AFM to Make In-Person Return to Santa Monica Nov. 1-6

The American Film Market will return to Santa Monica for its 43rd edition, taking place in person Nov. 1 to 6, the Independent Film & Television Alliance announced.

The market, which planned its shift to a six-day run in 2020, will take place at the Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel and theaters throughout the city.

Registration will open May 9 for exhibitors.  Accredited Buyers and Industry Attendees may register beginning July 5.

The Loews Hotel will be home to sales and production companies, LocationEXPO, and, new for 2022, all conferences and panels.

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“There is more excitement about the future than I’ve seen in two years and in-person markets are more vital than ever,” Clay Epstein, chairperson, IFTA and president of Film Mode Entertainment, said in a statement. “The desire to return to Santa Monica for AFM is at an all-time high and we are eager to reunite the global industry in November.”

FilmRise Acquires N.A. Distribution Rights to ‘The Justice of Bunny King’

FilmRise, the New York-based film and television studio and streaming network, has acquired North American digital, broadcast and theatrical distribution rights to The Justice of Bunny King.

Starring Essie Davis (The Babadook, Assassin’s Creed) and Thomasin McKenzie (Jojo Rabbit, Last Night in Soho, The Power of the Dog), the film is New Zealander Gaysorn Thavat’s feature directorial debut and follows the triumphant and heart-breaking story of a mother who tries to battle her way back from the bottom to regain custody of her children.

In the film, Bunny King (Davis), a headstrong mother of two with a sketchy past, makes a living by washing windows at traffic lights. Using her razor-sharp wit to charm money from gridlocked motorists, she saves every cent in order to try to regain custody of her two children, who have been placed in foster care. After promising her daughter a birthday party, Bunny must fight social services and break the rules to keep her word, but in doing so she risks losing her children altogether. Accompanied by her niece Tonyah (McKenzie), a fierce teenager running away from home and desperate for her aunt’s help, Bunny is in a race against the clock and headed towards an epic showdown with the authorities.

“This is another set of excellent performances that will be added to our ever-growing library of diverse and independent films that tell often overlooked stories,” Danny Fisher, CEO of FilmRise, said in a statement. “Through a rawness of someone who has hit rock bottom, both Essie Davis and Thomasin McKenzie convey through the very real struggles that many families face on a daily basis.”

The film, produced by Emma Slade of Firefly Films, had its worldwide premiere at the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival where it received the Special Jury Mention for the Nora Ephron Award. The film was an Official Selection at the 2021 Edinburgh International Film Festival, the Melbourne International Film Festival, and the Asia Pacific Screen Awards, where Essie Davis was nominated for the Best Performance by an Actress award.

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The deal was negotiated by Katie Carroll Manager, independent film acquisitions for FilmRise, and Jonathan Walik, international sales executive for Protagonist Pictures.

“Essie Davis gives yet another tour de force performance in what has become a career full of them in this critically acclaimed debut,” Walik said in a statement. “We’re thrilled that The Justice of Bunny King has found a home with FilmRise in North America and have no doubt that their expertise in handling outstanding independent film will allow the film to reach as wide an audience as possible.”

Top 20 Execs in Independent Film to Be Honored in February Issue of Media Play News

Media Play News will honor the top 20 players in independent film distribution in the February 2022 issue.

Indie film distributors bring to consumers an eclectic mix of daring new productions, cult classics and niche product from music to horror. They’ve been doing multi-platform releasing for years, and range from simple distribution to content acquisition, management and production.

“We’re going to dig deep into what they do, how they do it and where the business is headed,” said MPN publisher Thomas K. Arnold.

The special issue will be published on Feb. 21, 2022, in both print and digital editions. The story also will run online a week after publication. 

Nominations are being accepted through Thursday, Jan. 20. The official entry form may be accessed here.

Arnold said he hopes the salute will be an annual feature, similar to Women in Home Entertainment and 40 Under 40.

“Independent film distributors have played a key role in home entertainment since the very first days of the industry,” Arnold said. “Some of the most compelling and inventive films were being brought to the home market by companies such as Anchor Bay, Artisan, LIVE, Media Home Entertainment, Trimark, Vestron and others.

“As VHS gave way to DVD, Blu-ray Disc and, ultimately, digital and streaming, a whole new band of independents continue to play a vital role in our business, and since the majority of their releases are aimed at home audiences we felt it was time to shine the spotlight on these brave entrepreneurs.”

SXSW Prize Winner ‘S#!%house’ Due on DVD and Blu-ray May 18 From IFC

The comedic romance S#!%house will come out on DVD and Blu-ray May 18 from IFC Films.

The film won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2020 SXSW Film Festival.

In the film, lonely college freshman Alex (writer/directory Cooper Raiff) has closed himself off from his peers who all appear to have college figured out. But everything changes one night when he takes a leap and attends a party at S#!%house — a legendary party fraternity — where he forges a strong connection with Maggie (Dylan Gelula, First Girl I Loves). The next day, she ignores him completely and seems to have forgotten about their amazing night. Desperately clinging to his social breakthrough, Alex pulls out all the stops with one more night at the fraternity, hoping to rekindle that moment of connection.

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‘No Wave’ Classics ‘Subway Riders,’ ‘The Foreigner’ and ‘Unmade Beds’ Due on DVD Sept. 29 From MVD

Filmmaker Amos Poe’s “No Wave” classics Subway Riders, The Foreigner and Unmade Beds will come out on DVD Sept. 29 from MVD Entertainment Group.

“No wave” was a short-lived avant-garde music and art scene that erupted in New York City in the late 1970s as a reaction to punk rock. The term “no wave” was a pun on “new wave.” The movement only lasted a few years, but had a profound influence on the development of independent film, fashion and visual arts.

Subway Riders is 1981 drama shot in New York City following a psychotic street saxophonist who lures victims into dark city spots with his haunting music — then shoots them. Seedy characters, including a cop with a junkie wife, an upstairs sax-hating prostitute and other lost souls litter the landscape. Written, produced and directed by legendary “punk filmmaker” Poe (Alphabet City, Dead Weekend), the film features Cookie Mueller (Pink Flamingos, Desperate Living), Susan Tyrell (Cry Baby, Forbidden Zone), Robbie Coltrane (“Harry Potter” series), Poe and John Lurie (Get Shorty).

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The Foreigner, for the first time ever on DVD, is a 1978 New York drama following European Max Menace who arrives in New York City on an unknown mission. Boredom sets in as he waits for his assignment. Alienation thrusts him into entanglements with women, weirdos and creeps. Their unstructured lives echo the purposefully meandering storyline reflecting the reality of being meaningless in a hostile city. Written, produced and directed by Poe, the film features Debbie Harry (lead singer of Blondie, Videodrome), Poe, Lux Interior (The Social Network) and the punk band The Cramps as themselves.

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Also written, produced and directed by Poe, Unmade Beds, also starring Harry, is a 1976 drama following Rico in New York City, who imagines he lives in Paris during the time of “New Wave” filmmaking. He’s a photographer who thinks he’s an outsider, so he uses his camera like a gun, loading it with bullets of film. He seeks reality to fulfill his fantasy. But he’s also a romantic, and this is his downfall, especially when he falls in love with Blondie. The film pays homage to Jean Luc Godard as it parallels the French classic Breathless. It also stars Poe and Robert Gordon (Natural Born Killers).

Lionsgate Releasing Indie Darling ‘Eighth Grade’ on Disc Oct. 9

Lionsgate will release the coming-of-age comedy Eighth Grade on Blu-ray and DVD Oct. 9.

Written and directed by Bo Burnham, the film tells the story of a 13-year-old girl’s last week of middle school. Eighth Grade has earned $11.6 million at the domestic box office.

Extras include audio commentary with Burnham and actress Elsie Fisher, deleted scenes, a music video and a “You’re Not Alone: Life in Eighth Grade” featurette. The Blu-ray will include a digital copy of the film.

 

 

Amazon Streaming 2017 SXSW Film Festival Selections

Amazon Studios may have cut back on acquisitions at the recent Sundance Film Festival, but it’s hardly turning a blind eye toward independent film.

The company March 7 announced that more than 30 official selections from the 2017 South by Southwest Film Festival in Austin, Texas, are now able to stream on Prime Video.

The films are available through the Prime Video Direct (formerly Amazon Video Direct) Film Festival Stars program that offers filmmakers up to $200,000 and royalties of $0.30 for every hour the film is streamed on Prime Video.

Though criticized by some as lowballing content creators, the Film Festival Stars program is designed to establish a distribution model for titles screened at film festivals that either don’t secure theatrical distribution deals or are looking for distribution options after a theatrical release.

The official selections from the 2017 South by Southwest Film Festival include Grand Jury winner for Narrative Feature, Most Beautiful Island; Special Jury Recognition for Best Ensemble, A Bad Idea Gone Wrong; Special Jury Recognition for Excellence in Documentary Storytelling, I Am Another You; SXSW Audience Award for Narrative Feature Competition, The Light of the Moon.

Prime Video Direct returns to the 2018 South by Southwest Film Festival (starting March 9) with the FFS program. A representative said Prime Video Direct would be taking meetings from March 10 – March 12 at the InterContinental (701 Congress Ave) to discuss the program. Interested rights holders should email PVD-festival@amazon.com to set up an appointment.

Other SXSW titles available to stream include:

 2 Pigeons

A Bad Idea Gone Wrong

Assholes

Bad Lucky Goat

Barracuda

Bill Frisell, A Portrait

California Dreams

Daphne

Divine Divas

Drib

Easy Living

Fits & Starts

Flesh and Blood

Going to Brazil

I Am Another You

Infinity Baby

Inflame

Inheritance

Let There Be Light

M.F.A.

Maya Dardel

Meatball Machine: Kodoku

Most Beautiful Island

Paa Joe & the Lion

Pornocracy

Ramblin Freak

Satan Said Dance

Signature Move

Spettacolo

Sylvio

The Honor Farm

The Light of the Moon

The Price

The Secret Life of Lance Letscher

Tormentero

Win By Fall