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Cannes 2008 Proves Fertile for Indie Distributors

By Billy Gil | Posted: 21 May 2008

While a report from The Los Angeles Times indicated few hyped-up films had been acquired at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival by the major studios as of May 19, independent studios and distributors are still making their usual rounds.

Image Entertainment acquired from HanWay Films Ltd. the U.S. home video, broadcast, digital and non-theatrical rights to Battle for Haditha, based on the true story of a U.S. Marine convoy's retaliation against Iraqi insurgents, and featuring a cast of non-actor ex-Marines who served in Iraq. The negotiations were headed up by Wendy Rutland, managing director of Image Entertainment U.K. Image also acquired, from The Last Word LLC, North American distribution rights to romantic comedy The Last Word, starring Winona Ryder, Wes Bentley and Ray Romano. The film was nominated for a Grand Jury Prize at the festival.

Image's third Cannes acquisition was The Chosen One, written by and starring Rob Schneider. Image, represented by Rutland, acquired all U.S. distribution rights to the comedy from Q Black Media.

Arts Alliance America scored a coup at the festival when actor/director Sean Penn, president of the Cannes Jury, held a special presidential jury screening of The Third Wave, a documentary directed by Alison Thompson about four volunteers trying to help in the aftermath of the the 2004 Asian tsunami disaster. The screening marked the film's international debut.

The Third Wave is truly a must-see for ourselves, our children and everyone we know, for anyone who has two good legs and a dollar in their pocket,” Penn said in a statement. “It inspires the very best in us, just when we need that most. It comes as close to answering our purpose in life as any film in recent memory."

The film was executive produced by Morgan Spurlock (Super Size Me) and Joe Amodei, president of Arts Alliance America.

“The film came to Morgan and I earlier this year, and we were both blown away,” Amodei said. “Even though it was not a finished project and needed funding to complete, I knew that Arts Alliance America had to finance it so the world would experience what these volunteers went through. As a result, its message is extraordinary.”

Indican Pictures made several acquisitions, including all North American distribution rights for urban roller skating documentary 8 Wheels & Some Soul Brotha' Music, and futuristic war film Black Pearl. The deal with Multi-Visionaire was brokered with Sean Haley of that company and Shaun Hill of Indican Pictures.

Indican also acquired the North American rights to animated comedy The Chosen One (not to be confused with Image's The Chosen One), featuring the voices of Tim Curry, Traci Lords, Debra Wilson, Lance Henriksen, Chris Sarandon, Danielle Fishel and Laura Prepon. The deal was made with Andreas Olavarria for Bossa Nova Productions Inc., and Randolph Kret for Indican Pictures.

TLA Releasing's Cannes acquisitions include North American rights to Gutterballs (for its horror “Danger After Dark” label), acquired from France-based DC Medias, represented by president David Cholewa, while TLA was represented by VP of acquisitions Jennifer Arndt-Johns. TLA also acquired North American and U.K. rights to Japanese erotic thriller Man, Woman, and The Wall (for its new Ricochet label), streeting on DVD July 29; the film was aquired from Los Angeles-based Eleven Arts Inc., represented by president Kotaro Mori, while TLA was again represented by Arndt-Johns.

Ariztical Entertainment picked up three international gay-themed films at Cannes: Fashion Victims, Cheerleader Queens and Hunting Me.

Cinema Epoch (distributed through Koch Entertainment) acquired the DVD rights to Polish thrillers The Underneath and The Palimpsest, Korean horror film The Circle, horror thriller Yellow Fangs, and Japanese fantasy film Story of Sorrow and Sadness.

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