Office of Public Affairs
Aug. 29, 2001
CONTACT: Robert O'Connor, 312-2610
MOVIE BASED ON SUNY OSWEGO PROFESSOR'S BOOK
TO DEBUT AT TORONTO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL
OSWEGO -- "Buffalo Soldiers," a film based on a novel of the same name by SUNY Oswego English Professor Robert O'Connor, will make its world premiere at 7 p.m. Sept. 8 at the Toronto International Film Festival.
The movie boasts a strong lineup of performers including Joaquin Phoenix, Ed Harris, Scott Glenn and Anna Paquin. Perhaps more impressive is that the stars signed up for "Buffalo Soldiers" because they had major interests in the project, O'Connor said.
O'Connor said he was "very cheered up" when he heard the names associated with the film. "They signed on individually, so I found out individually," he noted. He also was impressed when he found out Gregor Jordan would direct it, as he appreciated the director's film "Two Hands."
The producer, Rainer Grupe, "read the book and liked it a lot," O'Connor explained. Grupe bought the rights when they came up for option renewal and pushed the project to its conclusion.
O'Connor was teaching in London this summer and had the opportunity to see a rough cut of the film. "I watched it twice in a row, and it was very striking," he said. "I think that it was beyond my expectations."
Although O'Connor had never seen the screenplay adapted from his book, he thought the film reflected the original work well. "It's a very funny movie, which captures the nature of the book," he said.
The film centers on complications befalling Elwood (played by Phoenix), a savvy but troubled soldier stationed in Germany around the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. In the movie, O'Connor said, the characters are watching the wall coming down on television, "meanwhile their lives are kind of coming apart."
Phoenix took the role when "Gladiator" came out and the young actor was receiving rave reviews for his portraying the evil emperor, the villain of the Oscar-winning blockbuster. "He could have chosen any movie" at that time, O'Connor said, "and he picked this one."
The overall budget for the film was a relatively low $15 million, which is less than some leading actors are paid for much-hyped pictures. But there were some unavoidable production costs: "One problem with making an Army movie is that you have to rent tanks," O'Connor said with a laugh.
At the festival, which runs Sept. 6 to 15, the production company for "Buffalo Soldiers" will seek a North American distributor for the movie. "They're looking for the right offer," O'Connor said.
"I guess I think this will do well because it's a very good movie and has very good actors," O'Connor said. "There are still plenty of variables. Who knows how this whole thing will go?"
More information on the 26th annual Toronto International Film Festival is available at the Web site: www.e.bell.ca/filmfest/2001.
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