EXCLUSIVE: FilmBuff has acquired newcomer Zach Wigon’s debut feature The Heart Machine, starring Newsroom‘s John Gallagher Jr. and House Of Cards‘ Kate Lyn Sheil. The digital-age romantic thriller stars Gallagher Jr. as Cody, a Brooklynite who begins to suspect that the woman he fell for online, Virginia, might not actually live in Berlin. Wigon wrote and helmed the pic, which debuted in competition earlier this year at SXSW. The Heart Machine is based on Wigon’s award-winning 2012 short Someone Else’s Heart and was completed with the help of a successful Kickstarter campaign. Exec producers are Jay Van Hoy, Lars Knudsen, Jordan Lewis, Abe Schwartz, Andrew Kelley, and Eric Schultz. Paradigm negotiated the deal on behalf of the filmmakers. FilmBuff will release The Heart Machine theatrically and on VOD this autumn. Gallagher most recently starred in SXSW-winning drama Short Term 12 and next appears in upcoming HBO miniseries Olive Kitteridge. Sheil heads next month to the set of sci-fier Equals and will have Sundance pic Listen Up Philip in theaters in October.
FilmBuff and Participant Media have partnered on a multi-platform release for The Internet’s Own Boy, filmmaker Brian Knappenberger’s (We Are Legion: The Story Of The Hacktivists) documentary on the late programming prodigy turned Reddit co-founder and internet activist Aaron Swartz.
Film tells the story of Swartz, who helped pioneer the development of internet protocol RSS at age 14, launched activism orgs Progressive Change Campaign Committee and Demand Progress, co-founded Reddit and championed the open access movement online, and campaigned against the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). Last year after being indicted on 13 counts of computer crimes following his 2011 arrest for accessing a large number of academic journals from MIT servers, Swartz hanged himself at age 26.
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.
A June theatrical and VOD release is tentatively planned for Brian Knappenberger’s documentary The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz followed by a broadcast TV premiere on Participant-owned Pivot during the the fourth quarter. Knappenberger made the hacker docu We Are Legion: The Story Of The Hacktivists, and this one is about programming prodigy and information activist Aaron Swartz, one of co-founders of Reddit, who became ensnared in a legal nightmare that ended with his suicide last year at age 26. It played in competition in Sundance and is in the lineup at next week’s SXSW. Charles Annenberg Weingarten, Zach Braff and Mason Fink produced. The deal was negotiated by FilmBuff CEO Janet Brown and Head of Content Partnerships Steven Beckman, Participant COO Jeff Ivers, Pivot SVP Acquisitions and Operations Jennie Morris, and Cinetic Media’s John Sloss for the filmmakers.
NY-based Filmbuff will release the holiday comedy-drama starring Peter Bogdanovich and Cheryl Hines day-and-date November 15. First-time helmer Will Slocombe’s Cold Turkey is from Midway Films and Burn Later Productions and also stars Alicia Witt, Sonya Walger, Ashton Holmes, Wilson Bethel and Victoria Tennant.
It’s been more than three years since the Green Day-fueled American Idiot debuted on Broadway. Now a documentary about that meeting of the mediums is set for a theatrical and VOD release. Digital entertainment curator FilmBuff is partnering with Abramorama to open Broadway Idiot on October 11 exclusively in New York followed a week later by a North American expansion and VOD release on all major platforms. Director Dug Hamilton’s film follows Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong as he works with Main Stem producers to bring the band’s 2004 album American Idiot into a Broadway musical — from creative decisions through performances. It premiered at the South by Southwest Festival in March.
EXCLUSIVE: The documentary directed by Oscar-winner Eva Orner (producer of Alex Gibney’s Taxi To The Dark Side) chronicles TOLO TV, Afghanistan’s first independent television network, as the country faces the impending withdrawal of foreign troops and dwindling security forces. Digital distributor FilmBuff will give the SXSW docu a theatrical release in NY on September 27 and LA on October 4 with a digital/VOD release to follow on October 8 including iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, Cable Movies On Demand, YouTube, XBOX, Sony Playstation, Cinemanow and Vudu.
Related: Hot SXSW Trailer: ‘The Network’
Distribution prospects looked dire for Randy Moore’s Sundance sensation Escape From Tomorrow, the provocative film shot guerrilla style at Disneyland and Disney World depicting one man’s descent into madness in the happiest place on Earth. But Producers Distribution Agency (PDA) announced today they’ll release the film this fall in theaters and on VOD in partnership with Abramorama and FilmBuff. The film follows a middle-aged American husband and father of two who loses his job, but keeps up appearances as he takes his brood on vacation. There he becomes obsessed with a pair of French teenage girls as paranoid visions and bizarre encounters mark the unraveling of his idyllic family outing. Disney had no part in the film and did not give Moore or his crew consent to film in its parks. Yet iconic Disney amusements like Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin, Space Mountain, a Main Street parade and Epcot Center figure into the narrative, sparking media debate over whether or not the film would ever see the light of day.
If you’ve never been to the desert arts free-for-all that is Burning Man, soon you can experience it from the cushy confines of a theater. Paladin and FilmBuff have pacted to release Steve Brown and Jessie Deeter’s docu Spark: A Burning Man Story profiling the annual gathering, which began as a social-artistic experiment in utopian living and has grown into a bacchanal drawing over 60,000 free spirits in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert. The pic debuted at SXSW and will hit theaters in NY and LA on August 16 with an iTunes/digital release via FilmBuff to follow on August 17. Spark will then expand to select limited theatrical markets leading up to Burning Man 2013, perfect promo timing for the event held over Labor Day weekend from August 26 to September 2.
Comedy site CollegeHumor and digital distributor FilmBuff have teamed up to release Coffee Town, starring Glenn Howerton (It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia), Steve Little (Eastbound & Down), Ben Schwartz (Parks and Recreation), Adrianne Palicki (G.I. Joe: Retaliation) and Josh Groban (Crazy, Stupid, Love.). Brad Copeland wrote and directed the comedy about a website manager (Howerton) who works out of a cafe and enlists his friends to help save it from being turned into a bar. Pic marks CollegeHumor’s first feature film and will debut On Demand on iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, Comcast, DirecTV, Time Warner Cable and XBOX July 9 along with select theatrical engagements through the summer. Here’s the trailer:
Red Obsession is directed by Warwick Ross and David Roach and features narration by Russell Crowe in telling the story of the history, triumphs and economic complexities of Bordeaux wine. The deal comes ahead of the film’s North American premiere Saturday at the Tribeca Film Festival. Lion Rock Films’ Ross produced and Robert Coe executive produced the pic, which world premiered at Berlin. A September digital release is planned. “The boldness of the Bordeaux wine is mirrored perfectly by the self-assured filmmaking of Warwick and David,” said FilmBuff Head of Acquisitions Steve Beckman, “The film has such a broad appeal that everyone from wine enthusiasts to international relations junkies to film buffs will enjoy it immensely.”
New York, NY, April 10, 2013 – Variance Films and FilmBuff announced today that they are releasing festival favorite THE HISTORY OF FUTURE FOLK, the debut feature from filmmakers J. Anderson Mitchell and Jeremy Kipp Walker. Variance will release the film in US theaters beginning at New York City’s Cinema Village on May 31st, 2013 and Los Angeles’ Sundance Sunset Cinemas on June 7th, 2013, with live appearances by the musical space alien heroes at select shows. A national theatrical rollout will continue through the summer. FilmBuff will release the film on iTunes and across all digital platforms on June 4th, 2013.