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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
Annette Bening in The Kids Are All Right
Independent films did exceedingly well at the 68th Annual Golden Globes, with wins for Best Picture and Best Actress (Annette Bening), Comedy or Musical, for Focus Features’ The Kids Are All Right, which is available on DVD and Blu-ray from Universal Studios Home Entertainment.
That film’s win again raises the question as to how films benefit by having been released on DVD before major awards shows. Crash and The Hurt Locker famously won the Best Picture Oscar over bigger movies, possibly in part due to their easy availability on disc building hype. The Kids Are All Right was released on DVD and Blu-ray by Universal Studios Home Entertainment in November of 2010. The only other film nominated here that was available on disc was Disney’s Alice in Wonderland, although that film and the other nominees (Red, The Tourist and Burlesque) didn’t exactly give Kids a run for its money, critically speaking.
Indies, in total, won eight major awards at the ceremony. The King’s Speech (The Weinstein Co.) got a Best Actor win for Colin Firth, and Barney's Version (Sony Classics) scored a Best Actor, Comedy or Musical, win for Paul Giamatti. The Weinstein Co.’s The Fighter won Best Supporting Actress (Melissa Leo) and Supporting Actor (Christian Bale), Drama. Additionally, Denmark’s In a Better World won Best Foreign Language Film, and Best Mini-Series / TV Movie went to Sundance’s Carlos.
“We applaud the independents that have won tonight in a tough race,” said Independent Film & Television Alliance President-CEO Jean Prewitt. “HFPA’s nominations and awards have again highlighted the breadth of fine film-making from both studios and independents.”
The King’s Speech (which will be released by Anchor Bay Entertainment, the first Genius title releasing by Anchor Bay after a deal signed Jan. 4), Barney’s Version (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment), The Fighter (Paramount), In a Better World (Sony Pictures) and Carlos (MPI/IFC) have yet to be slated for home video release.
By: Billy Gil
The Independent Film & Television Alliance has some words about online piracy for the Department of Commerce, urging them and other government agencies to enhance copyright protections. IFTA’s comments came in response to a Notice of Inquiry issued by the department to gather more information from stakeholders to effectively battle piracy.
“The policy and technological solutions that emerge from this proceeding should assist in establishing a transparent framework that takes into account advances in technology and the need for protection of copyright to encourage further innovation,” said IFTA President-CEO Jean Prewitt. “We believe solutions are achievable through government leadership and cooperation among all stakeholders and are necessary to ensure that investment in independent content can be recouped and new online distribution models developed.”
IFTA says piracy inhibits independent filmmakers from recouping expenses on productions in order to create future films. The organization recommends government oversight in establishing mechanisms to protect copyright and innovation digitally.
IFTA also urges adopting international standards for copyright, such as the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Act.
It’s good to hear IFTA put their muscle behind this issue. Piracy takes a big chunk out of the DVD pie, where most indie filmmakers make their money.
By: Billy Gil
Steve Buscemi in Handsome Harry
Steve Buscemi is an actor who knows how to make an impression. Though he appears at the beginning of Handsome Harry, coming to DVD Dec. 28 from Screen Media Films ($24.98), the celebrated character actor’s shadow hangs heavy over the film about an aging ex-Navy man who finds his old buddies to atone for an unfortunate attack they inflicted upon their friend.
“My work is the same whether it’s one scene or many scenes,” says Buscemi, who recently has seen his profile raised even further as the lead in Martin Scorsese’s Atlantic City crime drama “Boardwalk Empire,” on HBO. “I knew it was an ensemble-type film. I like those kinds of films. Bette Gordon, who directed, is an old friend, and she was one of the directors from the East Village days of the ’80s that was doing independent film before it was labeled independent film.”
The film stars Jamey Sheridan (“Trauma,” “Law and Order: Criminal Intent”) as Harry, a man who can’t shake a past event involving his old navy crew beating one of their own when they find out he’s gay. Buscemi stars as the friend who brings it all back when he calls Harry out of the blue, to say that he’s dying and wants to make amends. The film also stars Aidan Quinn and Campbell Scott as members of the ex-Navy crew Harry visits.
“It’s timely with the whole — hopefully — repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell because a lot of the argument seems to be about the culture of the military and ‘will they be able to adapt,’” Buscemi says. “I just think at the heart of it, it’s bigotry.
“I think it’s ridiculous that gay men and women are not allowed to serve openly. I know this film doesn’t address that in an obvious way, but it does address the culture of certainly not all the military but especially back when this film takes place, that this male-dominated culture could not tolerate even a hint of homosexuality, and that to me is a pretty sad and tragic story.”
Sheridan, who also serves as a producer, says the film does have an anti-DADT message, but it also works on many other levels.
“It was, for us, a cross between film noir and Greek tragedy,” Sheridan says. “It was about a guy who has erased himself and has hidden himself from himself, and succeeded. I saw him as a man in a blackout, like a drunk can go into where they don’t even know where they’ve been or six months or two weeks. And then, slowly, the psyche comes up, with Steve Buscemi and a fateful phone call and then slowly the layers are peeled away from Harry’s eyes.
“I must say there is a part of me that wanted to speak to the gay community, but I think it was on a much deeper level than Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. I wasn’t thinking that specifically. I was reaching to much deeper things I think.”
He and Gordon did commentaries for the Handsome Harry, which appear on the DVD alongside a behind-the-scenes featurette.
By: Billy Gil
The Independent Film & Television Alliance has released a new edition of its international licensing agreements.
The IFTA Model International Licensing Agreements 5th Edition 2010 sets the stage for licensing international rights of motion pictures and television programming. This latest set takes on licensing in the digital age.
“The IFTA Legal Committee and the IFTA Legal Department have spent considerable time and effort to create the best possible model agreements,” said IFTA President-CEO Jean Prewitt. “The MILA 5th Edition is a step forward in the rapidly evolving landscape of motion picture and television licensing. We sincerely hope it will continue to act as a helpful model for our members and the industry at large.”
By: Billy Gil