Relatively few new limited releases are launching against the likes of Rocketman and Godzilla this weekend. Sony Pictures Classics is rolling out The Fall Of The American Empire, from French-Canadian filmmaker Denys Arcand and starring Alexandre Landry, in New York and Los Angeles, and after more than a decade of very limited screenings at a few film festivals, British filmmaker Gerald Fox’s doc Leaving Home, Coming Home: A Portrait of Robert Frank is finally getting a regular theatrical release. Indie Rights is heading out with satirical comedy Loners in Los Angeles, and Strand Releasing is launching Cannes 2018 title Yomeddine by Abu Bakr Sawky in New York.
Among other limited release titles headed to theaters this weekend are Mouthpiece from Crucial Things and First Generation Films, and Dogwoof’s For The Birds and Vertical Entertainment’s Rich Boy, Rich Girl.
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The Fall Of the American Empire
Director-writer: Denys Arcand
Cast: Alexandre Landry, Maripier Morin, Rémy Girard, Louis Morisette, Maxim Roy, Pierre Curzi, Vincent Leclerc
Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics
The Fall Of the American Empire isn’t the first round for SPC with a Denys Arcand release. The company rolled out the Québécois filmmaker’s 1993 feature Love & Human Remains. SPC’s heads also released Arcand’s 1989 title Jesus of Montréal when they were at Orion Classics. Said the company’s co-president Michael Barker: “It seemed just so timely, witty, fun and pointed in its satire. We’ve known [Arcand] for years.”
The feature centers on Pierre-Paul Daoust, 36, an intellectual with a PhD in philosophy, who is forced to work as a deliveryman to make a decent living. One day, while delivering a parcel, he gets caught in a hold up gone terribly wrong. There are two dead and millions in money bags laying on the ground. Pierre-Paul is confronted with a dilemma – leave empty handed, or take the money and run…
“This movie fits with the political turmoil of the time as a satire about love and capitalism,” noted Barker. “Yet, it’s entertaining. There’s an irreverence that I believe audiences will love.”
Sony Pictures Classics will debut the Toronto premiere at select locations in New York and Los Angeles. Added Barker: “We’ll play it across the country, but we’re going to go very slow with it because it’s what [will best serve] this movie. Denys Arcand is one of the finest Canadian filmmakers of all-time.”
Leaving Home, Coming Home: A Portrait of Robert Frank
Director: Gerald Fox
Subject: Robert Frank
Distributor: Greenwich Entertainment
Filmmaker Gerald Fox made his documentary on photographer Robert Frank in 2004, and the feature version of Leaving Home, Coming Home: A Portrait of Robert Frank debuted at the International Film Festival Rotterdam in 2005.
“It was originally commissioned for British television,” explained Fox. “When I was making it, I thought Robert was unburdening himself of a lot of things and the [feature] version I made went down well at Rotterdam. I received a lot of requests from festivals like Tribeca, but then [Frank] decided that he only wanted the 50-minute version for [The South Bank Show on ITV] to play. He did allow me since then to show it a few more times at various festivals including Tribeca and other events here and there.”
Originally deemed “too personal” to be shown widely, the film captures Swiss-American photographer and filmmaker Robert Frank reflecting on a lifetime of image making, most famously The Americans, possibly the most influential photo book of the last 60 years. In the film, Frank revisits places from the Lower East Side to Coney Island where he lived and photographed, unsentimentally and humorously noting the erosion of the New York. He recalls his collaborations with the Beat generation, including his film Pull My Daisy narrated by Jack Kerouac, as well as his infamous C*cksucker Blues with The Rolling Stones. Affectionate conversations with Frank’s second wife, the vibrant artist June Leaf, reveal decades of closeness, creative exchange and support through the intense tragedies of Frank’s life.
Following the 2015 release of Laura Israel’s Grasshopper Film doc Don’t Blink – Robert Frank, Fox considered approaching Frank about whether he’d be amendable to a formal roll out of Leaving Home, Coming Home.
“[Don’t Blink] is very different from this film and Robert agreed,” said Fox. “It’s rare that you have a living photographer do this. He tells an immigrant story and it has life unfolding in New York City as it changes.”
Fox originally made contact with Frank through a mutual colleague at the Tate Modern. He showed him an example of work he had done spotlighting artist Claes Oldenburg, which piqued Frank’s attention. “He said, ‘I’m not like Claes, but if you want to make a film about me, then fine.’ He’s a real character, and that’s good.” Fox shot in a short timespan in New York as well as Frank’s other residence in Nova Scotia.
Leaving Home, Coming Home: A Portrait of Robert Frank, which begins its roll out with an exclusive launch at New York’s Film Forum this weekend, is the version that debuted in Rotterdam in 2005. It will head to L.A. June 7 with additional select markets planned through June and July.
Director-writer: Abu Bakr Sawky
Cast: Rady Gamal, Ahmed Abdelhafiz, Osama Abdallah
Distributor: Strand Releasing
Strand Releasing caught Egyptian dramedy Yomeddine at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival. The title, directed by Abu Bakr Sawky, was Egypt’s entry last year for Best Foreign Language Oscar consideration.
Rady Gamal plays Beshay, a man cured of leprosy who has never left the leper colony in the Egyptian desert where he has lived since childhood. Following the death of his wife, he decides to go in search of his roots. With his few possessions strapped to a donkey cart, he sets out. Quickly joined by Obama, the Nubian orphan he has taken under his wing, Beshay will cross Egypt and confront the world.
“We’re going for an older, arthouse demographic, which tends to be the remaining audiences for smart, foreign-language art house films,” said Strand Releasing co-president Jon Gerrans. “We’re trying hard to get them and if we can get their attention, they will have a rewarding experience.”
Strand has been working with Egyptian consulates and other groups that tap Arabic audiences. “The film has played successfully and won awards at Arab film festivals,” noted Gerrans. “They are a very underserved audience.”
Strand is opening Yomeddine at IFC Center in New York as well as three L.A. locations including the Laemmle on the Westside as well as locations in Pasadena and the San Fernando Valley. Added Gerrans: “Hopefully grosses will allow us to hit the ground running. We hope that many of the [chain theaters] that have had a chance to see it will want to pick it up.”
Director: Eryc Tramonn
Writer: Neil McGowan
Cast: Khary Payton, Stephen Tobolowsky, Brian Letscher, Melissa Paladino, Tyson Turrou, David Christian Welborn, Brenda Davidson, Michael Monks, Madeleine Woolner, Neil McGowan, Keith Stevenson, Will Greenberg, Rob Kerkovich
Distributor: Indie Rights
Satirical comedy Loners began as a stage play and was developed into a feature. “The play [version] is called Lone-anon,” said Tramonn. “I was very taken by it, but felt it needed to be expanded. I wanted to build it out.”
Developed by producer and star Tyson Turrou, Loners is a comedic take on the current political climate and the government’s inability to address the violence in the news. The film asks for answers to two of life’s greatest questions: “How to avoid the government, and how to make friends.”
After boarding the project, Tramonn worked with writer Neil McGowan on the story’s adaptation. “There was a year of back and forth [with Neil],” said Tramonn. “There were already cast members in the play who wanted to be a part of [the film] so it was easy to workshop.” To expand on the stage version, additional actors joined via casting director Doug Haley.
The filmmaking team began a crowd-funding campaign on Indiegogo with the goal of raising $30K, but actually ended up with $50K. Additional funds came via private equity. Loners shot for just under 13 days primarily at Saddleback College in Orange County, CA in the summer of 2016. “We had one day with 45 set ups,” said Tramonn. “[Actor] Stephen Tobolowsky did ten pages in a single day. He’s great and I can’t speak more highly of him.”
Turrou met with various distribution companies, according to Tramonn, and worked out a deal with Indie Rights for the title’s release. “We’re a real independent film and we’re learning the ropes,” noted Tramonn. “When you get into this arena, you understand a lot of distribution companies are self-serving and want to make as much money as they can.”
Loners premiered in Los Angeles at the Ahrya Fine Arts by Laemmle May 30, and began a weeklong run at the Laemmle Music Hall May 31. The film will premiere on cable and digital VOD in the coming weeks.
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