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5 Fall Festival Films That Still Need Distribution

by Oliver Lyttelton
September 18, 2012 11:00 AM
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"Ginger & Rosa"
While not overwhelmingly adored, Sally Potter's coming-of-age tale "Ginger & Rosa" was much better received than the two films above, and has some real admirers -- we called it one of our favorite films at Telluride. But perhaps because its bow in the mountains meant that the buzz peaked too early, the film's yet to find a distributor, although it's going to be released in the U.K. next month, courtesy of Artificial Eye. While Potter's work doesn't tend to be audience friendly, this is probably her most accessible film, and there's enough recognizable members of the cast -- Annette Bening, Christina Hendricks, Alessandro Nivola, Oliver Platt -- that there's plenty of marquee value to be had. But the biggest selling point is the performance by fast-rising young star Elle Fanning, in what's arguably her first real lead role since breaking out in "Somewhere" and "Super 8." We're not sure if she's a box office draw exactly, but given the ecstatic reviews for her performance -- even from those cooler on the film -- it's possible that "Ginger and Rosa" might tap into the same kind of audience that saw "An Education" take a healthy $12 million three years ago. As such, someone like Sony Pictures Classics, who had "An Education," might be a good home for "Ginger and Rosa," although the company have been on something of a buying spree of late. Still, there's sure to be some room on their 2013 slate, and if not, IFC Films or someone similar could surely make some coin from the film.

"Laurence Anyways"
It's becoming a bit of a refrain in these parts to question why "Laurence Anyways,' the latest from Quebecois wunderkind Xavier Dolan, hasn't yet found a U.S. home. It's an unruly, scrappy and overlong film, to be sure (160 minutes, which may be the major reason for it failing to get a distributor so far), but one that picked up some strong reviews at both its Cannes premiere and at TIFF, where it also won the festival award for Best Canadian Feature FIlm. Presumably the length, and the $70,000 gross for Dolan's previous feature last year, "Heartbeats," are putting audiences off, and of all the films here, this feels like it's most at risk of slipping between the cracks. But that TIFF award could theoretically help, and if Dolan's willing to trim the film down, it'll become a lot more palatable to audiences. There's certainly an audience out there for the film, especially if a distributor targets the film to the LGBT crowd -- look at "Weekend," which IFC took to a $500,000 gross last year.

"Arthur Newman"/"Greetings From Tim Buckley"
We're cheating a little bit here, but there's one thing that unites these two films -- they're both pictures that screened after the crucial first weekend of the festival, when press and industry are starting to filter out of Toronto. As such, neither got a huge amount of attention, overshadowed by the big premieres from the first half of the festival, and neither have yet been picked up. "Arthur Newman" is the starrier of the pair, led as it is by recent Oscar winner Colin Firth, and It Girl Emily Blunt (who was the biggest name in indie sleeper "Your Sister's Sister"). But the film was very tepidly received across the board, and neither are necessarily home-run draws -- Firth picture "Main Street" took only $2500 when Magnolia released it last September. It'll find a home somewhere, but it may take a while, and don't expect it to get the widest of arthouse releases. "Greetings From Tim Buckley" may have a better chance. The film wasn't raved about, exactly, but reviews were fairly respectable. And while it doesn't have the big names, it does have some rising ones, in the shape of "Gossip Girl" star Penn Badgley and British actress Imogen Poots. Neither are proven draws by themselves, but they'd likely bring in a degree of press, and musos are likely to turn up to the first proper Jeff Buckley biopic (although it might help if his name was in the title...). The ship's probably sailed on a Sony Pictures Classics or a Focus taking the film -- the reviews aren't quite strong enough for that. But Magnolia or IFC or Oscilloscope might well yet step in.  

Honorable Mentions: Other films still looking for a home include Michael Winterbottom's "Everyday," Venice favorite "A Hijacking," Golden Lion winner "Pieta," Nick Cassavettes' "Yellow," Tommy Lee Jones war drama "Emperor," critically-savaged Hugh Laurie vehicle "Mr. Pip," Laurent Cantet's "Foxfire" and Indian epic "Midnight's Children."

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  • jingmei | September 19, 2012 3:39 AMReply

    Ginger and Rosa is so damn beautiful. Anyhow highly look forward to it some time in the future be shown publically.

  • james | September 18, 2012 12:42 PMReply

    I'm intrigued that your 'man on the ground' walked out of Passion. Isn't it part of a critic's job to watch the thing til the end? If he can't even sit through a whole movie maybe he should find a new line of work.

  • Oliver Lyttelton | September 18, 2012 1:15 PM

    You obviously can't review a film if you haven't seen all of it, but another writer had already reviewed it in Venice. If you're just watching it for pleasure, you can do whatever you damn well please. People walk out of movies at festivals all the time.

  • bryan | September 18, 2012 12:03 PMReply

    You might want to update your article, it is factually inaccurate. Emperor secured distribution with Roadside Attractions/Lionsgate and it was announced very shortly after its world premiere

  • Princess of Peace | September 18, 2012 11:15 AMReply

    Thanks for this piece. It is most interesting. Many good films wait to get distribution. I am very much looking forward to seeing To the Wonder when it comes out.

    I have not heard that Twice Born with Penelope Cruz has gotten a distributor. I read one rave review and one not so good. But supposedly the tweets have been great and Cruz is supposed to be Oscar worthy. I should hope that this film will get US distribution soon.

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