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Werner Herzog's "Abyss" Nabbed by Sundance Selects Ahead of Toronto Premiere

By Brian Brooks | Indiewire September 1, 2011 at 2:53AM

Ahead of its Toronto International Film Festival debut next week, Sundance Selects has picked up North American rights to Werner Herzog's film, "Into the Abyss." Selects, a sister division of IFC Films and IFC Midnight, released Herzog's most recent box office hit, "Cave of Forgotten Dreams," which premiered at last year's TIFF.
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Ahead of its Toronto International Film Festival debut next week, Sundance Selects has picked up North American rights to Werner Herzog's film, "Into the Abyss." Selects, a sister division of IFC Films and IFC Midnight, released Herzog's most recent box office hit, "Cave of Forgotten Dreams," which premiered at last year's TIFF.

Full acquisition release follows:

Sundance Selects announced today that the company is acquiring North American rights to acclaimed documentarian Werner Herzog’s upcoming film, "Into the Abyss." The documentary, produced by Erik Nelson ("Cave of Forgotten Dreams") and executive produced by Dave Harding, Amy Briamonte, Henry Schleiff, Sara Kozak, Andre Singer, and Lucki Stipetic, explores a triple homicide case in Conroe, Texas, probing the psyches of those involved, including the 28-year old death row inmate who was executed just 8 days after appearing on-screen. Herzog’s inquiries unveil layers of humanity against an American Gothic landscape. As he’s so often done before, Herzog makes an enlightening trip out of ominous territory.

Jonathan Sehring, President of Sundance Selects/IFC Films, said: "Earlier this year, Werner Herzog took us to unseen Chauvet Cave in "Cave of Forgotten Dreams" which became one of our company's most successful releases and the year's highest grossing documentary. Now he has gone a step further and shown us the human soul in one of his most remarkable films "Into the Abyss." This is a hard-hitting, emotional and enlightening film that probes a crime and the legacy of the people involved and shows Herzog to be one of our great filmmakers. We are thrilled he has entrusted us with this film and are happy to be in business with him, our friends at Creative Differences and Investigation Discovery.”

Producer Erik Nelson describes an ongoing collaboration with Herzog, "Although I have done three other films with Werner, I am always surprised at what he comes back with. In this case, I feel like I'm getting a privileged look at his creative machinery at work. For me, hearing Werner's off-screen interactions with these haunted people is like eavesdropping on Truman Capote as Capote researched "In Cold Blood." Even I’m impressed, and I was lucky enough to watch Werner put together "Grizzly Man!" Werner and I are delighted to be working with IFC again, and the opportunity to build on their success with "Cave of Forgotten Dreams."

The deal for "Into the Abyss" was negotiated by Sehring and Betsy Rodgers, Vice President of Business and Legal Affairs for Sundance Selects/IFC Films with Nelson and Briamonte at Creative Differences with counsel from Marc Simon at Cowan DeBaets Abrahams & Sheppard LLP.

“It’s been an honor working with Werner and Erik on this incredibly moving and impactful film over the last two years,” said Henry Schleiff, President and General Manager, Investigation Discovery. “We are in awe of the deeply emotional and personal interviews Werner conducted with the participants and we are proud to work with Werner, Creative Differences and Sundance Selects to bring this documentary to an international audience.”

In its first year, Sundance Selects has had several successes including Herzog's "Cave of Forgotten Dreams," Sundance Film Festival Audience Award winner "Buck" and Abbas Kiraostami's "Certified Copy" for which Juliette Binoche won the Best Actress award at Cannes. The new label will also present 7 films at the upcoming Toronto International Film Festival including Wim Wender's "Pina," Joshua Marston's Berlin Silver Bear winner "The Forgiveness of Blood" and the Dardennes' Cannes Grand Prix winner "The Kid with a Bike." Other upcoming releases include SXSW Audience Award winner "Weekend," Sundance award winner "The Blackpower Mixtapes" 1967-1975 and Cannes Jury Prize winner "Poliss."

Sundance Selects is a sister division to IFC Films and IFC Midnight, and is owned and operated by AMC Networks, Inc.

This article is related to: Acquisitions, Into the Abyss