While much of the indie film community has been focused on SXSW, everyone else kept busy making deals, programming festivals, and releasing trailers. Indie Roundup presents an overview of what's been happening during the past week.
Indies Online. Our friends at SnagFilms announced a deal to provide a portion of of their library to Hulu for online distribution. Best known for offering free clips and TV episodes, Hulu is launching a new documentary film section. The SnagFilms library now features 600 docs available for free streaming. Both services remain US only, which I know is frustrating for our readers in Canada and the rest of the world. However, both services intend to expand to international streaming, which can't come soon enough to really expand the online audience for docs.
Deals. Emma Franz's Intangible Asset #82, which is playing at SXSW, and Ben Addelman and Samar Mallal's Nollywood Babylon, which played at Toronto and Sundance, were both acquired by Fox Lorber HT. Both docs will receive theatrical releases in the second quarter of 2009. [indieWIRE] Senator Entertainment picked up rights to Shana Feste's drama The Greatest, starring Pierce Brosnan, Susan Sarandon, and Carey Mulligan. No specific release plans were announced. [indieWIRE] Havana Marking's Afghan Star will arrive in theaters this summer, thanks to Zeitgeist, which acquired rights to the Sundance Audience Award winner. The doc looks at a very popular local version of American Idol in Afghanistan. [indieWIRE]
Box Office. Christine Jeffs' Sunshine Cleaning scored an amazing $54,798 per-screen average at the four theaters in New York and Los Angeles where it opened.
After the jump: Why did Sunshine Cleaning open so well? Plus: the Cleveland International Film Festival opens.
I say "amazing" because I didn't think the subject matter (two sisters become crime scene cleaners) would be a big draw. Kim Voynar's review out of Sundance in 2008 was far from a rave: "Sunshine Cleaning wasn't the best film I saw at Sundance, but it certainly wasn't the worst. It does have its flaws, but overall it's a cute film that fans of Adams and Blunt will enjoy." The overall critical consensus was somewhat more positive: a 60 score (out of 100) at Metacritic, 75% fresh at Rotten Tomatoes,
Perhaps the combination of a strong cast (Amy Adams and Emily Blunt as sisters, Alan Arkin as their father, Steve Zahn as a love interest) and the idea of two plucky women establishing their own business struck a resonant chord with audiences hungry for an off-beat comedy after a couple of months of serious, dramatic award contenders.
Cleveland Rocks. Celebrating its 33rd edition, the Cleveland International Film Festival gets underway tonight with a screening of Jeffrey Balsmeyer's "quirky rags-to-riches tale" Lightbulb, starring Dallas Roberts, Jeremy Renner (who is rather amazing in Kathryn Bigelow's The Hurt Locker), and Marguerite Moreau.
More than 140 features and 170 shorts will be presented over the next 10 days, including Joe Swanberg's Alexander the Last, Ramin Bahrani's Man Push Cart, Chop Shop, and Goodbye Solo, Gerardo Naranjo's Drama/Mex and I'm Gonna Explode, and a generous selection of foreign-language films. Rian Johnson's The Brothers Bloom will close the festival on March 29.