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Rialto Pictures Takes Scorsese's "Public Speaking" to the Big Screen

An image from Fran Lebowitz's "Public Speaking."

Martin Scorsese's profile of writer Fran Lebowtiz, "Public Speaking," will receive a small theatrical release thanks to the distributor Rialto Pictures. The film, which premiered last year on HBO, will begin its theatrical run February 23 at New York's Film Forum and will roll out to other cities thereafter. The Gotham Award-nominated film tells Lebowitz's story through her own words, with scenes shot in the streets of New York and in conversation with her friend Toni Morrison.

The full press release is below.

RIALTO PICTURES ACQUIRES THEATRICAL RIGHTS TO MARTIN SCORSESE'S “PUBLIC SPEAKING,” PORTRAIT OF ICONIC AUTHOR FRAN LEBOWITZ OPENS FEB. 23 AT NEW YORK’S FILM FORUM, FOLLOWED BY OTHER CITIES

Specialized distributor Rialto Pictures has acquired the U.S. theatrical rights to Martin Scorsese’s PUBLIC SPEAKING, the director’s portrait of author, social critic, and acerbic wit Fran Lebowitz. The company will open the acclaimed new documentary on February 23 at New York’s Film Forum, with special engagements in select U.S. cities to follow throughout 2011.

Directed by Oscar-winner Martin Scorsese and produced by Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter, an Emmy- and Peabody-winning documentarian, and Margaret Bodde, the feature-length documentary spotlights Lebowitz’s experiences and sardonic world view. Made in the energetic style of Scorsese’s early documentaries Italian American and American Boy, PUBLIC SPEAKING captures Lebowitz in conversation at New York’s Waverly Inn, in an onstage discussion with longtime friend Toni Morrison, and on the streets of New York.

The film was recently nominated for a Gotham Independent Film Award in the Best Documentary category.

Lebowitz offers insights on social issues like gender, race, and gay rights, as well pet peeves including celebrity culture, smoking bans, tourists and strollers. Gender, she says, is “a very big piece of luck… Any white gentile straight male who is not President of the United States failed.” Of aging, she says, “At a certain point, the worst picture taken of you when you were 25 is better than the best picture taken of you when you’re 45.”

Fran hit the New York literary scene in the early 1970s when Andy Warhol hired the unknown scribe to write for Interview magazine, with stints as a writer for Mademoiselle and a contributing editor at Vanity Fair to follow. She is also the author of two bestselling collections of essays, Metropolitan Life (1978) and Social Studies (1981), and the children’s book Mr. Chas and Lisa Sue Meet the Pandas (1994).

Described by the Los Angeles Times as “the gold standard of reissue distributors," New York-based Rialto Pictures was founded in 1997 by Bruce Goldstein. Adrienne Halpern joined him as Co-President a year later. A specialist in the release of movie classics, Rialto holds rights to films by Godard, Federico Fellini, Jean Renoir, Jules Dassin, Luis Buñuel, Costa-Gavras, Carol Reed, Alain Resnais, Akira Kurosawa, Michael Powell, Jean-Pierre Melville, and many others. 2007 marked Rialto’s tenth anniversary, a milestone celebrated with a retrospective at New York’s Museum of Modern Art.

Says Martin Scorsese, “I'm thrilled that audiences will have a chance to see the picture in a theatrical setting and that it's being handled by Rialto, which built its reputation by bringing great movies like The Third Man, Grand Illusion, and Breathless back to theaters. I’m also happy to see Fran joining Rialto’s stable of international icons like Jeanne Moreau, Jean Seberg, and Brigitte Bardot.”

PUBLIC SPEAKING is an HBO Documentary Films and American Express Portraits presentation in association with Consolidated Documentaries and Sikelia Productions. Directed by Martin Scorsese. Produced by Graydon Carter, Fran Lebowitz and Martin Scorsese. Producer, Margaret Bodde. Executive Producers, Ted Griffin and John Hayes. Edited by Damian Rodriguez and David Tedeschi. Director of Photography, Ellen Kuras. Supervising Producer, Jenny Carchman. Associate Producers, Erin Edeiken and Chris Garrett. A Rialto Pictures release.

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