[EDITORS NOTE: The following is an announcement from indieWIRE.]
The New York Times and Emerging Pictures, the New York-based digital cinema network, will for the first time present "indieWIRE: Undiscovered Gems". The eight-month-long film series is based on indieWIRE's annual list of the top 15 films from major festivals around the world that have yet to find a theatrical distributor, and is presented in association with the California Film Institute. The series kicks off in late April with Jem Cohen's acclaimed feature "Chain".
(indieWIRE's list of the best films without distribution is available in the special Undiscovered Gems section at indieWIRE.com.)
With support from Sundance Channel, an audience prize competition will provide the winning filmmaker a cash award of $50,000, theatrical release in New York, Los Angeles and at least five other U.S. cities during 2007, as well as an exclusive broadcast on Sundance Channel.
Using Emerging's digital technology, the partnership will bring one film per month from indieWIRE's annual list to theaters* in a minimum of 11 cities, including New York City, Tucson, AZ; San Rafael, CA; Wilmington, DE; Ft. Lauderdale and Lake Worth, FL; Martha's Vineyard, MA; Lincoln NE; Buffalo, NY; Tulsa, OK; and Scranton, PA.
The one-film-a-month series begins in late April, 2006 and continues through November, 2006, with individual screening dates varying by venue. The winner will be determined by audience balloting at each venue and announced in December, 2006, at awards presentations in New York City and at the California Film Institute's Christopher B. Smith Rafael Film Center in San Rafael, California.
Now in its ninth year and put together by indieWIRE's editors and contributing writers, the annual list of "Undiscovered Gems" is a roster of extraordinary films which 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.
"Chain" has appeared at many film festivals, including Berlin, Edinburgh, Vancouver, Vienna, Woodstock, and Melbourne. Director Cohen was the recipient of the 2005 Independent Spirit Award's "Someone to Watch" Award. The film addresses the issue of cultural homogenization in the world: as regional character disappears, it has become increasingly difficult to know where you are. Malls, theme parks, hotels and corporate centers worldwide are merged into a contemporary "superlandscape" which shapes the lives of two women caught within it. One is a corporate executive, the other a young drifter.
"With so many hurdles facing quality independent, foreign language and documentary filmmakers in securing theatrical distribution, we are thrilled to partner 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.
"The New York Times is delighted to be part of this important effort to bring original independent films to audiences across the country," said Alyse Myers, senior vice president, chief marketing officer for The New York Times Media Group. "Our collaboration on the 'Undiscovered Gems' Series reconfirms The Times's longstanding commitment to film, including celebrating talent and supporting emerging filmmakers."
Ira Deutchman, co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Emerging Pictures, says, "We are proud to once again partner 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 2005 syndication of the Undiscovered Gems as a festival by transforming it into an eight-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 Executive Vice President, Programming and Marketing, 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."
* Participating theaters as of this date are: Cinema Village (New York City), The Loft (Tucson), Christopher B. Smith Rafael Film Center (San Rafael), Theatre N at Nemours (Wilmington), Cinema Paradiso (Ft. Lauderdale), The Duncan Theatre at Stage West (Lake Worth), Island Theatre (Martha's Vineyard), Mary Riepma Ross Media Arts Center (Lincoln), Market Arcade Film and Arts Center (Buffalo), Circle Cinema (Tulsa), Scranton Cultural Center (Scranton). All theaters are either fulltime or affiliate venues in the Emerging Cinemas consortium of digital projection theaters.