful Christmas, now that  the Gossip Girl star Leighton Meester and her mother Constance Meester have resolved their legal dispute.  The suit began over Leighton alleging that Constance misused the actress’s money, then developed into the issue of whether Constance was entitled to compensation for her alleged role in guiding her daughter’s career.  Most recently, Constance withdrew her claims leading to a default judgment in favor of Leighton.

The estate of Bruce Gary, drummer of the band The Knack (best known for the song “My Sharona”) has sued Capitol Records, claiming unpaid royalties for digital downloads.  The issue is whether digital downloads on platforms such as iTunes count as a ‘license’ of the master or a ‘sale’ of the phonorecords under the recording agreement.  Phonorecords implies the physical album sale, rather than digital and the label pays significantly lower royalties to artists on sales than licenses.  For a license, the royalty rate could be up to 50%, whereas for a sale the rate would likely be closer to 12%.

2011 has been a rough year for The Hangover II.  Earlier this year, Tyson’s tattoo artist sued over the use of the iconic face tattoo.  Now Louis Vuitton is suing, claiming that the bag carried by Zach Galifianakis marked LVM was a fake.  In the scene, Galifianakis says, ” “Careful, that is.. that is a Louis Vuitton.”  LV is suing under state and federal claims for unfair competition, false designation of origin, and trademark dilution. The full complaint can be read here.

December’s Notable Hirings, Firings & Promotions

December 29th, 2011

Hip-hop agent Cara Lewis is leaving William Morris Endeavor.

Vickie Nauman moved up to president of 7digital North America.

Don Ienner is working with Universal Music Group in a consultancy role.

Live Nation has been making some changes.  Alan Ostfield is now President, North Atlantic, covering the New York and Philadelphia regions.  Jason Miller is President of the New York operation, replacing Kevin Morrow, who moves to LA to join the North American Touring office as Senior Vice President.

Now-Bertelsmann exec Thomas Hesse joined the board of broadcaster RTL Group.

Bob Stohrer became CMO of Clear Channel Digital.

BMI promoted Tavi Shabestari and Nicole Plantin  to director-level positions in the Los Angeles office, with a similar promotion to Atlanta-based David Claassen.

Edgar Bronfman, Jr. is leaving his role of chairman at Warner Music Group, although he will remain a board member.

Live Nation owned BigChampagne just hired Ethan Kaplan, a music technologist and former SVP of Emerging Technology at Warner Music Group.

Former AMPAS president Sid Ganis is now working at Dolby Laboratories as a strategic advisor.

Wynton Marsalis has been named ‘Cultural Correspondent’ at CBS News.

David Foster is now chairman of UMG-owned Verve Music Group.

La-la-lawsuits: A look back at October & November’s most litigious moments

November 30th, 2011

The Supreme Court has refused to hear an appeal from ASCAP of an earlier court decision that digital downloads are not performances.  The earlier, lower court ruling stands.

Adam Lambert is being sued by Colwel Platinum Entertainment.  The company claims that Lambert signed a Music Services Agreement and a Co-publishing Agreement with Colwel Platinum prior to auditioning for American Idol.  Colwel Platinum eventually released an Adam Lambert album following his success on the show.  The album, Beg for Mercy, was originally available for purchase on Amazon but was made unavailable following take down notices sent to Amazon from Lambert’s reps.  Colwel Platinum is suing Lambert for making a false claim under the Digital Millenium Copyright Act and seeking declaratory relief that it owns a 50% publishing share of the recordings, that it has an unconditional right to promote and sell the recordings, that neither the Music Services Agreement nor the Co-Publishing Agreement was validly rescinded, and that these agreements remain in effect.  If the agreements were in effect at the time Lambert auditioned for Idol, Lambert could have been disqualified from the program as the agreements’ existence would be a violation of Idol’s rule that contestants not be subject to a recording or similar contract.

Classic Media, the owner of the fictional lovable canine character Lassie, is suing financial services firm J.G. Wentworth in a New York court for $1 million plus gains, alleging that the firm’s commercial featuring a similar look pup is copyright infringement.  THR published a thorough review of the case and discussion of relevant caselaw.

Kanye West is fighting an appeal of a case that was dismissed earlier this year, which alleged that West’s Grammy-winning song “Stronger” infringes the copyright of Vincent Peters.  The songs have some similar lyrics, both rhyming “stronger” with “wronger” and the underlying message is the same, but West argues that his inspiration for the theme actually came from 19th century German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche‘s maxim “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” Peters argues that he gave a copy of his song to West’s manager, who passed it on to West. The case was dismissed earlier this year when a judge found that there was not substantial similarity between the two works.

Universal Music Group has sued Grooveshark for copyright infringement, alleging that Grooveshark employees illegally uploaded over 100,000 UMG song files.  It hasn’t been an easy road for the music streaming service. THR reports on Grooveshark’s recent legal issues:

UMG previously sued its owner, Escape Media Group, for providing access to the label’s pre-1972 songs. The company was also recently sued by a Danish coalition of rights holders and has been the subject of complaints by some artists such as King Crimson. Earlier this year, Google pulled Grooveshark from its Android market because of copyright concerns, and the company, based in Florida, only has a deal with one major record label, EMI.

In this most recent case, UMG is seeking maximum statutory damages of up to $150,000 per infringement.   Grooveshark general counsel Marshall Custer commented:

“We have reviewed the Complaint that Universal Music Group filed  last Friday against Grooveshark in U.S. District Court in  Manhattan. Universal’s claims rest almost entirely on an anonymous, blatantly false internet blog comment and Universal’s gross mischaracterization of information that Grooveshark itself provided to Universal. While Universal has deliberately engaged the media prior to serving a copy of the Complaint on Grooveshark, Grooveshark intends to fight this battle before the Court, not in the press.  Grooveshark welcomes the opportunity to present the facts to the Court and has full confidence that it will prevail in the litigation.”

The Songwriters Guild of America has asked permission to file an amicus brief to be considered by the judge reviewing the copyright grant termination lawsuit surrounding The Village People‘s catalog of music, including hit song “Y.M.C.A.”  The issue in the case is whether the lead singer, one of many co-writers of the songs, can terminate the copyright grants without involvement from the other writers.

Event: Entertainment Law CLE – Monday September 10

October 5th, 2011

The Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law,  Black Law Students Association, the Office of Career Services and Black Women in Entertainment Law present:

“Show me the Money! Understanding what areas of entertainment law have been expanding and how to transition into them”

Monday, October 10, 2011
7:00-9:00PM, Moot Court Room, Cardozo Law School, 55 Fifth Avenue (corner of 12th Street), New York, NY

Speakers:
Patrick Sullivan
President and CEO of RightsFlow

Marilyn Haft Esq.
Marilyn G. Haft, P.C.

Pauline Wen
SVP of MTV’s Digital Global Business and Legal Affairs

Erika Munro Kennerly Esq.
Senior Director of Business Affairs at truTV/Turner Entertainment Networks

Earn 2 NYS MCLE transitional/non-transitional credits in the area of professional practice.

Fee: $0  **

To RSVP, please send your name and company info via email CardozoBWEL2011@gmail.com by October 6th, 2011

 

** Note from me: the email I got said zero dollars.  This seems like it might be a typo though.

La-La-Lawsuits: A Look Back on September’s Finest Litigious Moments

September 30th, 2011

Sacha Baron Cohen and NBC Universal won a lawsuit brought by Richelle Olson and her husband, owners of a bingo hall which was filmed as part of the movie Bruno.  Cohen, acting as the character  Bruno, selected the bingo numbers and after each number related the number to a fact about his former male partner.  Here is a more detailed description, from a footnote in the opinion: “After Cohen called out the Bingo number 36, he states that “36″ was the age of his former male partner. Later, when he calls out the number 3, he says that his former partner’s birthday was “May 3.” When he later calls out the number 59, he remarks that 59 was the number of his hotel room he stayed in when he met his former partner, and a few minutes later when he announces number 42, Cohen offers that “42 inches was his partner’s chest size. Finally, after Cohen announces the number 7, he comments that he met his partner on “July 7.” Some members of the audience can be heard laughing after each comment.”  The comments enraged Ms. Olson and Cohen was escorted by security from the building, after which Ms. Olson went unconscious while hysterically crying and hit her head on the concrete floor causing two brain bleeds and and leaving her wheelchair-bound.  The  California Appeals Court sided with Cohen though, claiming that his statements were protected by the Constitution as free speech in making the film and touched upon a socially important issue – homosexuality, gay culture and homophobia.  The Olsons are now responsible for paying Universal and Cohen’s attorneys fees for the case.

“The singing of a song does not create a trademark,” according to a California judge that Madonna may not have clothing line trademark rights in the phrase “Material Girl.”  Madonna and her company, Material Girl Brand, are being sued by LA Triumph, an L.A.-based clothing company that claims to have sold “Material Girl” clothing since 1997 and has a registered trademark.  Madonna sold $85 million dollars of “Material Girl” merchandise in the 80′s but the judge, in denying her motion to dismiss, found that merchandise sales ancillary to her music career did not necessarily create a trademark in the brand for clothing.  The case will go to trial in October where a jury will hear all of the facts and make a final decision.

Napolean Pictures, the production company behind Napoleon Dynamite, is suing Fox Searchlight for $10 million for allegedly underreporting royalties, taking improper revenue deductions, breach of contract, and negligent misrepresentation in connection with the hit 2004 indie comedy. Searchlight had agreed in a term sheet to pay 31.66 percent of net profits on home video, but the plaintiffs claim that a 2008 audit reveals that Fox was only paying net royalties on home videos at a 9.66 percent rate, in addition to underreported royalties and improper deductions.

Bruno Mars filed suit in the Central District of California Superior Court, in an attempt to get out of his publishing deal with Bug Music.  Mars alleges that the contract has actually been terminated because Bug did not properly exercise an option to renew the deal.

The Saul Zaentz Co., producer of the 1996 best picture winner The English Patient, has sued distributor Miramax and its former owner the Walt Disney Co. for $20 million in profits from the hit drama, alleging that the companies hid revenue, improperly allocated and deducted expenses and fees, and engaged in self-dealing with respect to the film.

Pandora, the web service that allows users to customize radio stations based on listening preferences, is facing a class action lawsuit in Michigan.  The lawsuit  claims that Pandora is breaching customer privacy by making users’ profile pages, including favorite songs and listener history, publicly available and searchable online. Additionally, the class action asserts that Pandora is violating privacy by integrating users’ listening records with their Facebook accounts.  These acts purportedly violate Michigan’s Video Rental Privacy Act and Consumer Protection Act. The plaintiffs are demanding statutory damages of $5,000 per person.

Charlie Sheen, Warner Bros. and Two and a Half Men co-creator Chuck Lorre are settling their $100 million legal dispute.  An official statement from WB: “Warner Bros. Television, Chuck Lorre and Charlie Sheen have resolved their dispute to the parties’ mutual satisfaction.  The pending lawsuit and arbitration will be dismissed as to all parties.  The parties have agreed to maintain confidentiality over the terms of the settlement.” Terms of the settlement were not disclosed, but $25 million has been the rumor, which includes a reinstatement of the revenue stream from past episodes of Two and a Half Men (even those filmed before his media meltdown) that WB had denied Sheen after he filed the lawsuit.

In August, Lady GaGa submitted a complaint to the National Arbitration Forum that alleged that the website ladygaga.org was registered in bad faith and in violation of her trademark.  The owner of the site responded that it was merely a non-commercial, unofficial fan site for Gaga that “does not have any sponsored links or links to third-party websites which market and sell merchandise bearing Complainant’s trademark.” The owner of LadyGaga.org got her reward on Wednesday when three panelists at the National Arbitration Forum ruled that Lady Gaga had failed to show that respondent lacked legitimate interest in the disputed domain name.

And event more Lady Gaga drama – The latest lawsuit targets Excite Worldwide LLC, which is using the Gaga name to sell cosmetics and jewelry.

Universal Studios Home Entertainment is suing former COO Thomas Emrey for allegedly breaching his contract and fiduciary duties by leaving the company for DineEquity, which operates IHOP and Applebee’s. Universal says his employment contract ran through May 2012.