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By Ray Pride Pride@moviecitynews.com

Skin off Tartan's back: Araki reclaims

At Filmmaker, Anthony Kaufman digs into the tale of the abortive release of Mysterious Skin, Gregg Araki‘s haunting, abuse-driven feature: its producers took the movie back, filing “a lawsuit against distributors Tartan Films USA and TLA Entertainment Group in November 2005″, and placing the DVD rights with Strand Releasing. skin1788.jpg“This unusual scenario came as a result of a contentious dispute between the film’s producers and its original distributors, an ongoing litigious battle about money, power and delivery requirements,” writes Kaufman. “By the time of the release, they had paid us $50,000 of the $250,000,” says [producer Jeffrey] Levy-Hinte. “We were asking politely, and then forcibly, for the money. They coughed up two more payments, paying a total of $175,000 by July.” “Delivery requirements” led to further assertions by the distributor, described in the dispatch, including an October “complaint in U.S. District Court accusing Tartan/TLA of never acknowledging the contract’s termination and continuing to “engage in distribution activities, despite the fact that they no longer have a license to do so and in so doing, have engaged in copyright infringement.” Levy-Hinte tells Filmmaker, “The importance of this lawsuit is that we can’t allow distributors to get away with this… it happens all too often with these red herring delivery issues…. ‘I don’t want to pay you. What are you going to do, sue me?’ And fortunately we were in a position to do that, and we had a termination clause which was ironclad.” The Strand DVD include sdeleted scenes and audition tapes, and was supervised by Araki, despite TLA having already released a different version.

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“Ten years ago at Telluride, I said on a panel that theatrical distribution was dying. It seemed obvious to me. I was surprised how many in the audience violently objected: ‘People will always want to go to the movies!’ That’s true, but it’s also true that theatrical cinema as we once knew it has died. Theatrical cinema is now Event Cinema, just as theatrical plays and musical performances are Events. No one just goes to a movie. It’s a planned occasion. Four types of Event Cinema remain.
1. Spectacle (IMAX-style blockbusters)
2. Family (cartoon like features)
3. Horror (teen-driven), and
4. Film Club (formerly arthouse but now anything serious).

There are isolated pockets like black cinema, romcom, girl’s-night-out, seniors, teen gross-outs, but it’s primarily those four. Everything else is TV. Now I have to go back to episode five of ‘Looming Tower.'”
~ Paul Schrader

“Because of my relative candor on Twitter regarding why I quit my day job, my DMs have overflowed with similar stories from colleagues around the globe. These peeks behind the curtains of film festivals, venues, distributors and funding bodies weren’t pretty. Certain dismal patterns recurred (and resonated): Boards who don’t engage with or even understand their organization’s artistic mission and are insensitive to the diverse neighborhood in which their organization’s venue is located; incompetent founders and/or presidents who create only obstacles, never solutions; unduly empowered, Trumpian bean counters who chip away at the taste and experiences that make organizations’ cultural offerings special; expensive PR teams that don’t bring to the table a bare-minimum familiarity with the rich subcultural art form they’re half-heartedly peddling as “product”; nonprofit arts organizations for whom art now ranks as a distant-second goal behind profit.”
~ Eric Allen Hatch