Changes at Wellspring as Guirgis Named Head of Acquisitions; Katsoolis Leaving Indie Distributor
by Eugene Hernandez
In a changing of the guard at Wellspring, Marie Therese Guirgis has been been promoted to head of acquisitions, while Krysanne Katsoolis is leaving the company. Guirgis will be responsible for acquisitions and programming for the company’s U.S. theatrical and home video releases. She will also handle some duties for the company’s sales unit, which separately handles co-productions.
Krysanne Katsoolis, who served as SVP of acquisitions and co-productions at the company, is leaving Wellspring after 10 years with the company. She worked to set up the outfit’s theatrical distribution arm in 1996 with Theo Angelopoulos’ “Ulysses Gaze.” In an email to indieWIRE on Monday, Katsoolis said that she expected to make an announcement about her future plans shortly.
In a conversation with indieWIRE on Monday, Wellspring President and CEO Al Catabiani explained that the shakeup is not part of a fundamental change in his overall business strategy. “In the course of business, people come and people go,” he said, acknowledging that Katsoolis spent a decade working to strengthen the company.
Guirgis has a Masters in Film Studies from the University of Iowa and a B.A. from Vassar. She taught film studies and French at the University of Iowa and joined Wellspring in 1999. Among her acquisitions for the company were Francois Ozon’s “Under The Sand,” Jafar Panahi’s “The Circle,” Claire Denis’ “Friday Night,” Karim Ainouz’s “Madame Sata,” and Bruno Dumont’s “20 Palms,” among a number of projects for video and DVD. She will hire an acquisitions manager over the next two weeks to round out the department.
Wellspring is an independent distribution company with four business divisions: home video, theatrical, a direct response catalog, and a TV licensing business. It has distinguished itself considerably since Catabiani and his staff re-launched the company in 2001, taking it private after the bankruptcy of its parent company Winstar. It had previously evolved from an earlier incarnation as Fox Lorber.
“When I watch a film I ask myself if the director is someone we will still be interested in 10 or 20 years from now,” Guirgis said in a prepared Statement. “We are building a library and I am working under the guiding principle that there are important filmmakers and films to discover every day.”
Calling his company “proudly arthouse, proudly upscale,” Catabiani told indieWIRE on Monday that he is very clear about his business goals. “We want to be the only independent that is self distributed in all of the major channels of distribution,” he said. “The idea being that we can handle any distribution system that exits now or will evolve.” Continuing, he explained, “Our prime objective here is to be the only indie that can distribute these high, high end programs in any distribution system.”
“We are trying to make it very clear to our customers that we are going deeply into the arthouse niche,” Catabiani told indieWIRE. “We want to be the Bentley of the indies, we don’t want to be Chevy.”
Among Katsoolis’ other acquisitions while at Winstar were Edward Yang’s “Yi Yi,” Bruno Dumont’s “Humanite,” and Aleksandr Sokurov’s “Russian Ark.” She is an attorney who previously served as director of business affairs at Miramax.
“I am personally very proud of having been an integral part in building Wellspring over the years,” Katsoolis said in a statement. “I look forward to continuing my work in the creation and distribution of first class film and television properties.”