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David Poland

By David Poland

PRESS RELEASE – A New "Home" Distributor Grabs "Worst" Fest Title

New York, NY (February 23, 2010) – New York-based specialized film
distribution company Area23a, formed in January by distribution veteran
Richard Abramowitz and Kirt Eftekhar, founder of Ocule Films, announced
today that it will release the award-winning “Best Worst Movie” which
has been an official selection in over twenty film festivals. The
documentary had its world premiere at South by Southwest and has
received several awards including the Top Ten Audience Favorite at Hot
Docs 2009. Area23a will open the film in Austin, Los Angeles, and New
York and other top markets in late Spring.
In “Best Worst Movie” Michael Paul Stephenson makes his directorial
debut by exploring one of the worst and most critically panned movie
ever made, Troll 2, in which he starred as a child in1989. Italian
director Claudio Gragrasso cast small-town dentist Dr George Hardy and a
group of unwitting Utah actors in the ultra-low budget horror film.
Soon after Troll 2’s disastrous release, Dr Hardy retired from his
short-lived acting career and returned to dentistry in his hometown of
Alabama, unaware of the legions of fans that would one day recognize him
as a cult movie luminary. Twenty years later Stephenson reveals the
improbably heartfelt story of this Alabama dentist-turned-cult movie
icon and an Italian filmmaker as they both come to terms with this
internationally revered cinematic failure. Stephen alongside Lindsay
Rowles Stephenson and Brad Klopman serve as the producers.

Of the acquisition, Stephenson says “Our movie – that we have devoted
the last four years to – can not be in better hands than with Abramowitz
and Eftekhar. They have demonstrated their ability to skillfully handle
specialized films in a crowded market place. The recent success of
“Anvil!” only further demonstrates Richard’s expertise in theatrical
film distribution.”
Abramowitz adds “At Area23a we are very excited to bring ‘Best Worst
Movie’ to theaters across the country. The movie has been generating
both incredible word-of-mouth and critical acclaim through the festival
circuit. Audiences are appreciating the film’s humor and are also moved
by its homage to bad movies and the people that make them.”
Area23a most recently distributed the acclaimed “Soundtrack for a
Revolution,” “The Mighty Uke,” “American Harmony,” and “They Came to
Play.” This spring it will release “Sweet Crude,” the story of
Nigeria’s Niger Delta, set against a stunning backdrop of Niger Delta
footage, the film gives voice to the region’s complex mix of
stakeholders and invites the audience to learn the deeper story.

2 Responses to “PRESS RELEASE – A New "Home" Distributor Grabs "Worst" Fest Title”

  1. a_loco says:

    I went to screening of Troll 2 (on 35 mm!) in Toronto about a year and a half ago, and they were filming some filler for this movie. It was fun.

  2. Nick Rogers says:

    It’s somehow strangely appropriate that Claudio Fragasso’s (aka Drake Floyd) name is misspelled in this press release. Glad to see this finally getting a theatrical release. Like a_loco, I went to a screening on the “Troll 2″ tour, and you certainly can’t piss on the hospitality of the people behind this documentary.

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This is probably going to sound petty, but Martin Scorsese insisting that critics see his film in theaters even though it’s going straight to Netflix and then not screening it in most American cities was a watershed moment for me in this theatrical versus streaming debate.

I completely respect when a filmmaker insists that their movie is meant to be seen in the theater, but the thing is, you got to actually make it possible to see it in the theater. Some movies may be too small for that, and that’s totally OK.

When your movie is largely financed by a streaming service and is going to appear on that streaming service instantly, I don’t really see the point of pretending that it’s a theatrical film. It just seems like we are needlessly indulging some kind of personal fantasy.

I don’t think that making a feature film length production that is going to go straight to a video platform is some sort of “step down.“ I really don’t. Theatrical exhibition as we know it is dying off anyway, for a variety of reasons.

I should clarify myself because this thread is already being misconstrued — I’m talking about how the movie is screened in advance. If it’s going straight to Netflix, why the ritual of demanding people see it in the theater?

There used to be a category that everyone recognized called “TV movie” or “made for television movie” and even though a lot of filmmakers considered that déclassé, it seems to me that probably 90% of feature films fit that description now.

Atlantis has mostly sunk into the ocean, only a few tower spires remain above the waterline, and I’m increasingly at peace with that, because it seems to be what the industry and much of the audience wants. We live in an age of convenience and information control.

Only a very elite group of filmmakers is still allowed to make movies “for theaters“ and actually have them seen and judged that way on a wide scale. Even platform releasing seems to be somewhat endangered. It can’t be fought. It has to be accepted.

9. Addendum: I’ve been informed that it wasn’t Scorsese who requested that the Bob Dylan documentary only be screened for critics in theaters, but a Netflix representative indicated the opposite to me, so I just don’t know what to believe.

It’s actually OK if your film is not eligible for an Oscar — we have a thing called the Emmys. A lot of this anxiety is just a holdover from the days when television was considered culturally inferior to theatrical feature films. Everybody needs to just get over it.

In another 10 to 20 years they’re probably going to merge the Emmys in the Oscars into one program anyway, maybe they’ll call it the Contentys.

“One of the fun things about seeing the new Quentin Tarantino film three months early in Cannes (did I mention this?) is that I know exactly why it’s going to make some people furious, and thus I have time to steel myself for the takes.

Back in July 2017, when it was revealed that Tarantino’s next project was connected to the Manson Family murders, it was condemned in some quarters as an insulting and exploitative stunt. We usually require at least a fig-leaf of compassion for the victims in true-crime adaptations, and even Tarantino partisans like myself – I don’t think he’s made a bad film yet – found ourselves wondering how he might square his more outré stylistic impulses with the depiction of a real mass murder in which five people and one unborn child lost their lives.

After all, it’s one thing to slice off with gusto a fictional policeman’s ear; it’s quite another to linger over the gory details of a massacre that took place within living memory, and which still carries a dread historical significance.

In her essay The White Album, Joan Didion wrote: “Many people I know in Los Angeles believe that the Sixties ended abruptly on August 9, 1969, ended at the exact moment when word of the murders on Cielo Drive traveled like brushfire through the community, and in a sense this is true.”

Early in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, as Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt’s characters drive up the hill towards Leo’s bachelor pad, the camera cranes up gently to reveal a street sign: Cielo Drive. Tarantino understands how charged that name is; he can hear the Molotov cocktails clinking as he shoulders the crate.

As you may have read in the reviews from Cannes, much of the film is taken up with following DiCaprio and Pitt’s characters – a fading TV actor and his long-serving stunt double – as they amusingly go about their lives in Los Angeles, while Margot Robbie’s Sharon Tate is a relatively minor presence. But the spectre of the murders is just over the horizon, and when the night of the 9th finally arrives, you feel the mood in the cinema shift.

No spoilers whatsoever about what transpires on screen. But in the audience, as it became clear how Tarantino was going to handle this extraordinarily loaded moment, the room soured and split, like a pan of cream left too long on the hob. I craned in, amazed, but felt the person beside me recoil in either dismay or disgust.

Two weeks on, I’m convinced that the scene is the boldest and most graphically violent of Tarantino’s career – I had to shield my eyes at one point, found myself involuntarily groaning “oh no” at another – and a dead cert for the most controversial. People will be outraged by it, and with good reason. But in a strange and brilliant way, it takes Didion’s death-of-the-Sixties observation and pushes it through a hellfire-hot catharsis.

Hollywood summoned up this horror, the film seems to be saying, and now it’s Hollywood’s turn to exorcise it. I can’t wait until the release in August, when we can finally talk about why.

~ Robbie Collin