Abel Ferrara has never had the easiest time when it comes to U.S. distribution for his films. He usually winds up with tiny companies who can only afford limited releases (“Chelsea On The Rocks“) or taking literally years to find a screen stateside (“Go Go Tales“); being a Ferrara fan can be frustrating. But his last film—prior to this year’s double whammy of “Welcome To New York” and “Pasolini“—”4:44 Last Day On Earth” hit U.S. cinemas in the able hands of IFC Films, and it seemed things went well. The company snatched up the rights to the director’s next effort, “Welcome To New York,” but it seems something has gone wrong.
Arriving in theaters and on VOD in France this past spring, the movie is inspired by the scandal that surrounded by former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn, when he was accused of sexually assaulting a New York City maid. The movie is pretty damn good (our review), with Gérard Depardieu letting it all hang out in his performance. And that might be a problem.
Chatting with THR, Ferrara revealed that IFC Films wants him to deliver an R-rated cut, and the filmmaker isn’t having it. “ ‘Welcome to New York’ is not being distributed in the U.S. because of this company, IFC, which I’m totally disgusted with,” he said. “They knew from day one when they bought this film that they had the final version and that it wasn’t going to be changed.”
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Well, kind of. According to the trade, IFC bought the movie on the basis of a 10-minute trailer, and made a deal with production company Wild Bunch that they would receive an R-rated cut. The version we saw features a couple of full frontal scenes with Depardieu, and those might be the scenes the studio wants trimmed to ensure the rating. As for the debauchery fueled party sequences, they’re not out of line with anything you might see in a raunchy comedy. At any rate, Ferrara is pissed, saying its another reminder of the “corporate assault” on artists.
“F— them and f— IFC and the Center. Any filmmaker that’s worth anything should go and burn that theater down,” the director said. “And as for my brother and sister filmmakers, don’t roll over to these punks. And don’t let Arianna Bocco and [Sundance Selects/IFC Films president] Jonathan Sehring and the other thousand just like them come on as big friends of the independent film community. They don’t give a shit about movies or the people that make them.”
Yikes. For their part, IFC has mostly remained mum on the matter, releasing a statement declaring their love of the filmmaker, while not addressing Ferrara’s concerns specifically. Frankly, we’d wager the same amount of people will pay for this movie in either an R-rated or unrated version—there are certainly no teenagers aching to see this, and it’s not like “Welcome To New York” would’ve screened in multiplexes anyway, where exhibitors are more touchy about “unrated” movies.
Thoughts? Should IFC release the movie as is, or should they push for the contractually obligated, edited version of the film? Tell us below.