Since it was launched in 2002 by Larry Meistrich, New York-based Film Movement has released more than 100 foreign-language and independent features and shorts from 27 countries through its website, where members and non-members can buy a DVD of the month and peruse the ever-expanding catalogue.
"We choose good titles that will enrich your experience of life," says newly promoted company president Adley Gartenstein, a former mergers and acquisitions lawyer who joined the company in April 2003. "There are a lot of independent films with a dark slant and that isn't particularly interesting to us. I'm not saying all our films have to have a happy ending, but I'm interested in trying to find a human connection amid the despair." He cites as an example Mother Of Mine, Klaus Haro's Finland-Sweden co-production about the plight of wartime orphans. "There wasn't a happy ending for every character, but there was a human connection.
"In this day and age there's access to so many movies out there, and we want people do know that the Film Movement brand is an assurance of quality," Gartenstein says. "What the Weinsteins did with Miramax was to create a brand that told you the film was going to be good, and that's what we're trying to do here."
Fresh acquisitions include Francisco Vargas' Mexican drama The Violin, which recently won the top prize at the Miami International Film Festival, as well as DVD rights to Anders Thomas Jensen's Danish comedy Adam's Apples, which Outsider Pictures released theatrically as well as Matthew Saville's Australian drama Noise and Pavel Lungin's Russian drama The Island.
"We're not a typical distributor. We try to get our films in as many outlets as possible like Netflix and Blockbuster, and we have relationships with Showtime and IFC and Sundance Channel," Gartenstein says. "We also do limited theatrical releases - more as a gift to the film-maker than anything else - and we have more than 1,200 libraries that screen our films for free and drive people to our website, where they can buy the DVD."
Film Movement will also make available 25 titles for rental or electronic sell-through under its recent licensing deal with ClickStar, the broadband distributor backed by Morgan Freeman and Lori McCreary's Revelations Entertainment and Intel.