Cinematical's Indie Roundup: 'Cold Weather,' 'Night Catches Us'

Indie Roundup reviews the latest developments in the world of independent film. Pictured above:
Cold Weather, Night Catches Us.

Deals. From indieWIRE comes news that IFC Films has acquired Cold Weather, a playful mystery set in Portland, Oregon. Directed by Aaron Katz, the picture debuted at SXSW, where our own Jette Kernion described it as "a charming low-key film spiked with a touch of suspense." My comparison point is Woody Allen's Manhattan Murder Mystery, but Cold Weather is more subtle and visually arresting. The film stars Cris Lankenau and Trieste Kelly Dunn as a brother and sister who team up to investigate the disappearance of an ex-lover. Cold Weather will be available on the IFC in Theaters platform, meaning it can be seen in theaters and on demand at the same time.

Magnolia picked up Night Catches Us and plans to release it in the fall, according to indieWIRE. Tanya Hamilton wrote and directed the drama, set in a race-torn Philadelphia neighborhood in 1976. Anthony Mackie plays an ex-Black Panther who crosses paths with Kerry Washington; sparks, as they say, fly. Night Catches Us premiered at Sundance in January and will continue to play the festival circuit until its theatrical release.

Online / On Demand. A selection of the Tribeca Film Festival in 2007 has surfaced. Unstrung, a documentary by Rob Klug, is available this month via Amazon VOD. The film explores the world of junior tennis competitors, focusing on young men heading to a national championship. You can watch the first two minutes for free, including sound bites from Andre Agassi and John McEnroe, and decide if you want to rent or buy. .

After the jump: IFC at Midnight; Bob Berney leaves Apparition; Dave Matthews, Distributor?

'The Human Centipede'IFC at Midnight. Already home to some of the more challenging fare offered in theaters, IFC Films has launched a new genre label called IFC Midnight. Their press release states in part: "Four new IFC midnight films will premiere each month on video-on-demand; select titles will also be released in theaters at the same time as their VOD premiere. In addition, an IFC Midnight branded line of Blu-ray and DVD product will be released via a distribution arrangement with MPI Media Group."

Among others, the label will be applied, a little retroactively, to The Human Centipede, already out in theaters but soon due on VOD; Doghouse, a female zombie flick coming in June; Valhalla Rising, from the director of Bronson, out in July; Johnny To's thriller Vengeance, to be released in August; and Gasper Noe's stunning Enter the Void, in September.

IFC has been gobbling up films at a rapid pace for its VOD platform, and acknowledges that these types of films -- typified by what plays in the Midnight Madness section at the Toronto International Film Festival -- have been among their most successful releases. It only makes sense for them to exploit that.

Bob Berney Leaves Apparition. Industry executives come and go, but the departure of Bob Berney from indie distributor Apparition could mean the end of the company. Apparition has only released three films, and stumbled recently with the limited returns earned by The Runaways, starring Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning. The move was first reported by Mike Fleming at Deadline as a "bombshell," but David Poland at The Hot Blog disputes that notion and says that Apparition "never was a real distributor" anyway. Terence Malick's Tree of Life is still scheduled to be distributed by Apparition later this year.

Dave Matthews, Distributor? Undaunted by discouraging stories such as the previous item, musician Dave Matthews has decided to get into the distribution game, according to The New York Times. More accurately, ATO Pictures, a film production company that he co-founded, has formed a new partnership with Samuel Goldwyn Films and plans to release four to six films per year. Their first release will be Bruce Beresford's Mao's Last Dancer on August 6.