Besedka Johnson, who co-starred in Sean Baker’s Starlet in her first and only film role, died today in Los Angeles. She was 87. Johnson nabbed her first feature role as Starlet‘s Sadie at the age of 85 after being spotted by producer Shih-Ching Tsou at the YWCA in West Hollywood. “She texted me, ‘I think we found our Sadie,’” Baker told Movablefest.com. Johnson received a special jury prize at SXSW for the role and also received the Robert Altman Award for Best Ensemble Cast at the 2013 Independent Spirit Awards. “Besedka Johnson was one of the most inspirational, life-affirming and kind-hearted people I’ve ever met, said Baker in a statement. “She celebrated life on a daily basis and we are so lucky to have spent time and celebrated with her. My only wish is that she was discovered years ago and we would have decades of film and television that had captured her incredible talent. Besedka will be missed”.
Specialty Box Office Preview: ‘Chasing Ice’, ‘Citadel’, ‘Coming Up Roses’, ‘In Another Country’, ‘A Royal Affair’, ‘Starlet’
Brian Brooks is managing editor of MovieLine.
Foreign and domestic titles from the festival circuit will make their theatrical debuts this weekend. Bernadette Peters and French actress Isabelle Huppert will open their latest respective films Coming Up Roses and In Another Country. Starlet with Dree Hemingway has a San Fernando Valley adult film industry bent, while Citadel won SXSW Festival’s Audience Midnight section prize. Film sales outfit Submarine releases the climate-change documentary Chasing Ice via its distribution label Submarine Deluxe, scoring talk show attention as a result of Hurricane Sandy’s devastation, while Magnolia’s A Royal Affair will get a traditional theatrical rollout.
Director: Jeff Orlowski
Writer: Mark Monroe
Subjects: James Balog, Svavar Jonatansson, Adam LeWinter
Distributor: Submarine Deluxe
Hurricane Sandy’s devastation resulted in some attention for this documentary which focuses on climate change. “Because of the storm, we were able to get on the Bill Maher Show,” Submarine Deluxe’s Dan Braun said. “The film is about beauty and one person’s personal obsession. We don’t have an actual tagline, but it’s also about capturing the world’s climate change” on film.
Submarine had a previous relationship with Chasing Ice producers, after selling the Oscar-winning doc The Cove to Roadside Attractions at Sundance. Chasing Ice initially went to Oscilloscope, but changes at that company lead the title back to Submarine and its distribution label which also released Being Elmo last year. The title will open in New York and Los Angeles before expanding to 10 other markets. “We’re doing a fairly traditional release with VOD planned later,” said Braun. “We are marketing it with other organizations and have a robust ground-game for this one. North Face is partnering and advanced group sales with other organizations have been great.”
ICM Partners has signed Sean Baker, after the film he wrote and directed, Starlet, premiered at the 2012 SXSW Film Festival and sold to Music Box. The film stars Dree Hemingway, James Ransone, and Besedka Johnson, who received a Special Jury Recognition Award for her performance. Baker wrote/directed Prince of Broadway, which won Grand Jury Award for Best Narrative Feature at the 2008 Los Angeles Film Festival, among other accolades. He was nominated for the John Cassavetes Award at the Independent Spirit Awards for Prince Of Broadway and Take Out.
New York, NY (May 16, 2012) – Music Box Films announced today that the company is acquiring all North American rights to Sean Baker’s STARLET, a provocative showcase for newcomer Dree Hemingway (great granddaughter of Ernest and daughter of Mariel). STARLET premiered in competition at the 2012 SXSW Film Festival, where it was one of the most buzzed about and risqué titles.
STARLET explores the unlikely cross-generational friendship between 21 year-old Jane (Hemingway), and the elderly Sadie (Besedka Johnson), two women whose worlds collide in California’s San Fernando Valley. After a confrontation between the women at Sadie’s yard sale, Jane uncovers a hidden stash of money inside a relic from Sadie’s past. Jane attempts to befriend the caustic older woman in an effort to solve her dilemma and secrets emerge as their relationship grows.