On the same day as a feature documentary about him is being released, former New York City Mayor Ed Koch has died. He was 88. Koch, a master showman during his three terms in office and beyond, passed away at 2 AM New York time from congestive heart failure, his spokesman told The New York Times. He was being treated at New York-Presbyterian Columbia Hospital and his illness prevented him from attending the Tuesday premiere of Koch, Neil Barsky’s documentary that Zeitgeist is releasing today. Koch was Mayor of New York City from 1978-1989 and before that served in the House of Representatives from 1969-1977. His entertainment ties included a stint as a judge on The People’s Court and as a film critic via his Web show Mayor At The Movies. He also appeared in more than 60 Hollywood films and TV shows as himself, including The First Wives Club, The Muppets Take Manhattan, Sex And The City, Spin City and Saturday Night Live. And, in a way, he also had a hand in this year’s Oscar telecast. The show’s producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron’s first real job together was producing a celebration of Koch’s inauguration for Public Theater impresario Joe Papp. Here is a link to the NYT’s extensive obituary.
Brian Brooks is Managing Editor of MovieLine.
Documentaries dominate this weekend’s new specialty offerings including Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl’s feature directorial debut Sound City, which premiered at the recent Sundance Film Festival. Grohl has partnered with various companies and groups for traditional and non-traditional rollouts for the film, which will also screen at SXSW in March. Sony Pictures Classics’ The Gatekeepers looks inside Israel’s intelligence agency, Shin Bet. The film gripped audiences at the Jerusalem International Film Festival where it debuted, followed by Telluride and the New York Film Festival last fall. And Hamptons International Film Festival premiere, Koch, will bow in New York — naturally. It’s about former NYC Mayor Ed Koch, who died early this morning in New York.
Director: Dror Moreh
Subjects: Ami Ayalon, Avraham Shalom, Avi Dichter, Yuval Diskin
Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics
Realizing its potential, producer Philippa Kowarsky jumped on the Oscar-nominated The Gatekeepers from the outset. She was “taken by how candid” the former heads of Israel’s security agency, Shin Bet, were and “how their thoughts did not conform with the obvious.” Kowarsky added, “They were not predictable. It got me thinking. I was hoping we could get others to feel the same.” While the subjects seemed forthcoming, the project’s financial makeup posed challenges. It received a mixture of Israeli and European financing plus French-speaking Canadian television. Global partners, however, had agendas that did not always align with director Dror Moreh’s goals. “I think that one of Dror’s greatest achievements is his decision-making during the long editing process,” she added, suggesting Moreh didn’t let the financiers pressure him on the content.