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by Brian Brooks
August 6, 2009 5:00 AM
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Berney & Pohlad Unveil Apparition, Align with Sony

Bob Berney and Bill Pohlad. Image provided by Apparition.

In a long awaited unveiling, former Picturehouse chief Bob Berney and producer Bill Pohlad, from River Road, have formally announced their new film distribution company. The outfit, named Apparition, has an initial slate that includes "The Tree of Life," written and directed by Terrence Malick, starring Brad Pitt and Sean Penn as well as Jane Camption's Cannes competition film, "Bright Star." Apparition also announced today a partnership with Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisition Group (SPWAG) for all domestic ancillary rights to their films.

Written and directed by Oscar nominee Terrence Malick, "The Tree of Life" is described by Apparition as "a mystical epic" that includes Pitt, Penn, and newcomer Jessica Chastain. The film tells the story of a family who must come to terms with a devastating loss. In doing so, they discover life's most important lessons of unselfish love and forgiveness. The film is co-produced by Pohlad, Sarah Green, Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner, and Grant Hill. While no theatrical release date has been announced, the film will be released later this year.

As previously announced, Oscar-winner Campion's "Bright Star," about the three-year romance between 19th century poet John Keats and Fanny Brawne, will open September 18th.

"Bill and I are creating a company where the art of filmmaking is truly a priority," commented Berney in a statement. "The birth of a new company that works in concert with artists while employing creative marketing strategies is a winning combination and is the essence of Apparition."

Continuing, Berney added, "Working with filmmakers like Terrence Malick and Jane Campion right out of the gate is a great indication of the kinds of relationships that we hope this company will be built on. And our relationship with Sony is the same. They are a bold company with tremendous assets and reach. But they also share our belief in championing extraordinary product."

"The goal here was to create a company that can be a real home for filmmakers. A company that has a sensitivity and passion for the work as well as an ability to bring it to the marketplace with ingenuity and creativity." added Pohlad. "Bob already has a reputation for having those qualities, and it was his involvement that really made this happen."

A fixture in the international film biz for over two decades, Bob Berney has founded and operated high preimenent companies that have released high profile work via his leadership roles at Picturehouse, Newmarket Films and IFC Films. Titles he has shepherded include "La Vie en Rose," by Olivier Dahan, "Pan's Labyrinth" by Guillermo del Toro, "A Prairie Home Companion" by Robert Altman, "Mongol" by Sergei Bodrov, "The Passion of the Christ" by Mel Gibson, "Monster" by Patty Jenkins, "Whale Rider" by Niki Caro, "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" by Joel Zwick, "Y Tu Mama Tambien" by Alfonso Cuaron and "Memento" by Christopher Nolan.

Through Pohlad's production company, River Road Entertainment, his producer credits include Ang Lee's "Brokeback Mountain," Altman's "A Prairie Home Companion," and Sean Penn's "Into the Wild." He also produced the recent documentary "Food, Inc.," currently in release in addition to Doug Liman's "Fair Game," starring Sean Penn and Naomi Watts which has recently completed principal photography. He is currently in production with "The Runaways," starring Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning.

-- the complete press release is available on page two --

POHLAD AND BERNEY LAUNCH NEW MOTION PICTURE DISTRIBUTION COMPANY APPARITION
AND ANNOUNCE OUTPUT DEAL WITH SONY PICTURES WORLDWIDE ACQUISTIONS GROUP

New Company to release "The Tree of Life" by Terrence Malick and "Bright Star" by Jane Campion

NEW YORK—August 6, 2009—Bill Pohlad and Bob Berney have launched a new motion picture distribution company, Apparition, which will acquire and release films. The new company’s initial slate includes The Tree of Life, written and directed by Terrence Malick, starring Brad Pitt and Sean Penn, and Jane Campion’s critically acclaimed Bright Star. The new banner has also formed an output relationship with Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions Group (SPWAG) for all domestic ancillary rights.

Pohlad and Berney created the new theatrical releasing company to be a fiercely independent, artist friendly distributor, one that champions the highest quality films and markets them with unmatched passion and commitment.

“Bill and I are creating a company where the art of filmmaking is truly a priority,” says Bob Berney. “The birth of a new company that works in concert with artists while employing creative marketing strategies is a winning combination and is the essence of Apparition.”

“The goal here was to create a company that can be a real home for filmmakers. A company that has a sensitivity and passion for the work as well as an ability to bring it to the marketplace with ingenuity and creativity.” said Pohlad. “Bob already has a reputation for having those qualities, and it was his involvement that really made this happen.”

“Working with filmmakers like Terrence Malick and Jane Campion right out of the gate is a great indication of the kinds of relationships that we hope this company will be built on,” said Berney. “And our relationship with Sony is the same. They are a bold company with tremendous assets and reach. But they also share our belief in championing extraordinary product.”

Also joining Apparition are Dan Lange, Bill Thompson and John Lange, in distribution; Sara Rose, in acquisitions and Jeanne R. Berney, Kirk Iwanowski and Molly Albright in marketing.

Written and directed by Academy Award nominee Terrence Malick, The Tree of Life is a mystical epic starring Academy Award nominated actor Brad Pitt and two-time Academy Award winner Sean Penn, and introduces Jessica Chastain. The film tells the story of a family who must come to terms with a devastating loss. In doing so, they discover life’s most important lessons of unselfish love and forgiveness. The film is co-produced by Pohlad, Sarah Green, Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner, and Grant Hill.

Written and directed by Academy Award winner Jane Campion, Bright Star is a riveting drama based on the three-year romance between 19th century poet John Keats and Fanny Brawne, which was cut short by Keats' untimely death at age 25. Ben Whishaw (The International, I’m Not There) and Abbie Cornish (Candy, Elizabeth: The Golden Age) star as Keats and Brawne, respectively. The film, which premiered at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, was produced by Jan Chapman and Caroline Hewitt, and will open September 18.

Bob Berney has been a preeminent force in the international film world for more than two decades, bringing a multitude of smart, challenging and entertaining films to the screen. In the past decade, he has founded and operated some of the key film companies dedicated to releasing independent productions, including Picturehouse, Newmarket Films, and IFC Films. The films he has shepherded include La Vie en Rose, Pan’s Labyrinth, A Prairie Home Companion, Mongol, The Passion of the Christ, Monster, Whale Rider, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Y Tu Mama Tambien, and Memento.

Pohlad has established himself as an esteemed producer of innovative, independent films, through his production company, River Road Entertainment. Pohlad’s remarkable credits combine critical acclaim and commercial success, and include Ang Lee’s Brokeback Mountain, Robert Altman’s A Prairie Home Companion, and Sean Penn’s Into the Wild. Pohlad recently produced the eye-opening documentary Food, Inc., currently in release and has completed principal photography on Doug Liman’s Fair Game, starring Sean Penn and Naomi Watts, and is currently in production on The Runaways, starring Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning.

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