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Indie Movies Shuffle Schedules

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While the World Trade Center attack immediately affected the major studios' release schedules, it continues to reverberate through the independent community, which is re-arranging many upcoming release plans.

Putting the indies' current situation in perspective, T.C. Wright, vp distribution at Manhattan International Pictures, said, "It's put a hiccup in everybody's plans for distribution." He said Manhattan had planned to open three pictures before the end of the year -- "One Eyed

King," "Enigma" and "In Praise of Love" -- but those releases will be delayed.

"You want to do what's right for the film," Wright said, pointing out that news coverage of the attacks and their aftermath has pushed a lot of entertainment aside. "If something was not already in the pipeline over the last couple of months, it's going to be problematic."

Artistic License has pushed back its release of "The American Astronaut," which played as a Midnight Madness feature at the recent Toronto International Film Festival, to Oct. 12. "It was a purely business decision as it is a rock 'n' roll musical set in outer space," publicist Jeremy Walker said. "But you can't have a downtown movie without a downtown."

On the other hand, Walker cited IFC's decision to proceed last weekend with its limited release of "Go Tigers!" -- a documentary on high school football fever in small-town Ohio -- as right on target. "Last Sunday was the absolute best time to have a story (on a film) in the New York Times," Walker said, referring to a feature on the upbeat "Go Tigers!" that appeared in Sunday's Arts and Leisure section. Debuting in 47 theaters, the film collected $60,000 in its opening weekend.

In a move to facilitate a newly organized benefit for the Windows of Hope Family Relief Fund and the NYPD's and FDNY's Widows and Children Fund, Sony Pictures Classics has pushed back the New York opening of "Grateful Dawg" from Oct. 5 to Oct. 12. "The extra week gives us more time to organize the event," SPC co-president Michael Barker said.

"Grateful Dawg" is essentially a concert film focusing on the friendship between Jerry Garcia and David Grisman. "It's timely for us to do this because we're not opening another film until Nov. 11," Barker said. "But the film is also relevant because it's about music bringing people together and creating community."

Cowboy Pictures found itself with little choice but to postpone the premiere of its documentary "Endurance: Shackleton's Legendary Antarctic Expedition." A $1,000-a-plate benefit screening to aid Outward Bound and the Shackleton School had been scheduled for Sept. 13, the day before the film's planned commercial release. Prince Andrew had been scheduled to attend.

The benefit will now take place Oct. 15, with the film's New York premiere set for Oct. 19. Cowboy Pictures partner John Vanco said the film will still debut in San Francisco on Oct. 5 because the company "is locked into that date there."

"It's a little difficult to talk about," Vanco said, "but the subject and the spirit of this film really have a lot to do with these recent times. It's about survival and the human spirit and inspired leadership, and in light of the past couple of weeks, people may really connect with it."

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