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U.S. Distributors Are Popping Up Like Mushrooms: ATO (Art Takes Over)

by Sydney Levine
May 6, 2011 3:30 AM
1 Comment
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ATO (Art Takes Over) was launched last year at Cannes by musician Dave Matthews along with Johnathan Dorfman, Sarah Lash and Temple Fennell. Their plan to release 4 to 6 films annually seems to be coming to fruition. In Sundance 2011 they acquired film The Convincer, Casino Jack was acquired in Toronto 2010, and " title="Mao’s Last Dancer">Mao’s Last Dancer in Cannes 2010 which was released in August. Terri was picked up from its producers on its completion September 2010 and is being sold internationally by Coach 14. 20th Century Fox has home video rights. ATO releases its films theatrically through its partnership with Samuel Goldwyn Films in the distribution entity IDP.

Profile : ATO Pictures distributes and produces independent feature films with unique and distinctive voices

Mr. Fennell is a founding member and CEO of ATO Pictures. Prior to joining ATO, Fennell worked as president and founder of Boxerjam Media, Inc., and co-managed the company to become the leading interactive entertainment provider for AOL, Sony Station and Yahoo! Games and garner dozens of honors, ranging from Cool Site of the Year to PC Gamer’s Top Ten Playlist. He co-founded Boxer Learning, an award-winning, online education company distributed in over two thousand schools worldwide. As an executive of Boxerjam and Boxer Learning, he was the lead in negotiating strategic relationships with Sony, AOL Time Warner, Pearson, EA Entertainment, CBS, Yahoo and others.

Fennell began his corporate career as a management consultant for KPMG before working for boutique investment company Clinton Capital. Fennell began his film career as a designer and director for music videos, commercials, and short films in New York City. He attended the American Film Institute as a directing fellow and directed the award winning short, “HOWARD BLACK” starring John C. Reilly. Fennell has produced CHOKE, winner of the Special Jury Prize at Sundance 2008, JOSHUA, which garnered the Cinematography Award at Sundance 2008 as well as a Grand Jury Prize nomination, and Independent Spirit Award nominee SAVAGE GRACE.

Prior to founding ATO Pictures and relocating to New York, Dorfman was a producer in South Africa with over 15 years of experience in film, television and radio production. Highlights include his involvement in founding ALX FM, the first independent community radio station in a post-Apartheid South Africa and co-founding Wireless, an independent production and advertising agency servicing a large roster of clients including the South African Ministry of Health.

Stateside, Dorfman has produced CHOKE, winner of the Special Jury Prize at Sundance 2008, JOSHUA, which garnered the Cinematography Award at Sundance 2008 as well as a Grand Jury Prize nomination, and Independent Spirit Award nominee SAVAGE GRACE.

Sarah Lash completed a consultancy programming and producing at the 2009 No Borders international co-production market, organized by the Independent Filmmaker Project.

Prior to that, Lash was head of domestic sales for Cinetic Media and was instrumental in the sales of Sundance Film Festival titles DEDICATION, LA MISMA LUNA, GRACE IS GONE, ROMAN POLANSKI: WANTED AND DESIRED, SNOW ANGELS,THE TEN, Cannes Film Festival title WE OWN THE NIGHT, Tribeca Film Festival titles TAXI TO THE DARK SIDE, THE HAMMER, IN SEARCH OF A MIDNIGHT KISS, and Toronto Film Festival titles BILL and DIARY OF DEAD.

Before joining Cinetic, Lash was an agent in ICM’s Independent and Packaging Group, working on the sales of YOU KILL ME and PENELOPE. This was preceded by five years at IFC, most recently as the VP of Acquisitions and Co-Productions, where she acquired films such as Y TU MAMA TAMBIEN, MANIC, INTERMISSION, METALLICA: SOME KIND OF MONSTER, TOUCHING THE VOID, THE EDUKATORS.

Lash joined IFC from Lions Gate, where she started in publicity and then served as Director of Acquisitions during the acquisition of such films as JESUS SON starring Billy Crudup, the Golden Globe-nominated WEIGHT OF WATER, and THE WIDOW OF ST. PIERRE.

As Distributors:
** The Convincer (2011)
** Terri (2011) ISA: Coach 14
** The Woman in the Fifth (2011)
** Casino Jack (2010) - B.O.: $1.04M. ISA: Hannibal
** Mao's Last Dancer (2010) - B.O.: $4.81M

As Producers:
** Highwater (documentary) - Production Company (2009) B.O.: $1.5M
** Choke - Production Company (2008) B.O.: $2.93M
** Savage Grace - Production Company (in association with) (2007) B.O.: $434K
** Joshua - Production Company (2007) B.O.: $478K
** Amandla! A Revolution in Four Part Harmony (documentary) - Production Company (2002) B.O.: $399K

Tel : 1 646 292 7500
Website :

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1 Comment

  • One More River | May 30, 2011 7:56 AMReply

    There is a new African-American director on the scene - Tim DeWayne, whose sole focus is issue driven high-quality films. He just signed Academy Award winner Louis Gossett Jr. to act and produce “One More River To Cross” which deals with the injustices encountered during Hurricane Katrina and the Civil Rights movement. This is going to be a BIG film! For more info, check out Tim’s website: .

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