This afternoon we spoke to Jonathan Sehring, President of IFC Entertainment. With the year coming to a close, 2010 marks IFC’s tenth anniversary as a film distributor and in that time, they have become one of the most respected and important players on the market. They’ve adapted to the continually shifting world of independent cinema, embraced as one of the pioneers of theatrical/VOD day and date distribution and this year found the company launching yet another outlet, IFC Midnight, an outlet for genre films such as “The Human Centipede” and “Antichrist.” But as we head into 2011, IFC Entertainment will continue to forge ahead with new venues for film lovers to find their favorites of today and yesterday.
First up, big changes are in place for Sundance Selects, the on demand outlet launched in 2009. “In January, Sundance Selects will become a full-fledged distribution label and we will be distributing theatrically, on home video and on VOD with the Sundance Selects label. It’s the first time that the Sundance brand will be putting its name on theatrical distribution,” Sehring told us. This will become a third branded outlet joining IFC Films and IFC Midnight in IFC Entertainment’s growing distribution banners. The new theatrical arm will feature more auteur driven fare that in the past, would’ve likely been found under IFC Films and there are a number excellent titles that will help get the venture off on the right foot including: Elia Suleiman‘s “The Time That Remains,” Gregg Araki‘s “Kaboom,” Werner Herzog‘s “Cave Of Forgotten Dreams,” Xavier Dolan‘s “Heartbeats,” Abbas Kiarostami‘s “Certified Copy” and Bertrand Tavernier‘s “The Princess Of Montpensier.”
But if you can’t make it to the theater or want to catch up with something you might have missed, you can now find a number of independent films all in one place. SundanceNow, as Sehring describes it, is a “digital platform, a global home for independent films.” The new online rental outlet currently features over three hundred films for rent with more titles and features to be added heading in the new year. “When we set out and got involved with the Sundance Channel our whole mission was to connect filmmakers with their audiences and this is sort of the next logical step in taking what we do in distributing these independent films to the widest audience possible,” Sehring said. The website is now live and is definitely worth a jump over to see the alternatives to iTunes and Netflix.
“To be successul, you have to be nimble,” Sehring told us about his approach to keeping IFC at the head of the pack in an industry where many independent players have fallen to the wayside. “You have to be willing to experiment and try new things. There are companies out there that do things the same way for every movie. That’s fine, but that’s not how we operate. We’ve got just a phenomenal staff and we’re always looking not necessarily to break the mold but to see what’s the best way to reach an audience for a certain film from a certain type of filmmaker. We approach each film uniquely.”
That innovative approach appears to be paying off for IFC Entertainment as they continue to test and tweak new delivery methods while continually honing what has worked in the past. Some exciting times on the horizon not only for IFC in 2011, but for those indie-minded cinema goers who enjoy what they do.