UB Graduate James Foley to Premiere New Film in Buffalo

By Sue Wuetcher

Release Date: March 24, 2003

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- For the second time this academic year, a film directed by a University at Buffalo alumnus will premiere in the Buffalo area.

"Confidence," the new film directed by James Foley, B.A. '74, whose credits include "Reckless," "At Close Range," "Glengarry Glen Ross" and "The Chamber," will premiere at 7:30 p.m. on March 31 in the Market Arcade Film and Arts Centre, 639 Main St., Buffalo. Foley will conduct a question-and-answer session in the theater prior to the screening, and earlier in the day will visit the UB North (Amherst) Campus to meet with students in the departments of Media Study and Theatre and Dance.

"Confidence" debuted in January at the Sundance Film Festival, where it was named one of the top five films. Being distributed by Lion's Gate, it will be released nationally in April.

Foley has not been a recent stranger to the UB campus, having participated last October in the Alumni Visiting Scholar Seminar Series, in which 19 UB alumni who have made it to the top in the entertainment industry returned to campus to teach a graduate seminar series in the Department of Media Study.

The series culminated with the world premiere of "Second String," a film by series participant Rob Lieberman, B.A. '71.

Foley taught a seminar about the realities of Hollywood filmmaking as part of the three-day series.

"Confidence," Foley's most recent film, stars Ed Burns, Rachel Weisz, Andy Garcia and Dustin Hoffman in the story of a sharp and polished grifter, Jake Vig (Burns), who swindles thousands of dollars from the unsuspecting accountant for eccentric crime boss Winston King (Hoffman). Jake offers to repay "The King" by pulling off the biggest con of his career. The mark: a banker with deep ties to organized crime. With so much riding on the outcome, Jake decides to bring in a brash, brunette pickpocket named Lily (Weisz), who joins the crew in a complex scheme involving corporate loans, creative accounting, wire transfers and off-shore accounts.

The first sign of trouble comes when Lily arrives for work with a head of freshly dyed red hair -- a bad omen if ever there was one. To make matters worse, Jake also must contend with his old nemesis, FBI agent Gunther Moonan (Garcia), The King's henchman Butch and a double-crossing partner. Against these diminishing odds, Jake and his crew have to stay one step ahead of both the criminals and the cops to finally settle their debt.

A New York City native, Foley received a bachelor's degree in psychology from UB and took classes in Media Study when the department was chaired by the legendary Gerald O'Grady. He was "awakened" -- as he puts it -- to film during his senior year, when he decided to become a director.

Foley made his directorial debut in 1984 with "Reckless," a well-observed study of alienated youth starring Daryl Hannah and Aidan Quinn. He followed it up with "At Close Range" (1986), an acclaimed thriller about the leader of a Pennsylvania crime ring (Christopher Walken) and his son (Sean Penn).

Foley also directed Madonna's video for "Live to Tell," the film's theme song.

His film "After Dark, My Sweet" (1990) was one of several features made that year that were based on the cult pulp fiction of Jim Thompson. A brooding, fractured romance revolving around the kidnapping of a child, "After Dark" earned many positive reviews -- particularly for Jason Patric's performance as a drifting former boxer -- but earned only modest box-office returns.

Foley also directed a star-studded cast in David Mamet's adaptation of his 1984 Pulitzer Prize-winning stage play, "Glengarry Glen Ross" (1992), coaxing superb performances from Al Pacino, Jack Lemmon and Ed Harris, among others.

Directing runs in the family -- Foley's older brother, Jerry, is a director for the "David Letterman Show."