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

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by Anne Thompson and Ryan Lattanzio
March 31, 2014 12:59 PM
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'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."

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