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Why Drafthouse Films Is the Right Distributor for Sundance-Winning Doc 'The Overnighters'

Thompson on Hollywood By Anne Thompson and Ryan Lattanzio | Thompson on Hollywood March 31, 2014 at 12:59PM

Drafthouse Films has acquired North American rights to Jesse Moss's Sundance award-winning oil doc "The Overnighters." It portrays the plight of desperate men as they chase their dreams and run from their demons in the North Dakota oil fields while a devoted pastor risks everything to help them.
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'The Overnighters'
'The Overnighters'

Drafthouse Films has acquired North American rights to Jesse Moss's Sundance award-winning oil doc "The Overnighters." It portrays the plight of desperate men as they pursue a better life in the North Dakota oil fields while a devoted pastor risks everything to help them. Variety calls it "an indelible snapshot of a despairing moment in American history."

Director Moss spent 18 months in North Dakota as a one-man production crew to get "Overnighters" made. The film world premiered at this year's Sundance Film Festival, where it received a Special Jury Award for Intuitive Filmmaking. It will make its New York premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival in April, with a theatrical release planned for 2014. Drafthouse will also handle home video.

Founded in 2010 by Tim League out of Austin, Texas, Drafthouse Films has been carefully curating its brand over the years, picking up tough sells off the festival circuit like "The Act of Killing," nominated for Best Documentary at the Oscars this year, and brutal 2012 Foreign Language Oscar nominee "Bullhead." League's team is in the midst of some brilliant campaigning for smart horror flick "Cheap Thrills."

League's exhibition arm, Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, continues to flourish, with locations all over the country and screens (maybe) to come in Los Angeles. But it's in the arena of distribution that Drafthouse has pushed boundaries, even if it has meant taking risks and missing out on big numbers -- though as a debut doc from a first-time filmmaker, "Act of Killing" was a modest sensation. They have yet to pass the $1 million domestic theatrical gross mark. 

This year, the company will roll out a number of bold and challenging films off the circuit, including Ari Folman's would-be midnight movie "The Congress" and Dutch Foreign Language Oscar entry "Borgman."

This article is related to: Documentary, Documentaries, Drafthouse Films, Alamo Drafthouse, Sundance Film Festival


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.