Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Vitagraph Films Acquires All North American Rights for Official Spanish Oscar Submission, TAMBIEN LA LLUVIA (EVEN THE RAIN) From Wild Bunch

Columbus Day, October 12, 2010 – Vitagraph Films, LLC partners David Shultz and Margot Gerber announced today that they acquired all North American rights for Spain’s official entry for ‘Best Foreign Language Film” for the 2011 Oscars, TAMBIEN LA LLUVIA (EVEN THE RAIN) from Wild Bunch, on behalf of producer Juan Gordon’s Morena Films. Ironically the deal was finalized in time to announce the acquisition on Columbus Day, as the “film-within-a-film” in TAMBIEN LA LLUVIA chronicles some of gold-seeking Christopher Columbus’ exploits with the indigenous people he encountered in the Americas, circa 1492.

An official selection of the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival, TAMBIEN LA LLUVIA is directed by Icíar Bollaín from a screenplay by Paul Laverty (ROUTE IRISH), a frequent Ken Loach collaborator. The film stars Gael Garcia Bernal, Luis Tosar and Carlos Aduviri.

The deal was negotiated on Vitagraph’s behalf by European agent, Guy Amon of the Paris-based Leisure and Multimedia Consulting. LMC has been representing films in France since the early 1980s and works with Munich based TMG/CONCORDE FILM ‘s Dr. Herbert Kloiber and Markus Zimmer on film and television acquisitions for German speaking territories and sales in the French market of TMG's productions.

TAMBIEN LA LLUVIA sets up an intriguing dialogue about Spanish imperialism through incidents taking place some 500 years apart, while examining the personal belief systems of the members of a film crew headed by director Sebastian (Gael Garcia Bernal) and his producer Costa (Luis Tosar) who arrive in Bolivia to make a revisionist film about the conquest of Latin America. Set in February and March of 2000 when real-life protests against the privatization of water rocked the nation, the film reflexively blurs the line between fiction and reality in what Variety calls "a powerful, richly layered indictment of the plight of Latin America's dispossessed." Carlos Aduviri is dynamic as a local who is cast as a 15th century native in the film, but when the make-up and loin cloth come off, he sails into action protesting his community’s deprivation of water at the hands of the government. Meanwhile, Gael Garcia Bernal’s Idealist film director is as relentless as Werner Herzog infamously was in making FITZCARALDO, pushing ahead against all odds, ignoring the prevailing danger about to disrupt at any moment. Despite the devastation emerging around him, Sebastian seems unable to engage with any emotion over than a dogmatic desire to get his film done. And of course, the film also recalls themes in Herzog’s AGUIRRE, THE WRATH OF GOD and the film-within-a-film scenes are as brutal as any in APOCALYPTO.

Founded in 1999, the Los Angeles based Vitagraph Films, LLC is a self contained theatrical and home optical, television distribution entity. Vitagraph currently has the documentary AHEAD OF TIME: The Remarkable Life Story of Ruth Gruber (directed by Bob Richman) in theatres and will open TODAY’s SPECIAL on November 19th. In 2009, Vitagraph Films distributed VALENTINO THE LAST EMPEROR, a documentary on the Italian haute couture fashion designer Valentino and the Academy Award and Golden Globe nominated THE BAADER MEINHOF COMPLEX: The Story of the Red Army Faction, a docudrama based on the West German terrorist group that formed in the late 1960s in opposition to the prevailing post-WWII government. In 2005, Vitagraph Films released Spanish filmmaker Alex de la Iglesias’ EL CRIMEN FERPECTO in the U.S.

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Monday, September 27, 2010

Ruth Gruber, Journalist Who Captured The Exodus on Film to Celebrate 99th Birthday at Brooklyn Heights Cinema

Did you know that when Otto Preminger found out that much of Leon Uris' book EXODUS was based on Ruth Gruber's EXODUS 1947, he told Ruth he could have saved money had he not bought the rights to the Uris story. He said he wanted to do something for her. She thought, "maybe a screen credit?," but all she got were two tickets to see the film! In 2008 she was invited to Israel to speak about Preminger when the studio donated a print of the film to the Jerusalem Cinematheque's archive. The AHEAD OF TIME crew followed her there to capture Ruth's visit to the Captain of the ship Exodus on film. He was 23 years old at the time. When they reunited, he marveled that she was 11 years older than he and that 60 years had not changed their stance on the events of that time. Yithak Aharonovitch passed away in Israel in December of 2009 at the age of 86. Ruth took the famous photos of the Exodus trying to come into port in Palestine where it was thwarted by the British, including the one depicting the Union Jack with a swastika painted on it. Her photos were nearly confiscated, but she wouldn't give them up. Ruth's editor at the Herald Tribute decided to put them out over the AP (Associated Press), saying the photos belonged to the world. Her interviews with the refugees on the ship (many of them Holocaust survivors) gave the situation a human face. Ruth's photos were influential in shaping world opinion and Ruth found herself involved in the creation of the Jewish state of Israel. She ended up escorting 1000 survivors to safety on another ship, The Henry Gibbons as part of a US mission. On that ship was 5-year old Doris Schecter who is one of the executive producers of the film AHEAD OF TIME. Ruth's book EXODUS 1947, which exposed some unpleasant facts about the British, was finally published in the UK in 2007! Learn more about Ruth in the documentary AHEAD OF TIME. She will be speaking live at a cinema in her hometown (Brooklyn, NY) on Thursday, September 30, 2010 (which happens to be her 99th birthday!) after the 7:30 PM screening of AHEAD OF TIME. Many of Ruth's photos can be seen at this link to the Jewish Virtual Library.