Adopt Films has acquired all U.S. rights to this year’s Cannes Film Festival Palme d’Or winner, Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s Winter Sleep. The Turkish drama took the top prize despite its daunting 3-hour, 16-minute run time that even had jury president Jane Campion wondering if she’d need a bathroom break in the middle of the Palais premiere. “But it had such a beautiful rhythm and it just took me in,” Campion said at the post-awards press conference. “Actually I could have sat there for another two hours. It was all very Chekhovian. I could see myself in all of the characters.” Adopt plans a year-end 2014 U.S. release.
“Independent American films are largely considered anathema to foreign distributors these days,” says Jeff Lipsky. The distribution veteran, who’s also a John Cassavetes-mentored filmmaker, knows a thing or two about the indie business. He co-founded October Films with Bingham Ray in 1991, and is also a former executive at New Yorker Films, Samuel Goldwyn Films, and Skouras Pictures. In 2011, he launched Adopt Films with Tim Grady, which recently handled Oscar nominee Omar. As a director, Lipsky has made five movies, and is shooting a sixth this fall. Some of his own films have been in official selections at Sundance and San Sebastian, and seen U.S. releases, but none has ever been distributed internationally. And that’s why he’s taking things into his own hands, making three of them available via Vimeo On Demand worldwide as of May 1: Flannel Pajamas (2006), Twelve Thirty (2010) and Molly’s Theory Of Relativity (2013). Among the stars of those movies are Justin Kirk, Julianne Nicholson, Mamie Gummer, Jonathan Groff and Cady Huffman. Two of them also have actor Reed Birney in common with In Your Eyes, the micro-budget Tribeca title that writer and exec producer Joss Whedon just announced is going out worldwide via Vimeo. The timing was pure coincidence, Lipsky says as he sings the service’s praises. “There is great potential for indie filmmakers. It doesn’t require legal contracts, you can geoblock and call your own shots… It’s not rocket science.” (Post continues below)
He says Vimeo’s quality is the same as “any of the big boys.” Although a fan of Netflix and Amazon, Lipsky contends the “problem” with those services is that they are “fantastic for consumers, but little to no money can be realized by filmmakers or distributors.” Vimeo allows for an “instantaneous” revenue stream, which is “as it should be in this world we live in.” The split with the site is 90% to the rights holder and 10% to the service, Lipsky tells me. The only risk, he says, is that it’s “not the 800-pound gorilla. You have to do a little more” to market, but it’s “whatever I want.” What he hopes is that when his next movie is completed in 2016, the Vimeo experience will create “an expectant audience clamoring to see the film in many countries.” Here’s a clip from Lipsky latest, Molly’s Theory Of Relativity, with Tony winner Huffman and God’s Pocket‘s Sophia Takal:
EXCLUSIVE: U.S. distributor Adopt Films has provided Deadline with its first official trailer for Yuval Adler’s Bethlehem. The director’s feature debut won six Israeli Academy Awards earlier this year and is Israel’s entry for the Foreign Language Oscar. The film focuses on an Israeli Secret Service officer and his teenage Palestinian informant, the younger brother of a sought-after militant. Bethlehem is still in theaters in Israel following its September bow and has been buzzed about for a slot on the Foreign Language shortlist. It’s set for a February 21st release in the U.S.:
Global Showbiz Briefs: Adopt Films Acquires ‘Zurich’ For U.S.; Mongrel Media Bringing ‘Bethlehem’ To Canada; More
Adopt Films Picks Up ‘Zurich’ For U.S.
New York-based Adopt Films has acquired all U.S. rights to Frederik Steiner’s Zurich. The drama had its world premiere at the HOF Film Festival in Munich last month and is scheduled for a wide theatrical release in Germany in the spring. Zurich is Adopt’s third German acquisition in two years following Christian Petzold’s Barbara and Caroline Link’s Exit Marrakech. The film is about a bright, independent-minded 20-year-old woman who’s had cystic fibrosis since birth. After watching her brother suffer through the same disease, she hatches a plan to travel to a private clinic in Zurich where she can end her life legally. Newcomer Liv Lisa Fries stars with Kerstin de Anna and Lena Stolze. The original screenplay is by Barbara te Kock. The movie will go out in the U.S. next summer.
Continuing its support of international art house fare, Adopt Films has acquired German drama Exit Marrakech. The film had its international premiere in Toronto and also screened at the Hamptons Film Festival. Director Caroline Link, whose 2001 film Nowhere In Africa won the Foreign Language Oscar, helmed the pic about the rapprochement of a father and son on a cathartic road trip throughout Morocco. Ulrich Tukur (The White Ribbon, The Lives Of Others) stars with newcomer Samuel Schneider. New York-based Adopt picked up all U.S. rights from ARRI Worldsales, which co-produced the film. It’s planning an early summer 2014 release. The company also recently acquired two foreign Oscar entries: Israeli thriller Bethlehem and Palestine drama Omar.
EXCLUSIVE: New York-based Adopt Films has been busy with a series of pickups this month including Israeli thriller Bethlehem, which is that country’s submission for the Foreign Language Oscar. Adopt also now has the entry from Palestine, Omar. The film, which won the Un Certain Regard Jury Prize in Cannes, is written and directed by Hany Abu-Assad. It’s the second of his features to be selected as the Palestinian Oscar representative — his 2005 Paradise Now ultimately scored a nomination. Adopt is planning a late-winter release for Omar which unspools at the New York Film Festival on October 11th. The story follows young Palestinian baker Omar (Adam Bakri), whose loyalty to family and country are complicated by his love for a beautiful young student. Adopt Films president Tim Grady said, “Hany Abu-Assad has delivered a classic story of love and betrayal. Omar is both a Shakespearean tragedy and a suspense thriller, replete with international intrigue and twists-and-turns, and double-crosses. The West Bank setting only magnifies the all-out drama and pathos of an occupied people.” Produced by co-star Waleed F. Zuaiter and David Gerson, Omar is a ZBROS Production. Grady and Adopt’s Jeff Lipsky negotiated the deal for U.S. rights with Brigitte Suarez of The Match Factory.
Adopt Films has acquired all U.S. rights to Yuval Adler‘s debut feature Bethlehem. The movie premiered in Venice before heading to Telluride and Toronto. It’s also received 12 nominations at the Israeli Academy Awards, including Best Picture. Taking place largely in Jerusalem and the West Bank, it focuses on an Israeli Secret Service officer and his teenage Palestinian informant, the younger brother of a sought-after militant. Adler, who was signed by WME this month, co-wrote the screenplay with Ali Waked. Tsahi Halevi, Sahdi Marei, Haitham Omari, and Hisham Suliman star. Producers are Talia Kleinhendler and Osnat Handelsman-Keren for Tel Aviv based Pie Films, and Diana Elbaum and Sebastian Delloye of Entre Chien et Loup. Adopt’s Tim Grady and Jeff Lipsky negotiated the deal with WestEnd Film’s Maya Amsellem. Grady and Lipsky liken the film to Argo, except that the audience “doesn’t know in advance what will happen to the very charismatic characters at the end of the film and, thus, the suspense is unyielding from the very start. We were literally shaking when we left the Toronto screening and were determined to release it.” They will do so in late winter next year.
Global Showbiz Briefs: Adopt Acquires ‘Priest’s Children’; Bollywood Curtails Foreign Shoots; Content Media; More
Adopt Acquires Hit Croatian Comedy
Adopt Films has taken all U.S. rights to Croatian comedy The Priest’s Children. The Vinko Brešan-directed movie premiered at Karlovy Vary and has become the 3rd highest-grossing Croatian film in the country since it achieved independence in the 1990s. A pastiche about the slightly unethical fashion in which an idealistic young priest addresses the declining birth rate among his flock on a magically beautiful Crotian island is reminiscent of 1983’s Scotland-set Local Hero. It stars Krešimir Mikić, Zdenko Botic, Nikša Butijer, Drazen Kuhn and Marija Škaričič. Producer is Ivan Maloča for Interfilm Produkcija and Zillion Film. It was written (and scored) by Mate Matišić, based on his play. Adopt acquired the film from Paris-based Wide Management.
EXCLUSIVE: New York-based distributor Adopt Films has acquired all U.S. rights to French director Jacques Doillon’s Love Battles (aka Mes Séances De Lutte). The movie debuted in the Panorama section of Berlin earlier this year. The story follows a young woman who deals with her father’s death by engaging in a contest of wills, physicality and carnality with the caretaker of his estate. Sara Forestier, here in Cannes with Katell Quillévéré’s Critics’ Week opener Suzanne, stars alongside James Thiérrée. Adopt is planning a theatrical and VOD release this fall for the controversial title that will go out in France afterwards. Led by Tim Grady and Jeff Lipsky, Adopt has had a healthy track record with films coming out of Berlin. At the 2012 fest, they picked up Ursula Meier’s Sister, which was shortlisted for a foreign language Oscar. They also acquired Christian Petzold’s Barbara which won the directing Silver Bear, Paolo and Vittorio Taviani’s Golden Bear winner Caesar Must Die and Miguel Gomes’ Tabu, winner of the FIPRESCI prize (Gomes is president of the Critics’ Week jury here in Cannes). Grady negotiated the deal on behalf of Adopt with Doc & Film CEO Daniela Elstner.
The Berlin Film Festival‘s competition begins its official screenings today after Wong Kar Wai’s The Grandmaster opened out of competition last night. The main section has taken on increasing importance over the past few years. In 2011, Asghar Farhadi’s A Separation won four prizes here and went on to win the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film; it was also nominated for Original Screenplay. Two films that won prizes here in 2012, Nikolaj Arcel’s A Royal Affair and Kim Nguyen’s War Witch, are in the running for the Foreign Language Oscar later this month.
Folks this year say the competition is “hardcore art house” which might turn off domestic buyers. At first glance, the movies do appear a little less sexy than last year when Jeff Lipsky and Tim Grady’s Adopt Films picked up four titles. They recently told me, “The magical thing about Berlin is that we didn’t go there last year with any phenomenal expectations. We had a certain degree of skepticism. You have to approach it that way.” The movies they picked up each won prizes at the fest. This year, they say they’re mildly disappointed that the English-language movies in the lineup are already spoken for and that the festival “hasn’t gone to look for a discovery.”
“Molly’s Theory of Relativity” is a sexy, funny, surreal, and devastating portrait of a beautiful twenty-eight-year-old astronomer who, having unexpectedly lost her job, is poised to make perhaps the first reckless decision of her life. Her story unfolds during an eighteen hour period, on Halloween. Providing counsel on the fateful day are her husband, her father-in-law, three deceased relatives, a precocious nine-year-old trick-or-treater, her grandfather from Minot, North Dakota, and a six year old neighbor, who may or may not be imaginary. “Molly’s Theory of Relativity” is about the economy, how we value and measure the pride we take in what we choose to do for a living, the unbreakable bonds of family, and the notion that death is merely a relative thing.
Here’s the other perspective in Café De Flore, which explores the parallel fates of a young mother with a disabled son in 1960s Paris and a divorced, successful DJ in contemporary Montreal. Jean-Marc Vallée (C.R.A.Z.Y, The Young Victoria), directed the film that stars Vanessa Paradis, Kevin Parent and Hélène Florent. Adopt Films releases Café De Flore in the U.S. on November 2nd:
Café De Flore explores the parallel fates of Jacqueline, a young mother with a disabled son in 1960s Paris, and Antonio, a recently divorced, successful DJ in present-day Montreal. Jean-Marc Vallée (C.R.A.Z.Y, The Young Victoria), directed the film, which stars Vanessa Paradis (Girl On The Bridge). Adopt Films releases Café De Flore on November 2nd.
Specialty Box Office: ‘The Ballad Of Genesis And Lady Jaye,’ ‘Friends With Kids,’ ‘Good For Nothing,’ ‘Jiro Dreams Of Sushi,’ ‘Salmon Fishing In The Yemen’
This weekend’s specialty releases includes Friends With Kids, which will open in over 300 locations on one end and doc Jiro Dreams Of Sushi, slated for two initial runs in New York before heading slowly out in other cities on the other. Fresh from its string of Berlin acquisitions, Adopt Films will open The Ballad Of Genesis And Lady Jaye Stateside, while New Zealand “spaghetti western” Good For Nothing makes its way to theaters from down under. Swedish director Lasse Hallstrom’s Salmon Fishing in the Yemen is also among this weekend’s specialty offerings – a project he took over before shooting.
The Ballad Of Genesis And Lady Jaye
Director: Marie Losier
Cast: Genesis P-Orridge, Lady Jaye Breyer P’Orridge and Big Boy Breyer P’Orridge
Distributor: Adopt Films
One of the early pick ups by Adopt Films, the documentary about artist Genesis Breyer P-Orridge and his wife and collaborator, Lady Jaye was picked up by Adopt Films last Labor Day by the newly formed company co-headed by the veteran specialty distributor Jeff Lipsky who co-founded October Films back in the ’90s. “I don’t know that I’ve ever been involved with another film after distributing over 230 films that has been in production for seven years,” Lipsky told Deadline. He and partner Tim Grady made news at the recent Berlin International Film Festival picking up a number of films from the event’s competition lineup, surprising even Lipsky. “It was a surreal experience. We saw so many films in main competition that blew me away, so we decided to go for buying films. We thought we’d never get them but we did. That (experience) never happened at October or Lot 47 Films.”
Tabu is the fourth pickup for Adopt Films from this year’s recent Berlin International Film Festival’s main competition. It won the festival’s Alfred Bauer Prize and the FIPRESCI international critics award. Portuguese filmmaker Miguel Gomes directed and co-wrote with Mariana Ricardo the romancer about an impossible love affair set in colonial Africa. Luís Urbano and Sandro Aguilar produced. Match Factory’s Brigitte Suárez and Michael Weber negotiated the deal with Adopt’s co-managing execs Jeff Lipsky and Tim Grady. Adopt plans a theatrical release in New York and Los Angeles in late December followed by a larger rollout in first-quarter 2013. Tabu joins fellow Adopt Berlin pickups Ceasar Must Die, which took the Golden Bear; Barbara, by Best Director winner Christian Petzold; and Silver Bear title Sister from Ursula Meier.
Adopt Films has announced its acquisition of all U.S. rights to Jean-Marc Vallée’s “Café de Flore,” which World Premiered at the 2011 Venice Film Festival and enjoyed its North American Premiere at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival.
Co-starring Vanessa Paradis, Kevin Parent, Hélène Florent and Evelyne Brochu, “Café de Flore” has been nominated for a spectacular 13 Genie Awards, the Canadian equivalent of the Oscars ©. Its nominations include Best Motion Picture, Best Director (Vallée), Best Screenplay (Vallée), Best Actress (Paradis), Best Supporting Actress (Florent), and Best Supporting Actor (Marin Gerrier). The Genie Awards will be presented on March 8th. “Café de Flore” was produced by Pierre Even and Marie-Claude Poulin. Vallée’s previous films include “Liste Noire,” “C.R.A.Z.Y.,” and “The Young Victoria,” produced by Graham King and Martin Scorsese.
The deal was negotiated by Nicolas Brigaud-Robert, Managing partner of international sales company Films Distribution and Adopt’s Co-Managing Executives Tim Grady and Jeff Lipsky.
Adopt Films is continuing its spending spree at the Berlin International Film Festival, landing U.S. rights to Christian Petzold’s drama Barbara just before the film won the runner-up Silver Bear at the festival’s awards ceremony yesterday. The latest deal, announced today, comes after Adopt picked up the festival’s eventual Golden Bear winner, Paolo and Vittorio Taviani’s semi-documentary Caesar Must Die. The distributor also nabbed rights in Berlin to Ursula Meier’s Sister. Adopt plans a December theatrical release for Barbara – which is set in 1980 East Berlin and stars Nina Hoss as a doctor banished to a small country hospital far from freedom in the west — and said it will mount an Oscar campaign for Petzold and his lead actors. If so, it’s an aggressive move from Jeff Lipsky and Tim Grady’s Adopt, which hasn’t released its first film yet; its kickoff pic, The Ballad Of Genesis And Lady Jaye, bows March 8.
Adopt Films has announced its acquisition of all U.S. rights to Paolo and Vittorio Taviani’s “Caesar Must Die,” its second acquisition of a title competing for the Golden Bear at this year’s ongoing Berlin International Film Festival following Ursula Meier’s “Sister.”
“Caesar Must Die” is the latest and one of the most surprising entries to be co-directed by the Taviani Brothers. This revivifying effort is the latest chapter in a storied career that includes “Padre Padrone,” “The Night of the Shooting Stars,” “Good Morning, Babylon,” “Elective Infinities,” and “Kaos.”
“Caesar Must Die” was written by Paolo and Vittorio Taviani with the collaboration of Fabio Cavalli. It stars Cosimo Rega, Salvatore Striano, Giovanni Arcuri and Antonio Frasca. The deal was negotiated by Catia Rossi representing RAI Trade and Adopt’s Co-Managing Executive Tim Grady.
A fully scripted semi-documentary work, “Caesar Must Die” takes the audience behind the walls of Rome’s high-security Rebibbia prison for the rehearsal, staging, and performing of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, a production cast with actual prison inmates. Alternatively fierce and introspective, acted and experienced with abject reality, “Caesar Must Die” explores the transformative power of art even under the most dire and seemingly hopeless of circumstances.
Adopt Films has acquired U.S. rights to Sister (L´enfant d´en haut), the Ursula Meier-directed film that had its world premiere in the main competition of the Berlin International Film Festival. Adopt plans a late 2012 theatrical release. Sister stars Léa Seydoux and Kacey Mottet Klein. They play siblings struggling for survival amid the high-end ski resorts of the Swiss Alps, she working odd jobs, he excelling in not-so-petty acts of larceny, both of them walking a razor’s edge, their lives often as dangerously thrilling as those skiers from whom they steal. Seydoux played roles in Woody Allen’s Midnight In Paris and Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol, and starred in the Berlin Competition opener Farewell, My Queen.