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Specialty Box Office: ‘Bully’ Scores Hefty Punch; ‘The Island President’ Floats

By | Sunday April 1, 2012 @ 12:39pm PDT

Clearly riding solid numbers following its media blitz campaigning against the MPAA’s R rating, Bully opened in five locations, with a hefty $23,000 average, not bad for a small documentary released unrated. Under normal circumstances, going unrated might spell box office trauma, but distributor The Weinstein Company and director Lee Hirsch capitalized on their spat with the MPAA and rode it to many news shows and sympathetic celebrity tweets. In all, Bully has scored the top non-fiction rollout for 2012 (on a weekend that was generally a box office cash cow domestically) amid rumors TWC will possibly release a PG-13 version in the coming weeks. A Weinstein Co. spokesperson told Deadline, however, those rumors are not true, but schools and churches have reached out to TWC for a PG-13 version. “No other versions have been submitted although we are in contact with the MPAA and are being advised by David Boies on those negotiations,” the TWC spokesperson told Deadline. The Tribeca Film Festival debut doc will continue to expand unrated. Bully will open Good Friday in Toronto and continue into the top 25 markets April 13th with a wider rollout planned thereafter. It remains to be seen if some theaters will shy away from Bully because of its non-rating (which most venues in effect treat as a de facto NC-17), though Hirsch toldRead More »

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Samuel Goldwyn’s Toronto Pickup ‘The Island President’ Takes On Urgency After Upheaval In Maldives

By | Wednesday February 8, 2012 @ 5:27pm PST
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: The Island President, the film about Maldives president Mohamed Nasheed and his quest to lobby for reforms that will ease global warming, has taken on a new context for Samuel Goldwyn Films after Nasheed was forced yesterday to resign at gunpoint. The distributor acquired the film at the 2011 Toronto Film Festival, where it won the audience award. The message of the movie is all about the environment, because because the Maldives is one of the most low-lying countries in the world, and a rise of just three feet in sea level would submerge the 1200 islands surrounded by the Indian Ocean, making them uninhabitable. There is new urgency for Nasheed, who, after bringing democracy to the Maldives following 30 years of despotic rule and using his presidency as a platform for environmental reforms, is in danger. Since being forced to resign, word is that the president and his party engaged in a peaceful march and were beaten. Samuel Goldwyn Films president Meyer Gottlieb said that the film is still set for a March 28 release, but the distributor will become more aggressive about screening the film for press in hopes of focusing more attention on the little known Maldives and its ousted leader.

The film was directed by Jon Shenk (Lost Boys of Sudan), and produced by Bonni Cohen and Richard Berge. They followed President Nasheed as he waged his campaign, culminating in his impassioned plea made at … Read More »

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‘The Island President’, ‘Solar Mamas’ Take $25K Environmental Award: Sundance

By | Sunday January 22, 2012 @ 4:14pm PST

Sundance Institute announced two winners for its inaugural Hilton Worldwide LightStay Sustainability Award honoring documentaries that showcase “the connection between sustainability, economic growth and community development.” Jon Shenk’s The Island President took the prize in the feature category and Jehane Noujaim and Mona Eldaief’s Solar Mamas won the award in the “in-process feature film” category. Each will receive $25,000. Screening tonight, The Island President features President Mohamed Nasheed of the Maldives whose low-lying nation is threatened by rising sea levels. Samuel Goldwyn will release the feature March 28th. This year’s winners were chosen from 1,500 features and over 5,000 shorts submitted to the Sundance Institute Documentary Program.

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Samuel Goldwyn Films Acquires US Rights To Toronto Docu ‘The Island President’

By | Monday November 7, 2011 @ 8:22am PST
Mike Fleming

Samuel Goldwyn Films acquired US rights to The Island President, the documentary that won the Audience Award at the Toronto Film Festival. Goldwyn will release the film in February and is hopeful that it will make noise in the Oscar race. The Jon Shenk-directed film tells the story of President Mohamed Nasheed of the Maldives and his campaign to save his country. After bringing democracy to the Maldives after three decades of despotic rule, he wages a campaign against global warming. To him it is a life or death struggle: as one of the most low-lying countries in the world, a rise of three feet in sea level would put the 1200 Maldive islands underwater and render them uninhabitable. It brings him to the Copenhagen Climate Summit in 2009, where he makes his impassioned plea. Shenk directed Lost Boys of Sudan. The film’s produced by Richard Berge and Bonni Cohen and Jon Else is exec producer.

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Toronto: ‘Where Do We Go Now?’ Wins Audience Award, ‘The Raid’ Gets Midnight Madness, ‘Island President’ Wins Docu Prize

Mike Fleming

The 2011 Toronto Film Festival is drawing to a close, and the festival just handed out its prizes. The winners:

Cadillac People’s Choice Award
Nadine Labaki-directed Where Do We Go Now?

Cadillac People’s Choice Award For Documentary
Jon Shenk-directed The Island President

Cadillac People’s Choice Award For Midnight Madness
Gareth Evans-directed The Raid

City of Toronto and Astral Media’s The Movie Network Award For Best Canadian Feature
Philippe Falardeau-directed Monsieur Lazhar

Skyy Vodka Award For Best Canadian First Feature Film
Nathan Morlando-directed Edwin Boyd

FIPRESCI Prize For Special Presentations Section
Gianni Amelio-directed The First Man

FIPRESCI Prize For Discovery Programme
Axel Petersen-directed Avalon (Sweden)

Best Canadian Short Film
Ian Harnarine-directed Doubles With Slight Pepper

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