by Anthony Kaufman
Noted video distributor Fox Lorber is set to release an array of
domestic festival favorites and foreign films this year. Among the
list are a handful of movies that made indieWIRE's list of favorite
unaquired films of 1998.
Theatrical rights to three films from the list have in fact been
nabbed by Fox Lorber, representatives confirmed recently: Mark Daniels'
"Melvin Van Peebles' Classified X," Tsai Ming-liang's "The Hole" and
Hal Hartley's "Book of Life." The latter two were just grabbed as part
of a collection of end-of-the-millennium films called "2000 Seen By."
Other films in the recently purchased package include Alain Berliner's "The
Wall," Miguel Albaladejo's "My First Night," and Abderrahmane Sissako's
Sundance bound "Life on Earth," among others. Two acquired short films
by Hal Hartley, "Iris" and "Opera #1," will also screen along with "Book
of Life." Fox Lorber will launch the "2000 Seen By" series at the
Portland Film Festival on Feb. 12 and debut it theatrically at New
York's Cinema Village on March 12. The series will then travel to over 10
cities in the U.S.
The 15-year-old vid distrib's launch into theatrical distribution is
less than 2-years-old following the release of Theo Angelopoulos'
"Ulysses' Gaze" and John O'Hagan's doc "Wonderland" -- but their upcoming
slate is one to be reckoned with. The company plans to release a
formidable list of "retrospectives, classic reissues, and a mixture of
American independents and foreign product," says Senior Acquisitions
exec Krysanne Katsoolis. Two 1998 Sundance debuts, Lynn
Hershman-Leeson's techno-tour-de-force "Conceiving Ada" and Katharina
Otto's fashion doc "Beautopia" will screen this year. And two films
from Sundance 1999 have also been acquired: World Cinema selection, "The
Adopted Son" by director Aktan Abdikalikov and Documentary Competition
entry, "On the Ropes," directed by Nanette Burstein and Brett Morgan.
The company also plans to release Akira Kurosawa's last movie,
"Madadayo," a reissue of "My Dinner with Andre," traveling exhibitions
of Francois Truffaut and the works of Hou Hsiao-hsien, including his
latest "Flowers of Shanghai," and "Elles," a romantic comedy from
Portuguese director, Luis Galvao Teles.
"We're now seeing the fruit of a four month start-up," says Wendy
Lidell, former head of International Film Circuit, whose company and
staff were bought by Fox Lorber to run their theatrical booking efforts.
"We were seeing many quality movies that weren't being picked up," adds
Krysanne Katsoolis. "And it was an easy jump from acquiring video rights
to film rights." According to Katsoolis, Fox Lorber will continue to
acquire video rights for their own films and for theatrical companies
that don't have access to ancilliary markets. She also notes that the
company will be able to invest some money into their theatrical
releases, but concedes "these are the kinds of movies that will rely on
critical response." Concluding, Katsoolis claims that Fox Lorber will
be "very active in Sundance and Berlin, continuing to acquire
theatrically through '99 and into 2000."
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