The back and forth continues between Abel Ferrara, IFC Films and Wild Bunch over the release of “Welcome To New York.” It all started last fall when Ferrara shared that he was being pressured to cut his film. Things got even more heated when the director suggested that the R-rated cut coming this Friday was edited without his permission, and made a critical change to the central sexual assault sequence in his movie. Over the weekend, IFC Films responded underscoring that their contract with the sales agent of Wild Bunch was for an R-rated cut of the movie, and that they even offered Ferrara a chance to submit his own R-rated version — to which he didn’t respond — and that the edit of the movie opening this weekend was cut by Wild Bunch. So, open and shut, right? Nope.
Ferrara has replied, and the core of his frustration seems to be that IFC Films won’t release his unrated version of the movie (which they are not under any contract obligation to release), one that executives at the company, along with folks at Wild Bunch, saw at the Cannes Film Festival last year. He accuses both parties of “sidestepping” this fact, and perhaps more egregiously in his mind, claiming to be champions of filmmakers, when in his case, the version of the movie he wants out there is not being respected. IFC Film’s response from the weekend with Ferrara’s reply below. [via THR]
“…our contract with Wild Bunch (the film’s sales agent) is for an R-rated version.”
There is a reluctance on IFC’s part to acknowledge the personal relationship I have with Arianna Bocco and Jonathan Sehring of IFC. They were both at the premiere in Cannes and the press conference afterward with Gerard Depardieu, Vincent Maraval and myself. They are well aware of all the political and artistic issues here. They are sidestepping the fact that they knowingly are distributing an unauthorized version of the film.
“We offered Mr. Ferrara an opportunity to edit his own R-rated version of the film at our expense, but he did not respond. After his threats of violence toward the IFC Center last September, we decided we could not risk showing the film there.“
There were many emails back and forth and face-to-face meetings with IFC, but when I was told they would only distribute theatrically and on VOD the R-rated cut that was needed for Showtime, that’s when my conversation with them ended and it became an issue for the lawyers. The precedent here is, one, I don’t make R-rated movies, especially concerning this subject matter, and two, IFC and Wild Bunch are well aware of that, as well as being companies that handle unrated films. That’s why I am with them. IFC theaters and their VOD outlet is known for their unrated releases. As for violence against their theaters, those comments were metaphorical. I am an artist and a Buddhist, so fire-bombing theaters is not on my agenda.
“It’s a core mission of IFC Films to support and champion our filmmakers, and we regret that Mr. Ferrara has refused to engage with us past slinging mud and insults. We’d have welcomed the opportunity to work more closely with him on the film, if he’d been willing.”
If you support and champion a filmmaker, you distribute his movie as he intended it to be, not ‘work closely’ in an attempt to change his or her film and by doing so change the politics and message the filmmaker is expressing. The politics in this case is ‘no means no’ and ‘violence toward women is not acceptable,’ but obviously Vincent Maraval does not feel that way, and IFC is supporting him.