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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 bgil@questex.com. For inclusion on IndieFile's Feedroom channel, contact Renee Rosado (rrosado@questex.com). Follow IndieFile on Twitter, at Twitter.com/IndieFile.


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20 May, 2010

New Indie Titles, May 20: ‘Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg’ and More


Title: Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg
Genre: Documentary
Studio: New Video/Docurama
Street date: 8/24
Price/Format: $29.95 DVD
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The popular documentary profiles Gertrude Berg, the TV pioneer who starred in the first popular sitcom, “The Goldbergs.” The two-DVD set includes interviews with such subjects as Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, actor Ed Asner and producer Norman Lear, plus more than two hours of special features. 


Title: Before & After Stonewall: 25th Anniversary Edition
Genre: Documentary/Gay/Lesbian
Studio: First Run
Street Date: 6/8
Price/Format: $39.95 DVD
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The two-DVD set includes documentaries on the gay community prior to and after the June 28, 1969 NYPD raid of Greenwich Village’s Stonewall Inn, which helped jumpstart the modern gay rights movement.


Title: Mary and Max
Genre: Animated
Studio: MPI/IFC
Street date: 6/1
Price/Format: $24.98 DVD, $29.98 Blu-ray
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This stop-motion animation tale of unlikely friends — the daughter of an alcoholic mother and distant father, and a 44-year-old man with Asperger’s Syndrome — features the voice talents of Philip Seymour Hoffman, Toni Collette and Eric Bana. The film was screen last October via Sundance Selects On-Demand.


Title: Sex Positive
Genre: Documentary/Gay/Lesbian
Studio: E1
Street date: 6/15
Price/Format: $19.98 DVD
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Studios continue to line up titles for Gay and Lesbian Pride Month with such films as Sex Positive, a documentary on gay S&M-hustler-turned-AIDS activist Richard Berkowitz, who helped pioneer the idea of “safe sex” in light of the AIDS epidemic.


Title: Eclipse Series 23: The First Films of Akira Kurosawa
Genre: Foreign/Arthouse
Studio: Criterion
Street date: 8/3
Prebook: 7/6
Price/Format: $59.95 DVD


Before the legendary director created masterworks such as Rashomon and Seven Samurai, he made these four films — Sanshiro Sugata, The Most Beautiful, Sanshiro Sugata: Part Two and The Men Who Tread on the Tiger’s Tail.
 

By: Billy Gil


17 May, 2010

Acquisitions: Cannes and Beyond


The following titles have been acquired for distribution on DVD in the United States, at the Cannes Film Festival and beyond.

-Grindstone Entertainment Group, distributed on DVD by Lionsgate, has acquired the U.S. distribution rights for the films Ecstasy of Gold and Open House, according to indieWIRE.

-ContentFilm International picked up the rights to The Numbers Station, an actioner directed by Kasper Barfoed (The Candidate) starring Ethan Hawke. Principal photography will start in September.

-Entertainment 7 has picked up the rights to the war epic Quiet Flows the Don, starring Rupert Everett and F. Murray Abraham.

-Film Movement has acquired two films: Silvio Soldini’s Italian erotic drama Come Undone and Russian existential thriller How I Ended This Summer. Both films will see limited theatrical runs and be released first through cable VOD in the fall.

By: Billy Gil


12 May, 2010

Virgil Gets Michael Imperioli’s ‘Hungry Ghosts’


Virgil Films & Entertainment’s latest acquisition is one for the wise guys: The company has acquired North American distribution rights to The Hungry Ghosts, from writer/director Michael Imperioli (“The Sopranos”). 

The film tells the story of five New Yorkers undergoing crises during a 26-hour period. It stars fellow “Sopranos” alumn Steven Schirripa and Sharon Angela, as well as Aunjanue Ellis (Men of Honor), Nick Sandow (Swimfan) and newcomer Emory Cohen.  

Virgil will screen the film in a limited theatrical run this summer, followed by a VOD and cable release and a DVD release after that, in late August. The movie premiered and the 2009 Rotterdam International Film Festival and has screened at the Santa Barbara and Warsaw International Film Festivals.

“Michael’s film features all the great elements of what we know and love,” said Joe Amodei, president of Virgil Films & Entertainment. “Comprised of an edgy script, an amazing cast, and great direction, it resonates the gritty appeal of early John Cassevettes and feels like it came right off the streets of NYC.”
 
Imperioli adds: “The term ‘Hungry Ghosts’ comes from Tibetan Buddhism. It describes a type of being that possesses a huge stomach, tiny neck and enormous appetites. I found it a fitting metaphor for the characters in our film; human beings under the influence of powerful desires that offer the illusion of wholeness and fulfillment, but in reality prove poisonous and take them further and further away from completion and connection.”

By: Billy Gil


11 May, 2010

IFC Bows ‘Midnight’ Label


IFC Films is launching a genre label called IFC Midnight for independent horror, sci-fi, thriller, erotic arthouse and action films. 

The label will bow four new films every month on video-on-demand, while select titles also will be released in theaters at the same time they premiere through VOD. The films also will be branded with the IFC Midnight label when they are released on DVD and Blu-ray Disc (MPI Media Group releases IFC films on disc).
 
“Many of our most successful VOD titles are those that might fall under the Midnight label — not just films that are straight up horror, erotic arthouse or genre films but also ones that shock audiences, push boundaries and stir up controversy — so officially creating IFC Midnight was the logical next step,” said president of IFC Entertainment Jonathan Sehring. “While we as a company continue to focus on a diverse range of films, this is one particular area which we are going to heavily brand and promote.”
 
IFC Midnight films will be in the same vein as past IFC films Lars Von Trier’s controversial Antichrist, Nazi zombie film Dead Snow, and erotic dramas such as The Exterminating Angels. Upcoming IFC Midnight titles include the gruesome The Human Centipede, about a mad scientist who wants to create — you guessed it — a living centipede made of people; the film has been screened theatrically and hits VOD this month. Other films will include prison drama Cell 211, directed by Daniel Monzón and recipient of eight Spanish Goya Awards, including best picture, only on VOD, starting in June; Doghouse, a British horror film screening through VOD in June; and Don’t Look Back, a thriller starring Sophie Marceau as a woman whose body morphs into that of a woman played by Monica Bellucci (I can think of worse things to happen, Sophie).
 
Films screening in July include Viking action epic Valhalla Rising and thriller Exam. French zombie flick The Horde (La Horde) and revenge film Vengeance come in August. And September will see the VOD premiere of Gaspar Noe’s (of Irreversible infamy) Enter the Void.

By: Billy Gil


11 May, 2010

Wolfe Gets 4 New Films; TLA Reprices Gay Titles


With Gay and Lesbian Pride Month coming up in June, two of the big players in gay and lesbian home video, TLA Releasing and Wolfe Video, have made separate announcements.

Wolfe has acquired the distribution rights for Sundance pick 8: The Mormon Proposition, Elena Undone, My Normal and Slamdance hit The Four-Faced Liar. 8 is directed by Emmy Award-winning journalist Reed Cowan and is an indictment of the Mormon Church’s involvement in passing California’s Proposition 8, which defined marriage as only between men and women in the state; the film comes to DVD in July. Elena Undone, from director Nicole Conn (Claire of the Moon) tells the story of a pastor’s wife and a troubled female writer who are drawn to one another, and the film will screen at June’s San Francisco Lesbian & Gay Film Festival. My Normal tells of lesbian dominatrix who longs to become a filmmaker, and the film comes to DVD in late 2010. The Four-Faced Liar was written by, stars and is co-produced by Marja Lewis Ryan; the film will hit U.S. and Canadian festivals throughout the year before coming to DVD.

Meanwhile, TLA Releasing is repricing some of its gay-themed DVDs, such as Another Gay Sequel, A Four Letter Word (DVDs $19.99 each), Boy Culture, Clandestinos, Boystown, Tan Lines, Schoolboy Crush (DVDs $14.99 each), Bear Cub, Harry and Max, Naked Fame and Beautiful Boxer (DVD $9.99 each).

Additionally, prebook is today for Kino International’s Blu-ray release of Wong Kar-Wai’s gay-themed classic, Happy Together, starring Tony Leung and Leslie Cheung; the $29.95 Blu-ray streets June 8. And Water Bearer Films today announced two new titles streeting July 20 (prebook June 22) on DVD at $19.95: Crush, Michael J. Saul’s anthology of four gay love stories, and Altitude Failing, a futuristic tale in which a man inadvertently recruits his lover into a covert army suicide mission (whoa).

By: Billy Gil


7 May, 2010

Luis Berdejo Introduces ‘The New Daughter’

Luis Berdejo
Luis Berdejo

IndieFile caught up with writer-director Luis Berdejo, writer of recent acclaimed horror film [REC], to find out about his new film, The New Daughter, starring Pan’s Labyrinth’s Ivana Baquero (read an interview with Baquero here) as the daughter of a single father (Kevin Costner) who seemingly becomes possessed when the family moves to a remote new house.

HM: How much from the original story by John Connolly was adapted?

Berdejo: The movie is pretty much the same as the short story, although it has a different ending. The script that John Travis wrote was great, and the fact that he was so open minded to allow me to personalize it (adding some little things here and there) made me feel as if the material would have been mine from the beginning.

HM: What drew you to working on this film?

Berdejo: In two words: Peter Safran, my manager. He sent me the script, I told him that I wanted to shoot it so badly, and then, I killed the other candidates, buried the corpses in a forest and made the movie.

On a personal level I love kids, the forest, animals, creatures, the story of an overwhelmed father, and the fact that I was able to work with Ivana, who is my favorite actress in the whole Milky Way. All of these were things I’ve been interested in for the longest time.

HM: Are there horror films from which you drew inspiration for the scares, the creatures and the construction of this film?

Berdejo: Not that I can recall specifically, but I’m sure that I have tons of influences in my mind from who knows where.

HM: Was casting Ivana Baquero as Kevin Costner’s daughter a way to stay connected to your Spanish roots in your work while delving into English-language film?

Berdejo: Ivana was the first person who was hired on the movie. When I was hired she was already there, and then came the Great Kevin. I guess that the fact that I knew Ivana was a fact that mattered, but this is her movie more than anybody else’s. She’s the real deal here.

HM: Have you gotten the chance to see your film on Blu-ray? What does high-definition bring out in a film like this?

Berdejo: I haven’t seen it on Blu-ray yet … but I’m sure that the high-definition will help to build the feeling of the “pristine classic look” that I wanted to create in the movie.

HM: To me this film felt like it was really about a father’s fear of his daughter’s sexuality and opposition, almost as though the monsters could have been invented in his own mind. What do you see as the heart of your film?

Berdejo: That is exactly what we had in mind the whole time. The New Daughter is the story of a change, it is told from the eyes of the woman growing inside a teenager, and from the overwhelmed father who tries to handle the situation, while the little brother is aware of everything

By: Billy Gil


6 May, 2010

New Indie Titles, May 6: ‘Shinjuku Incident’ and More


Title: Shinjuku Incident
Genre: Action
Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Street date: 6/8
Prebook date: 5/6
Price/Format: $24.94 DVD
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What’s a Jackie Chan movie doing in IndieFile? Well, this one is a throwback to his classics and has been nominated for four Hong Kong Film Awards, including best picture. Chan stars as a Chinese immigrant to Japan who rises through the ranks of a black market mob to become the head of the infamous Shinjuku district. Special features include commentary on select scenes with Chan, as well as a behind-the-scenes featurette. 


Title: Fuel
Genre: Documentary
Studio: Cinema Libre
Street Date: 6/22
Prebook Date: 5/11
Price/Format: $24.95 DVD
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The Sundance Audience Award-winning doc about alternative fuels features Sheryl Crow, Neil Young, Willie Nelson, Larry David, Richard Branson and Robert Kennedy Jr.


Title: For My Father
Genre: Foreign/Thriller
Studio: Film Movement
Street date: 6/1
Price/Format: $24.95 DVD
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For My Father is an Israeli-German drama about a young Palestinian man on a suicide mission who finds forbidden love while awaiting the completion of his mission. It was nominated for seven Israeli Academy Awards. The Film Movement short film included on this DVD is Ali & the Ball, an Australian film about a young boy in a refugee detention center who must protect his mother and sister.


Title: Dark Arc
Genre: Dark Comedy
Studio: Vanguard
Street date: 8/24
Prebook date: 7/16
Price/Format: $19.95 DVD

A strange love triangle ensues when a visual performance artist and his muse stage visual events to influence the life of a down-to-earth graphic designer. Writer-director Dan Zukovic wrote and directed the ’90s cult film The Last Big Thing.


Title: Soundless Wind Chime
Genre: Drama/Gay/Lesbian
Studio: TLA
Street date: 6/22
Prebook: 5/25
Price/Format: $19.98 DVD
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This dreamlike film about a Swiss pickpocket and shy Chinese man falling in love has won numerous queer film festival awards, and it’s nice to see a low-key, atypical gay love story for a change.

YouTube:

By: Billy Gil


4 May, 2010

Factory 25 to Release 7 Titles on DVD and Vinyl through 2010


Indie film and vinyl LP label Factory 25 will release seven titles between July and October, starting with Altamont Now on DVD and digital download July 27 at $24.95.

Altamont Now is a satire of modern alternative youth culture and how it borrows its rebellion from the past, in the vein of the Rolling Stones’ documentary Gimme Shelter. In the 2008 film, based on a late 1990s play, an indie rock band sequester themselves in an abandoned nuclear silo below ground, on the 30th anniversary of the infamous Altamont concert, only to be infiltrated by a journalist who must endure their endless railings against “the man.”

The DVD includes a commentary, and audio soundtrack of the songs performed in the movie by Enduro with Richard Havoc and Karen Kennedy, deleted and extended scenes (including the original ending), a behind-the-scenes featurette on the actual underground nuclear missile silo used in the film, a short film and more.

Releases to follow from Factory 25 include Until The Light Takes Us, Brock Enright: Good Times Will Never Be the Same, Rio Breaks, Sir Henry At Rollinson End, You Wont Miss Me, Wah Do Dem and Make out With Violence.

By: Billy Gil


29 Apr, 2010

New Indie Titles, April 29: ‘When You’re Strange’ and More


Title: When You’re Strange: A Film About The Doors
Genre: Documentary/Music
Studio: Eagle Rock Entertainment
Street date: 6/29
Prebook date: 6/4
Price/Format: $19.98 DVD or $24.98 Blu-ray
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This theatrical documentary uses rarely seen footage of The Doors to tell the story about the controversial rock band. The film is directed by Tom DiCillo and narrated by Johnny Depp.


Title: Don McKay
Genre: Drama
Studio: Image
Street Date: 6/29
Prebook Date: 6/1
Price/Format: $27.98 DVD $35.98 Blu-ray
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Executive produced by and starring Oscar nominee Thomas Haden Church (Sideways), the film concerns a janitor (Church) haunted by a mistake he made 25 years ago. He is pulled out of his funk by his ex-girlfriend (Elizabeth Shue), who is dying and wants to spend her final days with him but who is closely watched over by her doctor (James Rebhorn) and nurse (Melissa Leo). With Tribeca buzz, an amazing cast and critical acclaim, Don McKay is surely worth checking out. The discs come with commentary and deleted scenes.


Title: World Cup Soccer in Africa: Who Really Wins?
Genre: Documentary
Studio: Disinformation
Street date: 6/15
Prebook date: 5/18
Price/Format: $19.98 DVD
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As much as the World Cup is a globally celebrated event, South Africa serving as the host nation for the 19th FIFA World Cup raises some questions — who is uprooted by the building of new stadiums for the event? And couldn’t the money spent for those stadiums have been used to help the country’s poorest, who lack toilets or running water?


Title: Le Combat dans l’ile
Genre: Drama/Foreign/Cult
Studio: Zeitgeist
Street date: 6/22
Price/Format: $29.99 DVD
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A remastered French New Wave romantic political thriller, Alan Cavalier’s film deals with the political situation in France in the 1960s. A member of a right-wing terrorist organization is involved in an assassination attempt and hides out in his friend’s childhood home with his wife, and a love triangle ensues. Sounds like Jules et Jim meets Casablanca, count me in.


Title: Word Is Out
Genre: Documentary/Gay/Lesbian
Studio: Oscilloscope/Millarium Zero
Street date: 6/8
Prebook: 5/4
Price/Format: $29.95 DVD
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In conjunction with the 40th anniversary of the first gay pride marches comes a release of this 1977 film, a documentary of 26 gay and lesbian people of various races, ages and backgrounds. The landmark film was shown in theaters and on television released in theaters around the world and shown on prime-time television and has been restored by the UCLA Film & Television Archive. The film will be released through Millarium Zero, a sister company to Milestone Film & Video, and through a distribution deal with Oscilloscope. The DVD includes numerous special features about the filmmakers, the film’s subjects and more.
 

By: Billy Gil


29 Apr, 2010

Virgil Eats Up ‘Chow Down’


People love documentaries about the bad food they eat. They serve two purposes: they’re educational, and they get you to stop eating bad for the rest of the day or week, until you say screw it and go back to your taco Tuesdays.

Virgil Films & Entertainment must know this, since they’ve acquired the North American distribution rights to Chow Down, a new documentary in the same clogged vein as Super Size Me, The Future of Food and Food Inc. The DVD is slated for July 2010.

The film consists of conversations medical experts and a discussion of cardiovascular disease as it relates to simple food choices.
 
“This is a very informative exposé which presents real cases with proven tactics and solid expert advice from great medical leaders,” says Joe Amodei, president of Virgil Films & Entertainment. “

“We set out to make a documentary that separates food fact from food fiction and wanted to know why, in the 21st century, chronic diseases account for 70% of deaths in America,” says co-director/co-producer, Julia Grayer. “Chow Down is the result of this journey, and we are thrilled that Virgil Films believes in our entertaining and informative documentary.”

By: Billy Gil