Streep and Kevin Kline featured in documentary on the Tony Kushner-adapted Brecht masterwork
New York, NY – March 4, 2009 – Richard Lorber’s documentary label Alive Mind has acquired the U.S. theatrical, public performance and home video rights to the acclaimed documentary THEATER OF WAR, directed by John Walter (How to Draw a Bunny – Winner, Special Jury Prize, Sundance Film Festival). Featuring Meryl Streep as the unforgettable Mother Courage, this 2008 documentary was based on the New York Shakespeare Festival production of Bertolt Brecht’s "Mother Courage and Her Children” in Central Park. THEATER OF WAR displays yet another facet to the brilliance of Streep, recently honored at the Oscars where she was cited for an unprecedented 15 nominations and two wins. The deal was negotiated by Sheri Levine and Michael Thornton of Forward Entertainment, Jack Turner of White Buffalo productions, and by Richard Lorber and Elizabeth Sheldon of Lorber HT Digital, for release under its Alive Mind banner.
Alive Mind will now advance the theatrical and festival roll-out of THEATER OF WAR which was recently showcased at New York’s Film Forum to stellar reviews, including that of Mahohla Dargis of the New York Times who called it an “…inspired, inspiring essayistic documentary.” The company has set bookings next month at the Coolidge Corner in Boston with other dates at the Walker in Minneapolis, Facets in Chicago, the Loft Cinema in Tucson, the Wexner Center in Columbus, the Kimball Theatre in Williamsburg, and many more to be announced soon. In addition, Alive Mind will offer public performance copies of the DVD for sale to cultural institutions, universities and libraries under its Alive Mind Education label, and will release the DVD to the consumer market next year.
Richard Lorber, commented, “In the gifted vision of John Walter, Brecht’s work via Tony Kushner takes on a new power, hugely amplified by Streep and Kline, a way of looking at the world through the creation of art and at a work of art from the inside out.”
John Walter adds, “The Alive Mind team has quickly demonstrated that they have an unique and intelligent way of bringing a film to its audience and we are excited to be working with them on THEATER OF WAR.”
About the Film
Filmmaker John Walter artfully captures Meryl Streep groping for – and then seizing – the character in her unforgettable portrayal of Mother Courage in Tony Kushner’s adaptation of the Bertold Brecht masterpiece “Mother Courage and Her Children,” which was presented by The Public Theater/NY Shakespeare Festival in Central Park in the summer of 2006. As Manohla Dargis in the Times observerd, “filmmaker John Walter jumps from art to history and politics and back again, from the theater of the streets to the theater of the stage, without pause. That makes the movie… tough to summarize, which is part of its appeal.” Though this film could easily have been crafted into a star vehicle for Streep and Kevin Kline, Walter instead digs deeply into Brecht’s motives and politics, unearthing the playwright’s famed and famously clever testimony before the House Un-American Activities Committee – the day after which he fled from the United States. THEATER OF WAR is about theater and war, capitalism and Marxism, the postwar anti-Communist hysteria of the 1950s, and one literary genius’s ability to make art from them all.
About Alive Mind
Alive Mind releases documentary programming in the areas of enlightened consciousness and cultural transformation. Alive Mind was launched by industry pioneer Richard Lorber as a specialty distribution arm of his company, Lorber HT Digital. The company seeks to provide its audience with intellectually provocative work from leading filmmakers that delivers the “aha” response of a transformative experience. Current releases include the documentary film on the generation changing stage sensation Hair: Let the Sun Shine In; Academy Award winning director Jessica Yu’s Protagonist; and the internationally acclaimed FLicKeR about Brion Gysin, visionary artist and beat generation inventor of the “Dreamachine.” Upcoming releases include Antonio Ferrera and Albert Maysles’ landmark documentary, THE GATES, and others to be announced soon.
Related at Indie Wire
Another coup for Lorber HT Digital, who acquired North American theatrical and home video rights for the 2008 New York Film Festival winner, Tony Manero. Set in Chile during the grim days of the military dictatorship of General Pinochet, the film opens with the seemingly benign protagonist, Raul, protecting a little old lady from neighborhood thugs (where are the ubiquitous Chilean police when you need them?). Any sympathy is quickly shattered when Raul bashes her brains out with his bare hands and then absconds with her color television set, although not before taking care to feed her cat.
A macabre political parable, Raul's obsession with Saturday Night Fever is an apt metaphor for the dictatorship. The film's use of violence and sexual disfunction is appropriate and powerful. Raul's fantasy, and his single-minded pursuit of it, paints a dark picture of life under a dictator.
Read more at Indiewire.
I saw a preview of the film and found it very provocative (yes, it got away from me). Having taken a seminar with Professor Zizek (anybody who registered was guaranteed an 'A'), it is nice to see that there is still an audience for an Eastern European Lacanian Marxist. The seminar was packed and he was revered like a rock star. The article below is by Andrew O'Hehir at Salon.com
Astra Taylor knows she's a little over her head in the whimsical, earnest series of conversations with philosophers that makes up her film "Examined Life." But the young filmmaker uses that fact to disarm us, putting herself clumsily into the frame during a stroll in New York's Washington Square Park with inscrutable post-Heideggerian feminist philosopher Avital Ronell, who declares that she would like to interview Taylor, rather than the other way around.
As the scene continues, Taylor apologizes for the shallowness of trying to present an introduction to several important contemporary philosophers in an 85-minute feature film. Rather preeningly, Ronell quips that it's fine that the other philosophers in the film are restricted to 10 minutes each, but she should not be subjected to such an indignity, and then launches into an extended monologue about the healthy uses of anxiety and meaningless in the postmodern world. It's good to feel bad, more or less. OK, she doesn't actually say "postmodern," but she might as well. Meanwhile, Taylor's camera wanders around the park, capturing the book-readers and iPod-listeners and park-bench smoochers and frolicking dogs in the middle distance while Ronell keeps talking. One of these people has just been made to look like an ass, and it isn't Taylor.
Read more at Salon.com
Lots of sepculation in the industry regarding the fate of New Yorker Films, an icon in the art distribution world. By Andrew O'Hoheir at Salon.com
New Yorker Films
An icon of independent cinema crumbled before the nation's widening financial crisis on Monday, as New Yorker Films, owner of an unparalleled library of art-house films from all over the world, announced it was closing up shop after nearly 44 years. While the company had evidently been in distress for some time -- it had sharply downscaled its theatrical operations, and its DVD releases were frequently delayed -- the announcement still sent shock waves through the independent film world.
New Yorker was founded in 1965 by moviehouse proprietor Dan Talbot, who continued to run it, in partnership with co-president José Lopez, until the closing was announced Monday. In case you're wondering, it has no connection with the New Yorker magazine, owned by Condé Nast. Talbot named the film company after the repertory cinema he then operated on Manhattan's Upper West Side. (While that theater is long gone, Talbot still owns a majority share of the Lincoln Plaza Cinemas, another Upper West Side institution, which is unaffected by New Yorker's closing.)
Read the rest at Salon.com
Controversial satirical series from leading Israeli channel now an international sensation.
New York, NY, February 23, 2009 — Richard Lorber has acquired the U.S. home entertainment rights to the controversial hit Israeli comedy series ARAB LABOR (Avoda Aravit), it was announced today. The deal was negotiated by Keren Shahar for Israeli producing broadcaster Keshet (Channel 2) and by Richard Lorber and Elizabeth Sheldon for Lorber HT Digital. The pact was facilitated by Steven Lawrence for Link TV, the independent television network which premiered the series on U.S. television this past fall to enormous success and media attention. The uniqueness and quality of the series also led to the unprecedented presentation of individual episodes at leading U.S. film festivals. The Los Angeles Times calls the series, “…groundbreaking and amazing,” and the San Francisco Chronicle calls it’s creator, Sayed Kashua, “The Palestinian Seinfeld.” Lorber and Link will partner in marketing and cross-promoting continued U.S. broadcast and DVD and digital download sales of the series.
Lorber states, “Our Alive Mind label is quickly growing into a powerful force in the international documentary market because we are populating a niche that fills an underserved demand for transformative cultural programming. By “transformative” I mean programming that changes the viewer through watching and provides that coveted “Ah ha” response, which in the case of ARAB LABOR becomes “Ha ha,” the rare laughter of relief from truth wrought into comedy that transcends all cultural barriers.”
Lorber will launch the complete first season of ARAB LABOR on the Alive Mind label on DVD, as a two-disc set with bonus material, and by digital download in the second quarter of this year.
Created by Sayed Kashua, a 32-year-old Israeli-born Palestinian journalist, ARAB LABOR (translated from the Hebrew “Avoda Aravit” which colloquially implies “shoddy or second-rate work”) focuses on Amjad, a Palestinian journalist and Israeli citizen in search of his identity as he seeks high status in the society into which he was born but where his car is searched everyday when he drives from his neighborhood to his job at a newspaper in Jerusalem. Poking fun at the cultural divide, Kashua and his characters play on religious, cultural and political differences to daringly depict the mixed society that is Israel. This show marked a milestone on Israeli television as the first program to present Palestinian characters speaking Arabic on primetime. ARAB LABOR has generated great controversy between Arab and Israeli media and Lorber, in partnership with Link TV, is bringing the show to a wide U.S. audience in order to offer a fresh perspective on Israeli-Palestinian cultural friction while presenting an unbelievably entertaining show that has made an international splash.
Steve Lawrence of Link TV added, “Just as American sitcoms like “All In The Family” and “The Jeffersons” broke ground a generation ago by probing class and race in America, ARAB LABOR appears to be doing the same in Israel.”
About the Series
In his search for acceptance, the brazenly witty and loveable Amjad goes to extremes to try to conceal his Palestinian identity. He buys a new car, sends his preschooler to a Hebrew-speaking school and drags his family to a Passover Seder where he fervently sings holiday songs along with his new Jewish friends, all in a hilarious attempt to pass as a Jewish-Israeli. In the midst of a walloping identity crisis, Amjad jockeys between two cultures as he tries to polish his image for his Jewish friends and colleagues while enjoying his own down-to-earth family life. The result is a raucous, irreverent, side-busting comedy that pierces the taboos surrounding Palestinian-Israeli culture, popping the politically correct bubble of acceptable language and humor surrounding the prickly, long-standing status quo in which Palestinian and Jewish Israelis live side by side.
ARAB LABOR (Avoda Aravit) is a production of Dori Media Paran, written by Sayed Kashua, directed by Roni Nino, and produced by Danny Paran. The cast features Norman Issa, Mariano Idelman, Clara Khoury, Salim Dau, Mira Awad and Fatima Yihia, Slwa Naara, Dori Media Paran.
About Alive Mind
Alive Mind releases documentary programming in the areas of enlightened consciousness and cultural transformation. Alive Mind was launched by industry pioneer Richard Lorber as a specialty distribution arm of his new company, Lorber HT Digital. The company seeks to provide its audience with intellectually provocative work from leading filmmakers that delivers the “aha” response of a transformative experience. Current releases include the documentary film on the generation changing stage sensation Hair: Let the Sun Shine In; Academy Award winning director Jessica Yu’s Protagonist; and the internationally acclaimed FLicKeR about Brion Gysin, visionary artist and beat generation inventor of the “Dreamachine.” Upcoming theatrical releases include Antonio Ferrera and Albert Maysles’ landmark documentary THE GATES about Christo’s monumental Central Park Installation, and other titles to be announced during the first quarter of 2009.
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