29 June, 2009

European Films Highlight Tribute To Strand Releasing

by Sandy Mandelberger, North American Editor

Being an independent distributor of European films in the American market is more a labour of love than it is a ticket to monied success. Among the most hard-working and celebrated of these arthouse distribution companies is Los Angeles-based Strand Releasing, which is receiving a 20th anniversary tribute next week at the prestigious Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York.

MoMA is presenting a six-film showcase of recent titles from Strand Releasing in the exhibition Carte Blanche: Marcus Hu and Jon Gerrans, the names of the co-founders of the company. Strand Releasing has been at the forefront of independent and arthouse cinema, with a particular focus on films with gay content and by gay filmmakers. Founding their visionary company in 1989, Marcus Hu and Jon Gerrans have since maintained a dedication to risk-taking directors who privilege innovation and authenticity over commerciality.

Although the company has distinguished itself with contemporary films from around the world, it has always had a strong focus and allegiance to the new European cinema. Included in the six-film tribute, programmed by Hu and Gerrans themselves, are such landmark European titles as LE TEMPS QUI RESTE (Time To Leave), an existential meditation on death, eroticism and the human legacy by French filmmaker Francois Ozon; AUF DER ANDEREN DER ANDEREN SEITE (The Edge of Heaven, 2007), Turkish/German director Fatih Akin's award-winning look at cross-culturalism in the new Europe, with an outstanding cast led by actress Hannah Schygulla; and AVANT QUE J'OUBLIE (Before I Forget, 2008), a semi-autobiographical memory film about an aging gay gigolo, written and directed by and starring Jacques Nolot.

Several European co-productions that introduced international talents on the world film stage are also included in the tribute, including SUD PRALAD (Tropical Malady, 2004), Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul's Thai/French co-production about the mystical love affair between a young soldier and the country boy he seduces.; the French/Taiwan co-production TIAN BIAN YI DUO YUN (The Wayward Cloud, 2005), an erotic musical fantasy about a jaded porn film star that established the international reputation of Taiwanese writer/director Tsai Ming-Liang; and Argentine director Lucrecia Martel's LA MUJER SIN CABEZA (The Headless Woman, 2008), an arresting film about a bourgeois woman who loses all sense of memory, that was co-produced with Spain, France and Italy.

Strand Releasing remains quite active in the current theatrical marketplace, with plans to release the following European films in the next few months, including A WOMAN IN BERLIN (Max Foberbock, Germany), LE CHANT DES MARIEES (Karin Albou, Tunisia/France), and DONNE-MOI LA MAIN (Give Me Your Hand, Pascal Alex-Vincent, France). For more information on the Museum of Modern Art program, visit: For more information on Strand Releasing, visit:

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