By Indiewire | Indiewire February 16, 2007 at 6:45AM
[EDITORS NOTE: The following is an announcement from indieWIRE.]
The New York Times and Emerging Pictures, the New York-based digital cinema network, will present the second "indieWIRE: Undiscovered Gems," a ten-month-long film series. Based on indieWIRE's annual list of the top films from major festivals around the world that have yet to find a theatrical distributor, the series is presented in association with the California Film Institute. Audiences will select their favorite film to win the Sundance Channel Audience Award. The winning filmmaker will receive a cash award of $50,000, a theatrical release in New York, Los Angeles and at least five other U.S. cities during 2008, as well as an exclusive broadcast on Sundance Channel.
The series kicks off in late February with Steve Barron's award-winning feature "Choking Man."
Using Emerging's digital technology, the series will bring one film per month from indieWIRE's annual list to theaters in a minimum of 15 cities, including New York City; Wilmington, DE; Ft. Lauderdale, Lake Worth and Key West, FL; Martha's Vineyard, MA; Buffalo, NY; Tulsa, and Oklahoma City, OK; Scranton, PA; Cary, NC; Ann Arbor, MI; and Washington, DC.
The one-film-a-month series begins in late February 2007 and continues through November 2007, with individual screening dates varying by venue. The winner will be determined by audience balloting at each venue and announced in December 2007, at an award presentation in New York City.
Now in its tenth year and put together by indieWIRE's editors and contributing writers, the annual list of "Undiscovered Gems" is a roster of extraordinary films that, despite their quality, have not received U.S. distribution. In 2004, the California Film Institute presented the first theatrical exhibition of indieWIRE's "Top Undistributed Films," providing audiences the opportunity to experience the films beyond the festival circuit. This year for the first time, critics from all over the country participated in the selection of the films through indieWIRE's online critics poll.
After playing at the Tribeca and Deauville Film Festivals, "Choking Man" was awarded "Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You" at the 2006 IFP Gotham Awards ceremony in December. It is the story of a young Ecuadorian dishwasher, who spends his days choking on the American dream. Feeling fear and isolation more than any opportunity for his success, Jorge is trapped somewhere between his Latin roots and his anonymous American life. When the diner adds a bright new member to the staff, Jorge's world gets a little more complicated as his affections grow for the new waitress, a beautiful Chinese girl named Amy.
"With so many hurdles facing quality independent, foreign language and documentary filmmakers in securing theatrical distribution, we are thrilled to work with The New York Times, Emerging Pictures and Sundance Channel on this growing showcase of new films. We hope this partnership and the series gives these films the support they deserve," says Eugene Hernandez, Editor-in-Chief of indieWIRE.
"It is a pleasure to be a part of the team that brings the Undiscovered Gems series to the attention of a national audience," says Alyse Myers, senior vice president, chief marketing officer for The New York Times Media Group. "The New York Times is happy to continue its support of these exciting filmmakers in their second year."
Ira Deutchman, cofounder and Chief Executive Officer of Emerging Pictures, says "We are proud to once again collaborate with indieWIRE and The New York Times to bring high caliber cinema to audiences across the country. And we're especially excited to be able to expand on our successful syndication of the Undiscovered Gems as a festival by transforming it into a ten-month screening competition whose winning filmmaker will receive a $50,000 advance against sale to Sundance Channel and Emerging's own prize of a major market theatrical distribution deal."
Sundance Channel's Executive Vice President and GM, Programming and Creative Affairs, Laura Michalchyshyn said "The Undiscovered Gems program dovetails very neatly with one of Sundance Channel key goals and that is to provide alternative distribution platforms for films that would not otherwise be seen, we are therefore very pleased to be a part of this series."
"As the owner of a nonprofit cinema, we are fortunate that we can often provide a venue for undistributed films at the Smith Rafael Film Center," notes Mark Fiskin, Founder-Executive Director of the California Film Institute. "The evolution of indieWIRE's Undiscovered Gems beyond the Bay Area (including a theatrical and broadcast distribution prize) represents an exciting opportunity for filmmakers to find and nurture a nationwide audience for their work. Our ongoing commitment to Undiscovered Gems reinforces our mission to support filmmakers by helping those unique voices find an outlet and an audience."