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    Angry Sundance equals sick

    Controversy swirls around ‘Hounddog’
    Sundance film draws protests over scene featuring child rape
    Reuters
    Updated: 3:01 p.m. ET Jan 23, 2007

    PARK CITY, Utah - A flurry of movie deals were struck as the Sundance Film Festival reached its midpoint Tuesday, and the widely anticipated film “Hounddog” debuted, starring young Dakota Fanning as the victim of a child rape.

    The movie by writer/director Deborah Kampmeir received a storm of complaints before the festival from groups concerned about a scene in which a 12-year-old girl named Lewellen is raped by a teen-age boy. The groups had not yet seen the film.

    The New York-based Catholic League earlier this month called for a federal probe to determine whether child pornography laws were violated because Fanning, like the character she plays, is 12 years old.

    In the scene, only Fanning’s face, neck, shoulders, hand and foot appear onscreen. Much of the rape is depicted in darkness with only the sound of Lewellen’s screams.

    In a question and answer session following the debut late Monday, Kampmeir was asked if the scene was edited so that shooting it was different from the depiction onscreen.

    “It wasn’t edited, so it’s surprising all the controversy. It’s nice when people can actually see it,” she said.

    Sundance is the top U.S. film festival for movies made outside Hollywood’s mainstream studios, and movies screening here often tackle dark subjects the studios will not.

    Kampmeir said themes such as child rape need to be discussed in public. “It’s like this terror, but when you speak about it, there’s this openness for healing,” she said.

    Show me yours
    “Hounddog” also drew fire before its premiere for scenes in which Lewellen is depicted as sexually aggressive with a boy her age. For the most part, the scenes show children curious about each other’s genitals, which are not shown onscreen. These depictions also hint at child abuse, another theme touched upon by the film.

    But “Hounddog” is not the only movie at Sundance with strong sexual content that might raise the ire of religious and other groups. One movie that screened in the festival’s first half was horror spoof “Teeth,” and it, too, has a “show me yours, I’ll show mine “ scene which is among the film’s mildest depiction of sex.

    “Teeth” is about a girl who embodies the ancient myth of ”vagina dentata” in which women held power over men by virtue of teeth in their vaginas. Documentary “Zoo” covers a real-life story about a man who died after having sex with a horse.

    Many of the movies at Sundance are up for sale as part of a regular market for distribution rights that takes place, and after a slow start, the dealmaking picked up by Tuesday.

    Fox Searchlight, a unit of News Corp.’s 20th Century Fox film studio, bought two movies, “Waitress” starring Keri Russell, and “Joshua” with Vera Farmiga, for $5 million and $4 million, respectively, according to news reports.

    Harvey Weinstein’s privately held The Weinstein Co. paid around $4 million to acquire “Grace is Gone,” starring John Cusack, and Warner Independent Pictures, a unit of Time Warner Inc.’s Warner Bros., bought “Clubland” with Brenda Blethyn for $4 million.


    Among documentaries, theatrical rights for widely praised ”In the Shadow of the Moon,” about the Apollo moon missions, were picked up by ThinkFilm. The Discovery Channel will air the movie on television.

    These movies will now be among the most widely anticipated independent films to hit art-house theaters throughout 2007. Oscar nominee “Little Miss Sunshine” and documentary ”Inconvenient Truth” were two of Sundance’s top films in 2006.

    The 10-day festival ends Sunday, following a ceremony in which awards are given out for top films and filmmakers.
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