Henry Bean's multiple award-winning The Believer will be released theatrically in the US in Jan 2002 by Fireworks Pictures through Independent Distribution Partnership (IDP) - despite and subsequent to its domestic premiere on Showtime in September.

The controversial film, which stars Ryan Gosling as a former Yeshiva student turned neo-Nazi skinhead, won the Grand Jury Prize at this year's Sundance Film Festival and the Golden St George at the Moscow Film Festival and will play at next month's Toronto Film Festival.

The film will attempt to score theatrical success after a pay-TV premiere - a feat which worked for John Dahl's The Last Seduction after its HBO screening in 1994 but not for Adrian Lyne's Lolita after a Showtime premiere in 1998. Showtime has been aggressively acquisitive of late, securing world premieres of Allison Anders' 2001 Sundance hit Things Behind The Sun and Rodrigo Garcia's 2000 Sundance hit Things You Can Tell Just By Looking At Her.

Fireworks Pictures co-financed the film and has sold it internationally. Several US distributors bid on the film after its success at Sundance and Paramount Classics almost sealed a deal to buy it, but it fell through. Reports at the time suggested that all the studios were wary of the film's neo-Nazi content.

The Believer, which co-stars Summer Phoenix, Billy Zane and Theresa Russell, also played at the Munich, Jerusalem and Edinburgh film festivals and won a special mention at the Sao Paolo Jewish Film Festival "for its daring way of dealing with racism in a contemporary world."

IDP is the distribution joint venture between Fireworks, Samuel Goldwyn Films and Stratosphere Entertainment run by Michael Silberman.