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Film Festival

Insights from home entertainment industry experts. Home Media blogs give you the inside scoop on entertainment news, DVD and Blu-ray Disc releases, and the happenings at key studios and entertainment retailers. “TK's Take” analyzes and comments on home entertainment news and trends, “Agent DVD Insider” talks fanboy entertainment, “IndieFile” delivers independent film news, “Steph Sums It Up” offers pithy opinions on the state of the industry, and “Mike’s Picks” offers bite-sized recommendations of the latest DVD and Blu-ray releases.

February 01, 2011
Sundance 2010 Acquisitions Wrap

The following is a partial list of buys at Sundance and their eventual home DVD/Blu-ray/digital distributors in North America, along with a pithy description of what the films promise, courtesy of the fine folks at indieWire:

Focus Features: Pariah (urban tale about the struggles of a black lesbian teen)
Fox: Another Earth (sci-fi romance), Homework (coming-of-age story with Freddie Highmore and Emma Roberts), Martha Marcy May Marlene (drama about a young woman overcoming an experience with a cult, with breakout Sundance star Elizabeth Olsen)
HBO: Project Nim (biography of a chimp raised as a human)
Lionsgate: Margin Call (financial thriller with Kevin Spacey, Paul Bettany, Jeremy Irons), The Future (Miranda July’s directorial follow-up to Me and You and Everyone We Know)
Magnolia: I Melt With You (drug-fueled road trip movie with Thomas Jane, Rob Lowe and Jeremy Piven), Page One A Year Inside The New York Times
MPI/IFC: Perfect Sense (romantic thriller starring Ewan MacGregor)
New Video: The Flaw (documentary on the current financial crisis, to be released by Docurama), The Last Mountain (David-and-Goliath doc about a small town vs. a coal company)
Oscilloscope: Bellflower (apocalyptic drama, in theaters this summer)
Paramount: Like Crazy (Grand Jury Prize winning drama about a young couple’s long-distance relationship falling apart)
Sony Pictures/IFC: Salvation Boulevard (religious comedy starring Pierce Brosnan, Marisa Tomei)
Sony Pictures/Weinstein Co.: The Details (dark comedy with Tobey Maguire, Elizabeth Banks and Laura Linney)
Sony Pictures Classics: The Guard (comedy/thriller with Brendan Gleason and Don Cheadle), The Greatest Movie Ever Sold (Morgan Spurlock doc) and Take Shelter (starring Michael Shannon)

Also, Feb. 18-March 3 film magazine Film Comment will screen 16 films that do not have U.S. distribution, including John Landis’ Burke and Hare, in a showcase of rare and rediscovered films, as part of the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Film Comment Selects series at the Walter Reade Theatre in New York. IndieWire has the full list of films screening, and tickets can be purchased Feb. 3 at http://www.filmlinc.com.

By: Billy Gil

November 08, 2010
News From AFM 2010

Acquisitions have started as part of the 2010 American Film Market, running Nov. 3-10, at the Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel. Check back here for updates.

-AFM attendance was up 6% overall in 2010, climbing to 7,695, compared with 7,246 last year. The number of companies acquiring product rose 1% to 664 from 658 last year, while acquisitions executives remained relatively flat, at 1,417, compared with 1,419 in 2009.

“The positive feeling in the halls is a direct result of production levels that are now in balance with marketplace demand,” said AFM managing director Jonathan Wolf, who also is EVP of the Independent Film & Television Alliance (IFTA). “Buyers are pre-buying, assuring they will have a steady flow of films, which in turn assures producers that their films have been pre-accepted by the marketplace.”
Companies selling product, however, dropped 7% to 343.

AFM saw 427 films screen, 43 of those being world premieres and 306 being market premieres. Twenty-one films screened in 3D, and there were films from 36 countries, totaling more than 700 screenings in all.

-The International Trade Administration (ITA) of USDOC, through its market development cooperator program (MDCP), awarded IFTA $248,000 to enhance global competitiveness of U.S. film exports. The multiyear award will help establish new U.S. pavilions at film and television markets, including at Hong Kong FILMART 2011 March 21-24.

“We are proud that MDCP recognized IFTA’s ability to help U.S. independent film companies compete more effectively in the global marketplace,” said IFTA president-CEO Jean Prewitt.

-Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions acquired domestic and select international rights to The River Sorrow. Directed by Rich Cowan, the film stars Ray Liotta, Ving Rhames and Christian Slater. The film just ended principle photography.

-Anchor Bay Films through AFM has finalized acquiring all rights for English speaking territories to The Howling: Reborn, a new chapter in “The Howling” horror series, written and directed by Joe Nimziki.

“Genre films have always been special at Anchor Bay,” said Kevin Kasha, EVP of acquisitions and co-productions. “Given our success with many of the classic franchises and their honored remakes, The Howling: Reborn is the perfect addition to our family.”

The film is currently in post-production.

Additionally, Anchor Bay acquired all distribution rights for the United States, United Kingdom and Australia/New Zealand to dark high school comedy Daydream Nation. The film opened the Toronto International Film Festival’s Canada First! Daydream Nation is the full-length directorial debut of Michael Goldbach and stars Kat Dennings (Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, Thor) as a girl who has an affair with her teacher. The film will be released theatrically in 2011.

“Daydream Nation is a great addition to the 2011 Anchor Bay slate,” said Anchor Bay Entertainment president Bill Clark. “Our team has the ability to really target the audience that will love this film.”

-Through the Toronto Film Festival, Film Movement has acquired Israel’s Academy Award submission, The Human Resources Manager. The film will see a theatrical release across North America in March and hits cable VOD in the summer 2011.

-The Weinstein Co. has acquired sci-fi thriller Apollo 18, based on a screenplay by Brian Miller, who won the first-ever Astana International Action Film Festival screenplay competition, which was founded by Wanted director Timur Bekmambetov.  Trevor Cawood will direct. The documentary-style film follows lost footage from Apollo 18’s secret mission to the moon, revealing new life forms. It’s set to begin filming in December, with a March release date.

-Gay film distributor Wolfe Video has acquired distribution rights to A Marine Story, a drama about the U.S. Military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, and Kickoff, a comedy about a gay soccer team.

“We are proud to represent this powerful film and appreciate the powerful statement it makes about ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’” said Wolfe Releasing president Maria Lynn.

A Marine Story opened Oct. 22 theatrically in Los Angeles. Kickoff will hit film festivals throughout 2011 and come to DVD/VOD next fall.

-MTI Home Video has acquired 11 films so far at AFM, including thrillers Fatal Secrets, Krews and Accused at 17; action film Chicago Overcoat; horror films Closed for the Season, Savage and Legion: The Final Exorcism; sci-fi/fantasy film Gene-Fusion; family caper Boathouse Detectives; and horror/thrillers The Undying and Resurrection County.

“I am excited about the variety of product we were able to acquire at the market,” remarked Jay Grossman, VP, acquisitions and sales, MTI Home Video.  “The market was up-beat and more conducive to doing business and getting deals done this year.”

-Gay film distributor Ariztical Entertainment is buying and selling films at this year’s AFM, and has expanded its sales division to build a library of more than 50 films for sale to international markets. Thus far, the distributor has acquired Open, a Teddy Jury Prize at the Berlin Film Festival in 2010, which depicts an inner-city love story between characters that fall out of traditional realms of gender; and Stuck, from director Steve Balderson, an homage to women-in-prison films, starring Karen Black, Susan Traylor, Mink Stole and Jane Wiedlin.

“Every market has a different energy. This year seems to be affording a more relaxed process,” said Michael J. Shoel, president, Ariztical Entertainment.

- Moving Pictures Film & TV has acquired worldwide rights to the dark comedy Miss Nobody and the family film Mayor Cupcake leading into AFM. The company also has hired Stephanie Slack as SVP of worldwide sales & distribution, focusing on building the company’s worldwide television distribution business.

-A new online film distribution platform, IndiePlaya, was on hand at AFM. The service gives independent filmmakers and distributors the resource to sell directly to consumers with marketing tools such as bundling, upselling and offering additional special features. Find out more at IndiePlaya.com.


By: Billy Gil

October 28, 2010

AFM (American Film Market) and the AFI Fest (presented by Audi) will once again team, this year representing 25 films at AFM.
Eight AFI  Fest films will screen at AFM, including 13 Assassins (Hanway); Barney’s Version (Essential); Bedevilled (Finecut Films); Cargo (Telepool); Chico & Rita (Hanway); I Saw The Devil (Finecut Films); Julia’s Eyes (DeAplaneta) and Rabbit Hole (Affinity).
The additional films represented at AFM include Blue Valentine (The Weinstein Co.); Boy (New Zealand Film Commission); Carancho (Finecut Films); Casino Jack (E1 Entertainment); The Company Men (The Weinstein Co.); HaHaHa (Finecut Films); The Housemaid (Mirovision); The King’s Speech (The Weinstein Co.); Norwegian Ninja (Celluloid Nightmares); Oki’s Movie (Finecut Films); Outrage (Magnolia Pictures); Precious Life (Bleiberg Entertainment); The Princess of Montpensier (Studio Canal); Removal (Archstone Distribution); Rubber (Magnolia Pictures); Shit Year (Match Factory GmbH) and Weather Station (Shoreline).

AFM takes place Nov. 3-10 at the Loew’s Santa Monica Beach Hotel and surrounding theaters, in Santa Monica, Calif.

By: Billy Gil

September 16, 2010
Time Warner, IFC Launch Short Film Contest

Ever wanted to go to the Sundance Film Festival? Now’s your chance.

Time Warner Cable in association with IFC (lots of IFC news this week!) has launched the Time Warner Cable Short Film Contest, which will award four grand prize winners a four-night trip for two to the 2011 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. Video submissions are accepted from Sept. 15-Oct. 31 through Time Warner’s YouTube Channel (www.youtube.com/timewarnercable).

Entrants can submit two- to five-minute videos. Consumer voting takes place between Nov. 9-16, and winners will be chosen between the vote and a panel of expert judges, including filmmaker Joe Swanberg (Hannah Takes the Stairs), Ti West (House of the Devil), IFC and Sundance Channel president Evan Shapiro, ad IFC News host Matt Singer.

The prize packages include hotel, air and ground transportation, two tickets to a film screening at the festival, an invitation to a VIP party, a one-year subscription to Time Warner Cable digital cable and Road Runner high-speed Internet service, and $500 in spending cash.

By: Billy Gil

September 16, 2010
IFC Gets Rights to ‘Unauthorized: The Harvey Weinstein Project’

IFC Films has acquired worldwide rights (excluding Canada) to Unauthorized: The Harvey Weinstein Project, Barry Avrich's documentary about the co-founder of Miramax Films. 

The film follows Weinstein from concert promoter to his first movie deal at the Cannes Film Festival to winning an Oscar, featuring insight into his relationship with his brother, family and Hollywood at large, with interviews with industry insiders.

“I believe that great stories must be told,” said Jonathan Sehring, president of IFC Films. “Harvey and Bob Weinstein, without a question, redefined so many rules of Hollywood marketing, distribution and filmmaking that you simply can't ignore their impact on history."

Unauthorized joins IFC Films’ other acquisitions at the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival, James Gunn’s Super, starring Rainn Wilson and Ellen Page, and Werner Herzog’s 3-D Cave of Forgotten Dreams. IFC Films distributes films simultaneously in theaters and through cable’s on-demand platform and through pay-per-view.

By: Billy Gil


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