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First Run Features was founded in 1979 by a group of filmmakers to advance the distribution of independent film. Under the leadership of the late independent film pioneer, Fran Spielman, First Run Features quickly gained a reputation for its controversial catalog of daring independent fiction and non-fiction films. First Run remains one of the largest independent theatrical and home video distributors in the United States, releasing around 12 films a year in theaters nationwide and about 40 DVDs annually. In addition, First Run has an educational/non-theatrical division, and it also licenses its titles to television and cable outlets and through internet platforms.
The First Run legacy includes films by such notable directors as: Spike Lee, Michael Apted, Rose Troche, Sven Nykvist, Jane Campion, Ross McElwee, Michael Winterbottom, Maria Luisa Bemberg, Barbara Kopple, Peter Jackson, Daniel Bergman, Dariush Mehrjui, David O. Russell, Lizzie Borden, Claude Chabrol, Jan Svankmajer, Claire Denis, Benoit Jacquot, Marleen Gorris, Radley Metzger, Deborah Shaffer, Victor Nunez, The Brothers Quay, George Sluizer, Monika Treut, and Satyajit Ray.
Over the years, First Run Features has survived everything from FBI probes to the demise of so many of its competitors. First Run proudly celebrated its 30th Anniversary in August 2009 with a retrospective at the Film Society of Lincoln Center. In 2001 we were honored with a major retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.
Types of films in distributor’s slate:
Films of quality and films that are unique. Documentaries (features and shorts), foreign films, animation, American fiction films, etc etc.
Advice for filmmakers:
Contact the distributor first before sending in a screener.
Who handles acquisitions:
Seymour Wishman, and Marc Mauceri are the primary acquisition people. Paul Marchant, Judith Mizrachy, Heidi Millay and others also contribute.
Number of films released theatrically each year:
On average a dozen films per year.
Distribution platforms other than theatrical:
All other platforms – DVD, Blu Ray, internet, educational/non-theatrical, tv, cable, VOD.
Number of films released exclusively via VOD/DVD or “alternative” means of release:
Approx two dozen.
Number of films acquired at festivals:
Festivals where distributor has acquired films in the last two years:
Berlin, Cannes, Toronto and others.
[For more information, visit the company’s website.]