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Billy Gil

Film Blog

, Web Editor

Billy Gil graduated from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism and has worked for People and Daily Variety. He is the editor of the Pipeline section and IndieFile, both of which highlight independent films on DVD. For IndieFile tips and inquiries, email indiefile@questex.com. For inclusion on IndieFile's Feedroom channel, contact Renee Rosado (rrosado@questex.com).

April 13, 2010
Screen Media Acquires Three

Screen Media Films has made three acquisitions: Gareth Lewis’ Assassin in Love (previously titled The Baker), Steven Kastrissios’ The Horseman and Deon Taylor’s The Hustle.

Assassin in Love stars Band of Brothers’ Damian Lewis and the “Harry Potter” series’ Michael Gambon in a film about a hit man who seeks to reform his ways (and escape his former boss) by taking a job as a baker in a rural Welsh village. The film saw a limited theatrical release and will street on DVD in the fourth quarter of 2010.

The Horseman, to be released in the second quarter of 2010, is a thriller about a father and daughter on a revenge-motivated killing spree in the Australian Outback.

Meanwhile, The Hustle will come out on DVD in the third quarter of 2010 and stars Charlie Murphy (Night at the Museum, your annoying friends’ Dave Chappelle impersonations), as well as certifiably crazy Bai Ling, David Alan Grier, John Witherspoon (Friday), Brigitte Nielsen (she did it with Sylvester Stallone AND Flava Flav!) and David Faustino (Bud on “Married … With Children”). It’s about an exterminator. Wow.

By: Billy Gil

April 12, 2010
New on VOD from IFC: ‘Breaking Upwards,’ ‘The Human Centipede’

IFC Films’ on-demand channel this month is screening the romantic comedy Breaking Upwards (which is playing in select theaters) and the horror film The Human Centipede (starting April 30).

Breaking Upwards, from director Daryl Wein and starring Wein and girlfriend Zoe Lister-Jones, is about a New York couple (named Daryl and Zoe), who try to plan their own breakup and make it as smooth as possible. The film has been getting great reviews from the New York Times and New York Magazine and also stars Olivia Thirlby (Juno), Julie White (the “Transformers,” uh, “films”) and Peter Friedman (The Savages).

The Human Centipede sounds like a typical horror film at the outset — the car of two American girls traveling through Europe breaks down and they wake up in a makeshift hospital with a madman — only this madman, Dr. Heiter, wants to connect his abductees via their gastric systems, in order to make a “human centipede.” Gross! The film won best horror feature at the 2009 Fantastic Fest & Scream Fest, and its description alone is making me reconsider eating whilst I work.

Both films will be available for two to three months in the main on-demand section of such cable providers as Comcast, Cox and Cablevision and Time Warner.

By: Billy Gil

April 09, 2010
Moverman’s ‘Messenger’ Hits Home

Oren Moverman

Oren Moverman doesn’t aim to convince viewers of one particular thing with his film The Messenger (on DVD/Blu-ray May 18 from Oscilloscope Laboratories), which tells the story of two soldiers who notify next of kin that their family member has died in battle.

“I think that people come into the film with certain kinds of biases and maybe walk out with certain biases enhanced and others changed,” Moverman says of the film, which he says has seen support both from left-wing anti-war activists and the U.S. Army itself, which approved the film and allowed a colonel to be a technical advisor on the film, helping gain access to military bases and learning the language of the military.

“It didn’t interfere with the creative process,” Moverman said. “It really kind of saved the day a lot of times.”

The $29.99 DVD and $34.99 Blu-ray Disc contain a short film called “Notification,” a companion piece to the film directed by late filmmaker Joe Kelly, in which real Casualty Notification service members are interviewed.

“When I saw [“Notification”], knowing that it was going to be on the DVD, I almost thought, as emotional as The Messenger is, there’s something about seeing the real people and listening to them … that is, in a way, more emotional than the film itself,” Moverman said.

The DVD and Blu-ray also will include a commentary with Moverman, stars Ben Foster and Woody Harrelson, and producer Lawrence Inglee; behind-the-scenes footage; and a Q&A with the cast and crew. What the releases will not contain are deleted scenes.

“I do have to say the film is the cut that I wanted and the cut we all felt strongest of,” Moverman said of the half an hour or so of scenes that were cut from the film for aesthetic reasons and for time. (The film, as it stands, is nearly two hours.)

Moverman says he has not yet seen The Messenger on Blu-ray but that extensive, subtle sound-work was done on the film that could be greatly enhanced by high-definition.

“The thing that’s exciting to me about [the DVD and Blu-ray release] is there’s a whole new audience exposed to the film, and it if it’s on Blu-ray, this kind of technology is giving them a more enhanced experience,” Moverman said.

Indeed, The Messenger made just more than $1 million at the U.S. box office, but with Oscar nominations both for Moverman (best original screenplay) and Harrelson (best supporting actor), the filmmaker said the film has gotten much more attention that it would have normally. He hopes with the film’s DVD/Blu-ray release, more people will see the film and draw their own conclusions about the film’s message.

“I think what [the film] does is present [its subject] as objectively as possible,” Moverman says. “What that does is open debate.”

“I think a big thing in The Messenger is this question we kept asking ourselves, ‘how do you get through life, knowing there’s grief and hardships, how do you go on living?’ The answer is through the simplest thing — love, friendship, humor and finding things in other people that make their lives better.”

By: Billy Gil

April 08, 2010
New Indie Titles, April 8: ‘Pretty Bird’ and More

Paul Giamatti
Pretty Bird

Title: Pretty Bird
Genre: Comedy
Studio: Paramount
Street Date: 6/29
Prebook date: 5/18
Price/Format: $22.99 DVD
Reserve for purchase
Reserve on Netflix

The cast of this one alone is worth the price of admission — starring Billy Crudup, Paul Giamatti and Kristen Wiig, this Sundance Grand Jury Prize nominee is based on the true story of a group that seeks to invent and market the personal rocket belt.

Title: Beyond The Barbed Wire: An Artists View of the Holocaust
Genre: Documentary
Studio: ADA/Reality Entertainment
Street date: 5/25
Prebook date: 4/28
Price/Format: $19.95 DVD
Reserve for purchase
Reserve on Netflix

This documentary tells of Ben Altman, an artist and a tailor who survived numerous concentration camps in Poland, never seeing his family again. Altman eventually moves to San Francisco and becomes the tailor for the San Francisco Opera House. Upon retiring, his memories come out in the form of paintings. ADA/Reality Entertainment also release the WWI doc A War to End All Wars the same day at $19.95.

Title: Animation Express
Genre: Animated
Studio: Image
Street date: 6/8
Prebook date: 5/11
Price/Format: $29.98 DVD or Blu-ray
Reserve for purchase (DVD or Blu-ray)

A compilation of 26 animated shorts featuring award winners and other CGI, hand-drawn and stop-motion shorts, from the experimental to the traditional. The Blu-ray includes 13 additional shorts.

Title: MINE
Genre: Documentary
Studio: Film Movement
Street date: 5/4
Price/Format: $26.95 DVD
Reserve for purchase
Reserve on Netflix

From filmmaker Geralyn Pezanoski, South by Southwest winner MINE tells of animals abandoned then rescued during Hurricane Katrina. Appropriately, the short film Film Movement has chosen to include with MINE is La Vie D’un Chien, an American-made, French-language film about a potion that can temporarily change people into dogs.

Title: Squatterpunk
Genre: Documentary
Studio: Pathfinder
Street date: 6/8
Prebook: 5/4
Price/Format: $24.98 DVD
Reserve for purchase

Multiaward-winning Squatterpunk follows a young would-be gangster through the shantytowns of Manila in a wordless, hypnotic visual journey.

By: Billy Gil

April 05, 2010
Tribeca’s On Demand Channel Gets a New York-Style Ad

Marketing company Ogilvy & Mather New York is helping promote the Tribeca Film Festival’s new on-demand channel with a new ad on various broadcast and video outlets.

Beginning in April, the channel will appear to an expected 40 million households via cable, satellite and telecom providers such as Comcast, Cablevision and Verizon FiOS. Ads for the channel proclaim “Here Comes the Neighborhood,” to tout spreading New York flavor through bringing Tribeca to the television set.

“The ad shows movers packing up the downtown Tribeca neighborhood — a taxi cab, pigeons, and other various icons like a traffic cop, even Robert De Niro — to demonstrate that with the new VOD service, Tribeca Film is bringing the feeling of Tribeca to homes all over the country,” said Terry Finley, group creative director at Ogilvy & Mather New York.  “In working with The Tribeca Film for many years, we have helped create a brand that has an ‘only in New York,’ attitude.  So it makes sense to bring that sensibility to their expanding properties.”

More than 10 titles will come to VOD through the Tribeca Film channel, beginning April 21, several of them day-and-date with their 2010 festival premieres. Films premiering day-and-date on VOD include environmental documentary Climate of Change, narrated by Tilda Swinton; ESPN documentary Birth of Big Air, produced by Spike Jonze and Johnny Knoxville, about extreme sports athlete Mat Hoffman; and sex & drugs & rock & roll, the story of punk icon Ian Dury.

By: Billy Gil

IndieFile lists new independent films on DVD and Blu-ray Disc, from comedy to horror to short film, as well as news from Cannes, Sundance and other film festivals, interviews and other indie movie news.


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