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April 11, 2003 2:00 AM
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Controversial "11'09"01" Acquired by Empire Along With Three Other Films

Controversial "11'09"01" Acquired by Empire Along With Three Other Films

by Eugene Hernandez




An image from Samira Makhmalbaf's contribution to the controversial collection of short films, "11'09"01" (September 11), which was acquired for distribution in the United States.

Courtesy of Empire Pictures


Empire Pictures has acquired four new films for its slate, including the controversial compilation of films "11'09"01" (September 11). The French produced, feature-length collection of shorts includes new work by an acclaimed group of international filmmakers. The other features acquired include Aluizio Abranches' "The Three Marias," Diego Lerman's "Suddenly," and Michel Deville's "Almost Peaceful."

In the September 11 project, 11 filmmakers from around the world (Ken Loach, Danis Tanovic, Sean Penn, Amos Gitai, Shohei Imamura, Samira Makhmalbaf, Youssef Chahine, Idrissa Ouedraogo, Mira Nair, and Alejandro Gonzalez-Innaritu) each offer, in 11 minutes, 9 seconds and 1 frame, their own uncensored view of September 11, 2001. It debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival on the first anniversary of the terrorist attacks in the United States.

An array of perspectives are offered in the two-hour and 15-minute project, from Nair's exploration of the true story of a hero scapegoated as a terrorist, to Ken Loach's look at the Chilean September 11 tragedy in the 1970s. Samira Makhmalbaf takes viewers into a classroom where a teacher tries to explain the tragedy half-a-world away and Idrissa Ouedraogo shows a group of boys hoping to capture Bin Laden so that they can cash in on the $25 million reward and save a child's mom's life.

The film has been branded by some as anti-American, but Empire's Arentz told indieWIRE that the film deserves showings in the United States. Bolstered by British press that asked why the movie had not received distribution in the U.S., Arentz told indieWIRE, "It is time to correct that situation." The film was sold by Carole Baraton of Wild Bunch. Empire plans to release the movie this summer.

"Tan de Repente" (Suddenly), opening in August, is the first feature by Argentine filmmaker Lerman. It debuted in Locarno last year where it won the Silver Leopard and an acting prize. It also screened in Havana. The comedic, black-and-white road movie follows a lonely girl who is abducted by punk lesbians. It was sold by Eric Lagesse for Flach Pyramide and will open in August at Film Forum.

Brazilian Abranches' second feature film, "As Tres Marias" (The Three Marias), premiered last year in Berlin. It is described as "the tale of a bloody vendetta between warring families in the rugged expanses of the Brazilian north." The sale was negotiated with Pape Boye of TVOR. It will debut at Cinema Village at the end of May with a national arthouse release to follow.

Michel Deville's "Almost Peaceful" from France is the story of a group of holocaust survivors working in a Paris tailoring company; it was shot shortly after World War II. Deville, known for his 1988 film "La Lectrice" has been making feature films since 1958. The deal was negotiated by Nicolas Brigaud-Robert from Films Distribution. The film will be released in theaters in early 2004.

[For more information on Empire, please visit: http://www.empirepicturesusa.com.]

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