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U.S. Distributors Are Popping Up Like Mushrooms: Film Desk

by Sydney Levine
December 15, 2010 3:56 AM
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I first saw a notice of this up-to-now-completely-unknown distributor in connection to the release of Antonioni's The Girlfriends (1955) which was written up in a fascinating article in L.A. Times, and so I did some investigating. I discovered a film lover, Jacob Perlin, 35 years old, living in New York whose day job is associate programmer for BAM's Cinematek, a program somewhat similar to LACMA plus the American Cinematheque which programs films every day, in 35mm: classic films, premieres, festivals, and retrospectives, plus special appearances by filmmakers and critics. Jacob Perlin's Film Desk is a one man show which Jacob runs out of pure love. The money he makes from one film goes into funding the next film. How much could Antonioni's The Girlfriends make with 2 days at LACMA and 2 days at the Beverly Theater in L.A.? (It got great press coverage here however.) The company is two years old and showcases revivals of personally beloved films, great films, internationally acclaimed, with no U.S. distributor for which he strikes new 35 mm prints and then showcases them in cinematheques across America, at LACMA, Film Forum, Pacific Film Archives, in art houses in Portland, Seattle, DC, Philadelphia, etc. Sometimes he works with Janus/ Criterion. The only other distributor like him or Janus/ Criterion is Rialto, founded by Bruce Goldstein. As in days of old, these three idiosyncratic distributors all work closely together congenially rather than as competitors.

Occasionally Jacob will bring out a new film which he loves though he does not actively seek these out. Currently the new film is Zero Bridge which will be released February 11 at the Film Forum. The current revival film is Godard's Every Man For Himself (Sauve qui peut) starring a young Isabel Huppert, a younger Natalie Baye and Jacques Dutrong.


Isabel Huppert in Godard's Every Man for Himself

I loved discovering the Film Desk and finding someone is still able to work out of sheer love, in New York, the land of the independents.

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