Two acclaimed docs from this year’s Sundance Film Festival have found a U.S. home. Zeitgeist acquired Laura Poitras’ “The Oath” and Lixin Fan’s “Last Train Home.” Both films will screen at the upcoming New Directors/New Films series later this month in New York. Zeitgeist attorney Robert Marcus negotiated both deals with with Bob Moore of EyeSteelFilms for “Last Train Home” and David B. Smallman of Smallman Law PLLC for “The Oath.” “Oath” will be released in May, 2010, while “Train” will hit theaters this Summer.
Poitras’ “The Oath” alternates between Abu Jandal in Yemen (repeatedly seen behind the wheel of his taxi) and Salim Hamdan behind bars in Guantanamo, awaiting and then undergoing trial in military court. Since Poitras and D.P. Kirsten Johnson were denied access to Hamdan before and during trial, his story is told through his pained prison letters, accompanied by stark, oddly beautiful exterior shots of Guantanamo prison. Defended by U.S. military attorney Brian Mizer, whose commitment to serving his client is unswerving, Hamdan claims that he was strictly bin Laden’s driver. Poitras was nominated for an Oscar for “My Country, My Country,” also released by Zeitgeist.
Lixin Fan’s “Last Train Home” spotlights the largest annual human migration, taking place during Chinese New Years. The film focuses on the fractured lives of a single migrant family caught up in this desperate annual migration. Sixteen years ago, the Zhangs abandoned their young children to find work in the city, consoled by the hope that their wages would lift their children into a better life. But in a bitter irony, the Zhangs’ hopes for the future are undone by their very absence. The Zhangs must navigate through the stark and difficult choices of a society caught between old ways and new realities. “Train” won Best Documentary at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam where it had its world premiere in November.
The two docs will screen at the upcoming SXSW Film Festival, which begins Friday.
“Both ‘The Oath’ and ‘Last Train Home’ give an insiders’ perspective on two of today’s most complicated journalistic preoccupations,” Zeitgeist’s co-president Nancy Gerstman said in a statement. “We are extremely proud to be distributing these stunning and complex works, two of the best documentaries audiences are likely to see this year.”