International digital distributor Under The Milky Way is diving in with Swim Little Fish Swim, the feature film debut of directors Lola Bessis and Ruben Amar about a NYC couple whose lives are upended when a 19-year-old French artist moves into their apartment. Bessis scripted with Amar and plays the young ingenue alongside Dustin Guy Defa (Summer of Love, Red Flag) and Brooke Bloom (Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close). Pic premiered at SXSW in March and is set for a September theatrical release, to be followed by a VOD debut. Jour2Fête is repping international sales. Under The Milky Way previously his U.S. theaters with the 2013 release of What’s In A Name?
The Mule premiered in March at SXSW and now XLrator Media has acquired U.S. rights to the comedy thriller. Angus Sampson (Mad Max: Fury Road, Insidious) wrote, co-directed with Tony Mahony and stars in the pic along with Hugo Weaving (The Hobbit, The Lord Of The Rings, The Matrix) and Leigh Whannell (Saw, Insidious). Ewen Leslie, Geoff Morrell, Georgina Haig, Noni Hazlehurst and John Noble (The Lord Of The Rings, Fringe) also star. Based on true events, the 1983-set pic centers on a naive man who’s detained by Australian Federal Police with lethal narcotics hidden in his stomach. Alone and afraid, ‘the Mule’ makes a desperate choice – defy his bodily functions and withhold the evidence…literally. And by doing so becomes a human time-bomb, dragging cops, criminals and concerned family into his impossible escapade. Sampson also produces with Jane Liscombe and Michele Bennett, Whannell, David Griffiths, Angus Coupland and Troy Lum exec producing. Deal was negotiated by Barry Gordon on behalf of XLrator and Anick Poirier of Séville International (eOne Films International’s boutique sales arm) and Paradigm on behalf of the filmmakers. XLrator is planning a fall release via its Macabre genre label.
The genre distributor is going all the way with Dan Beers’ teen sex comedy. IFC Midnight has picked up U.S. rights to Premature, which premiered at SXSW. It stars John Karna as a high school senior who, on the day he has to nail his college interview, is forced to relive his failed attempt at losing his virginity over and over again, until he gets it right. Katie Findlay, Craig Roberts, Carlson Young, Adam Riegler co-star in the pic written by Beers and Mathew Harawitz. It was produced by Aaron Ryder and Karen Lunder and executive produced by Glen Basner, Aviv Giladi, Vince Holden and Len Blavatnik. Arianna Bocco, SVP Acquisitions & Productions for Sundance Selects/IFC Films, negotiated the deal with FilmNation Entertainment on behalf of the filmmakers.
EXCLUSIVE: Domestic rights to Home, the thriller from writer-director Nicholas McCarthy (The Pact), have been acquired by IFC Midnight following the pic’s premiere last month at SXSW. The Midnight selection stars Naya Rivera (Glee), Catalina Sandino Moreno, Ashley Rickards (Awkward), Wyatt Russell and Ava Acres in the story of an ambitious real estate agent (Moreno) who’s selling a house with a checkered past. When she tries to help the runaway daughter of the property’s owners, she and her sister (Rivera) cross paths with a sinister supernatural force. IFC Midnight will release Home in theaters and on VOD this year. Sonny Mallhi’s Candlewood Entertainment financed the film – its first feature – which was exec produced by Gina Resnick, Kyle Heller, and Jeremy Platt. Nate Bolotin of XYZ Films, Bec Smith of UTA Independent Film Group and by IFC’s Sean Berney negotiated the deal. XYZ Films is also handling international sales and have already sold rights in the UK (The Works) and France, Germany, and Spain (Wild Bunch).
Elijah Wood and Sasha Grey star in writer-director Nacho Vigalondo‘s Open Windows, which premiered this month at SXSW in the Visions section. Cinedigm has landed U.S. distribution rights and plans a late summer or early fall 2014 release. Wood stars as Nick, who wins an online contest to have dinner with the hottest actress on earth Jill (Grey). When she cancels, he gets a call from a guy named Chord who offers to make it up to Nick by giving him the tools to spy on Jill from his computer for the rest of the night. Then the truth begins to reveal itself, with Nick playing a part in a much bigger plan. “Nacho is one of the most innovative and visionary filmmakers working today. And his talents are once again on full display in this high-tech, action-packed suspense film,” said Vincent Scordino, SVP Theatrical Releasing at Cinedigm. The deal was made by Cinedigm director of acquisitions Kristin Harris and CAA for the filmmakers.
UPDATE, 1:25 PM: A fourth person has died following from injuries he suffered when a car crashed through a barricade and into a crowd of SXSW concertgoers earlier this month. The Austin-American Statesman reports 18-year-old DeAndre Tatum of Fort Worth died this morning at a hospital. The alleged driver, 21-year-old Rashad Owens, is charged with capital murder and remains held on $3 million bail.
PREVIOUS, 3RD UPDATE, MARCH 17 AM: A third victim has died as a result of injuries suffered early Thursday morning when a car slammed through a barricade and ran into a crowd of SXSW concertgoers. The local Austin American Statesman reported that 26-year-old Sandy Le of Mississippi died this morning local time. She had been one of 21 victims taken to the hospital immediately after a man Austin police believe to be 21-year-old Rashad Owens plowed his Honda into the crowd while trying to evade police; the arrest warrant released Friday says Owens had a .114 blood alcohol content, above the .08 legal limit, and he is in jail facing capital murder charges and $3 million in bail. Two people, Jamie West, who was on a moped, and Steven Craenmehr, a Dutch national who was on his bicycle, were pronounced dead on site Thursday. The Statesman says six people remain in the hospital as of today, with one of them still in critical condition.
Magnolia Pictures’ genre label Magnet Releasing has acquired world rights to Leigh Janiak’s Honeymoon, which had its world premiere at SXSW this month. The pic starring Game Of Thrones‘ Rose Leslie and Harry Treadaway next plays at Tribeca in April and the film will be released domestically later this year. The story centers on young newlyweds who travel to remote lake country for their honeymoon. Shortly after arriving, he finds her wandering and disoriented in the middle of the night. As she becomes more distant and her behavior increasingly peculiar, he begins to suspect something more sinister than sleepwalking took place in the woods. Janiak co-wrote the film with Phil Graziadei; Patrick Baker and Esmé Howard produced. Magnolia Pictures International will rep the film at Cannes. “Honeymoon is an auspicious debut from the very talented Leigh Janiak, who has a preternatural mastery of tone and mounting dread, not to mention a deft hand with actors,” said Magnolia president Eamonn Bowles. The deal was negotiated by Magnolia’s SVP Acquisitions Dori Begley and VP Acquisitions Peter Van Steemburg with ICM Partners and the filmmakers legal counsel Gray Krauss Stratford Sandler Des Rochers LLP.
Related: Hot SXSW Teaser: ‘Honeymoon’
Q&A: Jason Blum & Mark Duplass Team On Horror Pic ‘Creep’ As Blumhouse Hit Machine, Indie Model Converge
Blumhouse Productions’ Jason Blum and filmmaker Mark Duplass aren’t the likeliest pair to join forces, but the microbudget horror maven and the indie veteran found common ground when they linked up just over a year ago on a found-footage pic Duplass was hammering out with director pal Patrick Brice. Creep follows the unfolding tale of a videographer (Brice) who answers a Craigslist ad to shoot video of a stranger (Duplass). The two filmed the pic on the fly shaping the story as they went. When Creep began looking like a horror pic, Duplass rang Blum, who then came aboard as producer. The film premiered last week at SXSW.
Blum, who made his fortune and his name on 2009′s game-changer Paranormal Activity, has seen his reputation as a hitmaker climb as audiences keep buying tickets for his insta-franchises including Insidious, Sinister, and The Purge. In a SXSW keynote speech, he lined out the secret to Blumhouse’s success: low budgets of $1M-$3M, directors with something to prove (and, often, bad studio experiences under their belts), no CG, no rebate-state shoots outside of L.A., and scale pay for cast and crew with a cut of the profits if the movie is a hit.
However Creep‘s future shakes out, Duplass is ready to embrace alternative channels of distribution. The actor-writer-director-producer got his start with his and brother Jay Duplass’ indie drama The Puffy Chair, one of Netflix’s early streaming success stories. He’s now produced and distributed nine more features using his own Blum-like formula developed over the past decade working in indie film. Creep is the first of their two features together, with Universal and Blumhouse’s Stephen King adaptation Mercy also on the way. Blum and Duplass explained their simpatico methods during SXSW:
DIY distribution platform VHX made a big move at SXSW this week when it opened its digital doors to the public, allowing any content creator to sell direct to fans at low cost. The start-up founded in 2011 by Jamie Wilkinson and Casey Pugh had been in private beta for two years building a library of over 300 select titles from indie filmmakers and film companies including Shane Carruth’s Upstream Color, Mike Birbiglia’s Sleepwalk With Me, and Oscar nominated docu The Act of Killing. Unlike video distribution storefronts like Amazon, Hulu, Netflix, and iTunes, VHX offers technology that allows makers to sell content direct to fans via high quality streaming or DRM-free download at price points of their choosing, on their own websites. That means flinging the gates wide open to any and all content. “The goal is to close the gap between interest and availability,” VHX co-founder Wilkinson told me in Austin. Most digital distributors are selective in their content deals but VHX is a facilitator, not a gatekeeper of content.
VHX is one of a handful of rising DIY distribution companies offering content creators an alternative to aggregators by cutting out the middleman, dramatically changing traditional distribution models, territorial rights, and release windows – not just the means of delivery. “Traditional distribution thinking is that the world is chunked up into borders and information does not cross these borders, but the internet has changed all that,” said Wilkinson. VHX allows users to geofilter content by region but recommends they offer worldwide releases for maximum exposure. More than half of VHX sales come from outside the U.S. from consumers who don’t want to wait for a film to expand to their region or hit home video. “When you’re marketing or at a premiere in the U.S., people hear about it and there’s demand all over the world. We see tons of successful pre-orders because of that – there’s demand and people are Googling the film and they want to take some kind of action. You might as well offer it for purchase.”
SXSW: Audience Award Winners Are Announced With ‘Cesar Chavez’, ‘Before I Disappear’ & HBO’s ‘Silicon Valley’ Among The Faves
The South by Southwest (SXSW) Film Conference and Festival announced their Audience Award-winners today including wins for Diego Luna‘s biopic Cesar Chavez in the narrative spotlight and the Emmy Rossum-starring drama Before I Disappear in the narrative feature spotlight. Also getting a crowd-pleasing boost before its April 6 HBO premiere is Mike Judge’s Silicon Valley which took the Episodic award. Last year’s winner in the narrative feature competition was Short Term 12 which was released by Cinedigm and had some awards buzz this past fall. The SXSW Jury Awards were announced on Tuesday with the Grand Jury Prize going to Fort Tilden and the The Great Invisible, Margaret Brown’s look at the oil industry’s secretive world in the wake of the Gulf Coast disaster, earning the top documentary prize. Below are a list of the SXSW Film Festival Audience Award winners:
A comedy about two young women having a really difficult time getting to the beach won the Grand Jury prize for features tonight at the SXSW Film Festival in Austin. Fort Tilden is directed and written by Sarah-Violet Bliss & Charles Rogers and stars Bridey Elliott and Clare McNulty. The Great Invisible, director Margaret Brown’s look at the oil industry’s secretive world in the wake of the Gulf Coast disaster, took the top prize for documentary features. The awards were hosted for the second year by comedian Jerrod Carmichael at the Paramount Theatre in Austin. The Audience Awards will be announced Saturday, and the festival wraps Sunday.
Here is the complete list of 2014 SXSW Film Festival award winners:
A down-on-his luck salesman gets a strange phone that sets him on a series of 13 tasks, each more sinister — and lucrative — than the last. Mark Webber stars in director Daniel Stamm’s 13 Sins, which had its world premiere Friday at SXSW as a Midnighters. Rutina Wesley, Devon Graye, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Richard Burgi, Tom Bower, Ron Perlman co-star in the Radius-TWC pic, which Stamm (The Last Exorcism) scripted with David Birke. It’s available on demand March 14 and in theaters April 18. Here’s the rather violent red band trailer:
EXCLUSIVE: Big In Japan is a documentary-style feature about a Seattle band that makes one last stab at making it by going on tour you know where. It’s a good example of how music and film converge at SXSW, and this one plays in the 24 Beats Per Second sidebar along with pics like docu Pulp that also premiered this week. Check it out:
The Terrence Malick-produced film about a boy who would grow up to be the man widely considered America’s greatest presidents was first seen by the world at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. Today Amplify announced it has acquired all U.S. rights to The Better Angels. The film from first time writer-director A.J. Edwards will get a fall theatrical release later this year. That will be followed by a VOD and home video release early next year. Better Angels, which also played in Berlin earlier this year, chronicles big changes in the the family life of young Abraham Lincoln over a three-year span in in the harsh Indiana wilderness. The film also focuses on two women who shaped his life, his mother Nancy, played by Brit Marling, , and his step mother Sarah, Diane Kruger, who raised him for a while after Nancy died. The film also stars Jason Clarke as Abe’s father and Wes Bentley. Edwards worked Malick on The New World as an editor and a second unit director on The Tree Of Life and the upcoming Knights Of Cups. Malick produced Better Angels with Jake DeVito, Nicolas Gonda and Charley Beil. Jason Krigfeld, Joseph Krigsfeld, Suzanne Deal Booth and Antoine Douaihy were the EPs. The deal announced today was put together by Cinetic Media and Alan Sacks & Hayden Goldblatt of Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz PC on behalf of the filmmakers and Kent Sanderson on behalf of Amplify.
The hybrid documentary centers on a Somali pirate who hijacks ships off the African coast while struggling to be a father figure to his family. FilmBuff picked up North American rights to Last Hijack at SXSW and plans to release it theaters and on demand in the summer. Directors Tommy Pallotta and Femke Wolting splice animated re-creations into the documentary to represent the subject’s “memories, dreams and fears from his point of view.” Last Hijack, which premiered at Berlin, was produced by Wolting and Bruno Felix. The deal was negotiated by FilmBuff Head of Content Partnerships Steven Beckman and Match Factory’s Jenny Walendy and Julien Razafindranaly on behalf of the filmmakers.
If you want better privacy and security, you’d better pay for it instead of relying on ad-financed search, social media and other online companies most of us use, said a SXSW Interactive Conference panel featuring Edward Snowden, the former intelligence analyst making his first public video appearance since he blew the whistle on massive U.S. government surveillance. Snowden, still living in an undisclosed Russian location while he seeks asylum, took part in the panel long distance by way of a Google+ Hangout chat room. The irony of using such a free service while criticizing Google’s data security was not lost on Snowden or the ACLU specialists who joined him on the panel. The event has been criticized by politicians including Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.), a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. He wrote a letter to SXSW last week urging the fest to uninvite Snowden, saying his inclusion rewarded him and “undermines the very fairness and freedom that SXSW and the ACLU purport to foster.” The appearance went off without a hitch.
Snowden — perhaps predictably for a long-time computer specialist — focused his remarks today on the technical and legal tools that could protect an average user from mass surveillance. Snowden said putting those protections in place, both in how government oversight works and in how we use our favorite online services, is essential to the Internet’s long-term viability. ”This is a global issue,” Snowden said. “(The U.S. mass-surveillance efforts are) setting fire to the future of the Internet. And the people in this room now, you’re all the firefighters. Changes in technical standards can make mass surveillance more expensive and less practical.”
SXSW: Vimeo Expands On Demand, Partners With Oscilloscope, Patagonia Selects, Slamdance & SXSW On Curated Film Collections
A year after introducing its direct distribution platform at SXSW, Vimeo today announced upgrades to its Vimeo On Demand experience as the service continues to expand into a digital storefront destination for video. Vimeo has also added themed collections to its offerings, launching with four curated partnerships with Oscilloscope Laboratories, Patagonia Selects, the Slamdance Film Festival, and the SXSW Film Festival. Vimeo users can now browse themed film bundles and titles by genre from the content uploaded and distributed by Vimeo creators. Among the new improvements to the user experience are a My Library function that allows viewers to access rented, purchased, and previously watched titles and the ability to browse title cards with posters, descriptions, and trailers. Last week Vimeo announced a $10 million investment providing direct financial support and online marketing assistance to Vimeo content creators. Here’s the lineup of premium Vimeo partner titles included in the new film collections:
Oscilloscope Laboratories: Oscilloscope Laboratories is a film distribution company founded by Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys. Oscilloscope’s eclectic, acclaimed slate has garnered six Academy nominations in as many years. The collection for Vimeo On Demand includes 12 O’Clock Boys; A Teacher; After Tiller; Dark Days; It’s a Disaster; Our Day Will Come; The Messenger; These Birds Walk; and We Need to Talk About Kevin.
Patagonia Selects: Vimeo On Demand will feature a selection of social impact films curated by Patagonia, including the upcoming DamNation; Fall and Winter; Groundswell; North of the Sun; Snows of the Nile; Slow is Fast; The Fruit Hunters; Trashed; and Village at the End of the World. Today, the Vimeo Theater at SXSW will host the world premiere of Patagonia Film’s new feature, DamNation.
Literary and cinematic roots run deep in Showtime’s new psychosexual horror series Penny Dreadful, which debuts in May with an episode helmed by The Orphanage director Juan Antonio Bayona. Josh Hartnett, Eva Green, Timothy Dalton, and Harry Treadaway star in the show created by Oscar-nominated scribe John Logan and exec produced by Sam Mendes which crosses the mythologies of iconic horror figures from Frankenstein, Dracula, and Dorian Gray lore in a Victorian England setting. “We wanted to pay respects to the mythology but bring them to a new level,” said Bayona of the show’s twisty take on well-known stories and characters.
Coincidentally, another thread connects the Penny Dreadful gang in front of and behind the camera. “There’s a lot of James Bond on this show: John wrote Skyfall, Sam directed it, Eva was in Casino Royale – I said to someone, I think I’m being groomed for the next Bond movie,” said Hartnett at a Q&A following the premiere of Penny Dreadful’s first episode Sunday at SXSW. Hartnett plays American gunslinger Ethan Chandler, who is recruited by Sir Malcolm (Dalton, a former 007 himself) and the enigmatic Vanessa Ives (Green) for a supernatural mission in London. The gothic series is one of a handful of television projects highlighted this year in SXSW’s new programming slate devoted to episodic /TV content.
EXCLUSIVE: Director Florian Habicht’s documentary about 1990s UK rockers Pulp and their final concert in their hometown of Sheffield is playing at SXSW in the 24 Beats Per Second section and premieres this evening at the Vimeo Theater. Here’s a look at the movie, which weaves the band’s commentary with the concert that marks the end of the Britpop rockers’ 25-year run (they reunited in 2011) that garnered 10 million in album sales. Check it out: