Kat Candler’s Hellion debuted in Park City last month, and now Sundance Selects has taken North American rights to the pic. Exec produced by Jeff Nichols (Mud), Hellion stars newcomer Josh Wiggins as Jacob, a 13-year-old obsessed with metal and dirt bike racing whose delinquent behavior begins to raise concerns around town. Breaking Bad‘s Aaron Paul co-exec produces and stars as Hollis, father to Jacob and his younger brother Wes (Deke Garner), who’s drowning his own sorrows over the loss of their mother and must repair his family when CPS sends Wes to live with the boys’ aunt (Juliette Lewis). Candler wrote and directed the drama and adapted it from her own 2012 short, which also debuted at Sundance and starred Garner. She returned to the fest last year with another short, Black Metal, before debuting the feature-length Hellion produced by Kelly Williams and Jonathan Duffy. Sundance Selects has set a theatrical and VOD bow for later this year. Arianna Bocco, SVP Acquisitions & Productions for Sundance Selects/IFC Films negotiated the deal with UTA Independent Film Group on behalf of the filmmakers.
At just 19 years old, new French acting sensation Adele Exarchopoulos became the youngest winner ever of the Cannes Film Festival’s Palme d’Or when the jury — led by Steven Spielberg — made an unprecedented move this past spring. It awarded not only Blue Is The Warmest Color‘s director Abdellatif Kechiche the festival’s top prize as is the norm, but in a surprise move also its two extraordinary stars (Lea Seydoux rounded out the trio onstage at the Palais). But then Blue Is The Warmest Color is no ordinary movie, and distributor Sundance Selects is hoping Oscar voters get the message too: Though not eligible to compete this year for Best Foreign Language Film due to its late release in France, it is eligible in other categories, and the distrib just crafted a new trailer focusing on Exarchopoulos that is aimed squarely at the Academy. Check it out:
A three-hour study of the intense romance between a teenage girl and an older lesbian , the NC-17 film has caused waves wherever it’s played. But as Spielberg explained, the Cannes jury saw it only as simply a great love story. For Exarchopoulos, who recently turned 20, it was, and continues to be, a pretty heady experience as she explained when I recently interviewed her for the Screen Actors Guild Foundation. “It was my first Cannes Film Festival”, she told me. “We thought our reaction would be more divided, like some people hate and some people love it — but almost everyone liked it. After the ceremony it was like a dream. I mean you never realize what it’s like to win such a prize at 19. Yeah , it was cool.”
Exarchopoulos also has a refreshing, unfiltered attitude toward acting — and in this case, those talked-about nude scenes. In fact she said although she knew her co-star by reputation (Seydoux is a huge star in France) she didn’t meet her until she was on the set for the first nude scene. “The first thing we did together is the sex scene, the dream scene, so when you meet someone naked it’s so different,” Exarchopoulos said. “We said hello and two minutes after we’re naked and we’re like, ‘OK, let’s do this’. There is no hypocrisy and she doesn’t try to force things and try to be friends because of the shoot. Everything came naturally. She’s more experienced than me so I was feeling from her because she’s really good, and I was lucky to play with her. It really helps to introduce you naked. I mean you’re vulnerable, there is no chickening out. You’re just yourself and you have to make body language.”
Michel Gondry‘s animated documentary Is The Man Who Is Tall Happy? will world premiere as the closing night selection at the DOC NYC Festival next month. For the film, the French helmer recorded conversations with professor, linguist and political philosopher and activist Noam Chomsky on his theory of the emergence of language. That sounds terribly high-brow, but Gondry’s hand-drawn animation lends a sense of whimsy to the deep-thought proceedings. Sundance Selects has North American rights. Here’s the trailer:
Sundance Selects has picked up North American rights to the animated documentary Is The Man Who Is Tall Happy?, about the oft lightning-rod professor, linguist and political philosopher Noam Chomsky. The film, which is world premiering as the closing-night selection of next month’s DOC NYC Festival, is animated by Gondry and peels back the the life and work of Chomsky, focusing on his theory of the emergence of language. “This film is another genius creation from Michel Gondry, whose collaboration with the legendary Noam Chomsky has resulted a film that is both intellectually challenging and creatively brilliant”, said Jonathan Sehring, President of Sundance Selects/IFC Films. “Chomsky has never discussed his work in such a unique and memorable way.” The deal was negotiated with WME Independent on behalf of the filmmakers.
When it comes to this year’s Foreign Language Film Oscar race, it seems Sundance Selects just can’t catch a break. Coming out of Cannes, the company headed by Jonathan Sehring — who also runs IFC — looked like it easily could have two of the five nominees in the category, especially after its acquisitions took two of the top three prizes at Cannes. The French sensation Blue Is The Warmest Color won the coveted Palme d’Or (usually a key factor in considering a film for Oscar submission), while the Jury Prize (essentially third place) went to Japan’s moving and extremely well-received Like Father, Like Son, which so infatuated Cannes Jury President Steven Spielberg that his DreamWorks is negotiating for an English-language remake.
It seemed at the time that both would be a cinch as their respective countries’ entry in the race, and Sundance Selects was riding high. But as Deadline reported in July, a quirky Academy rule that requires a foreign entry to have opened by September 30 in its country of origin KO’d Warmest Color’s chances, despite Sehring’s best efforts to turn it around. Unfortunately Wild Bunch, the film’s French distributor, was dead set on releasing it October 9, and a qualifying run was ruled out. Now, in what for me is an even more stunning setback, the seven-member Japan Movie Producers Association ignored its country’s high-profile Cannes winner and instead chose a more obscure film, The Great Passage (Fune O Amu) from 30-year-old director Yuya Ishii, the youngest ever to represent Japan in the Oscar contest. That film was released in April — doing nice, if unremarkable, business at the box office. Like Father, Like Son is scheduled for a September 28 release in Japan, a date presumably chosen to make it eligible for the Oscar race. But it’s not to be.
NEW YORK, NY (August 22, 2013) – Sundance Selects announced today that the company is acquiring US rights to acclaimed filmmaker Claire Denis’ BASTARDS. The film, with a screenplay by Denis and Jean-Pol Fargeau, stars Vincent Lindon, Chiara Mastroianni and Michel Subor, and was produced by Alcatraz Films and Wild Bunch. The film, which made its world premiere in Un Certain Regard at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival, will make its U.S. premiere next month at the 2013 New York Film Festival, following a North American Premiere at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival. Sundance Selects is planning to release the film October 25.
Sundance Selects To Release Palme d’Or Winner ‘Blue Is The Warmest Color’ With NC-17 Rating In The US
Blue Is The Warmest Color hasn’t had an easy road since it won the top prize at Cannes in May. First Abdellatif Kechiche’s film was ruled ineligible for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar race because of its October 9 opening in France, which is nine days after the deadline for a submitting country. Now the controversial lesbian drama’s US distributor says it will release the film domestically with an adults-only NC-17 rating. Sundance Selects, which isn’t an MPAA member, says it opted not to trim scenes of “explicit sexual content” or release the pic unrated. Warmest Color, starring Lea Seydoux and Adele Exarchopoulos, will open October 25, shortly after its screening at the New York Film Festival. “This is a landmark film with two of the best female performances we have ever seen on screen,” Sundance Selects/IFC Films President Jonathan Sehring said in a statement. “The film is first and foremost a film about love, coming of age and passion. We refuse to compromise Kechiche’s vision by trimming the film for an R rating. … An NC-17 rating no longer holds the stigma it once did.”
Isaiah Washington stars in the Beltway sniper drama from first-time director Alexandre Moors, which also co-stars Joey Lauren Adams, Tim Blake Nelson, and Leo Fitzpatrick. Pic features breakout work by youngster Tequan Richmond as Lee Boyd Malvo AKA John Lee Malvo, the teenager whose relationship with father figure John Allen Muhammad (Washington) led to the DC-area killing spree that left ten people dead in 2002. Blue Caprice was snatched up by Sundance Selects after premiering at Sundance and is set for a September 13 release. Check out the trailer:
NEW YORK, NY (July 30, 2013) – Sundance Selects announced today that the company is acquiring U.S. rights to John Maloof and Charlie Siskel’s feature documentary FINDING VIVIAN MAIER, which was produced by Maloof and Siskel, and executive produced by Jeff Garlin. The film will make its world premiere in the Documentary section at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival. FINDING VIVIAN MAIER unearths the untold story of one of the greatest photographers of the 20th Century, who was a mystery to even those who knew her. A nanny in the wealthy North Shore suburbs of Chicago, Maier’s secret world is unraveled slowly through her photo collections and interviews with those who knew her — parents who hired her, children she cared for, store owners, movie theater operators, and curious neighbors who remember her. The story that emerges goes beyond clichés of the undiscovered artist to offer a portrait of a woman who left a legacy of transformative work. The deal for the film was negotiated by Arianna Bocco, SVP of Acquisitions & Productions for Sundance Selects/IFC Films with Josh Braun and David Koh at Submarine on behalf of the filmmakers. Siskel’s previous producing credits include BOWLING FOR COLUMBINE and RELIGULOUS.
EXCLUSIVE: When controversial French sensation Blue Is The Warmest Color won the Cannes Film Festival Palme d’Or, it was expected to be a major player in the upcoming Oscar race for Best Foreign Language Film. Now it’s ineligible to compete and not even impassioned pleas from Sundance Selects, its American distributor, have done the trick. This unexpected development as first reported on Deadline is due to its October 9th French opening. Local distributor Wild Bunch will not change the date in order to comply with an arcane Academy rule that says each film must have opened in the country of origin by the end of September. Now Sundance Selects/IFC Films President Jonathan Sehring who picked up the U.S. rights to Blue in Cannes is very disappointed that this decision appears irreversible. “I talked to them about it and said it was a missed opportunity if you don’t qualify it. So they actually were going to do a qualification run in the town where it was shot in Northern France,” Sehring tells me. “But ultimately the French governing body said no. It had to be a wide release in order for it to qualify and so [Wild Bunch] called and said ‘We don’t want to move off our date. We have a great date.’ It’s unfortunate.”
Although it won’t help Blue this year, Sehring hopes the Academy will deep-six the September 30th eligibility date and change it in the future to be more reflective of the realities of the international film industry. “It’s a global business right now and [it's not good] to hold the Foreign Language titles to a September 30th date. This present Academy administration has been really great about re-visiting things that don’t really make sense and I’m just hoping that will happen.” However as a distributor he does fully understand the Wild Bunch decision and its box office potential in France. “What could be better than that for them? If the French want to choose it as next year’s title I can always hope there, but unfortunately it didn’t work out in terms of qualification,” he said.
Sundance Selects has acquired North American rights to The Punk Singer, the Sini Anderson-directed punk rock docu. The film covers the 20-year journey of outspoken feminist icon Kathleen Hanna, lead singer of punk band Bikini Kill and dance-punk trio Le Tigre. She rose to national attention as the voice of the riot grrrl movement, but when she stopped shouting, many wondered why. Tamra Davis, Gwen Bialic, Rachel Dengiz and Erin Owens are the producers. The film made its world premiere at the 2013 SXSW, and Sundance Selects plans a fall release.
Sundance Selects keeps filling up its dance card. The distributor has acquired North American rights to Dancing In Jaffa, Hilla Medalia’s Tribeca 2013 docu about ballroom dancer Pierre Dulaine, who travels home to Israel to train Jewish and Palestinian kids from five diverse local schools. Exec produced by Morgan Spurlock, LaToya Jackson, and So You Think You Can Dance‘s Nigel Lythgoe, Dancing In Jaffa joins good company at Sundance Selects which previously distributed dance-themed documentaries Pina from Wim Wenders and First Position by Bess Kargman. Diane Nabatoff, Neta Zwebner-Zaibert, and Medalia produced the pic, which was co-produced by Keshet Broadcasting LTD. Jeremy Chilnick and Jeffré Phillips, Dan Setton, J. Arnhold, Robert Machinist, and Jonathan Shukat also exec produced with Sydney Holland as co-exec producer. Sundance Selects/IFC Films’ Jeff Deutchman negotiated the deal with Preferred Content and UTA Independent Film Group on behalf of the filmmakers. K5 is handling international sales.
Sundance Selects grabbed U.S. rights to the Roman Polanski-directed Venus In Fur. Polanski and David Ives wrote it based on the Tony-winning stage play by Ives. Emmanuelle Seigner and Mathieu Amalric star and Robert Benmussa and Alain Sarde produced it. The film made its world premiere in Competition at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival.
Set in modern-day Paris, Venus In Fur follows a writer-director (Amalric) and a pushy, foul-mouthed actress named Vanda (Seigner) who bursts into auditions in a whirlwind of erratic energy. Vanda’s emotionally charged audition for the gifted but demanding playwright becomes an electrifying game of cat and mouse that blurs the lines between fantasy and reality, seduction and power, and ultimately, attraction and obsession. Arianna Bocco made the deal with Jeff Berg. Amalric and Seigner starred together in the Julian Schnabel-directed Diving Bell And The Butterfly.
Sundance Selects acquired U.S. rights to Japanese writer-director Kore-eda Hirokazu’s Jury Prize Winner Like Father, Like Son from Wild Bunch. With a screenplay by Kore-eda, the film stars Fukuyama Masaharu, Ono Machiko, Maki Yoko, and Lily Franky, and was produced by Kameyama Chihiro, Hatanaka Tatsuro, and Tom Yoda. The film made its world premiere this week in Competition at the festival. Pic mixes drama and humor as the film examines the agony of two families who are informed that their 6-year-old sons were switched at birth. Sundance Selects’ sister label IFC Films previously released Hirokazu’s Still Walking and Nobody Knows. Deal for the film was negotiated by Arianna Bocco, Senior Vice President of Acquisitions & Productions for Sundance Selects/IFC Films with Carole Baraton at Wild Bunch on behalf of the filmmakers.
Sundance Selects has acquired its fourth film of the Cannes Film Festival, making a deal for North American rights to writer-director Clio Barnard’s The Selfish Giant. Conner Chapman, Shaun Thomas and Sean Gilder star, and the pic was produced by Tracy O’Riordan with the backing of British Film Institute and Film4. It premiered in the Directors’ Fortnight section of the fest. The contemporary fable is about about a 13-year-old boy (Chapman) and his best friend (Thomas). Excluded from school and outsiders in their own neighborhood, the boys meet a local scrapdealer (Gilder). They begin collecting scrap metal for him using a horse and cart but tensions eventually build among the trio, leading to a tragic event that transforms them all. Sundance Selects already closed deals here for U.S. rights to a pair of competition titles, François Ozon’s Young & Beautiful starring Marine Vacth and Abdellatif Kechiche’s Blue Is The Warmest Color. It also landed U.S. rights to Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne’s Two Days, One Night, which is in preproduction with Marion Cotillard starring.
The deal for Selfish Giant was negotiated by Sundance Selects/IFC Films’ Arianna Bocco with Mike Goodridge of Protagonist Pictures on behalf of the filmmakers.
EXCLUSIVE: Sundance Selects has acquired U.S. distribution rights to Two Days, One Night, which will be directed by two-time Palme d’Or-winning auteurs Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, and stars Marion Cotillard, Fabrizio Rongione and Olivier Gourmet. She signed on to star in February, and shooting will take place in Belgium this summer. Cotillard plays Sandra, a young woman who has only one weekend to convince her colleagues they must give up their bonuses in order for her to keep her job. Longtime Dardenne collaborator Rongione plays Cotillard’s husband. The film is a co-production between the Dardennes’ Les Films du Fleuve and Denis Freyd’s Archipel 35. Wild Bunch negotiated for filmmakers with Arianna Bocco at Sundance Selects/IFC Films.
NEW YORK, NY (April 29, 2013) – Sundance Selects announced today that the company is acquiring North American rights to Chiemi Karasawa’s directorial debut ELAINE STRITCH: SHOOT ME, a feature documentary about the stage and screen icon that made its world premiere last week at the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival. The film was produced by Karasawa and Elizabeth Hemmerdinger, and executive produced by Alec Baldwin and Cheryl Wiesenfeld.
Sundance Selects/IFC Films has upped Lauren Schwartz to head of publicity and Shani Ankori to marketing chief. Schwartz, previously VP Publicity, will oversee the creation and implementation of national publicity campaigns, management of film festivals, and talent relations for films on all platforms. Ankori, who had been VP Marketing, will oversee all marketing aspects for the company’s theatrical, VOD and home video releases. Both report to Sundance Selects/IFC Films president Jonathan Sehring. Also today, Michael Winton was tapped to run film publicity and marketing for IFC sister label IFC Midnight. He was Director of Marketing and Publicity and has been with the company since 2008 and will report to Ankori.
Richard Rowley’s docu tracking investigative reporter Jeremy Scahill (Blackwater: The Rise Of The World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army) on a global hunt to uncover America’s secret wars on terror won the Cinematography award at Sundance. Scahill stars in and also wrote and produced the exposé. Sundance Selects acquired the hot pic out of the fest and will release it June 7 in NY, LA, and Washington DC before a nationwide expansion. Here’s the trailer: