21 May, 2009

Controversial Von Trier Coming To America

by Sandy Mandelberger, North American Editor

As the Cannes Film Festival enters its final weekend and the announcement of its top prize winners, it is a strong certainty that the most controversial film to emerge this year is Lars Von Trier's ANTICHRIST. The film, starring Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourgh, is definitely of the "love-it-or-hate-it" variety which sometimes never get a chance to reach a wide audience.

Well, that concern has been addressed by the announcement that specialty distributor IFC Films has picked up North American distribution rights to the film, with a planned Fall release. Von Trier's latest tells the tale of a grieving couple who retreat to ’Eden’, their isolated cabin in the woods, where they hope to repair their broken hearts and troubled marriage. But nature takes its course and things go from bad to worse.

After its world premiere in Cannes earlier this week, there was an open question about whether the film was releasable in the United States. However, IFC Films, which has been one of the most active arthouse distributors in the past few years, with releases of such celebrated films as GOMORRAH, HUNGER and SUMMER HOURS, has not shied away from the pragmatic challenge of releasing the film. IFC has specialized in simultaneous day-and-date releases of their films in theaters and also on VOD cable and satellite systems. This dual approach has allowed the films to benefit from modest advertising and promotion budgets and have a surprisingly long life after their initial press reviews.

ANTICHRIST has raised hackles for its slow-moving storytelling style and its didactic interpretation of Biblical themes. Astute critics have perceived the film as an exercise in unorthodox theology and trace the story elements to a personalized version of the Book of Genesis, where Adam is cast from Eden because of the intrigue of Eve, and the devil assumes a powerful role in what was once a perfect world. This interpretation of Man's Fall From Grace is strong stuff and discriminating audiences will debate this one for a long time to come.

Look for the film to turn up at some of the top film festivals of the next few months, including Venice, Toronto, New York, San Sebastian and others. IFC Films also announced its pickup of LOOKING FOR ERIC, the latest film from UK director Ken Loach, who won the Palme D'Or two years ago with the epic THE WIND THAT SHAKES THE BARLEY (which IFC Films also distributed in the US). To learn more about the film and view a trailer, visit the film's official site at:

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