New York'sFirst Run Features has acquired the US rights to Amir Bar-Lev's Holocaust-themeddocumentary Fighter in a licensing agreement struck with The Independent FilmChannel's Next Wave Films. A theatrical release has been penciled in forthis autumn.
Fighter has won awards at the leading festivals around the world, including the Hampton's Film Festival(Audience Award); Karlovy Vary (Special Jury Citation); Galway (Best Documentary); and Newport (Best Documentary). It has also screened at the Toronto Film Festival, the Los Angeles Independent Film Festival, the MilanInternational Film Festival, and the Hawaii International Film Festival, amongothers
Explaining the appeal of his latest acquisition, Seymour Wishman, First Run's president, said he was "moved by the warmth, humour and support of two old friends, and the limits of that friendshipas laid bare by the different ways each tried to deal with his memories of the Holocaust."
Founded in 1979 by a group of independent filmmakers looking to advance the distribution of independent films at a time when few companies were willing to take a chance with smaller, more obscure titles, First Run Features was one of the first companies to bring serious documentaries to theatrical markets. Its releases have included such celebrated documentaries as 28 Up, Sherman's March and Strangers In Good Company.
In 1987 First Run Features and IcarusFilms, a company also founded the previous decade, merged their non-theatricaldivisions to create a new company, First Run/Icarus Films Inc. Now one of the leadingdistributors of independent and creative documentaries to non-theatricalmarkets in North America, First Run/Icarus has more than 700 titles in its catalogue.
The films of many notable directorssuch as Spike Lee (a former First Run employee), Maria Luisa Bemberg, DanielBergman, Lizzie Borden, Jane Campion, Claude Chabrol, Claire Denis, MarleenGorris, Peter Jackson, Benoit Jacquot, Barbara Kopple, Ross McElwee, SvenNyqvist, Victor Nunez, Satyajit Ray, David 0. Russell, The Brothers Quay, George Sluizer, Jan Svankmajer, and Monika Treut are part of the First Run legacy.
Under president Peter Broderick, Next Wave Films has made a name as a launch-pad for emerging filmmakers. In addition to financing digital features, it provides finishing funds to some films and acts as a producer's rep or festivalstrategist on others. Its films include Following, the debut film by ChristopherNolan (Memento), Jordan Melamed's Manic and Henry Barrial's Some Body. Documentaries with which Next Wavehas been associated include the award-winning Sound and Fury and David Shapiro and Laurie GwenShapiro's documentary Keep The River On Your Right: A Modern Cannibal Tal, being released this spring by another Independent Film Channel offshoot IFC Films.