Sydney Could Be Unplugged
Producers of the ‘Sydney Unplugged’ anthology, Gary Hamilton and John Polson, are facing an infringement suit…
Co-creator of love letter Sydney Unplugged, Gary Hamilton, who's at Cannes Film Festival to sell the international distribution rights to the film has been handed a cease-and-desist letter by Emmanuel Benbihy, proprietor of the polygamous Cities of Love franchise (Paris, Je T'aime and New York, I Love You).
Cities of Love is suing Hamilton's Arclight Films, and creative partner John Polson (founder of Tropfest), over the much-anticipated Sydney Unplugged for copyright of the idea.
Benbihy alleges that he approached the pair on several occasions wanting to work together, but they declined.
Announced last year, the film was pitched as bringing together Australia's biggest and brightest names to direct and star in twelve shorts with each one to be set in Sydney during a different month of the year. "For a long time, we've had incredible talent, whether it be directors, writers, actors or producers, making it big either at home or overseas," Polson told us last year. "This feels like a great opportunity to pull some of that talent together for one project and showcase one of the world's most beautiful cities."
Planned filming for the Australian project for later this year may now be in doubt.
This isn't the first "lovers quarrel" for the Cities of Love franchise which suffered a schism with former creative partners of New York, I Love You. Benbihy has previously sent cease-and-desist letters to Visitor Pictures, Sherazade Films and Very Useful Company on grounds of copyright, claiming their project was a trademark infringement, breach of contract and unfair competition.
Cities of Love has since negotiated a licensing agreement with Very Useful Company among others for Berlin, I Love You.
Benbihy claims that Polson and Hamilton's Sydney Unplugged is indistinguishable from his intellectual property. It was called Sydney, I Love You, was then referred to as The Sydney Project before being rebranded as Sydney Unplugged.
Attached to direct are Alex Proyas (Knowing, Dark City), David Michôd (Animal Kingdom), Ivan Sen (Toomelah), John Curran (The Painted Veil, Praise), Kieran Darcy-Smith (Wish You Were Here), Liev Schreiber (Everything is Illuminated), Rachel Ward (Beautiful Kate), Ray Lawrence (Lantana) and Russell Crowe (Texas). In their directorial debuts will be actors Anthony LaPaglia and Toni Collette, with Polson also set to direct a segment.
Of the creators Hamilton and Polson, Benbihy says, "I can't believe that people with such film experience have decided to illustrate the image of a wonderful city with so little concern for their actions and such an unethical manner."
He has warned that the legal action could bode further troubles for Arclight Films in selling their film and cited possible lawsuits to distributors.
Responds Benbihy: "We are trying to do the right thing," he asserts. "We are trying to be respectable and to use our format at the benefit of our industry... this is just the beginning of a larger journey supporting the emergence of young filmmakers around the world."