Group Forms to Address Problem of ‘Lost’ Films

Filmmakers Mary Harron, Shola Lynch, Nancy Savoca, Ira Deutchman and Richard Guay; entertainment lawyer Susan Bodine; and archivist/distributors and co-founders of Milestone Film and Video Dennis Doros and Amy Heller have joined forces to create the new organization Missing Movies to address the problem of “lost” films, movies that are completely unavailable due to rights and ownership problems, difficulties in locating original materials, and the lack of a business model to support the creation of restorations suitable for the current marketplace.

The idea for Missing Movies began when Savoca and Guay discovered that their 1993 film Household Saints could not screen in a retrospective at Columbia University because of problems with all three of the issues above.

“We began an extensive research project, and with the help of our lawyer Sue Bodine and the original distributor of the film, Ira Deutchman, we were finally able to create a scenario where the film could be made available again,” Savoca said in a statement. “In talking to other filmmakers about our journey, we realized that many other films — particularly independent films made in the 1980s and 1990s — were in similar straits.”

Last November, Savoca and Guay organized a panel discussion with the Directors Guild of America to share their concerns with other filmmakers. It was this panel that brought together the group that has created Missing Movies and written a manifesto.

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Many filmmakers are unprepared — financially or logistically — to embark on the research and financial commitment to recover their own “lost” films, according to the group. The group has discovered that many award-winning movies — including some that premiered at prestigious film festivals — are completely unavailable for audiences to see on any platform or format. Some examples are Victor Nuñez’s Gal Young ‘Un; Marcel Ophuls’ Memory of Justice; Mirra Bank, Ellen Hovde, and Muffie Meyer’s Enormous Changes at the Last Minute; Glen Pitre’s Belizaire the Cajun; Sherman Alexie’s The Business of Fancy Dancing; and Bill Couturié’s Dear America: Letters Home from Vietnam.

“Among the Missing Movies are independent productions representing a diverse cross section of American society, including films by and about women, African Americans, and members of the LGBTQ community,” Heller said in a statement. “The loss of these films impoverishes cinema culture and distorts our history. By working to educate the industry and the public about this issue we hope to find practical and timely solutions.”

The Working Group includes Mary Harron, Shola Lynch, Nancy Savoca, Ira Deutchman, Richard Guay, Amy Heller, Dennis Doros and Sue Bodine.

The Advisory Group includes Mira Nair, Maggie Renzi, Allison Anders, Maggie Greenwald, Dolly Hall Allyson, Nadia Fields and Ruby Lerner.

Cinedigm Updating Fandor Streaming Platform, Editorial Analysis

Cinedigm Oct. 4 announced it is taking steps to evolve its recently acquired streaming service Fandor. The new-look will come with a wider footprint, hundreds of new acquisitions and third-party editorial analysis.

Fandor subscribers will have access to more than a thousand hours of independent titles, including exclusive acquisitions from international film festivals and titles from existing partners and key providers. The updated platform features a new design and intuitive user-experience.

“With over a decade of experience in streaming independent cinema, we are proud to bring new life to a service so dedicated to independent filmmakers and the incredible films they create,” Phil Hopkins, president of Fandor, said in a statement.

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Originally launched at the South by Southwest film festival in 2011, Fandor has served as a pioneer in the elevation of independent film, both through its streaming platform as well as through written and video editorial pieces.

Launching alongside the rebooted Fandor service will be “Keyframe,” Fandor’s digital editorial publication featuring written and video exploration of independent cinema. Composed of articles, interviews, reviews, and video essays, Keyframe aims to serve as a community for filmmakers, writers, and film enthusiasts featuring editorial deep dives and tributes, such as a recent celebration of the work of director Werner Herzog, as well as monthly hand-picked featured playlists available on the Fandor service.

In addition, the Fandor Festival Podcast seeks to explore the best of independent film festivals, hosted by former Fandor executive Chris Kelly and morning radio personality Hooman Khalili, and featuring producer Bryn Nguyen. Guests include filmmakers, film festival founders, and industry leaders with engaging insights on festival films, available on Spotify, YouTube, Apple Podcasts and Simplecast.

“The last five years have seen accelerated access to content across the streaming spectrum. Yet even with all these choices, much of independent cinema has been left behind and cinephiles often have difficulty finding films of interest on massive streaming platforms,” Erick Opeka, president and chief strategy officer at Cinedigm, said in a statement. “Fandor has been a pioneer in this space and offers a haven for Cinephiles looking for deep and meaningful titles that made them fall in love with films in the first place.”

The updated Fandor streaming service will be available on iOS and Android mobile devices, web, and Roku, with ad-free access to the entire Fandor library for $4.99 per month or $49.99 per year. Free, ad-supported access to select titles from the Fandor library will also be available at launch and new platforms will roll out over the rest of the year.

Shout! Factory Buys Roger Corman Library with Chinese Co.

Indie distributor Shout! Factory and China’s Ace Film HK Co. have acquired Roger “The Pope of Pop Cinema” Corman’s New Horizons Picture catalog featuring 270 movies and TV series. No financial details were disclosed.

The deal grants Shout! rights to North America, Europe, Australia and Russia. Ace has rights for China, Asia, Africa and South America.

Titles include Rock‘N’Roll High School, The Trip, The Wild Angels, Death Race 2000, Piranha, Bloodfist, Black Scorpion, Little Shop of Horrors, Eat My Dust! and Humanoids From The Deep, among others.

The 91-year-old Corman received an honorary Oscar in 2009, and reportedly helped foster the careers of Jack Nicholson, Francis Ford Coppola, Robert De Niro, Martin Scorsese, James Cameron, Paul Bartel, Ron Howard, Jonathan Demme and Gale Anne Hurd, among others.

Santa Monica, Calif.-based Shout! has distributed select Corman titles on branded packaged media box sets and digital since 2010. It plans to support the catalog with a “long-term growth strategy” that includes new content development, remakes, merchandise licensing programs, digital media initiatives, and content syndication.

The company bowed ad-supported Shout! Factory TV in 2015.


Amazon Upping Indie Film Compensation

Amazon Jan. 11 announced it is nearly doubling compensation to independent movies and documentaries participating in the Amazon Video Direct Film Festival Stars platform.

The program, which affords creators direct access to millions of Prime members through streaming video, paid out $5.8 million in one-time bonuses to more than 100 titles from the 2017 Toronto Film Festival.

Content included City of Toronto Award winner for Best Canadian First Feature Film, Luk’Luk’l, Toronto Platform Prize winner, Félécite, and Oscar shortlisted for documentary feature, Ex Libris – The New York Public Library.

The program, which doubled Toronto Film Festival cash bonuses, will be offered for this month’s 2018 Sundance Film Festival.

Specifically, Sundance participants could get one-time payments of $150,000 for movie premiers and $120,000 for documentary premiers, among other compensation.

Citing distribution challenges for short films, Amazon is also bowing a FFS Short Film program at Sundance, similar to a campaign launched at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2017.

Amazon also established a $50,000 cash bonus pool for official selection Sundance short films to be shared among the five most-streamed short films offered by Amazon Video Direct from Oct. 1 – Dec. 31, 2018.

“Amazon’s FFS program is a much-needed breath of fresh air for … independent and foreign language,” Jon Gerrans, co-president, Strand Releasing, said in a statement. “We know the audience still exists for these films and … curated FFS programming is helping to connect that audience around the world with these wonderful films.”