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Mick Jagger Promoting Spy Thriller

The Sundance Film Festival may be a mecca for young, independent filmmakers, but this year a couple of old school directors and pop culture icons led by 57-year-old rocker Mick Jagger have come here with their own movies that couldn't find Hollywood funding. Jagger was promoting a Second World War spy thriller, ''Enigma'' that he co-produced with Lorne Michaels, creator of television's ``Saturday Night Live.'' The British film is directed by Michael Apted, whose credits date from the 1960s up to the 1999 James Bond movie, ``The World is Not Enough.'' They are joined by writer/director David Seltzer, a Hollywood veteran perhaps best known for ``The Omen'' in 1976 but whose work also includes 1971's ``Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory.'' Seltzer is debuting his drama, ``Nobody's Baby.'' And while young filmmakers and actors like John Cameron Mitchell of rock opera ``Hedwig & the Angry Inch,'' or Eric Bana in Australian drama ``Chopper,'' may be getting a lot of buzz in this mountain town east of Salt Lake City, it was Jagger who drew frenzied crowds to the ``Enigma'' premiere on Monday night. ``Enigma'' tells the story of British mathematicians housed at Bletchley Park, north of London, who were responsible for decoding messages sent from German headquarters to bases around the world and U-boats hunting merchant ships in the world's oceans. Enigma was the name of the machine used by Germans. It weaves a tale of espionage into a romance between the lead mathematician, played by Dougray Scott and a Bletchley clerk, played by Kate Winslet, as the group races against a four-day clock to crack the German code and save a U.S. convoy of ships from being torpedoed on a voyage across the icy Atlantic. For filmmakers just starting out, it may seem unbelievable that ``Enigma,'' backed by the likes of Jagger and Michaels and starring Winslet, Scott and Jeremy Northam, could be considered in the vein of independent movies most of which are made on a shoe-string budget. ``It doesn't have a distributor, it's not from a big studio. It's made with independent money and in England'' Jagger told Reuters in a staunch defense of its roots. Fresh Starts For Careers Michaels and Apted defended the ``indie'' label, too, for reasons that included their desire to control production and maintain a distance from Hollywood studios who might change the ending or put an American star among the British cast to pump up its box office power. Indeed, Paramount Pictures passed on the script, written by Oscar-winning Tom Stoppard (''Shakespeare in Love''), fearing it was too complicated a story and might be too expensive, according to Apted. He said the film cost around $20 million -- less than one-half the average cost of a major studio film. The film, too, took five years to finally come to life after Michaels and Jagger, over dinner, decided to buy rights to the best-selling novel on which it is based. It met with many hurdles including the last-minute exit of one actress, which is when a pregnant Winslet stepped in. ``For all of us there were so many ups and downs,'' said Michaels, ``so many phone calls and so many meetings, and that is the independent world.'' Jagger said he'd been looking around for movie projects for quite some time, and this was among the first he found interesting. There are more to come down the road. ``I've always been interested in film, and I thought I should just get on with it and start to be the person who starts generating the projects rather than just being involved down the line,'' he said. ``Why don't I start from the beginning.'' And ahead of the premiere of his first major production, the legendary rocker who has performed in front of millions of screaming, yelling fans over the years, admitted to Reuters that he was a little nervous in his first trip to Sundance. David Seltzer, too, was seeking a fresh start in what he called ``the shackles of a lifetime,'' writing and directing to meet the conventions of big-time Hollywood moviemaking. ``The business I went into evaporated, and that was the business in which a movie was made because it had a good script,'' he told Reuters in an interview ahead of the ``Nobody's Baby'' premiere here on Thursday. ``The whole idea of doing a low budget, indie film is an attempt to creatively free myself.'' ``Baby'' is perhaps his most personal work yet with a message about growing up and taking responsibility for one's own life. It stars Gary Oldman and Skeet Ulrich as a couple of escaped convicts on the run, one of whom ends up taking care of a baby after a series of happenstances. Seltzer said it fits the mold as a Sundance film because he's struggled for years to get it made after major studios passed it by due to its unconventional tale. ``I know (Sundance) audiences will appreciate it. They know how hard it is trying to make a film under budget and still on schedule,'' he said. By Bob Tourtellotte PARK CITY, Utah (Reuters)
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