Two Europeanfilms have found US theatrical distribution through New York-based art-housespecialists, with Wellspring Media acquiring all domestic rights to Claude Miller's BettyFisher et Autres Histoires and Milestone Film & Video picking up Manoel de Oliveira's Vou Para Casa (I'm Going Home).
Wellspring, the filmand video outfit that was formerly under the ownership of the Winstar telecomconcern before being bought out by a group of private investors, plans to launch Betty Fisher theatrically this autumn, with VHS and DVD release to followin 2003. Starring Sandrine Kimberlain, Nicole Garcia and Mathilde Seigner, BettyFisher is a psychologicalthriller based Ruth Rendell's novel The Tree of Hands.
The film,handled by President Films, was first spotted by Wellspring's MarieTherese Guirgis at the Berlin Film Festival; the acquisition was negotiated byKrysanne Katsoolis, Wellspring's senior vice president of acquisitions,and President's Claudia Rae.
Meanwhile, VouPara Casa, which hastaken this long to secure a domestic home despite being one of the acknowledgedcritical hits of last year's Cannes Film Festival, will open August 14 atNew York's Film Forum and then be followed by a nationwide release. Cindi Rowell, Milestone's director of acquisitions, negotiated the deal with Laurent Baudens of Gemini Films in Paris.
Starring MichelPiccoli, John Malkovich and Catherine Deneuve, the film was one of two projectscompleted in 2001 by the Portuguese-born, Paris-based de Oliveira. Now aged 93,the venerable filmmaker has even completed another film this year.
Even though thestudio-owned specialists like Miramax Films and Sony Pictures Classics haveshown renewed interest of late in handling foreign language titles, many of eventhe most acclaimed films on the international festival circuit these days stillneed to rely on smaller independents such as Wellspring and Milestone as theirAmerican distribution lifelines.
Other recentreleases by Wellspring include Under the Sand by Francois Ozon, What Time is itThere, by TsaiMing-Liang, The Circleby Jafar Panahi and Yi Yi by Edward Yang. BettyFisher et Autres Histoires is the second Wellspring pick-up, the other being Les Destinees by Olivier Assayas, to have participatedin the sold out Rendezvous with French Cinema series at New York'sLincoln Center.
Over the past twelve years, Milestone has introduced American audiences to suchinternational filmmakers as Takeshi Kitano, Hirokazu Kore-eda, and EdoardoWinspeare, while premiering such "lost" classics as Mikhail Kalatozov's Iam Cuba, Jane Campion's TwoFriends, and GilloPontecorvo's The Wide BlueRoad.