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Upstart Elephant Eye Releasing Venditti's "Kid" & Lee's "B-Boy"; New Outfit Unveils Slate at AFM

By Brian Brooks | Indiewire October 31, 2007 at 10:51AM

Newly announced production, sales and boutique distribution outfit Elephant Eye has set launch dates for a pair of acclaimed U.S. docs, including Jennifer Venditti's award-winning "Billy the Kid," which will open in New York December 5th and Benson Lee's "Planet B-Boy," which will be released in March of '08. Making the announcement from the American Film Market in Santa Monica, CA on Wednesday, Elephant Eye principles also unveiled a full slate of films that its taking to the market.
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Newly announced production, sales and boutique distribution outfit Elephant Eye has set launch dates for a pair of acclaimed U.S. docs, including Jennifer Venditti's award-winning "Billy the Kid," which will open in New York December 5th and Benson Lee's "Planet B-Boy," which will be released in March of '08. Making the announcement from the American Film Market in Santa Monica, CA on Wednesday, Elephant Eye principles also unveiled a full slate of films that its taking to the market.

"Billy The Kid," which won jury prizes at SXSW and the Los Angeles Film Festival, as well as the Melbourne and Edinburgh festivals, is a heartwarming portrait of an underdog who "challenges the viewer to understand a triumphant teen on his own terms."

The New York-based company, formed last Spring by Kim Jose (former VP of Jean Doumanian Production), Dave Robinson (former CFO and head of international sales for Lee Daniels Entertainment), and Vicky Wight (former VP of Artistic License), are shopping a number of titles at this week's AFM , including director Lee's Tribeca Film Festival doc "Planet B-Boy," for international sales, in addition to Aaron Woodley's second feature "Tennessee," produced by Lee Daniels and also Craig Zobel's upcoming "Turkey in the Straw," which will be co-produced with Plum Pictures.

"We're psyched to be involved with his next movie," Jose told indieWIRE, during a recent conversation at the Elephant Eye office in New York City. She went on to credit Zobel for his work as production manager on David Gordon Green's "All the Real Girls" in 2003, commenting, "I think he did work that contributed a lot creatively to the film..."

Elephant Eye recently optioned three new projects as well, including award-winning playwright Etan Frankel's screenplay, "Country Song"; screenwriter Stephen Lancellotti's psychological thriller, "The Harvest"; and New York Times Book Review Editors Choice "The World to Come," by novelist Dara Horn, a dramatic mystery about a stolen painting by artist Marc Chagall.

"We have broad tastes," said Wight, during the joint interview, detailing the sort of stories that Elephant Eye will be focusing on in the future. "We're not genre specific, but the common thread is finding those new voices and new stories."

The company, which plans to produce and distribute a slate of four to six titles per year, gets its financing on a per project basis from investors that the trio have relationships with, they said during the conversation.

"We want to emphasize that we have the capability to do sales and distribution, but we plan to release films we feel passionate about...it's boutique," Jose noted. But she also added that they will be even more focused on making movies. "We feel [however] that our productions are bigger than our distribution scope."