MCN Blogs
Ray Pride

By Ray Pride Pride@moviecitynews.com

Participant Media and AFFRM Acquire U.S. Theatrical Rights to 2012 Sundance Selection MIDDLE OF NOWHERE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Park City, UT – January 27, 2012 – Participant Media and AFFRM (African-American Film Festival Releasing Movement) have jointly acquired U.S. theatrical rights to MIDDLE OF NOWHERE, an elegant and emotional drama chronicling a woman’s separation from her incarcerated husband and her journey to maintain her marriage and her identity. Written and directed by AFFRM founder Ava DuVernay, the film was produced by DuVernay and Howard Barish with producer Paul Garnes.

Staring into the hollow end of her husband Derek’s eight-year prison sentence, Ruby Sexton fights to support him on the inside and survive her own identity crisis on the outside. Through a chance encounter and a stunning betrayal that shakes her to the core, Ruby is propelled in new and, often frightening, directions of self-discovery.

AFFRM will distribute the film theatrically later this year, activating marketing and promotional support through its broad grassroots collective powered by the nation’s top black film organizations. AFFRM’s inaugural feature through this innovative model was the critically-acclaimed drama, “I Will Follow,” released in March 2011. In December 2011, AFFRM distributed last year’s Sundance World Cinema Drama Audience Award winner, “Kinyarwanda.”

“As a filmmaker and film distributor, I embarked on the Sundance journey with a best case distribution scenario in mind, and this partnership with Participant is exactly that,” stated DuVernay. “For AFFRM and Participant to combine forces on this film is a bold, ground-breaking move for two companies dedicated to connecting and empowering audiences of every hue through cinema.”

Said Jonathan King, Participant Media’s Executive Vice President of Production, “Middle of Nowhere is only Ava DuVernay’s second feature, but it reflects the finesse and sensitivity of a far more experienced storyteller and the kind of quality filmmaking that’s been a hallmark of Participant.  We’re very excited to be joining forces with her and her team at AFFRM, and look forward to developing a marketing and Social Action campaign that illuminates the film’s themes and engages communities around the country.”

The deal was negotiated by Ben Weiss of the Paradigm Motion Picture Group with Nina Shaw and Gordon Bobb of Del, Shaw, Moonves, Tanaka Finkelstein & Lezcano, on behalf of AFFRM, with Jeff Ivers of Participant.

About Participant Media

Participant Media (www.participantmedia.com) is an independent media company focused on theatrical, television, and digital entertainment that illuminates important issues in today’s world. Chairman Jeff Skoll created Participant in 2004 to fuel his pursuit of a sustainable world of peace and prosperity.  Led by CEO Jim Berk since 2006, Participant inspires and accelerates positive social change by delivering well-told stories across multiple platforms and producing robust social action campaigns that galvanize communities around related causes. TakePart (www.takepart.com) is the online Social Action Network™ of Participant and serves as a hub for public engagement. Participant films include The Help, Contagion, An Inconvenient Truth, Charlie Wilson’s War, Waiting for “Superman,” Good Night, and Good Luck, The Cove, The Kite Runner, Syriana, and Food, Inc.

About AFFRM

Founded in 2011, AFFRM is the African-American Film Festival Releasing Movement, a distribution collective of like-minded black film organizations dedicated to the domestic theatrical release of quality black independent films. AFFRM’s founding organizations include Urbanworld Film Festival (NYC), Imagenation (NYC), Reelblack (Philadelphia), Langston Hughes African-American Film Festival (Seattle), BronzeLens Film Festival (Atlanta) and DVA (Los Angeles). AFFRM’s theatrical releases to date include: 2012 NAACP Image Award nominee for Best Independent Picture, I WILL FOLLOW, and 2011 Sundance World Cinema Drama Winner KINYARWANDA.

###

2 Responses to “Participant Media and AFFRM Acquire U.S. Theatrical Rights to 2012 Sundance Selection MIDDLE OF NOWHERE”

  1. Sid Barish says:

    Congratations, great movie, great cast
    I loved every second of it

    Sid

  2. AllenR says:

    Nice job everyone!

MCN Blogs

Quote Unquotesee all »

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