Hailed by New York Times film critic A.O. Scott this week as, “one of the most moving and fascinating documentaries I’ve seen this year,” Doug Block‘s “51 Birch Street” seems to be off to a great start, particularly given the fact that the release was initiated by the filmmaker himself. The film debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival last year and when the right distribution deal didn’t come along, Block decided to take matters into his own hands. He and producer Lori Cheatle secured financing for a theatrical release from his executive producers, Priddy Brothers Entertainment. The “51B” team opted for a release through Landmark Theaters‘ Truly Indie initiative, kicking off a planned eight city release this week in New York and Los Angeles.
With a tiny marketing budget, Block has been focusing his energies on online outreach, trying to place the film’s trailer and stirring buzz for the film among bloggers.
Tto somehow find a way to get your film out theatrically without losing your shirt or giving away all your ancillary rights is always the big challenge for indie filmmakers,” Block told indieWIRE in an interview with indieWIRE this week. “It wasn’t fun to have so many distributors pass on the film despite all the success it’s had at festivals, but Lori and I are really happy we wound up with Truly Indie. We think it’s a really smart distribution model, and we’re happy to be working with a pioneer like Mark Cuban and a company that’s trying to do something different.”
THE LIST FOR THIS WEEK:
“Conventioneers” (October 20), directed by Mora Stephens. Distributor: Cinema Libre Studio. Official website
“Justice” (October 18), directed by Maria Ramos. Distributor: First Run/Icarus Films. Official website
“Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple” (October 20), directed by Stanley Nelson. Distributor: Firelight Media.Official website
“Sleeping Dogs Lie” (October 20), directed by Bobcat Goldthwait. Distributor: Roadside Attractions/Samuel Goldwyn Films. Official website