Throughout the years, IFC Films has always found a place at the Oscar table, scoring noms for such films as 2002’s My Big Fat Greek Wedding (original screenplay) and 2009’s In the Loop (adapted screenplay). The year is extra special, not only because the distributor racked up eight Oscar nominations this morning, but because it’s 12-year-in-the-making drama Boyhood was recognized in six categories: best picture, director (Richard Linklater), supporting actor (Ethan Hawke), supporting actress (Patricia Arquette), original screenplay and editing. It’s also the first time that IFC has received a best picture nomination.
“We’re still the tadpole swimming in the sea of sharks,” said IFC Films president Jonathan Sehring today about the label’s big footprint in the Oscar race. “The great thing about the Academy is that it’s not about how much you spend campaigning. They look at the work and reward the work.”
Two other noms for IFC today included its feature documentary Finding Vivian Maier as well as a surprise best actress nod for Marion Cotillard in the Sundance Selects Belgian film Two Days, One Night, which launched at the Cannes Film Festival back in May. “I jumped out of my seat and nearly hit my head on our 10-foot ceiling,” said Sehring about when he first heard about Cotillard’s nom this morning. If there’s any idea of how Cotillard’s turn is resonating with actors, look no further than Golden Globe drama actress winner Julianne Moore (Still Alice), who acknowledged at last Sunday’s ceremony backstage that “I went to see Two Days, One Night in Cannes and was so flabbergasted by Marion Cotillard’s performance in that film. I did in fact say she should win the Golden Globe for it at the time. There’s no justice.”
Sehring said, “We bought Two Days, One Night based on the Dardenne brothers’ script. They’re the greatest filmmakers in the world, which is why the title’s omission on the foreign-language shortlist was so befuddling.”
Sehring rolled the dice on Boyhood after Linklater pitched him the concept of a boy’s life, grades 1-12, at the Venice Film Festival in 2001. What spoke to the IFC Films president, who became a producer on the film? “I knew the drama of that as a parent; everyday life is a beautiful up-and-down story,” he said. “My oldest son was in junior high school and my other sons were in kindergarten and first grade when I jumped on the project.”
To date, Boyhood has made $43.5M at the global box office, $24.3M of that being generated stateside. The film cost an estimated $4M and Sehring told Deadline last September that the company would commit $200K (more or less) to Boyhood annually. The average annual shoot for Boyhood entailed a month of prep with three to four shooting days. Linklater wouldn’t send dailies back to Sehring, rather he would do an annual assembly of footage each year.
Initially, rather than take domestic distrib rights on Boyhood outright, Sehring felt IFC had something special so, “We took it to Sundance. We showed it to all the studios more than once. None of them made the right offer. So, we created a partnership with Richard on distribution,” he said. Universal came in for most of the foreign territories after a Sundance screening except for Canada, Benelux and France.
Ethan Hawke, who played the onscreen father to Mason (Ellar Coltrane) in the movie, applauded Sehring today for “staying in business. He kept believing in us. We had the joy of making something we believed in and IFC took the risk with something that might not have turned out well; an experimental movie that might not recoup. They were the true believers in this.”