Strand Set to Finish Solid '03 With "Flesh" and "Hammer"
by Eugene Hernandez
While East Coast film companies have faced consolidation and cutbacks, L.A.-based indie distributor Strand Releasing is having a solid year. In a conversation with indieWIRE this week, amidst packing up the office to prepare for a move, Strand co-president Marcus Hu talked about a few of his company's new releases. Strand will release Jonathan Karsh's "My Flesh and Blood" next month, and has also picked up "The Hebrew Hammer" from the recently defunct Cowboy Pictures.
Karsh's "Flesh" will open in New York and L.A. on November 28, followed by an expansion. Hu and business partner Jon Gerrans are hoping this one attracts some end-of-the-year acclaim, including Oscar attention. The film, from HBO/Cinemax Documentary Films, won two awards at Sundance this year, including the doc audience prize and the directing award for Karsh. It follows the Fairfield, Calif., family headed by Susan Tom, who is raising a large group of kids with special needs -- from a teenager battling mental demons to others with physical disabilities.
Hu decided to take on the film after spending time offering guidance for a self-distributed release to producer and good friend Jennifer Chaiken. She has produced such films as "Big Eden" and "Family Name."
"I really loved it when I saw it back in January," explained Hu, who splits his time between Los Angeles, where he works, and San Francisco, where he lives. "It is really just something that we are passionate about." With his characteristic laugh, Hu added, "I don't know if it will make one red dime, but when you get really passionate about a project, like we did with 'Party Monster,' (you have to do it)."
Strand has had a good run with Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato's "Party Monster." The film, a ContentFilm and Killer Films production, has made more than $600,000 at the box office. The company's release of "Yossi & Jagger" has made more than $100,000 during its first four weeks in release.
"Hebrew Hammer," the Jonathan Kesselman film starring Adam Goldberg, also from Content, will be released by Strand in late December, Hu told indieWIRE. The film had been set for release from Cowboy Pictures, but Strand has since negotiated to take over the release of the movie following Cowboy's recent tough financial times and subsequent bankruptcy. The "Jewsploitation" film, ala "Shaft," will air on Comedy Central for two weeks beginning December 8 and will hit theaters later in the month to coincide with Hanukkah. It is the story of an Orthodox Jewish man, played by Goldberg, who tries to save Hanukkah from Santa's evil son (played by Andy Dick).
Strand will release Rudolphe Marconi's "Love Forbidden" next week and it will also release Julian Hernandez's "A Thousand Clouds of Peace," next year. The movie, the black-and-white story of a gay teenager in Mexico City, screened at the 2003 Berlinale this year under the title, "A Thousand Peace Clouds Encircle The Sky, Love, You Will Never Stop Being Love," where it won the annual Teddy Award.
And next year, as part of a new series of auteur DVDs, the company is planning to release Tom Kalin's new queer cinema classic, "Swoon" and Alison Maclean's "Crush." Hu added that he hopes to release Gregg Araki's "The Living End" as part of the new series as well.
After the brief chat with indieWIRE, Hu returned to packing boxes ahead of this week's move to a new office. The move is only temporary though, the company recently purchased a warehouse building in Culver City and will move there in January.
Finishing the conversation, Hu mentioned that he is looking forward to next, year, Strand's 15th anniversary. "This is the kind of year that makes you glad to be in the business," he added.