Milestone Celebrates Trio of Prizes and Deal for Ophuls’ “Troubles”
by Eugene Hernandez
Milestone Film and Video, the distribution company honored this past weekend by the New York Film Critics Circle, recently acquired all North American distribution rights to Marcel Ophuls‘ 1994 doc, “The Troubles We’ve Seen: A History of Journalism in Wartime” (“Veilees d’armes”). Milestone’s Dennis Doros and Amy Heller are also negotiating to co-produce an update to the film, a new section that Ophuls never completed. The honor marks the third recent prestigious prize for the fifteen year-old company.
“The Troubles We’ve Seen,” shot mostly in Sarajevo in 1993, is described as exploring “the ethical challenges of war reporting, in which Ophuls examines attitudes towards war in the Western media, and in the societies they inform.” The film is a four-hour doc featuring combat shots, war movie footage, and interviews with some 50 journalists, historians, and others. The deal will mark the film’s first release in the U.S. and Milestone’s second release of an Ophuls film, following the 2000 re-release of “The Sorry and The Pity.”
Sunday night in New York, Milestone was presented with its third recent award, receiving a special award from the New York film critics for their work to restore classics films. Earlier this month the National Society of Film Critics announced a Film Heritage Award for the company (also presented in 1995 for their release of Mikhail Kalatozov‘s “I Am Cuba”), and last month Milestone was presented the Leo Award from International Film Seminars for “faithful and caring service to the film/video community.”
At Milestone, Doros and Heller have worked to restore and more than 20 films, including Orson Welles‘ “The Trial,” Jane Campion‘s “Two Friends” and Gillo Pontecorvo‘s “The Wide Blue Road.” Among the films the company has released are Takeshi Kitano‘s “Fireworks,” Luchino Visconti‘s “Rocco and His Brothers,” Hirokazu Kore-eda‘s “Maborosi,” Tareque Masud‘s “The Clay Bird,” Michael Powell‘s “The Edge of the World,” Jerzy Stuhr‘s “The Big Animal,” Ophuls’ “The Sorrow and the Pity,” and many other titles.
“Asking why I’m grateful for Milestone’s existence is like wanting to know why we like buying our croissants for breakfast at the village bakery, rather than at the nearest supermarket. The local baker doesn’t spend his entire life trying to figure out what product the consumers will buy at a minimum cost in fabrication,” said Ophuls in a statement. “He bakes his own bread according to his own choices, in the hope that the villagers will share his tastes.”
Ophuls, the son of legendary filmmaker Max Ophuls, won the doc Oscar in 1988 for “Hotel Terminus.” Among his other films are “The Harvest of Mai Lai,” “America Revisited,” “The Memory of Justice” and “November Days.”
“My father used to say: “If you run after the public all your life, all you ever get to see is its ass!” Marcel Ophuls’ said in the statement, “That still seems to me the soundest media strategy I ever heard of.”