Polakoff feels 'Safe' at home

Director-producer starting stateside production company

After 15 years on foreign shores, Carol Polakoff is setting up camp back in the U.S.

The director-producer is launching Carol Polakoff Prods., a New York-based feature film production and development company, with the project "Safe Haven." Oscar-nominated screenwriter and playwright Michael Weller ("Ragtime") is writing the multiple-story line drama inspired by up-to-the-minute real-life events stemming from Nebraska's controversial Safe Haven laws, which allow parents to leave troubled children at hospitals. Polakoff is producing.

"We've interviewed families and government officials in Nebraska, and this film will encompass unique situations and heartbreaking stories that intertwine for a compelling drama that some people may find shocking," said Polakoff, who hopes to focus her projects on social issues targeted at wide audiences.

Twenty years ago, the Gersh-repped Polakoff directed, wrote and/or produced the documentaries "In Our Lifetime" and "Envol" and several ABC and PBS drama specials and docs. She earned two DGA Awards for ABC Afterschool Specials that aired in 1985 and 1988.

During her 15 years in Paris, Polakoff wrote screenplays based on the Alan Jolis novels "Love and Terror" and "Speak Sunlight" and produced several independent film projects, including the documentary "Below the Radar," shooting now, and "Shimkent Hotel," released in 2003.

She also assembled a wealth of global contacts and developed an outsider perspective that has allowed her to see opportunity in the current constricting Hollywood-based movie world.

"People are still going to the movies," Polakoff said. "The thing that has changed is that the studios and the powers-that-be have found themselves a bit at loose ends about how much risk and how much development that they want to incur. And that's where I come in."

She added: "I felt my head was blasted wide open by living over there in terms of ideas and talent and fresh material. And as a result, basing here with a more open mind and more channels open to me, I thought it was a really good time to try to bring in new ideas. Whether it's books or remakes, it's actually a good time for our industry to develop smaller independent cinema that can travel large."

Polakoff, who this month is heading to the Festival de Cannes, has closed a small development fund to develop ideas and source material into director- and actor-ready scripts. She plans to option three to five projects a year and get one or two a year into production.

"I look forward to producing a slate of impactful projects that have international appeal," Polakoff said.