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Indie catches break as another hiccups

One movie is two years past its first film festival and just now getting theatrical and home video exposure.

The other movie was supposed to begin production this week but won't.

Just proves how slowly the wheels of indie filmmaking turn, especially in an off-the-grid "Hollywood" like Tampa Bay.

St. Petersburg native Chris Fuller's abstract, disturbing debut, Loren Cass, has been signed to a distribution deal by Kino International, a specialist in avant garde cinema.

Fuller, 26, and Loren Cass were profiled in the St. Petersburg Times in 2007 after being accepted into the CineVegas Film Festival, where it competed in the category "Best Film Not Showing in a Theater Near You." Loren Cass lost the prize but won friends on the indie circuit. It was later nominated for the best undistributed film prize at the IFP Gotham Awards and screened at several festivals before Kino stepped up.

Now Loren Cass will have its theatrical premiere July 24 at New York's Cinema Village then expand to Los Angeles and Chicago — and possibly Tampa Bay — before its DVD release by the end of 2009.

Loren Cass is a jagged tale set in St. Petersburg after the 1996 racial disturbances sparked by the shooting of an African-American man by a white police officer. The movie is a series of tentatively linked impressions, mostly young adults aimlessly coping (or tragically not coping) with tensions on the streets. It's a tough watch for anyone unaccustomed to Jean-Luc Godard's brain-twisters and Francois Truffaut's unsentimental nostalgia.

"I don't think there's a better company (than Kino) to handle this film," Fuller said Wednesday. "They've got guts to take on this film."

• • •

The unit production manager for Jim Fitzpatrick's A Fonder Heart said Tuesday that the startup date for production is delayed at least a week until July 22. It was previously announced it would begin shooting Wednesday in Pinellas County.

Mike Sullivan said getting all of the necessary contracts signed is causing the delay.

"We have to dot all the i's and cross the t's," Sullivan said. "It actually helps me to get ready for all the things I need to do."

A Fonder Heart is expected to star Burt Reynolds, although, as reported last week, he isn't officially signed on. Fitzpatrick is expected to direct the film from his script, based on a childhood classmate dying of bone cancer who befriended an elderly patient, whom Reynolds is pegged to play. Representatives for co-stars Daryl Hannah and Oscar winner Lou Gossett Jr. previously confirmed their clients' involvement.

Will it really happen? Stay tuned.

Steve Persall can be reached at persall@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8365. Read his blog, Reeling in the Years, at blogs.tampabay.com/movies.

Indie catches break as another hiccups 07/15/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 15, 2009 10:37pm]

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