This weekend’s specialty releases includes Friends With Kids, which will open in over 300 locations on one end and doc Jiro Dreams Of Sushi, slated for two initial runs in New York before heading slowly out in other cities on the other. Fresh from its string of Berlin acquisitions, Adopt Films will open The Ballad Of Genesis And Lady Jaye Stateside, while New Zealand “spaghetti western” Good For Nothing makes its way to theaters from down under. Swedish director Lasse Hallstrom’s Salmon Fishing in the Yemen is also among this weekend’s specialty offerings – a project he took over before shooting.

The Ballad Of Genesis And Lady Jaye
Director: Marie Losier
Cast: Genesis P-Orridge, Lady Jaye Breyer P’Orridge and Big Boy Breyer P’Orridge
Distributor: Adopt Films
One of the early pick ups by Adopt Films, the documentary about artist Genesis Breyer P-Orridge and his wife and collaborator, Lady Jaye was picked up by Adopt Films last Labor Day by the newly formed company co-headed by the veteran specialty distributor Jeff Lipsky who co-founded October Films back in the ’90s. “I don’t know that I’ve ever been involved with another film after distributing over 230 films that has been in production for seven years,” Lipsky told Deadline. He and partner Tim Grady made news at the recent Berlin International Film Festival picking up a number of films from the event’s competition lineup, surprising even Lipsky. “It was a surreal experience. We saw so many films in main competition that blew me away, so we decided to go for buying films. We thought we’d never get them but we did. That (experience) never happened at October or Lot 47 Films.”

One of eight titles slated for 2012 release by Adopt, The Ballad Of Genesis And Lady Jaye will open in New York, San Francisco and Berkeley this weekend with 40 more markets expected in the next four to six weeks. “The target audience is 50 and older,” said Lipsky. “They’re the ones who are moved by the kind of romance (in this film). They’re the ones who have an inkling of that kind of music in the film like Psychic TV. Younger crowds are into Bridesmaids, but this crowd is into experimental film.”

Friends With Kids
Writer/director Jennifer Westfeldt
Stars: Jennifer Westfeldt, Adam Scott and Maya Rudolph
Distributor: Roadside Attractions
Producer Jake Kasdan called Friends With Kids “a true independent production,” built around a script by Westfeldt who is also a producer, director and star. The feature about two platonic friends who have a kid together to “avoid the toll kids can take on romantic relationships” was developed from a script written over a couple years between jobs and workshopping the story. “The film is around her,” said Kasdan. “It was our conviction that she is the perfect person to direct this film.”

Financing came primarily by way of Red Granite, which Kasdan called unique for indies, adding that Westfeldt was an asset in attracting resources. “(It was) a little bit unusual that we found a principal investor through Red Granite who put together the whole thing. We had one financier who believed in Jen and what we had put together. It’s a newly formed company that had a lot going on.” The film shot over 24 days. Roadside Attractions will open Friends With Kids on 338 screens this weekend in the U.S. as well as 36 locations in Canada. “It’s a mid-level release heavily weighted to the top markets,” Roadside Attractions’ Howard Coehn told Deadline. “It’s on par with the way My Week with Marilyn opened.”

EW
3 years
Jiro is spellbinding - brilliant documentary.

Good For Nothing
Writer/director: Mike Wallis
Distributor Screen Media Films
Cast: Cohen Holloway, Inge Rademeyer and Jon Pheloung
Forgoing home ownership (at least temporarily) New Zealand director Mike Wallis and actress/producer Inge Rademeyer funneled their resources into Good For Nothing, inspired by the “Spaghetti Westerns” but with “an unusual twist.” The filmmaking duo kept costs down by building their own trailer, dolly tracks and a crane. The feature took a number of years before completion, and it did not receive any government funding. “A lot of the crew would finish up on Avatar and they’d come over and help us,” Rademeyer told Deadline. “We wanted to make a movie we really loved and it wasn’t something we believed the film commissions here would want.”

Executive producer Jamie Selkirk did provide financing as the project progressed. “It was a great learning experience to be involved in every step of the process, but there were so many moments when we thought we couldn’t wait for the next project and have a proper budget with a proper team,” said Rademeyer. Added Wallis, “Even the simple things like having a PA would be great.”

Jiro Dreams Of Sushi
Director: David Gelb
Subjects: Jiro Ono and Yoshikazu Ono
Distributor: Magnolia Pictures
Perhaps not surprisingly, Jiro director David Gelb cited the language barrier as one of his biggest challenges making his doc about 85-year-old sushi master Jiro Ono and his business in the basement of a Tokyo office building. He overcame that obstacle with the help of food critic Masahiro Yamamoto who starred on Iron Chef and who happened to introduce Gelb to his subject. “I shot a hundred hours of footage and they would spend five hours a day of translation,” said Gelb.

Finance was the other challenge, with few interested in the story. Executive producer Matt Weaver and producer Kevin Iwashina, however, saw the film’s potential and raised funds to keep the project going.”(They) helped build a coalition around this ten minute clip which helped finance translation and editing etc,” said Gelb. “There was a lot of faith based on that ten minute clip I had which showed why Jiro is a master.” The film will open exclusively in theaters this weekend in limited release at IFC Center and Lincoln Plaza in New York and the NuArt in Los Angeles on March 16th.

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen
Director Lasse Hallstrom
Writers: Simon Beaufoy (screenplay), Paul Torday (novel)
Cast: Ewan McGregor, Emily Blunt and Amr Waked
“The challenge was to get the film in on budget and on time,” Salmon Fishing In The Yemen director Lasse Hallstrom told Dedline. The Swedish filmmaker noted that the film includes two floods that posed strains to the production budget, in addition to travel between location shoots in Scotland, England and Morocco during the 45 days of principal photography. Bill Condon had originally been set to direct the film about a fisheries expert who is approached by a consultant to help realize a sheik’s vision of bringing the sport of fly-fishing to the desert. “The story didn’t change dramatically after he left,” said Hallstrom who took over the project last spring. “I may have had a bit more visuals than originally expected and some scenes were trimmed or sped up – the usual stuff that I do…”

Hallstrom credited his Moroccan and British crew for meeting budget and even his iPhone which he used to shoot the “home video” elements of the film. “The visual opportunities and the chance to be visually witty was one of the reasons I wanted to direct it,” he said.