by Eugene Hernandez
Two films, both represented by Los Angeles entertainment attorney Mark
Litwak, have been picked up by the indie distributor, Northern Arts. The
company, which recently released "Drunks," as well as Steven Soderbergh's
"Schizopolis" and "Gray's Anatomy," acquired George Esguerra's "Talk to Me"
and Stewart Schill's "The Continued Adventures of Reptile Man."
Coincidentally, the two films also share the distinction of having
premiered at the 1996 Ft. Lauderdale Film Festival where Esguerra and
co-writer Robert Foulkes received the President's Award for Best Writers
(first feature) and "Talk to Me" star Cheryl Clifford garnered the
President's Award for Best Actress (first feature).
"Reptile Man," which was produced by Shoreline Entertainment, stars
legendary actor Tony Curtis. A Shoreline representative told indieWIRE
yesterday that the film will be distributed domestically in six markets.
"Talk to Me's" Esguerra told indieWIRE yesterday that Northern Arts plans
to release his film theatrically this Spring beginning with a run at the
Quad in New York City, followed by a debut in Los Angeles. The filmmaker
explained that is was pure persistence that resulted in a distribution deal
over a year after his World Premiere in Florida. On a high after a
successful debut at the festival, the filmmaker was felled by a less than
favorable Variety review. However, the movie screened well at SXSW in
Austin the following Spring and caught the eye of Elliot Kanbar from NYC's
Quad theater. The two stayed in touch and Kanbar touted the movie to
distributors. Subsequent letters from Esguerra to a few distributors
resulted in a situation that gave the filmmaker a choice of offers.
In a conversation with indieWIRE yesterday, attorney Mark Litwak explained
that the timing of the two deals is pure coincidence. Litwak, who recently
announced plans for a website devoted to surveying the positive and
negative aspects of current distributors explained that he feels "the
reputation of a distributor is very important," adding that the company's
reputation and its promise to adequately underwrite the promotion of the
two films was a key factor in the decisions.
[Additional information on the Filmmaker's Clearinghouse distributor survey
site can be found @