Monday, March 31, 2008

Where do the paparazzi hang out?

From the Plattsburgh Press-Republican, January 28, 2008:

PLATTSBURGH -- A drama filmed entirely in Beekmantown and Plattsburgh last March climbed to the top of independent pictures Saturday.

"Frozen River," the story of a struggling single mother who teams with a Mohawk woman to smuggle people across the Canadian border, was given the Sundance Film Festival's highest honor: the Grand Jury Prize for drama.

But the award, which was announced by contest judge Quentin Tarantino, may not even be the biggest achievement for Courtney Hunt's directorial debut. Last week, trade papers reported Sony Pictures Classics purchased "Frozen River" for under $1 million, which means the film will be distributed widely.

In his award presentation, Tarantino described the film, starring Melissa Leo ("21 Grams," "The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada") and Misty Upham ("Edge of America," "Skins"), as "a wonderful depiction of poverty in America."

"It took my breath away and then somewhere around the last hour, it put my heart in a vice and proceeded to twist that vice until the last frame," said Tarantino, Academy Award winner and writer-director of "Reservoir Dogs," "Pulp Fiction" and "Kill Bill."

Hunt, whose husband, Donald Harwood, is from Malone, said she was in shock after hearing Tarantino's words and that her film had won.

"I was really blown away by that," she said by phone Sunday evening. "It was incredible."

She didn't immediately understand that her film had garnered the festival's top award.

"I didn't get what prize we won," she said. "I thought when we got back down they were going to give out more awards."

It was after that realization that the shock set in. She couldn't even respond when members of the press started asking her questions.

"It was a powerful, powerful night."

John Conroy, whose family farm set the stage for much of the movie, was in Utah for the festival. By phone Sunday he said everyone who worked on the picture was thrilled.

"Just ten months ago they were stuck in my driveway trying to get the last few shots."

Hunt and her crew "were extremely excited when they first got in" to the festival, he said.

"It's something else. Really something else."

I'm looking forward to it.


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