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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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By: Billy Gil

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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 16, 2011

Cannes Acquisitions 2011

The Cannes Film Festival has begun, and studios are scooping up films. Here’s the latest in acquisitions so far.

- Tribeca Film has acquired U.S. rights to Romantics Anonymous, a French hit that premiered at the 2011 Tribeca Film Festival. The film has taken in $9 million in its native country.

The film follows a shy chocolate maker (Isabelle Carré, Private Fears in Public Places) and a similarly shy chocolate company owner (Benoît Poelvoorde, Coco Before Chanel) who must overcome their bashfulness to work together and admit their feelings for one another.

Romantics Anonymous will be released theatrically, through VOD, DVD, pay-TV and digital by Tribeca Film, a label run by Tribeca Enterprises.

“French films have the rare ability to transcend boundaries and bring audiences together. We’re enormously pleased to have reached a deal in Cannes for this film, which has great comic moments, wonderful characters and extraordinary performances,” said Geoffrey Gilmore, chief creative officer, Tribeca Enterprises. “Romantics Anonymous is universal in its appeal and its treatment of love and romance. We look forward to bringing it to a wider audience in the U.S.”

- Image Entertainment before the festival began picked up The Double, a crime thriller starring Richard Gere, Topher Grace and Martin Sheen, and is the directorial debut of Michael Brandt (Wanted).

“The performances in The Double are terrific and the production value is amazing,” said Mark Ward, VP of acquisitions at Image. “For a first-time director, Michael has hit it out of the park.”

The film is slated to release theatrically in fall, with a home video release to follow.

- The Weinstein Co. has acquired U.S. distribution rights to The Iron Lady, directed by Phyllida Lloyd (Mamma Mia!) and starring Meryl Streep as Margaret Thatcher. Jim Broadbent co-stars. The film is slated to hit U.S. theaters in 2011. Home video release dates have not yet been finalized.

“Having worked with both Meryl Streep and Jim Broadbent, I know that they are without peer as film actors,” said TWC co-chairman Harvey Weinstein. “Even so, I was absolutely blown away by what I saw of their performances as Margaret and Denis Thatcher. Phyllida is doing an incredible job.”

Please send any home video acquisition announcements to bgil@questex.com.


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May 06, 2011

Fox Debuts World Cinema Line

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment is launching a new line of global films on disc called Fox World Cinema.

Starting later this year, films such as Korea’s The Yellow Sea, which will be at the Cannes Film Festival this month; Chinese film The Butcher, the Chef and the Swordsman, which was at the Toronto Film Festival last year; India’s Dum Maaro Dum; and Italy’s Vallanzasca: Angel of Evil will be available on DVD, VOD and digital download.

“Filmmakers around the world are creating provocative and entertaining films, many of which are rarely seen outside their native countries,” says Mary Daily, EVP of marketing with 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. “With Fox World Cinema, we are committed to introducing these films to passionate audiences in America that are eager to embrace a range of cultures and experiences.”

Sanford Panitch, president of Fox International Productions, added: “Fox has always championed films that transcend language and social differences. In recent years, American audiences have embraced successful foreign films such as Pan’s Labyrinth and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. The universal themes represented with Fox World Cinema will be appreciated by film lovers everywhere.

Sounds good to me! This multitiered approach seems to mirror efforts by YouTube and DirecTV with its recent ShortsHD launch and Tribeca screenings. Hopefully it means consumers have more access to film festival and international titles they might not otherwise see, on whichever means they choose — disc or digital.


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June 15, 2010

Film Movement Gets Cannes Winner ‘A Screaming Man’

Film Movement has acquired 2010 Cannes Film Festival Jury Prize Winner A Screaming Man. Film Movement will release the film theatrically in North America during the first quarter of 2011, with a VOD run and eventual DVD release to follow (Soda Pictures will handle distribution in the United Kingdom and Ireland, premiering it at the London Film Festival in October). The film, about a 60ish former swimming champion who is harassed to contribute to his country’s civil war and must make a regretful decision, was written and directed by Mahamat-Saleh Haroun and is in French and Arabic.

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May 27, 2010

New Indie Titles, May 27: ‘It Came From Kuchar’ and More

Title: It Came From Kuchar
Genre: Documentary
Studio: First Run
Street Date: 6/29
Price/Format: $24.95 DVD
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This documentary interweaves clips of films by notorious underground filmmaking twins George and Mike Kuchar, who helped create and inspire ‘B’-movie sleaze, with interviews by fans and followers such as John Waters, Buck Henry, Atom Egoyan, Wayne Wang, Bill Griffith, Gerard Malanga, B. Ruby Rich and Guy Maddin.

Title: Machine Gun McCain
Genre: Cult/Thriller
Studio: E1/Blue Underground
Street date: 8/24
Prebook: 7/27
Price/Format: $19.98 DVD, $29.98 Blu-ray
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No, not that McCain. This 1969 Cannes favorite stars John Cassavetes as an ex-con who stages a heist after his mob employer turns on him. The film co-stars Peter Falk, Gene Rowlands, Britt Ekland and Florinda Bolkan, and features music by Ennio Morricone.

Title: An American Journey: In Robert Frank’s Footsteps
Genre: Documentary
Studio: Kino-Lorber
Street date: 8/24
Prebook date: 7/27
Price/Format: $29.95 DVD

Filmmaker Philippe Seclier traces influential photographer Robert Frank’s trips across the United States that inspired his intimate images.

Title: A Town Called Panic
Genre: Animated
Studio: Zeitgeist
Street date: 7/20
Prebook date: 6/22
Price/Format: $29.99 DVD
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Based on a Belgian cult TV series, three plastic toys named Cowboy, Indian and Horse share a house in a village that attracts crazy events.

Title: Lights Camera Dead/F.A.R.T. the Movie
Genre: Cult/Horror
Studio: MVD
Street date: 7/27
Price/Format: $19.95 DVD/$9.95 DVD
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Nope, IndieFile is not too stuffy for this: MVD Visual and SRS Cinema are releasing two cult, er, “classics.” One is about two filmmakers who will stop at nothing to finish their zombie masterpiece. The other is about a man with two passions — television and flatulence — whose passions are about to come together in a big way. Guess which description is for which film.

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May 17, 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.

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December 08, 2009

Virgil Slates ‘Amreeka’

Genre: Comedy/Drama
Studio: Virgil
Street date: 1/12
Prebook: 12/15
Price/Format: $24.99 DVD
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If you’ve seen the Spirit Award Nominations, you’ve seen that Amreeka is nominated for a bunch of them. I have yet to see it, but its pedigree speaks highly of it (2009 Sundance premiere, accolades at festivals from Cannes on). The story concerns a Palestinian single mother and her teenage son who immigrate to the United States, to a small town in Illinois, and the struggles they face with their new surroundings. Here’s what The New York Times has to say:

“Cherien Dabis’ Amreeka stands alongside The Visitor and Maria Full of Grace as one of the most accomplished recent films about a non-European immigrant coming to the United States.”

Special features include deleted Scenes, bloopers, a making-of featurette and a short film by director Dabis.


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By: Billy Gil

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