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May 23, 2012

Cannes 2012 Acquisitions

  • Film Movement has acquired Room 514 at the Cannes Film Festival. The directorial debut from Sharon Bar-Ziv premiered at the Rotterdam International Film Festival and won a special jury mention for Best New Narrative Director at the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival. The film, which is in Hebrew with English subtitles, will see a limited theatrical opening in the Q4 of 2012 with a day-and-date cable VOD premiere. Film Movement also has acquired North American rights to French/Israeli film A Bottle in the Gaza Sea. Film Movement plans a Q4 theatrical release and a day-and-date cable VOD release.
  • TLA Releasing has acquired worldwide rights, including theatrical, non-theatrical, TV, home video, VOD and digital rights to  the comedy-drama Elliot Loves, from director/writer Terracino. The gay-themed film follows a young Dominican-American man named Elliot as a 9-year-old who is best friend to his single mother, and as a 21-year-old looking for love in New York City.
  • IFC Films has acquired North American rights to dark comedy Sightseers, from director Ben Wheatley (Kill List, Down Terrace); and Save the Date, a romantic comedy starring Lizzie Caplan. IFC films are distributed on disc by MPI Media Group.
  • Sony Pictures Classics nabbed North American rights to No, a drama about Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, starring Gael Garcia Bernal, and Susanne Bier’s Love is All You Need, starring Pierce Brosnan.
  • Kino Lorber acquired U.S. rights to documentary Meet the Fokkens, which follows two 69-year-old twin sisters who formerly were prostitutes in Amsterdam and eventually started running their own brothel.
  • The Weinstein Co. acquired U.S. rights to documentary The Oath of Tobruk, documenting the fall of Egyptian dictator Moammar Gaddafi, as well as The Sapphires, an Australian film starring Chris O'Dowd (Bridesmaids).
  • Phase 4 Films acquired North American rights to romantic drama See Girl Run, with Robin Tunney and Adam Scott. The film will be released day-and-date in theatres and on VOD this year.
  • Music Box Films acquired North American rights to Sean Baker’s Starlet, about a young porn actress who befriends her 85-year-old neighbor. The indie studio plans a fall theatrical release.

Please send any Cannes acquisition announcements to bgil@questex.com.

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May 18, 2012

Documentary Premieres With Sundance Doc Club

The documentary Walk Away Renee from director Jonathan Caouette will see its digital premiere through SundanceNOW’s new SVOD program, Doc Club, day-and-date with its North American film festival premiere.

Walk Away Renee hits North America June 27 at CAMcinemaFest 2012, while Doc Club subscribers will be able to download or stream the film that same day as part of Doc Club’s June offerings. Additionally the film can be rented on SundanceNOW for $6.99. The film premiered at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival and is the follow-up to Caouette’s 2004 film Tarnation, a harrowing memoir-doc about his life growing up gay and with a mentally ill mother that he famously made for $218.32 using iMovie on his Mac.

Walk Away Renee sees Caouette taking a road trip to move his mentally ill mother across the country, with flashbacks to the past portraying their extraordinary relationship.

“This online premiere of Caouette’s Walk Away Renee is a major step forward for SundanceNOW and Doc Club,” said Jonathan Sehring, president of Sundance Selects and SundanceNOW. “Our mission is to bring films to audiences in multiple ways and create exciting, innovative campaigns for each film. To give fans of Tarnation the ability to watch Jonathan’s new film from any computer in the country is the best way to make it as available as possible.”

SundanceNOW is the digital sister of Sundance Selects, which an arm of the Sundance Film Festival that brings films to 40 million homes via transactional a VOD platform through major cable providers such as Comcast, Cablevision, Cox, Time Warner Cable and DirecTV, as well as theatrically and on disc and digital download.

Seeing Tarnation on DVD when it was first released, I was stricken by how it was like no movie I had ever seen before. Viewers with the utmost stoicism and skepticism, a disposition for which they could be forgiven, knowing Tarnation’s seemingly precious and self-indulgent set-up, have been moved far beyond expectation by Tarnation’s hyperreality — not only is it a film which redefines the documentary, it predated much of social networking and foreshadowed the way Facebook and YouTube give us far more avenue than we could have dreamed for sharing our stories, for better or worse. It remains one of my all-time favorite films, and I’m glad that for his long-awaited follow-up, Caouette has remained ahead of the curve, in terms of the way this film is being brought to audiences.


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May 08, 2012

James Redford, Son of Robert Redford, Talks Whole Foods Film

As a child, James Redford was fascinated by the creation of Lake Powell. He and his family (including famous father Robert Redford, Oscar-feted director/actor and founder of the Sundance Film Festival) would visit there, but he knew it came at the expense of the beautiful Glen Canyon, which was flooded by the Colorado River, which passes through it, after the creation of the Glen Canyon Dam was completed in 1963, a year after Redford was born. Seventeen years later, Lake Powell hit its intended high water mark, completing the creation of Lake Powell.

“It seemed like a shattering tragedy loomed over every subsequent visit to the lake,” Redford said. “But it didn't stop my family from going there. The vast raw beauty of the Southwest shined through. The oddity and, frankly, hubris of manipulating a natural system never left my curiosity.”

Redford produced the film Watershed: Exploring a New Water Ethic for the New West about the human activity surrounding the Colorado River, how the river has receded and what could be done to help the situation. The documentary is narrated by Robert Redford and directed by Mark Decena.

The film is the second entry in this year’s edition of Whole Foods Market’s Do Something Reel Film Festival, which began on Earth Day (April 22) and features films dealing with issues regarding food and the environment. Watershed can be streamed at for $5.99 through May, with a different film available on the site each month.

Additionally the film will be shown at select Whole Foods stores. A list of screenings, plus tips on conserving water, can be found at and Whole Foods’ Facebook page.

Redford said the film also is available on DVD for free to community organizations or nonprofits that want to hold public screenings of the film. He said they also are in discussions related to a cable broadcast.

Watershed is Redford’s fourth social impact documentary, after The D Word: Understanding Dyslexia, Mann V. Ford and The Kindness of Strangers. Redford said he now is in production on two more such films.

“I feel blessed to do these kinds of films,” he said. “As for ‘Bob,’ I'm sure he'll continue to build on his extraordinary record.”

Proceeds will help fund the 2012 Whole Foods Market/AFI-Discovery Channel Silverdocs Festival filmmaker grants, and the festival is presented in association with Applegate Organic & Natural Meat, Earthbound Farm Organic, Popcorn Indiana and siggi’s.

Whole Foods Market also has partnered with online charity fundraising site Crowdrise to allow donations to the Colorado River Delta Water Trust, dedicated to restoring the Colorado River Delta, at www.crowdrise.com/watershed.

“If the 1% that inhabits the Colorado watershed were to write checks for $100, you could buy enough water rights to reconnect the river to the Gulf of California,” Redford said. “You could get the same amount of water if everyone in Denver reduced the square footage of their lawns by 50%. This is doable.”

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April 30, 2012

2012 Tribeca Film Fest Announces Awards

The 2012 Tribeca Film Festival saw more than 380,000 attendees in its 11th year, taking place in screenings, panels, talks and free community events in New York.

The festival ran from April 18 through April 29 and hosted nearly 400 screenings and panels with more than 95% attendance. The festival saw a total of 89 features and 60 short films screen from 46 countries, with 116,000 attendees hitting the screenings.

“Our 11th Festival was an extraordinary 12 days filled with amazing films, unique experiences and incredible reactions from audiences,” said Nancy Schafer, executive director of the Tribeca Film Festival.

This year also saw the Tribeca Online Film Festival, which returned to offer free content at , including world premiere features and shorts. Interactive elements included a live stream of the Universal Pictures 100th anniversary panel with Tribeca co-founder Robert De Niro and Judd Apatow; and the Tribeca Disruptive Innovation Awards, which honored Twitter founder Jack Dorsey, Justin Bieber and Scooter Braun.

The winners of Tribeca’s competition categories also were announced, doling out $180,000 in cash prizes. The Founders Award for Best Narrative Feature went to War Witch, directed by Kim Nguyen (Canada), awarded $25,000 and an art award; Best Actor in a Narrative Feature Film was given to Dariel Arrechada and Javier Nuñez Florian in Una Noche, directed by Lucy Mulloy (U.K., Cuba, U.S.), with the winners splitting $2,500; Best Actress in a Narrative Feature Film went to Rachel Mwanza in War Witch, awarded $2,500; Best Cinematography in a Narrative Feature Film – Cinematography to Trevor Forrest and Shlomo Godder, for Una Noche, receiving $5,000 and $50,000 in post-production services provided by Company 3; Special Jury Mention to Alex Catalan for Unit 7; Best Screenplay for a Narrative Feature Film to All In (La Suerte en Tus Manos), from director Daniel Burman (Argentina), receiving $5,000; and Best New Narrative Director to Lucy Mulloy (Una Noche), receiving $25,000, $50,000 in post-production services by Company 3 and an art award. A full list of winners can be found at .

The multiple awards given to Cuban film Una Noche also were notable for the headline-grabbing disappearance of award-winning star Nuñez and his co-star (and girlfriend) Anailin de la Rua, who went into hiding in Miami on a stopover to New York from Cuba and were absent at the ceremony. The pair are seeking political asylum in the United States.

In addition, two Heineken Audience Awards were given to audience favorites. Any Day Now, directed by Travis Fine, won the narrative award, while Burn, directed by Tom Putnam and Brenna Sanchez, was given the documentary award. The awards included a cash prize of $25,000.

And The Tribeca Film Institute announced the winners of its Tribeca All Access Creative Promise Awards. The awards were given to the narrative film Rhymes for Young Ghouls and the documentary The New Black, selected from 11 projects from budding filmmakers and given a $10,000 award, as well as an original piece from a contemporary artist.

Congratulations to all the winners!



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April 09, 2012

Comcast, Tribeca Give Access to Tribeca Film Fest

Comcast’s Xfinity TV subscribers are in luck. Beginning April 17, Xfinity TV and Tribeca Film will give the service’s 20 million-plus subscribers access to the 11th Annual Tribeca Film Festival via Xfinity On Demand and XfinityTV.com. 


Subscribers will get access to films before they screen, including Death of a Superhero, The Giant Mechanical Man and Sleepless Night. Jesus Henry Christ, a title from last year’s fest, also will be available April 17, and more new titles will follow, including Booker’s Place: A Mississippi Story, April 26. Additionally subscribers can view other current and past Tribeca films as well as special behind-the-scenes extras.

“For our customers that aren’t located in an area that has arthouses or screenings of indie films, this is a great way to experience a world-class indie film festival like Tribeca,” said Maggie McLean Suniewick, VP of video services for Comcast Cable.  “Our Xfinity On Demand and XfinityTV.com platforms give filmmakers access to millions of homes that they may not have reached otherwise, and we are committed to working with filmmakers and festivals to help broaden the distribution of these films and to bring the best festival experiences and indie films to our customers.”

Death of a Superhero features motion-capture star Andy Serkis (The Hobbit, Rise of the Planet of the Apes) in a story of a teenager struggling with his mortality.

Romantic comedy The Giant Mechanical Man stars Jenna Fischer (“The Office”), Chris Messina (Vicky Christina Barcelona) and Topher Grace (“That 70's Show”).

French action thriller Sleepless Night follows a cop dodging drug dealers in a nightclub as he tries to rescue his son from a crime kingpin, to whom he’s in debt.

Booker's Place: A Mississippi Story explores life in 1960s Mississippi and “Booker” Wright, a black man who spoke his mind on race relations on network TV. Jesus Henry Christ stars Academy Award nominees Toni Collette (The Sixth Sense, Little Miss Sunshine) and Michael Sheen (Midnight in Paris, Frost/Nixon) in a comedy about a boy prodigy who is searching for his biological father.

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November 07, 2011

AFM Attendance, Buyers Up

This year's American Film Market saw buying companies up 8% to 718 from 664 in 2010; buying executives up 7% to 1,523, compared with 1,417 a year ago; and overall attendance jump 4% to 7,988, compared with 7,695 in 2010. The festival has been going since Nov. 2, concluding Nov. 9.

“We are thrilled with the strong growth in buyers — it’s our most important metric — and selling out the new AFM Conference Series in its first year underscores the AFM’s relevance to the production community,” said AFM managing director Jonathan Wolf, who also is EVP of the Independent Film & Television Alliance, or IFTA, which produces the film conference.

Non-buying or -selling attendees also jumped 21% to a high of 2,402 from 1,988 last year. Exhibitor-affiliated participants (including executives, producers, talent and guests) dropped 3% to 3,219 from 3,321 last year.

Internationally speaking, films where screened from 35 participating countries. China posted the highest growth for buying companies (up 50%, to 21 versus 14 last year).

AFM this year saw 415 films screened, including 69 world premieres, 310 market premieres and 28 films screened in 3D, with a total of more than 700 screenings.

Speakers at this year's AFM included director-writer Rob Reiner, producer Lauren Shuler Donner (the “X-Men” franchise), actor Kevin Pollak and actress Selma Blair.

AFM takes place each year at the Loews Santa Monica Hotel in Santa Monica, Calif.

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November 03, 2011

SnagFilms Gets Digital Rights For Six Docs

has acquired the digital distribution rights to documentaries Windfall, Southern Comfort, PUSH: Madison versus Madison, Never Make it Home, City Lax and Soccer City.

SnagFilms will release the films via distribution partners Comcast Xfinity, FiOS, DIRECTV, iTunes, Amazon and VUDU. Additionally, the company has acquired exclusive digital rights for award-winning documentary Capturing the Friedmans.

“SnagFilms is pleased to bring these festival favorites and award winners to digital audiences in the comfort of their homes,” said Rick Allen, SnagFilms CEO. “These are six amazing true stories, incredibly well told. We look forward to bringing them to film fans worldwide, first on a transactional basis and ultimately on snagfilms.com and via our online network, mobile apps and connected TV devices.”

SnagFilms also recently acqeuired 2011 films Dragonslayer, which won the grand jury prize at South By Southwest and opens theatrically in New York tomorrow and Los Angeles next week, and Splinters, another festival favorite, which was selected for the IDFA film festival later this month.

Windfall explores the dark side of wind power. Southern Comfort documents the last year in the life of a female-to-male transsexual who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and turned down for treatment. PUSH: Madison versus Madison tells of a troubled yet talented inner-city high school basketball team. Never Make it Home follows eccentric country singer Kirk Rundstrom, who has two months to live.

Sports docs City Lax: An Urban Lacrosse Story and Soccer City also have been acquired by ESPN for telecast.


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October 17, 2011

Magnolia Gets Rights to ‘Take This Waltz’

Magnolia Pictures has acquired U.S. rights to Take This Waltz, a film by Academy Award-nominated filmmaker and actress Sarah Polley (who directed Away With Her).

The film stars Michelle Williams, Seth Rogen, Luke Kirby and Sarah Silverman and follows a young woman (Williams) in a love triangle between her husband (Rogen), who is a cookbook author, and handsome artist (Kirby) who lives across the street. It premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and will play at more festivals in the coming months.

“With Take This Waltz, Sarah Polley has more than lived up to the promise of the wonderful Away From Her, and proven herself a masterful, sensitive chronicler of the human condition,” said Magnolia president Eamonn Bowles. “The entire cast is revelatory in unexpected ways and we think audiences will be surprised and delighted by this very special film.”

Polley adds: “Magnolia has distributed some of my favorite films of the last few years. It is an honor to have our film counted among their incredible list of titles. Their enthusiasm for the film is very exciting and we can’t wait to begin working with them.”

Magnolia plans to release the film theatrically in early summer 2012 and through its Ultra VOD program, which premieres films via video-on-demand prior to their theatrical releases for $10.99 in HD and $9.99 in standard-definition, then lowers the price subsequently as the films hit theaters and then home video.

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June 22, 2011

AFM Launches Five-day Conference Series

The American Film Market, or AFM, has launched a five-day conference program at the 2011 AFM, which takes place Nov. 2 to 9 at and nearby the Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel in Santa Monica, Calif.

The conference series runs from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. daily Nov. 4-8. Topics will include finance, production, marketing, distribution and pitching. Additionally an Industry Conversations program includes 14 intimate discussions with industry experts, free to attendees, from 2:30 to 4 p.m. daily from Nov. 2-8.

“The AFM Conference Series and Industry Conversations are two significant initiatives that will bring greater value and benefit to our thousands of attendees,” said Jonathan Wolf, EVP of the Independent Film & Television Alliance and managing director of the AFM. “The AFM is unique as it’s the only event in North America that attracts thousands of leaders in motion pictures from more than 70 countries, giving us the opportunity to curate terrific conferences with top talent from both Hollywood and around the world.”

The conference series will be held at the Fairmont Miramar Hotel, near the Loews in Santa Monica. For a listing of the conferences and more information, visit .


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June 10, 2011

Sony Pictures Reunites 'Boyz,' 'Boot' Casts at LA Film Fest

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment is reuniting the cast and crew of the Oscar-nominated film Boyz in the Hood at the 2011 Los Angeles Film Festival, June 23 at at 8 p.m., to celebrate the film's 20th anniversary.

Sony Pictures releases the film as a 20th-anniversary Blu-ray July 19 at $19.95. Cuba Gooding Jr., Nia Long and filmmaker John Singleton will participate in a Q&A following a screening at Regal Cinemas L.A. Live Stadium 14.

Sony Pictures also will also screen the director’s cut of Das Boot at the fest, as the studio releases the film on Blu-ray July 5 at $34.95. The two-disc Blu-ray includes 60 additional minutes to the original film, a making-of documentary, seven vignettes touring a German U-boat, two featurettes with first assistant director Maria Petersen and a featurette about the making of the director’s cut, among other featurettes. Sony Pictures will hold the Das Boot screening June 21 at 7 p.m., with a Q&A with director Wolfgang Petersen and star Jürgen Procnow before the film.

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