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Focus World Announces Early 2012 Slate

Posted December 19, 2011

James Franco’s THE BROKEN TOWER, Gaukur Úlfarsson’s GNARR,Linda Cardellini, Michael Shannon in Liza Johnson’s RETURN;

Focus World, the unique digital distribution initiative owned and operated by Focus Features, has closed deals on its slate for the first quarter of 2012. The announcement was made today by Focus President Andrew Karpen. The deals were closed by Avy Eschenasy, Executive Vice President, Strategic Planning, Business Affairs and Acquisitions, with Manager, Digital Content Kent Sanderson.

The new Focus World selections include The Broken Tower, directed by Academy Award-nominated actor James Franco, which will be released digitally on January 10th; Gaukur Úlfarsson’s documentary feature Gnarr, which will be released February 7th; and Liza Johnson’s Return, which will be released February 28th.

Launched earlier this year, Focus World identifies and curates the most exciting voices in international and independent cinema. Part of Focus Features’ multi-platform strategy, Focus World presents titles of genuine vision and originality as premiere releases on EST, iVOD, and VOD, along with DVD and other formats.

The Broken Tower was adapted and directed by James Franco. Using a style as daring as its subject, the film chronicles the life of “Lost Generation” poet Hart Crane (portrayed by Mr. Franco). Shot in vivid black-and-white, the film premiered earlier this year at the Los Angeles Film Festival. Gnarr, which premiered at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, documents comedian Jón Gnarr’s wildly unpredictable campaign for mayor of Reykjavik. The campaign originated as a joke but became a political statement – and achieved an unexpected momentum that swept Mr. Gnarr into office. Gnarr is being released digitally during the height of 2012’s U.S. presidential primary season.
Writer/director Liza Johnson’s Return, which premiered as part of the Directors’ Fortnight at the 2011 Cannes International Film Festival, is a drama about a female U.S. Army reservist who comes home after a tour of duty and has trouble readjusting to small-town life. The movie stars Linda Cardellini (ER), Academy Award nominee Michael Shannon, and John Slattery (Mad Men).
Additionally, Focus World and Entertainment One will release several titles – all already available digitally – on DVD throughout the first quarter of 2012: Alma Har’el’s Bombay Beach, on January 17th, Jon Foy’s Resurrect Dead, on January 31st, and Toniko Melo’s VIPs, on February 14th.

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Dee Rees’ PARIAH Available For WGA Members Via Deluxe Media Management Screener Site

Posted December 16, 2011

Pariah Eligible For WGA Consideration As Best Original Screenplay.

In a unique awards campaign initiative, Focus Features is inviting Writers Guild of America members to view its 2011 release Pariah, written and directed by Dee Rees, through an exclusive screener site operated by fulfillment house Deluxe Media Management, a subsidiary of Deluxe Entertainment Services Group Inc.

The digital screener was made available at the site to WGA Members on December 7th, and will remain so until January 6th, 2012. The free rental is for a 48-hour period, which allows WGA members to watch the 86-minute feature film straight through, or to pause their viewing and then return to it within the allotted time period. By way of the screener site, Pariah is viewable through PCs, Macs, and iPads. Deluxe, the fulfillment house that the WGA uses for its mailings, generated with the WGA’s permission usernames and passwords, which were then e-mailed directly to WGA Members. No one can stream the screener unless they are a credentialed user to the site with their assigned username and password.

Earlier this fall, the WGA accepted Pariah as eligible for Writers Guild of America Award consideration. Focus subsequently submitted it into the Best Original Screenplay category. Focus has also made the ongoing Pariah awards screenings schedule available at the site, since WGA members are invited to attend those screenings, as well as a download of Ms. Rees’ screenplay itself. As of December 13th, 20,000 hits for Deluxe’s Pariah site have been recorded.

A rousing success at the 2011 Sundance and Toronto film festivals, Pariah, produced by Nekisa Cooper, is nominated for 2 Spirit Awards including Best Female Lead (Adepero Oduye). The film’s other honors include Excellence in Cinematography (Bradford Young) at Sundance; the Best Breakout Performance (Ms. Oduye) and Best Independent Film awards from the African-American Film Critics Association; and the Gotham Independent Film Award for Breakthrough Director, which Ms. Rees won last month. The movie opens theatrically in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco on Wednesday, December 28th; and in additional cities in January.

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Focus Features Announces Release Dates For First Half of 2012

Posted December 16, 2011


Three previously announced Focus Features movies for 2012 release have been assigned confirmed domestic opening dates for the first half of the year. The company made the announcement today.

Being Flynn is the new dramatic feature from Academy Award-nominated writer/director Paul Weitz (About a Boy). Adapted from Nick Flynn’s 2004 memoir Another Bulls—t Night in Suck City, the movie explores bonds both unbreakable and fragile between parent and child. Paul Dano (Little Miss Sunshine and There Will Be Blood) portrays Nick Flynn, a young writer seeking to define himself. He misses his late mother, Jody (four-time Academy Award nominee Julianne Moore), and her loving nature. But his father, Jonathan, is not even a memory, as Nick has not seen the man in 18 years. Jonathan Flynn (two-time Academy Award winner Robert De Niro) has long defined himself as a great writer, “a master storyteller.” Suddenly facing eviction from his apartment, Jonathan impulsively reaches out to Nick and the two come face-to-face. Being Flynn will open in select cities on Friday, March 2nd.

Golden Globe Award winner Steve Carell and Academy Award nominee Keira Knightley star in the comedy Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, which marks the feature directorial debut of screenwriter Lorene Scafaria (Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist). Set in a too-near future, the movie explores what people will do when humanity’s last days are at hand. As the respective journeys of Dodge (Mr. Carell) and Penny (Ms. Knightley) converge, the two spark to each other and their outlooks – if not the world’s – brighten. Seeking a Friend for the End of the World will open in theaters nationally on Friday, April 20th.

Moonrise Kingdom is the new feature from two-time Academy Award nominee Wes Anderson (The Royal Tenenbaums, Rushmore). Set on an island off the coast of New England in the 1960s, the film follows a young boy and girl (newcomers Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward) falling in love. When they are moved to run away together, various factions of the town mobilize to search for them and the town is turned upside down – which might not be such a bad thing. Bruce Willis plays the town sheriff; two-time Academy Award nominee Edward Norton is cast as a camp leader; and Academy Award nominee Bill Murray and Academy Award winner Frances McDormand portray the young girl’s parents. Also in the cast are Academy Award winner Tilda Swinton and Jason Schwartzman. The original screenplay is by Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola (The Darjeeling Limited). Moonrise Kingdom will open in select cities on Friday, May 25th.

In addition to the three newly dated films, current and upcoming Focus Features releases include writer/director Dee Rees’ contemporary drama Pariah, which world-premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival; Sam Fell and Chris Butler’s ParaNorman, the new 3D stop-motion comedy thriller from animation company LAIKA, which was previously announced for a 2012 nationwide domestic release on August 17th; the historical tale Hyde Park on Hudson, directed by Roger Michell and starring Academy Award nominees Bill Murray and Laura Linney; Joe Wright’s epic romance Anna Karenina, adapted from Leo Tolstoy’s classic novel by Academy Award winner Tom Stoppard and starring Keira Knightley, Jude Law, and Aaron Johnson; and Tomas Alfredson’s thriller Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, starring Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, and Tom Hardy.

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