From Sundance, Cannes, Berlin and Venice to Montreal, Toronto and New York, various films are vying for the attention of distributors and critics. The film festival circuit is not only a battleground for distribution deals, it is also the platform for lesser-known films to begin generating buzz and positioning themselves for Oscar consideration.\nSeveral past Oscar winners -- including "The English Patient," "Pulp Fiction" and "The Piano" -- all did their round in the film festival circuit before garnering Oscar buzz. Last year's Oscar "Best Picture" winner "American Beauty" was strategically submitted by its distributor into the Toronto Film Festival, where it picked up the "People's Choice Award," the festival's top honor.\nOnce again, some of the Oscar-caliber films have already begun to emerge from this year's various film festivals. Notorious Danish auteur Lars von Trier's latest opus, "Dancer in the Dark," seems like the most obvious choice for Oscar buzz this year. The film not only received "Best Picture" and "Best Actress" awards at this year's Cannes Film Festival, it will also open for the New York Film Festival Friday.\n"Sense & Sensibility" director Ang Lee's latest, "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," received the "People's Choice Award" at this year's Toronto Film Festival last weekend. The romantic kung-fu epic, which stars Chow Yun-Fat and Michelle Yeoh, features jaw-dropping fight sequences choreographed by Yuen Wo-Ping of "The Matrix." Many critics are predicting this Taiwanese film will break language barriers and become a box-office hit.\nSome of the other Oscar hopefuls emerging from the festival circuit this year include David Mamet's "State and Main," E. Elias Merhige's "Shadow of the Vampire," Karyn Kusama's "Girlfight," Julien Schnabel's "Before Night Falls," Kenneth Lonergan's "You Can Count on Me," David Gordon Green's "George Washington" and Ed Harris' "Pollock." \nThe festival circuit this year also continues to offer a number of excellent films that will not be widely seen in this country because they are foreign language films. Many critics have already hailed Taiwanese director Edward Yang's new film "Yi Yi" as one of the year's best. "The Circle," an Iranian film from the director of 'The White Balloon," has been collecting numerous awards in various festivals. Hong Kong director Wong Kar-wai's "In the Mood for Love" has also been the talk of many festivals this year.\nThe festival circuit also boasts many tough-to-stomach films as usual. In the tradition of Catherine Breillat's soft-core "Romance" and Gaspar Noe's unpleasant "I Stand Alone," another obnoxious and controversial French film "Rape Me" ("Baise-Moi") is raising hell in its North American premiere this year at the Toronto Film Festival. Whether they are art or trash, these films continue to provoke exciting discussions among festival-goers.
Another example of Hollywood's evil\nColumbia Pictures recently released two interesting films with no advertising, promotional efforts or press screening. "Circus," a British caper film starring John Hannah of "Four Weddings & a Funeral," and "Anatomy," a German horror film starring Franka Potente of "Run Lola Run," each opened in eight cities with dismissal box-office gross. \n"Anatomy," which deals with a secret society of surgeons that once claimed Josef Mengele as a member, definitely has a premise more interesting than Columbia's other current horror release, "Urban Legend: The Final Cut." And since "Run Lola Run" is a modest hit for a German film, one would expect "Anatomy" to receive more attention. But Columbia Pictures not only released a badly dubbed English version of "Anatomy," it also decided to pull the film after one week in release.