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by Brian Brooks
February 26, 2009 10:22 AM
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SXSW, Snag, IndiePix and Cinema Guild Team for Debut of "Least of These"

Continuing a recent trend of simultaneous festival and online or on demand premieres, the world premiere of co-directors Clark Lyda and Jesse Lyda's documentary "The Least of These" will take place simultaneously at the upcoming SXSW Film Festival and online. The South by Southwest Film Festival and distribution partners SnagFilms, IndiePix, and Cinema Guild announced their plans today. According to the deal, "The Least of These" will simultaneously premiere online on March 16 via SnagFilms and be presented at SXSW, followed by online, physical and semi-theatrical distribution by IndiePix and Cinema Guild.

The film takes a look at the T. Don Hutto Residential Center, a former medium-security prison that re-opened in 2006 as a prototype family detention center. The facility houses immigrant children and their parents from all over the world who are awaiting asylum hearings or deportation proceedings. As information about troubling conditions at the facility began to leak out, three activist attorneys sought to investigate and address the issues. In telling the story of their quest, the film explores the role (and limits) of community activism in bringing about change.

"We are pleased to be part of the ground-breaking premiere and distribution launch of 'The Least of These,'" commented SXSW Film Festival director Janet Pierson in a statement. "Our festival can provide a powerful launching platform for the film upon which SnagFilms and IndiePix can build their distribution strategies. We are committed to supporting new distribution models for SXSW premiere filmmakers."

"This is a groundbreaking distribution effort to bring attention to an important question of human rights and public policy," said Rick Allen, CEO of SnagFilms in a statement. "We are building on relationships we have forged with the festival, with IndiePix, and with the filmmakers to open up channels of distribution for this particular film."

This is the third time a collaborative premiere with a festival has taken place for Snag, with "Haze" and "The End of America" debuting on the doc website along with their debuts at the 2008 Hamptons International Film Festival last October. The model is also similar to an announcement by IFC at last month's Sundance Film Festival, unveiling a plan to release Joe Swanberg's new film, "Alexander The Last" (and other films) on demand simultaneous with the world premieres at SXSW. The model has not been without controversy, with some heads of regional festivals coming after SXSW suggesting that these films will have difficulty finding spots in their lineups since a "regional premiere" cannot be claimed if the title has already been available either via the Internet or on demand.

"The Least of These" will have its world premiere at the SXSW Film Festival in Austin, TX on Monday, March 16, at 11am at the Alamo Ritz Theater. Screening copies are available by mail and download from IndiePix for delivery two days after the premiere.

[DISCLOSURE: indieWIRE is owned by SnagFilms]

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