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Phase 4 Films has acquired U.S. and Canadian rights to The Crash Reel, which follows the different paths taken by childhood friends and rivals Shaun White and Kevin Pearce. The latter suffered a serious brain injury while training for their anticipated showdown at the Vancouver Olympics; White went on to gold medals and fame while Pierce struggled to recover. HBO, which helped finance the film, retains U.S. TV broadcast rights to the pic, which weaves 15 years of verite footage with a soundtrack that includes music from Chemical Brothers, Underworld, and Moby and chronicles Pearce’s long road to recovery. It premiered this year at Sundance. Oscar-nominated Lucy Walker (Waste Land, Devil’s Playground) directed, wrote the script with Pedro Kos and produced with Julian Cautherley. HBO’s Sheila Nevins executive produced. Phase 4 plans an early winter 2013 theatrical release. The deal was negotiated by Phase 4′s Larry Greenberg and Sam Posner with Andrew Herwitz at The Film Sales Company on behalf of the filmmakers.
CANNES, France -- By leaving his native Iran (at least for now) and making what for all practical purposes is a French film, Oscar-winning director Asghar Farhadi may have given up the principal factor that made him interesting to the West. But those who admired Farhadi’s intense Tehran domestic drama “A Separation” – one of the key movies of this decade so far – will find the same intimate sensibility and the same finely-wrought shifts in perspective at work in “The Past,” which premiered here on Friday. It's still too early at Cannes to start handicapping the Palme d'Or race, but this one's sure to be a strong contender. This time Farhadi's camera is pointed not at the hypocrisies of life in the Islamic Republic but at the darker consequenes of easy-breezy serial monogamy in the secular West. It’s oddly bracing to have an artist come out of a society that we know he finds overly repressive, and immediately make a film that essentially accuses supposedly liberated Westerners of behaving like a bunch of spoiled children, and of poisoning the next generation with our reckless misbehavior. Mind you, “The Past” is a complex drama that can’t be boiled down to that one theme, and anyway the squabbling middle-class couple in “A Separation” inflicted plenty of damage on that adorably precocious preteen daughter of theirs. It’s not as if Farhadi is preaching either morality or religion. Islam played a role in “A Separation” mainly as a marker of class differentiation, and while several of the characters in “The Past” come from Muslim backgrounds, religion is never mentioned.Continue Reading
Zeitgeist Films will release two new documentaries: Sophie Fiennes’ "The Perverts' Guide to Ideology" and Fredrik Stanton’s "Uprising." "The Perverts' Guide to Ideology" follows philosophy superstar Slavoj Zizek ("The Perverts' Guide to Cinema") as he uses cinema and psychoanalysis "to explore the mechanisms that shape what we believe and how we behave." The film premiered at the 2012 Toronto Film Festival and will open at the IFC Center this Fall, with a national release to follow.
"Uprising"examines the spontaneous social media eruption that brought millions of Egyptians into the streets to protest -- and eventually overthrow -- dictator Hosni Mubarek after years of oppression. It will play selected cities this summer and fall.
Zeitgeist’s other 2013 theatrical releases are Neil Barsky’s "Koch," "One Track Heart" by Jeremy Frindel and Margarethe von Trotta’s "Hannah Arendt."
Spotlight Pictures has come aboard to sell Tar, the biopic of Pulitzer-winner poet CK Williams that stars James Franco, Mila Kunis, Jessica Chastain, Zach Braff, Henry Hopper and Bruce Campbell. The pic follows the life of Williams (Franco) as he recalls the experiences that shaped the man he became and the writer he was destined to be. It was directed by 12 NYU film students and premiered last year at the Rome Film Festival. The sales deal was negotiated by Vince Jolivette for Rabbit Bandini Productions with Carlos Rincon at Spotlight.
France’s Mars Films has picked up all French speaking rights to William H. Macy‘s directorial debut, Rudderless, which Radiant Films is selling internationally. Billy Crudup, Anton Yelchin, Selena Gomez, Laurence Fishburne, William H. Macy and Felicity Huffman star. The music drama is currently shooting.
Ryan Gosling‘s directorial debut How To Catch A Monster is being handled internationally by Sierra/Affinity which has sealed deals in 20 territories. Christina Hendricks, Iain De Caestecker, Saoirse Ronan, Ben Mendelsohn, Eva Mendes, Matt Smith and Rob Zabrecky star in the modern fantasy-drama, based on a script by Gosling. Warner Bros. acquired U.S. rights to the project last week. It’s also now gone to Entertainment One in Australia/New Zealand, the UK and Canada as well as selling in France, Latin America, Thailand, Turkey and elsewhere.
Snowfort Pictures and MPI’s Dark Sky Films have started production on Starry Eyes, the Hollywood-set occult tale from Dennis Widmyer and Kevin Kolsch. Snowfort Pictures is producing, while MPI will handle international sales. Newcomer Alex Essoe stars in the horror movie that’s a contemporary take on pics like Rosemary’s Baby. Amanda Fuller, Fabianne Therese, Pat Healy, Shane Coffey, Marc Senter, Nick Simmons and Noah Segan star. Travis Stevens produces. Exec producers are John Jarzemensky, Aaron Koontz, Giles Daoust and Gena Wilbur. The initial round of financing was raised via Kickstarter.
Just launched London-based Wentworth Media & Arts is backed by UK private equity and is looking to produce, develop, exploit and fund projects across the entertainment spectrum. The company was formed by former EMI chairman and CEO Eric Nicoli along with William Lewis, John Stanley and Dean Goldberg. The partners have also taken a stake in new sales company, Filmagine, headed by financier Beau Rogers and formed with Shoreline Entertainment. WMA and Filmagine are jointly developing The Raven Of St. James’s Park written by Ocean Palmer. WMA says it will provide funding, services, expertise, development and commercialization platforms to third parties as well as its own content. Distribution will be handled via traditional routes, but will also take advantage of new media and new technology. The company expects to have three films gearing up by Toronto on budgets of not more than £10M.
Protagonist has boarded international sales on Lilting, the latest feature to go through Film London’s Microwave fund. Curzon Artificial Eye will distribute in the UK. Ben Whishaw, Cheng Pei Pei, Peter Bowles, Morven Christie and Andrew Leung star. Hong Khaou is writer-director of the movie about a Chinese woman grieving for her lost son, and the relationship she builds with his lover.
Paul Haggis‘ upcoming ensemble drama Third Person has been selling briskly for Corsan with 23 territories now closed including Canada, China, France, Italy, Spain and Latin America. The film follows three inter-connected love stories of three couples in three cities. Mila Kunis, Olivia Wilde, Kim Basinger, Moran Atias, Maria Bello, Liam Neeson, Adrien Brody and James Franco star. Haggis is in Cannes this weekend to talk up the project.
Doha Film Insitute is launching two new fests which will take the place of the Doha Film Festival. Films from first- and second-time filmmakers will be the focus of the new Qumra Film Festival, Doha which will take place in March, 2014 and include international competition sections for feature and short films. It is also starting the Ajyal Film Festival for the Young, a community-based event that brings cinema and film-related activities to Doha to promote film appreciation among families and educators. Its first edition takes place in November this year. Filmmaker Elia Suleiman was recently appointed artistic advisor for DFI. After a four-year partnership, the Doha Film Festival and the Tribeca Film Festival dissolved their relationship last month.