Wellspring's Slate Continues to Grow, Company Acquires Israeli Hit "Nina's Tragedies"
by Eugene Hernandez
New York based Wellspring has acquired another film for its growing release slate of new titles. The company secured North American rights to Savi Gabizon's "Nina's Tragedies," the acclaimed Israeli film that won 11 Israeli Academy Awards and was the top film at the box office in that country last year. It was also selected as the country's official entry to the recent Academy Awards. The film was an award winner at the Jerusalem Film Festival and had its U.S. premiere at the Sundance Film Festival this year.
"Nina's Tragedies" is described as "the story of a turbulent year in the life of a family living in modern day Tel-Aviv as filtered through the eyes of a sensitive teenage boy who is smitten with his captivating Aunt Nina."
Wellspring's Guirgis and the company's manager of acquisitions Rob Williams negotiated the deal with the film's producer Anat Assoulin and producer/director Savi Gabizon. Head of theatrical distribution Ryan Werner told indieWIRE Tuesday that the company will pursue an early 2005 release of the film to capitalize on many of the Jewish film festivals that take place in the fall.
"Savi Gabizon shows that there is room for grace and humor amidst the sadness and conflict of daily life in Israel," said Guirgis in a prepared statement. "The success he's had in his native country is a testament to his talent and we are really confident that the American audience is going to love his work."
Guirgis told indieWIRE that the company has increased the scope and number of acquisitions since Wellspring was acquired by American Vantage Media in February. She indicated that Wellspring will release about 10 films this year, up from six in 2003. She added that the goal moving forward is for the company's expanded theatrical distribution division, headed by Werner, could handle an average of 12 movies per year.
Over the past weekend, Wellspring announced a unique pact for Jonathan Caouette's "Tarnation." The company has come on board as a co-producer of the movie and with a worldwide rights deal to work with the movie via its many divisions, including international sales, and of course domestic theatrical distribution. Other recent acquisitions include Jean-Francois Pouliot's "Seducing Doctor Lewis," Cedric Kahn's "Red Lights," Marco Bellocchio's "Good Morning, Night," and Anne Fontaine's "Nathalie." Other upcoming releases include Andre Techine's "Strayed" and Alexander Sokurov's "Father and Son." Wellspring opened Bruno Dumont's "Twentynine Palms" this past weekend.
"I think that there's a wider range," Guirgis said, noting recent acquisitions "Seducing Dr. Lewis" and "Tarnation. "We love them both, (but) in the past, for a variety of reasons, we weren't able to release as wide a range of films -- because certain films require more P&A than others (and) certain films require more creative and slightly more expensive deals to acquire them."
Looking ahead towards Cannes, Guirgis said that Wellspring is hopeful about several prospects and added that she and Werner have worked to establish their new identity within the international community.
"All of the international sellers that we know are aware that we've grown," said Guirgis. "What's clear, I hope, is that we are always going to release very good films. [Now] we have the opportunity to be a little more competitive on films that we weren't able to compete on in the past."