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Tribeca Takes So Yong Kim's 'For Ellen,' with Paul Dano, Jon Heder & Jena Malone

Thompson on Hollywood By Sophia Savage | Thompson on Hollywood May 1, 2012 at 1:02PM

Writer-director So Yong Kim’s "For Ellen," which premiered at Sundance, goes to Tribeca Film for North American distribution. The film opens September 5 at NYC's Film Forum, followed by a limited theatrical and VOD release. Paul Dano plays a rock star who unknowingly gives away custody of his six-year-old daughter when he signs divorce papers from his estranged wife. Jon Heder and Jena Malone co-star. 
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For Ellen

Writer-director So Yong Kim’s "For Ellen," which premiered at Sundance, goes to Tribeca Film for North American distribution. The film opens September 5 at NYC's Film Forum, followed by a limited theatrical and VOD release. Paul Dano plays a rock star who unknowingly gives away custody of his six-year-old daughter when he signs divorce papers from his estranged wife. Jon Heder and Jena Malone co-star. 

Variety calls the film "deeply sad and touching," while THR is less enthusiastic.

Tribeca's Geoff Gilmore states: “With a subtle, understated approach, esteemed director So Yong Kim ["Treeless Mountain," "In Between Days"] has made a film that is both deeply moving and deeply resonant. Fueled by a remarkable performance by Paul Dano and delicately directed by Kim, we couldn’t be more excited to share this very special story about a father trying to connect with his young daughter.”

The complete synopsis is below:

Aspiring rock star Joby Taylor (Paul Dano- THERE WILL BE BLOOD, LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE) has wanted nothing more than to “make it”, having flirted with fame but never crossed over into true success.  In the midst of a low period in his life, he agrees to sign divorce papers with his estranged wife (Margarita Levieva- “Revenge,” “How To Make It In America”) in order to see money from the sale of their home, only to discover that by signing the papers, he will forfeit all custody of his six-year-old daughter, Ellen (newcomer Shaylena Mandigo).  With a good-natured lawyer (Jon Heder- NAPOLEON DYNAMITE) unable to make headway in reversing the decision, and a girlfriend (Jena Malone- INTO THE WILD) that represents an era of his life that he might be ready to graduate from, Joby negotiates a visit with his daughter to explore whether he is able to walk away from his child, and whether it might be too late for reconciliation.
 
FOR ELLEN stems from Kim’s desire to understand her own father, and an imagined confrontation if he ever returned to her. Using the stark beauty and vast farmlands of an American winter as its backdrop, the film charts Joby’s emotional journey as he realizes what he has lost – and what, if anything, can still be saved.

This article is related to: News, Acquisitions, News, Indies, Tribeca Film, Sundance, For Ellen, Paul Dano


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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.