World Cinema SVOD Service Film Movement Plus Adds 32 Films

World cinema subscription streaming VOD service Film Movement Plus Dec. 29 debuts 32 films new to the platform.

Just launched on Prime Video Channels for $5.99 per month, with a seven-day free trial for eligible new subscribers, the service is also available at filmmovementplus.com.

Among the several dozen acclaimed films are two masterworks from Hirokazu Kore-Eda (Monster, Shoplifters), After the Storm and The Third Murder; Antonia’s Line, the 1996 Academy Award for Best Foreign Film; Jan Komasa’s Corpus Christi, a 2020 Oscar nominee for Best International Feature Film, and Theeb, nominated for the same award in 2016; as well as classics including Sergio Corbucci’s The Great Silence and Takeshi Kitano’s Hana-Bi (Fireworks).

After the Storm (2016, Director Hirokazu Kore-Eda) — In Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Official Cannes Selection, a struggling novelist, now working as a private detective under the pretense of doing research, attempts to reconcile with his aging mother, ex-wife and 11-year-old son. As a typhoon passes, they end up spending the night together in his mother’s Tokyo apartment, but things don’t go particularly well for this fractured family. (117 minutes, Japanese w/English subs)

Antonia’s Line (1995, Director Marleen Gorris) — In the aftermath of WWII, strong-willed Antonia and her free-spirited daughter return to their hometown, ingratiating themselves with its tight-knit and eccentric community and fostering a vibrant circle of strong, liberated women in Marleen Gorris’ winner of the 1996 Academy Award for Best Foreign Film. (102 minutes, Dutch w/English subtitles)

Corpus Christi

Corpus Christi (2019, Director Jan Komasa) — After spending years in a Warsaw prison for a violent crime, 20-year-old Daniel is released and sent to a remote village to work as a manual laborer. When he arrives in town, one quick lie allows him to be mistaken for the town’s new priest, and he sets about leading his newfound flock. Though he has no training, his passion and charisma inspire the community. At the same time, his unconventional sermons and unpriestly behavior raise suspicions among some of the townsfolk — even more so as he edges towards a dark secret that the community hasn’t revealed in the confessional booth. The film is a 2020 Academy Award nominee for Best International Feature Film. (116 minutes, Polish w/English Subtitles)

Dead Pigs (2018, Director Cathy Yan) — The fates of an unlucky pig farmer, a feisty home-owner defending her property, a lovestruck busboy, a disenchanted rich girl, and an American expat pursuing the Chinese Dream converge and collide as thousands of dead pigs are found floating down the Huangpu River, towards a modernizing Shanghai in Cathy Yan’s (Birds of Prey) debut feature. The film won the Special Jury Prize for Ensemble Acting at the Sundance Film Festival. (122 minutes, Mandarin w/English subtitles, English)

Hana-Bi (Fireworks) (1997, Director Takeshi Kitano) — Feeling responsible for the shattered lives of his loved ones, beleaguered police detective Nishi (Takeshi Kitano) takes desperate measures to try and set things right in a world gone wrong. With his wife suffering from leukemia and his partner paralyzed from a brutal gangster attack, Nishi borrows money from a yakuza loan shark and then robs a bank to clear his debt. The yakuza, however, are not so easily bought off, sending Nishi down a road paved with nihilism and violence. Considered Kitano’s first true cinematic masterpiece, the film won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival. (103 minutes, Japanese w/English subtitles)

Harmonium (2016, Director Koji Fukada) — Toshio (Kanji Furutachi) sees his seemingly ordinary life take an ominous turn when Yasaka (Tadanobu Asano), a mysterious friend from his past, arrives unexpectedly. Recently released from prison and in need of a helping hand, Toshio gives him a job and generously takes him in to live with his wife and daughter. Toshio soon regrets this decision, as Yasaka gradually disrupts the family before finally causing irreparable damage.  (120 minutes, Japanese w/English subtitles)

My Love, Don’t Cross That River (2014, Director Jin Moyoung) — A blockbuster in its native Korea, where it would go on to become the country’s most successful film of all time, this film presents story of true love that transcends both generations and cultures. In the film, Jo Byeong-man and Kang Kye-yeol, “100-year old lovebirds,” have been inseparable companions for 76 years. Observing this fragile couple for 15 months, director Moyoung Jin acts as a fly-on-the-wall, capturing the tender moments of their twilight days — as the two face the inevitable reality that their time together will soon be approaching an end. (86 minutes, Korean w/English subtitles)

Oh Lucy!

Oh Lucy! (2017, Director Atsuko Hirayanagi) — Bored Tokyo lady Setsuko (Independent Spirit Award-nominee Shinobu Terajima) breaks free of her monotonous life when her niece Mika (Shioli Kutsuna) convinces her to enroll in an unorthodox English class. There, she adopts a blonde-haired alter ego name “Lucy” and develops romantic feelings for her American instructor John (Josh Hartnett).But after his sudden disappearance, Setsuko follows his trail halfway around the world to Southern California, where family ties and past lives are tested as she struggles to fulfill the promise of “Lucy.” From executive producers Will Ferrell and Adam McKay, the film was nominated for both a Palme d’Or and Critic’s Week Grand Prize at Cannes. (96 minutes, English, Japanese w/English subtitles).

Paradise (2016, Director Andrei Konchalovsky) — Olga is a beautiful Russian countess and member of the French Resistance; Jules is a French-Nazi collaborator who is assigned to investigate her case; and Helmut is a handsome, high-ranking, yet naïve German SS officer who once fell madly in love with Olga and meets her again when she is shipped to a concentration camp. While they recount their stories, Paradise drifts between the bloody end of World War II and the gilded, halcyon days when their destinies first crossed. Victim, bystander, or monster — director Andrei Konchalovsky, who captured the Silver Lion for Best Director at Venice, collapses these identities, offering a new perspective on the Holocaust. Shot in black and white, the film depicts the morally complex choices that one must make during the darkest of times. (132 minutes, Russian, German, French w/English subtitles)

The Great Silence (1968, Director Sergio Corbucci) — On an unforgiving, snow-swept frontier, a group of bloodthirsty bounty hunters, led by the vicious Loco (Klaus Kinski) prey on a band of persecuted outlaws who have taken to the hills. Only a mute gunslinger named Silence (Jean-Louis Trintignant) stands between the innocent refugees and the corrupt bounty hunters. But, in this harsh, brutal world, the lines between right and wrong are not always clear, and good does not always triumph. Featuring superb photography and a haunting score from maestro Ennio Morricone, director Sergio Corbucci’s bleak, brilliant and violent vision of an immoral, honorless West is widely considered to be among the best and most influential Westerns ever made. (105 minutes, Italian w/English subtitles, English)

The Third Murder (2017, Director Hirokazu Kore-Eda) — Leading attorney Shigemori takes on the defense of murder-robbery suspect Misumi who served jail time for another murder 30 years ago. Shigemori’s chances of winning the case seem low — his client freely admits his guilt, despite facing the death penalty if he is convicted. As he digs deeper into the case, as he hears the testimonies of the victim’s family and Misumi himself, the once confident Shigemori begins to doubt whether his client is the murderer after all in this Golden Lion nominee at the Venice Film Festival. (124 minutes, Japanese w/English subtitles)

Theeb (2014, Director Naji Abu Nowar) — In 1916, while war rages in the Ottoman Empire, Hussein raises his younger brother Theeb (“Wolf”) in a traditional Bedouin community that is isolated by the vast, unforgiving desert. The brothers’ quiet existence is suddenly interrupted when a British Army officer and his guide ask Hussein to escort them to a water well located along the old pilgrimage route to Mecca. The young, mischievous Theeb secretly chases after his brother, but the group soon find themselves trapped amidst threatening terrain riddled with Ottoman mercenaries, Arab revolutionaries, and outcast Bedouin raiders. Naji Abu Nowar’s directorial debut, set in the land of Lawrence of Arabia, is a “Bedouin Western” about a boy who, in order to survive, must become a man and live up to the name his father gave him. The film was nominated for the 2016 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film and a Golden Lion winner for Best Director at Venice.

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Other films added include:

  • 2 Autumns, 3 Winters (2013, Director Sebastien Betbeder, France, Romantic Comedy)
  • Abigail Harm (2012, Director Lee Isaac Chung, US/Hong Kong, Drama)
  • Aliyah (2012, Director Elie Wajeman, France, Thriller)
  • Amnesia (2015, Director Barbet Schroeder, France/Switzerland, Drama)
  • Amour Fou (2014, Director Jessica Hausner, Austria, Drama)
  • Corpo Celeste (2011, Director Alice Rohrwacher, Italy, Drama)
  • Glory (2016, Directors Kristina Grozeva, Petar Valchanov, Bulgaria, Drama)
  • God of the Piano (2019, Director Itay Tal, Israel, Drama)
  • Helena From the Wedding (2010, Director Joseph Infantolino, USA, Dramedy)
  • Human Capital (2014, Director Paolo Virzi, Italy, Thriller)
  • Ilo Ilo (2013, Director Anthony Chen, Singapore, Drama)
  • In Between (2016, Director Maysaloun Hamoud, Israel, Drama)
  • Karl Marx City (2016, Directors Petra Epperlein, Michael Tucker, Germany, Documentary)
  • Munyurangabo (2007, Director Lee Isaac Chung, Rwanda, Drama)
  • Nina Wu (2019, Director Midi Z, Taiwan/Malaysia, Thriller)
  • Queen of Hearts: Audrey Flack (2019, Directors Deborah Shaffer, Rachel Reichman, USA, Documentary)
  • The Auction (2013, Director Sebastien Pilote, Canada, Drama)
  • The Carer (2016, Director Janos Edelenyi, U.K./Hungary, Drama)
  • The Dinner (2014, Director Ivano De Matteo, Italy, Thriller)
  • The White King (2016, Directors Alex Helfrecht, Jörg Tittel, U.K., Sci-fi)

Film Movement to Bow Four-Film Blu-ray Collection of Korean Director Lee Chang-dong’s Features

Film Movement has acquired and will release in summer 2024 a four-film collection of Korean director Lee Chang-dong’s features, including Green Fish, Peppermint Candy, Oasis and Poetry. All feature 4K restorations.

The release will be preceded by theatrical screenings of the new restorations in select theaters in North America in the spring.

Lee Chang-dong

After his debut as a novelist in 1983, and his early forays as a screenwriter and assistant director, Lee Chang-dong made his directing debut with Green Fish in 1996 and quickly became one of Korea’s most lauded auteurs, taking his place alongside Bong Joon-ho, Park Chan Wook, Kim Ki-duk and others as one of the leaders of  Korean New Wave cinema.  His films feature dark stories of innocence lost, suffering, alienation, tragedy, psychological trauma and doomed romances and intricately woven narratives focusing on complex characters from the corners of society.

In Green Fish (1996), after his mandatory military service, naïve young Makdong (Han Suk-kyu), returns home to an Ilsan he no longer recognizes — a dull city that has rapidly modernized and gentrified in his absence.  When he crosses paths with a young woman being harassed at a train station, his life takes an unexpected turn when he is lured into the underworld of criminal gangs, with the promise of material comfort beyond his imagination. Unprepared for this environment of violence and exploitation, Mak-dong must face the dire consequences of his choices.  Green Fish captured the Best Film and Best New Director Awards from the Korean Film Critics Association and at the Blue Dragon Awards.

Peppermint Candy (1999) — Lee’s second directorial feature — spans 20 years in the life of one man, Yongho, from his callow teens through his fraught, self-hating middle age. Presented in seven chapters in reverse-chronological order, the film begins with Yongho’s untimely suicide and ends with a first date full of the promise and verve of youth. The moments in between these events as seen through lens of Yongho’s life observe South Korea’s fraught political history during the late 20th century, and in turn elegize a generation of marginalized people. An Official Selection of the Director’s Fortnight in Cannes, and numerous other notable fests, it won the Special Prize of the Jury at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival.

Oasis

In Oasis (2002), after serving time for killing a man in a hit-and-run car accident, Hong Jong-du (Sul Kyung-gu) is released with no money and nowhere to go. His family has abandoned him, and while trying to make amends, he meets Han Gong-ju (Moon So-ri), his victim’s adult daughter. She is wheelchair-bound due to cerebral palsy and all but abandoned in a cheap apartment by her callous family. Gong-ju’s innate tenderness appeals to the uncontrollably impulsive Jong-du, and the pair begin an improbable relationship.  The film was the winner of the Silver Lion for Best Director and Best Young Actress at the Venice Film Festival. It also won the FIPRESCI Prize and was nominated for Best Film at the Independent Spirit Awards.

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In the drama Poetry (2010) — winner of the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury — Special Mention and Best Screenplay at Cannes — Korean grandmother Mija comes to terms with the early onset of Alzheimer’s while dealing with the fallout from a brutal family crime. Her teenage grandson is linked to the violent death of a girl, and she finds herself caught up in a conspiracy to pay hush money to the dead girl’s family. Mija’s tendency to become lost in poetry, and the wonders of nature, causes her mind to wander at the wrong time, with unfortunate consequences.

Film Movement Plus Streaming Service Launches on Prime Video Channels

Film Movement’s streaming service, Film Movement Plus, which is celebrating its fifth anniversary, Dec. 15 became available to Prime Video customers via Prime Video Channels in the United States.  

The service is priced at $5.99 per month, with a seven-day free trial for eligible new subscribers. New titles will be added each week.

The Film Movement catalog features a curated collection of independent and world cinema, cult and arthouse classics, documentaries and North American exclusives.

Films available at launch on the Prime Video Channel include dozens of exclusives, such as Diamond Island, directed by Davy Chou (Return to Seoul); Holy Beasts with Geraldine Chaplin and Udo Kier; Mario Martone’s The Mayor of Rione Sanita; Hellhole, directed by Bas Devos (Here); Wayne Wang’s While the Women Were Sleeping; Claire Darling starring Catherine Deneuve; and the New York Times Critic’s Pick documentary Faith, the final film by Valentina Pedicini.

Critically lauded films from some of today’s most talented auteurs will be available as well, including A White White Day directed by Hlynur Pálmason (Godland); Koji Fukada’s A Girl Missing; Ciro Guerra’s The Wind Journeys; Diao Yinan’s The Wild Goose Lake; Peter Greenaway’s The Pillow Book; Stéphanie Chuat and Véronique Reymond’s My Little Sister; and Bruce LaBruce’s Saint-Narcisse. Award-winning documentaries include David Osit’s Mayor; Philippe Bellaiche’s and Rachel Leah Jones’ Advocate; and James Crump’s Antonio Lopez: Sex Fashion & Disco. Digitally-restored classics include Sergio Corbucci’s The Great Silence, Ang Lee’s theatrical debut Pushing Hands (available Dec. 15), Lee Tamahori’s Once Were Warriors, and Ming-liang Tsai’s Vive L’Amour.

Each month, Film Movement Plus will be updated with new exclusives and streaming premieres. Coming Dec. 22 is the exclusive premiere of The Inner Cage, a Venice competition title directed by Leonardo Di Costanzo and starring Toni Servillo (The Great Beauty), and on Dec. 29, Sonia Braga in the film that made her an international star, Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands, directed by Bruno Barreto. Also coming in December are Hirokazu Kore-eda’s After the Storm and The Third Murder; Naji Abu Nowar’s Academy-Award nominee Theeb; Takeshi Kitano’s Hana-Bi (Firesworks); Cathy Yan’s Dead Pigs; and Marleen Gorris’s Oscar winner Antonia’s Line.

Coming in January are Philipp Stölzl’s Chess Story, starring Oliver Masucci; Laura Wandel’s Oscar-shortlisted drama Playground; and exclusives including Asimina Proedrou’s Behind the Haystacks, Greece’s official submission for this year’s Best International Picture Academy Award, and Claudio Noce’s Italian drama Padrenostro, winner of a Best Actor award at the Venice Film Festival for Pierfrancesco Favino.

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“Since 2002, Film Movement’s objective has been to acquire cinematic gems from around the world and share them with American audiences.  And, for the past five years, Film Movement Plus has given us a broad platform to serve cineastes with curated cinema wherever they may be,” Michael Rosenberg, president of Film Movement, said in a statement. “By launching our service on Prime Video via Prime Video Channels, we make it even easier for customers to enjoy our films and find the many titles that are only available on Film Movement Plus.”

Comedy ‘Millie Lies Low’ Due on Digital and DVD Jan. 16 From Film Movement

The comedy Millie Lies Low, directed by Michelle Savill, will be released on digital and DVD Jan. 16 from Film Movement.

A Berlin Crystal Bear nominee, Millie Lies Low follows Millie (Ana Scotney), an architecture student from New Zealand, who has landed a competitive internship with a prestigious firm in New York. After telling everyone she knows about the opportunity, she suddenly suffers a panic attack as her plane is about to take off, and misses her flight. In a desperate pivot, Millie decides to save face by hiding in plain sight around Wellington, suitcase in tow, using Instagram and the power of denial to depict a trip to New York City that never happened. Trapped in a spiral of hilariously uncomfortable self-inflected scenarios, Millie has to dig deep to restore her mental health and her dignity. 

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Bonus features include the short film Ellen Is Leaving (also directed by Savill) and audio commentary by Savill.

 

Doc ‘Into the Weeds’ Due on DVD Dec. 19 From Film Movement

Film Movement will release the documentary Into the Weeds on DVD Dec. 19.

The documentary follows the story of groundskeeper Lee Johnson and his fight for justice against agrichemical giant Monsanto (now Bayer, which bought the company in 2018), the manufacturer of the weed killer Roundup.

In 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a branch of the World Health Organization, classified glyphosate — the active ingredient in Roundup — as “probably carcinogenic to humans.” A year later, Johnson filed a lawsuit claiming that Ranger Pro, a commercial-grade variant of Roundup, was a substantial contributing factor in causing his non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Johnson’s was the first “bellwether case” in a mass tort against Monsanto involving tens of thousands of plaintiffs: gardeners, golfers, farmers, groundskeepers, and ordinary people, following and trusting the instructions on the label.

Blending interviews, testimonials, trial footage, news coverage and vérité, the film follows the progression of this groundbreaking lawsuit, while also stepping back to consider the systemic impact of glyphosate-based herbicides on human health, our food systems, and the biodiversity of our planet.

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The Opening Night Film of Hot Docs 2022 and an Official Selection of the Hamptons International Film Festival, the film was directed by  Jennifer Baichwal. Her previous award-winning films include Manufactured Landscapes, named as one of 150 Essential Works in Canadian Cinema History by TIFF in 2016, and Anthropocene: The Human Epoch, that played Sundance and Berlin, then won the Toronto Film Critics Association Prize for Best Canadian Film and a Canadian Screen Award in 2019.

Bonus features include the Into the Weeds epilogue call to action featurette; “Bees, Guts and Glyphosate” featurette; and the “Monster” music video.

 

Film Movement to Bow Indonesian Silver Bear Winner ‘Before, Now & Then’ on Digital and DVD Dec. 12

Film Movement will release the Indonesian film Before, Now & Then on digital and DVD Dec. 12.

The film won a Silver Bear for Best Supporting Actress (Laura Basuki) and was nominated for Best Film at the Berlin International Film Festival.

Set amid the political violence of late-1960s Indonesia, director Kamila Andini’s Before, Now & Then follows Nana, the beautiful wife of a wealthy plantation owner whose inner life remains with her deceased first husband, murdered in the civil war a decade prior. A survivor, Nana values her safety and material comforts, but carries out a haunted existence, dreaming of her lost love. Forced to confront her husband’s blatant infidelity, Nana makes an unusual connection with his younger mistress, Ino. The two women, sharing their secrets and desires, discover a newfound freedom and intimacy withheld from them both by the strictures of patriarchal society.

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The release includes the bonus short film Following Diana also directed by Andini. In the film, one night, Diana’s husband presents her with a shocking plan to share their family with another woman.

Film Movement Plus Streaming Service Bows 14 New Films in November

The Film Movement Plus streaming service in November will feature a slate of 14 new films.

Starting the month is The Year of the Discovery from director Luis López Carrasco. The feature-length film, winner of the 2020 Goya for Best Documentary, was shot on Hi-8 videotape entirely within a smoky Spanish snack bar in the city of Cartagena. Excavating the forgotten histories of 1992, it probes the depths of what was really happening behind the celebratory pomp of the Barcelona Olympic Games and the quincentenary of Columbus’s arrival in the Americas.

Additional highlights include a pair of powerful, stark documentaries interviewing two of Israel’s more controversial Prime Ministers with What If? Ehud Barak on War and Peace and Honorable Men, which tells the story of Ehud Olmert’s unexpected rise to power and his dramatic fall from grace. Also on tap are Bogdan George Apetri’s Romanian crime dramas Unidentified and the Venice official selection Miracle, along with a spotlight on the legendary godfather of erotica, Joseph R. Sarno, and five of his titillating classics.

Priced at $5.99 per month with a 14-day free trial, the SVOD subscription service is currently available on Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire, Android TV, mobile (iOS and Android), Chromecast and most Samsung smart TVs.

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Other November Film Movement Plus premieres include Shtetlers, the feature-length documentary debut from filmmaker Katya Ustinova and winner of the Best Debut Film at Artdocfest, which tells the secret story of small Jewish towns in the former Soviet Union; Servants, a Czech film that follows Michal and Juraj, two conflicted novitiates whose seminary is under increasing pressure by the Communist Party to mold its students into satisfactory citizens; the documentary Comedy Confessions, from filmmaker Gabrielle Sebastian, which looks into the lives of three struggling comedians in Los Angeles who have decided to pursue their dreams of careers in stand-up comedy despite the harsh realities of being homeless; the Greek drams Moon, 66 Questions, about a daughter taking care of her declining father; and Adieu Godard, a comic tribute to the legendary auteur.

Independent Film Distributors Gear Up for AFM as Film Market Opens Today

Independent film distributors, whose target audience primarily watches movies at home, are gearing up for the annual American Film Market (AFM), which starts its six-day run today (Oct. 31) at Le Méridien Delfina Santa Monica (530 Pico Blvd.).

Andreas Olavarria, president and CEO of Level 33 Entertainment, said he’s “looking to meet with sales agents and discover some good feature films for our 2024 slate of theatrical and on-demand releases. We are open to content in all genres, but typically look for movies with a strong hook and known cast/elements. We also are selling several wonderful feature films from festivals like Sundance, SXSW and Tribeca at the market this year.

Olavarria said he’s attended AFM for more than a decade “and bought many films over the years. We acquired the movie Simmer from Sublimity Entertainment, and it went on to air on HBO and Max after a successful VOD and DVD release. Deadly Cuts is a film we acquired from Myriad Picture at AFM, and it is currently on Showtime and Paramount+. We were approached last year by the director of the award-winning film Waikiki, which will be released in select theaters in November and on demand beginning in December.”

Ed Seaman

Ed Seaman, CEO of MVD Entertainment Group, a family-run business that has been releasing music and film to home viewers since 1986, also will be at AFM 2023.

“It is a great opportunity to spend face-to-face time with clients and customers, to have some time to be cerebral and creative with our trade partners,” Seaman said. “We are not so much looking to buy films here but strengthen our relationships, and build new ones. So often we think we know what our trade partners do until we have some unstructured time, and we find there are new ways we can help each other.”

Another indie who will be at AFM this year is Richard Wolff, CEO of Breaking Glass Pictures, which licenses about 30 titles a year and produces 10 films annually for worldwide distribution. “Yes, we are attending from the beginning to the last day,” Wolff said. “We’re looking for films of all genres – we’re hoping to secure about a dozen pictures.”

Wolff, too, is a longtime regular at AFM, “beginning when the market was in February. We always made great deals, as this is the last market of the year. I’m curious to see how the new venue fares – and the condition of the elevators!”

Bill Sondheim will also be at AFM this year. A veteran home entertainment executive who once was president of PolyGram Video when the company was approaching the ranks of the majors, he now runs Greenfield Media LLC, a content consulting company that helps content creators find distribution and financing for their films before they are made, helps producers develop and package films, and represents films already made for licensing deals.

“I am going to AFM and looking forward to a busy few days,” Sondheim said. “I have several films at various stages of development that I will be pitching to distributors. I also represent some distribution companies, and I will meet with program suppliers that might benefit from added distribution capabilities. This show allows me to meet with dozens of content companies in a pleasant and convenient meeting area.”

Bill Sondheim

Sondheim said he’s gone to AFM “for many years and always found it productive. Last year I sold two films as a producer that started with dialogs at AFM. I also got a new representation deal due to meetings at last year’s AFM. Going to the show is a very productive time.

Mitch Mallon, the founder and CEO of Stadium Media, also is attending the show. “We attend to continually measure where the business is and possibly progressing to, as well as to meet and establish initial relationships with some of the newer suppliers from the United States and around the globe.”

Stadium Media is a global distribution company established in 2015 with a catalog of over 400 titles. Mallon and his team work directly with most digital and OTT platforms throughout North America “and the ever-expanding global digital landscape,” Mallon said.

“I have been attending AFM since our launch and have met, and developed relationships with, several suppliers that we still work with to this day in releasing digitally. AFM is where I began to formalize what Stadium Media might become.”

Absent from AFM this year is Michael Rosenberg of Film Movement. “We went last year, but decided to skip it this year,” he said. “We’re in regular contact with everyone and saw a bunch of sales agents in Venice, at TIFF, and in Karlovy Vary. Also, we have a lot of films in the pipeline already at this time.”

Another no-show is Dan Gurlitz, the founder of Soundview Media Partners, which specializes in independent films as a sales agent, represents films for non-theatrical exhibition licensing, and publishes The Sound View: Independent Film Digest, a monthly publication focused on the release of unique films, both classic and contemporary.

AFM, he said, “is not a show that caters to the kind of films Soundview Media Partners traditionally specializes in. More importantly, business has been extraordinarily strong. Leads and new clients come in mostly via word of mouth, so there’s little need to attend a show like this at this time.”

AFM 2023 has lined up 245 exhibitors, according to organizers. Film screenings will be held at theaters throughout Los Angeles, while the AFM’s conference series will take place at The Hilton Santa Monica Hotel (1707 4th St).   

The exhibitor list features independent film and TV production, sales and distribution companies as well as national pavilions from China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Thailand and the United Kingdom. International trade organizations, film commissions and production service companies also have a significant presence as part of this year’s enhanced LocationEXPO exhibition, according to organizers. 

Registrants include buyers from more than 65 countries, according to organizers.  

Chinese Drama ‘Return to Dust’ Headed to DVD and Digital Nov. 14 From Film Movement

Return to Dust — the sixth film by acclaimed Chinese director Li Ruijun, nominated for a Golden Bear at the 2022 Berlinale — will be released on DVD and digital Nov. 14 from Film Movement.

A story of resilience against the conventions of society and the exploitation of farm workers, the film, which unexpectedly topped the box office with $15 million and became the most popular film in China, stirred controversy with its depictions of rural life. Two weeks after opening, it quickly disappeared, without warning, from theaters and streaming services, according to Film Movement. And, although it has never been officially confirmed that the film was banned, it remains impossible to see there, according to the company.

Set in 2010 in the small, rural village in Gaotai, Return to Dust follows two lonely, middle-aged people — Cao, a timid woman suffering from chronic illness and a disability, and Ma, an unassuming farmer with little to his name — who are pushed into an arranged marriage by their respective families. Cast aside as burdens, Cao and Ma’s relationship is tepid at first but warms as the two spend their days fixing up an abandoned house on their small patch of land. Invigorated by a shared purpose and the all-consuming nature of farm work, the couple’s bond grows. However, in the dwindling rural communities of the Gansu province surrounding them, local farmers are being incentivized by local government to demolish their homes and uproot toward the cities. With their livelihood disappearing, the couple attempt to build a new life together with continued patience and determination toward their home and one another. And in the face of much adversity, an unexpected bond begins to blossom, as both Ma and Cao, uniting with Earth’s cycles, create a haven for themselves in which they can thrive.

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Featuring lead performances by Wu Renlin and Hai Qing and meticulously shot over the course of a year, Return to Dust is Li Ruijun’s humanist approach to documenting the rapid urbanization of his native region.

The release includes a bonus Chinese short film directed by Luo Runxiao, Hair Tie, Egg, Homework Books, about model student Lin Yuqi who is assigned to give a speech about her family at a parents open house event but after a run-in with a mischievous classmate starts having second thoughts.

 

Venezuelan Thriller ‘Jezabel’ Due on VOD and Digital Nov. 7 From Film Movement

The Venezuelan psychological thriller Jezabel will be released on VOD and digital Nov. 7 from Film Movement’s Omnibus Entertainment label.

In the film set in Venezuela, where political and social chaos reigns, four best friends, Lolo, Cacá, Eli and Alain, live a carefree lifestyle as wealthy young adults in Caracas. Their hedonistic relationship, full of drugs, group sex and dangerous games, comes to an abrupt end when one day Eli is brutally murdered. Still haunted by her death 16 years later, Alain is shocked to discover that Eli’s alleged killer is not who everyone believes it to be. With the help of a journalist, Alain must confront the ghosts of his past in this erotically charged psychological thriller.

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Festival wins include at Barcelona-Sant Jordi International Film Festival Best Actor (Gabriel Agüero) and at Festival del Cine Venezolano Best Movie, Best Actor (Gabriel Agüero), Best Supporting Actress (Johanna Juliethe, Shakti Maal, Eliane Chipia), Best Editing (Clementina Mantellini), Critics and Press Award (Hernán Jabes) and Amy Courvoisier Special Press Award.