Sun sets on Sundance
By David Germain
Associated Press Writer
The family drama "Forty Shades of Blue," centering on a modern Oedipal triangle involving a music producer, a Russian wife half his age and his son, won top dramatic honors at the Sundance Film Festival.
"Why We Fight," examining the chronically militant stance of the United States over the last half century, took Sundance's grand jury prize for documentaries.
Awards were presented Saturday, with top winners screening one last time Sunday as the 11-day independent-film showcase ended in Park City, Utah.
Directed and co-written by Ira Sachs, "Forty Shades of Blue" stars Rip Torn as the aging husband, Dina Korzun as his Russian bride and Darren Burrows as the estranged son whose visit hurls their lives into turmoil.
"Why We Fight" was directed by Eugene Jarecki, brother of Andrew Jarecki, whose "Capturing the Friedmans" won the Sundance documentary prize in 2003.
The audience award for dramatic films, chosen in voting by Sundance film-goers, went to "Hustle & Flow," about a two-bit pimp and drug-dealer (Terrence Howard) who enlists an odd assortment of allies in a bid to break into the hip-hop music scene.
Movie-goers chose directors Henry Alex Rubin and Dana Adam Shapiro's "Murderball," a portrait of the competitive spirit of wheelchair-bound athletes, as the audience-award winner for documentaries.
Filmmaker Zeze Gamboa's "The Hero," set in the aftermath of decades of civil war in Angola, earned the grand jury prize among world-cinema dramatic contenders. "Shape of the Moon," Dutch director Leonard Retel Helmrich's portrait of a Christian family in Muslim-dominated Indonesia, took top honors in the world-cinema documentary category.
Danish director Susanne Bier's "Brothers," about two siblings whose lives are drastically altered when one is deployed on a United Nations mission to Afghanistan, received the world-cinema audience honor.
Canada's "Shake Hands With the Devil: The Journey of Romeo Dallaire" won the audience award for world-cinema documentary. Directed by Peter Raymont, the film centers on the Canadian military man who had to stand by helplessly during the Rwandan genocide because the token U.N. force he led was too small to intervene.
Special jury prizes for acting were given to Amy Adams, who plays a childlike Southern waif captivated by her worldly new sister-in-law from up north in "Junebug," and to Lou Pucci as a teenager whose oral fixation for his thumb causes a ruckus among his family in "Thumbsucker."
Piazza's great catch
Miami -- Mets catcher Mike Piazza married former Playboy Playmate and "Baywatch" star Alicia Rickter in a candlelight church ceremony.
With baseball superstars including former Mets pitcher Al Leiter and Detroit Tigers catcher Ivan Rodriguez in attendance, Piazza, 36, and Rickter took their vows at St. Jude's Catholic Church on Saturday before boarding a yacht to a lavish reception on nearby Fisher Island.
Rickter, 32, wore a white satin Vera Wang gown and was joined by five bridesmaids, including maid-of-honor Angelica Bridges, a "Baywatch" co-star, and Playboy Playmates Brande Roderick and Lisa Dergan.
Gown to cover a lot of ground
Port Huron, Mich. -- A "Hollywood Graffiti" gown signed by more than 350 stars, including Barbra Streisand and Katharine Hepburn, has kicked off the first leg of its world tour at a Michigan museum.
The gown, designed by Randy McLaughlin and Jerry Skeels, was displayed at the Port Huron Museum Saturday and Sunday. The worldwide tour will take it to Trinidad and Tobago, India and Austria for Vienna's Life Ball, one of Europe's largest AIDS fund-raisers.
In two years, the dress will be auctioned off for a minimum bid of $1 million. Proceeds from the gown's sale will be used for AIDS research.
Coppola the toast of Russia
Moscow -- Russian President Vladimir Putin praised the works of director Francis Ford Coppola as the two met for tea at the Kremlin before Coppola received a film award.
"In Russia your works are well-known and highly valued," Putin told Coppola during a televised portion of the meeting Saturday. He said he was not just referring to "The Godfather" -- which is extremely popular in Russia -- but also to films "that so accurately tell of the horrors of war."
Coppola was in Moscow to receive a Golden Eagle award from Russia's National Academy of Cinematic Arts and Sciences for his contribution to world cinematography.
'Hide and Seek' finds biggest audience
Los Angeles -- Robert De Niro's fright flick "Hide and Seek" had a strong debut in its opening weekend, taking in $22 million to become the top movie and fending off a rush of Academy Awards contenders.
Director Clint Eastwood's "Million Dollar Baby" led Oscar hopefuls with $11.8 million, coming in at No. 3 during its first weekend of wide release. Martin Scorsese's "The Aviator" was No. 6 for the weekend with $7.5 million.
In its 15th week of release, best-picture nominee "Sideways" broke into the top 10, coming in seventh with $6.3 million.
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at North American theaters, according to Exhibitor Relations Co. Inc.:.
1. "Hide and Seek," $22 million.
2. "Are We There Yet?", $17 million.
3. "Million Dollar Baby," $11.8 million.
4. "Coach Carter," $8 million.
5. "Meet the Fockers," $7.6 million.
6. "The Aviator," $7.5 million.
7. "Sideways," $6.3 million.
8. "In Good Company," $6.2 million.
9. "Racing Stripes," $6 million.
10. "Assault on Precinct 13," $4.2 million.