By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood March 21, 2012 at 7:01PM
Venerable New Yorker Films is back in the indie distribution game. Their next 2012 entry is Jannicke Systad Jacobsen's sexually frank 76-minute coming-of-age comedy, "Turn Me On, Dammit!," laced with wry Norwegian humor reminiscent of the Czech New Wave (March 30). The film won the Best Screenplay Award when it premiered at Tribeca.
New Yorker acquisitions exec Jonathan Howell, who went to film school with Jannicke in Prague, showed the film to New Yorker, which swiftly acquired it (clip below). It went on to festivals such as Karlovy Vary and Rome, where it won Best Debut Film, and sold around the world at the Cannes market. The comedy became a hit in Norway last August.
To make the movie pop stateside, New York marketer Reid Rosefelt came up with a Saul Bass-inspired poster. "There's never been a movie like this that deals with a 15-year-old girl's emerging sexuality," he says. "The story has been told a thousand times for 15-year-old teenage boys, but this kind of story is pretty taboo."
Founded by Daniel Talbot in 1965, New Yorker Films has long been a global art-house brand. The company was sold in 2002 and continued to operate under Talbot and Jose Lopez. In 2009, after New Yorker's parent company took a loan from Technicolor and used New Yorker as a collateral on the loan, New Yorker Films was foreclosed and the staff, many of them there for over twenty years, lost their jobs overnight. The New Yorker's rich library of films went into limbo; producers and filmmakers weren't able to make their films available to audiences.
Lopez worked with Technicolor to find a buyer and in early 2010 was able to bring back most of his staff when Aladdin Distribution acquired the company. Aladdin is headed by David Raphel, a former President of Twentieth Century Fox International, producer Christopher Harbonville; and former investment banker Hani Musleh.
New Yorker reopened for business in the summer of 2010, releasing in theaters “My Dog Tulip,” “Octubre,” and “The Sky Turns." In 2012 they'll open “Lula, Son of Brazil," “March of the Living” and “Turn Me On, Dammit!" On the non-theatrical side they've acquired “Senna,” “Passione,” “We Were Here,” “Curling,” “It Came From Kuchar,” and “Women Without Men.” Home video titles include “Con Artist,” “Moses and Aaron,” “Nine Nation Animation,” “Tibet in Song,” and their first Blu-ray release, “My Dog Tulip,” which had a limited Christmas release, followed by French classic “Celine and Julie Go Boating” this spring.