Here's the story on Chris Moukarbel's film, based on an excerpt from the Oliver Stone 9/11 script, which has resulted in his being sued. It was his thesis project at Yale this year.
An Artist Releases a New Film After Paramount Blocks His First
By FELICIA R. LEE
Published: July 8, 2006
He's back. Chris Moukarbel, a New York artist who was sued by Paramount Pictures over a 12-minute video based on a bootleg Oliver Stone film script about 9/11, has another video in a New York gallery exhibition that seeks to marry politics and art. This one was created from film shot in the process of making the video that led to the lawsuit.
Paramount filed suit in United States District Court in Washington last month saying that Mr. Moukarbel's original video, "World Trade Center 2006," infringed on the copyright of the screenplay for Mr. Stone's $60 million film "World Trade Center," scheduled for release in August.
"I'm interested in memorial and the way Hollywood represents historical events," Mr. Moukarbel said in an interview yesterday, the day after his new video was shown as part of the group exhibition "Data Mining" at Wallspace, a Manhattan gallery. "Through their access and budget they're able to affect a lot of people's ideas about an event and also affect policy. I was deliberately using their script and pre-empting their release to make a statement about power."
"My film was offered free on the Internet," he said of "World Trade Center 2006." "It cost $1,000 to produce. We're at a place now where technology allows the democratization of storytelling."
After a temporary restraining order was placed on the distribution and showing of his video (part of a thesis project for his Master of Fine Arts at Yale), Mr. Moukarbel went ahead and produced another for Wallspace. For his new 13-minute video, he used film of the two actors in the first video while they were waiting for direction and getting into character. It has no dialogue except for the banter between the actors and off-camera direction from Mr. Moukarbel.
Mr. Moukarbel, 28, who graduated from Yale in May, said his new video was intended to capture the art of performance and to serve as commentary on his plight. "I had to put together a project to reflect on the old project but also stand in its own right," he said.
Chris Klatell, a lawyer for Mr. Moukarbel, said yesterday: "We've reached a settlement in principle with Paramount that we hope to finalize. Chris is in full compliance with the temporary restraining order. The new video doesn't have any dialogue or any elements of the 'World Trade Center' screenplay."
Spokesmen for Paramount could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Wallspace has addressed the controversy by mounting on a wall the text of a press statement by Mr. Moukarbel explaining his ideas about his work, the genesis of his project and his legal adventure.
Janine Foeller, the co-owner and co-director of Wallspace, said the curator Joe Scanlan had intended to put Mr. Moukarbel's first 9/11 video in the show. "We're happy and willing to show Chris's work," Ms. Foeller said. "It's taken on another life of sorts."
Mr. Moukarbel admits that, for the first video, he used a bootleg script. Mr. Stone's film focuses on the ordeal of two Port Authority of New York and New Jersey police officers, Will Jimeno and John McLoughlin, who survived the World Trade Center collapse.
In March, Mr. Moukarbel created a Web site, pointsofdeparture.net, for the video. Other sites, including filmthreat.com, began to take notice. The question in cyberspace was whether his first video was valid commentary or a rip-off of Mr. Stone and the movie studio. Many e-mail postings sided with Mr. Moukarbel.
"I would have been bummed if they hadn't noticed," Mr. Moukarbel said of the executives at Paramount. "But I didn't expect to be sued."