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October 13, 2004 2:00 AM
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Wellspring to Bear "Palindromes" in April; Company Gets North American Rights to Solondz Film

Wellspring to Bear "Palindromes" in April; Company Gets North American Rights to Solondz Film

by Brian Brooks


"Aviva" and "Earl" ("Bob") in a scene from Todd Solondz film, "Palindromes." Photo provided by the Toronto International Film Festival.


North American rights to Todd Solondz' latest film, "Palindromes," starring Ellen Barkin, Stephen Adly Guirgis, Richard Masur, and Debra Monk, have been acquired by Wellspring, the New York-based company announced Tuesday afternoon. The feature, which recently screened at the Telluride, Venice, and Toronto film festivals, and will play this week at the New York Film Festival, is set for an April 2005 rollout. DVD and video distribution will also be handled by Wellspring, in late 2005. Marie Therese Guirgis, Wellspring's head of acquisitions, negotiated the deal with Bart Walker of ICM on behalf of Solondz.

With "Palindromes," Solondz continues his distinctive storytelling in the vein of his past work, including "Welcome to the Dollhouse" (1996), winner of the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance in addition to other honors from Toronto and Berlin, and 1998's "Happiness," which garnered the International Critics Prize at the Cannes International Film Festival, and received a Golden Globe nomination for best screenplay.

The new film centers on 12-year-old Aviva Victor, who wants to become pregnant. She nearly succeeds, but intervention by her parents interrupts her plan. According to a Wellspring announcement, "she runs away, still determined to get pregnant one way or another, but instead finds herself lost in another world, a less sensible one, but one 'pregnant' itself with all sorts of strange possibility." Solondz uses the role of Aviva to explore human passions and weaknesses uniquely by using five girls, two women and one 12 year-old boy of differing ages and ethnicities, to play the lead Aviva character at various stages throughout the feature.

"Todd Solondz is a director we have long admired, and so to work with him is both a dream come true and an honor," commented Marie Therese Guirgis in a statement. "People will describe 'Palindromes' as controversial, but it is above all a sensitive, moving and very funny film that will surprise people." Notably, Guirgis' brother is Stephen Adly Guirgis, the accomplished playwright and performer, who appears in a key role in "Palindromes."

For his part, Solondz commented on the acquisition, in a statement, "I am so happy to be working with such smart, hard working and nice people -- and also because they always distribute my favorite movies."

Wellspring, a division of American Vantage Media Corporation, currently has Jonathan Caouette's celebrated doc "Tarnation" and Cedric Kahn's "Red Lights" starring Jean-Pierre Darroussin and Carole Bouquet among its releases. Upcoming Wellspring titles include Jean-Luc Godard's "Notre Musique," Savi Gabizon's "Nina's Tragedies," and Anne Fontaine's "Nathalie."

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