Category Archives: Acquisitions

DEADLINE: Cinelicious Pics, Adi Shankar Banking On “Tarantino Of Bollywood” With 5 1/2 Hour Crime Epic ‘Gangs Of Wasseypur’


JULY 7, 2014 | 2:05PM PT
Jen Yamoto

EXCLUSIVE: After launching in June, newbie indie/art house distributor Cinelicious Pics has struck a deal to bring acclaimed five-and-a-half-hour Bollywood new wave crime epic Gangs of Wasseypur to North America. The film is the latest from Anurag Kashyap (Black Friday, Dev D, Ugly, and Michael Winterbottom’s Trishna), the Indian filmmaker whose bullets ‘n’ blood-soaked saga has earned him a reputation as the Scorsese/Tarantino of Bollywood.

Kashyap co-wrote, produced, and directed the Godfather-esque pic tracking 70 violent years in the lives of two mafia families battling for control over the coal mining town of Wasseypur, based on the real-life gang wars between two families in the cash-strapped industrial region. Cinelicious will release the film this fall in NY and LA in two parts, to be presented stateside by film producer Adi Shankar (The Grey, Lone Survivor).

So how does a neophyte specialty distributor strategize the release of a 319-minute foreign language picture? One of the film’s producers, Guneet Monga, produced The Lunchbox, the Irrfan Khan starrer that’s become the most successful foreign-language movie of 2014 in the States. Monga and Kashyap turned to Indian-born Shankar to help bring Gangs to the action-hungry U.S. audiences that connected with his R-rated actioners Dredd, Killing Them Softly, Machine Gun Preacher, and The Grey as well as the viral Marvel superhero fan videos Shankar has produced and released online. Shankar will boost the pic to his fan base online and at events like New York Comic-Con in October, where he’s scheduled to appear.

adi-shankar“Gangs is such an important and monumental movie for my people – it marks our emergence as an international cinematic powerhouse,” said Shankar. “America has The Godfather, Korea has Oldboy, Japan has Battles Without Honor & Humanity, Hong Kong has Infernal Affairs, Brazil has City of God, and now India has Gangs of Wasseypur.”

LA-based Cinelicious Pics, which opened its doors this summer under film restoration expert Paul Korver and former American Cinematheque programmer Dennis Bartok, will take cues from last year’s two-parter theatrical release of Lars von Trier’s Nymphomaniac. Gangs will launch in a platform release in New York and LA with Part I and Part II hitting theaters a week apart, while theaters will have the option to screen both parts in a single five-and-a-half-hour block. Cinelicious is also hoping to draft off buzz for Kashyap’s James Ellroy-inspired neo-noir Bombay Velvet, which 20th Century Fox is releasing worldwide November 28.

Inspired by the multi-generational power struggle between the families of Fahim Khan and Shabir Alam, Gangs begins in the 1940s with the bandit-like career of Shahid Khan (Jaideep Ahlawat) and continues through the ruthless rise of his son Sardar (Manoj Bajpayee) and his offspring, the surreally-named Danish, Perpendicular and Definitive Khans, as well as their numerous wives and girlfriends. Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Tigmanshu Dhulia also star in the sprawling pic which features a Filmfare Awards-nominated score by Sneha Khanwalkar. The film world-premiered in Cannes in 2012 before opening in India, where it was met with protest from local Wasseypur figures, and released in the UK, France, Spain, and other territories.

“Gangs of Wasseypur is definitely India’s Great Crime Film and a watershed moment for Indian cinema in general,” said Bartok. “I’m an enormous fan of contemporary and classic Indian cinema, which for U.S. audiences is still criminally unknown. Gangs of Wasseypur should change all that. The film combines the best of Scorsese, Leone and Tarantino into an incredibly kinetic saga filled with moments of unexpected tenderness and shocking violence. Even at 5 1/2 hours, you never want it to end.”

From Director Kashyup: “I had always wanted to make a film about the parts of India unexplored in cinema, the parts of India where I grew up. When the writer Zeishan Quadri told me about this speck of an industrial town Wasseypur, I was shocked to learn how local families became powerful organized crime syndicates over a period of decades. More than what the mafia did, I became obsessed with why they did it. These family grudges continued for years, often-times with the younger generation not knowing why. I am thrilled that the film continues to find new audiences now in the US, and I look forward to audience reactions to it. “

“When we set out to make Gangs of Wasseypur as a passion project, we had no idea the impact it would have on audiences around the world,” adds producer Guneet Monga. “Not only is it a portrait of a small town politics, it’s a historical tale of the rough transition from post-colonial India to the privatized and often corruption-filled independent state that perseveres to today.”

Cinelicious Pics President Paul Korver, President of Business Affairs Kristine Blumensaadt, EVP Dennis Bartok and India Acquisitions Coordinator Anu Rangachar negotiated the deal with French sales agent Elle Driver on behalf of producers Guneet Monga, Anurag Kashyap and Viacom 18 Motion Pictures, along with consultant Ben Rekhi.

DEADLINE: Indie/Art House Distrib Cinelicious Pics Launches With ‘Giuseppe Makes A Movie,’ ‘Metalhead,’ ‘Elektro Moskva’

Cinelicious President Paul Korver and EVP of Acquisition and Distribution Dennis Bartok

JUNE 6, 2014 | 6:58PM PT
Jen Yamoto

EXCLUSIVE: LA-based post-production house and restoration specialist Cinelicious has launched spin-off U.S. distribution venture Cinelicious Pics, under the leadership of film restoration expert Paul Korver and ex-American Cinematheque head programmer Dennis Bartok. The new distributor plans on releasing an eclectic mix of 12 films a year spanning new American and foreign independent features and documentaries, starting this fall with a trio of titles: director Adam Rifkin‘s outsider art docu Giuseppe Makes A Movie, Icelandic drama Metalhead, and space-age Soviet synth dance music docu Elektro Moskva, which will receive theatrical, VOD, and Blu-ray/DVD releases. Adding an archival element to its slate, Cinelicious Pics will also partner with its Cinelicious sister post-production company on restoring and releasing select art house and cult titles.

Bartok brings his years of film curation and programming to the new venture, which aims to give obscure foreign and indie titles a more lasting life on the art house theatrical circuit and on home video. “I’m spending sometimes months, years to track down obscure fringe genre by Jean-Pierre Melville or Japanese genre films,” he told me. “Sometimes I track down a print that screens once, then we have to fly them back. We’re not exploring the full potential of these movies, the new films and the older films that slip through the cracks of film history.”

Bartok, who’s organized retrospectives on Melville, Mario Bava, Kinji Fukasaku, Anthony Mann, Sam Fuller, and Monty Python and produced and programmed the third World 3-D Film Expo, will serve as EVP of Acquisitions and Distribution. Korver founded the 4k post house Cinelicious in 2008, overseeing post services on films from Richard Linklater’s Boyhood to the 4k Criterion remaster of Christopher Nolan’s debut film Following. He’ll serve as President and CEO of Cinelicious Pics. Kristine Blumensaadt, Esq is Head of Business Affairs.

More on Cinelicious Pics’ initial trio of releases:

Giuseppe_Poster_252x375Giuseppe Makes A Movie – Documentary, 82 min., USA. While the rest of America slept, DIY filmmaker/musician Giuseppe Andrews (a one-time teen actor in INDEPENDENCE DAY and DETROIT ROCK CITY) has made over 30 experimental features with titles like DOILY’S SUMMER OF FREAK OCCURRENCES, TRAILER TOWN and UTOPIA BLUES, set in some demented alternate universe (i.e. Ventura, California) populated by real-life alcoholics and drug addicts, trash-talking senior citizens and trailer park residents dressed in cow outfits and costume-shop wigs, acting out booze-fueled vignettes of severe psychosis filtered through Giuseppe’s John Waters-meets-Harmony Korine-meets-Werner Herzog sensibility. Director Adam Rifkin (LOOK, THE DARK BACKWARD) creates a wildly surreal, outrageously funny and strangely touching portrait of a truly Outsider Artist inhabiting a world few of us even know exists, as he follows Giuseppe and his seriously impaired troupe on the production of his latest 2-day opus, GARBANZO GAS, starring Vietnam Ron as a Cow given a weekend reprieve from the slaughterhouse at the local motel. Beyond the sun-stroked Theater of the Absurd madness of Giuseppe’s vision, there is a remarkable and endearing sense of family among the director, his amiably bonkers dad Ed, patient girlfriend Mary, Sir Bigfoot George and the rest of his surreal Trailer Park rep company. As skate-punk Spit sagely observes about Giuseppe’s movies: “They’re just like, nothing really makes any sense, and I don’t know, that’s kinda how reality is, and nobody really cares to accept that.” A selection of the Hot Docs Documentary Festival, the Los Angeles Film Festival and the Rooftop Film Series.

Metalhead_254x375Metalhead – Drama, 97 min., Iceland. Fueled by a remarkable breakout performance by actress Thora Bjorg Helga, director Ragnar Bragason’s intense drama of loss, faith, redemption, Megadeth and Judas Priest begins with a farming accident in the 1980’s that sends a young girl, Hera, and her parents into a tail-spin of grief over the death of her heavy metal music-obsessed older brother. A decade later and Hera is transformed into a sexy, surly headbanger and DIY musician, dressed in black leather and a Slayer t-shirt, clutching her dead brother’s electric guitar as she howls anthems of rage to a barn full of cows. Seemingly trapped in a haunted landscape of slaughterhouses and barren winter fields, making all the wrong choices in her life – including coming on to the local priest and sleeping with her platonic best friend – Hera slowly, painfully comes to terms with her family’s loss and the sound of her own true voice. Partly inspired by the Norwegian black metal church burnings in the early 1990’s, and featuring a soundtrack of 1980’s and 1990’s headbanging classics by Riot, Teaze, Savatage, Lizzy Borden and Megadeth, METALHEAD has been praised as “a powerful portrait of grief never dealt with … an impeccably crafted and beautifully performed film” (Todd Brown, Twitchfilm). Winner of 8 awards at the 2014 Icelandic Film Awards including Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor & Actress, and Original Score. In Icelandic with English subtitles. A selection of the Toronto Film Festival.

ElektroMoskva_265x375Elektro Moskva — Documentary, 89 min., Austria. Welcome to a weird and definitely wired world of musicians, DIY circuit benders, vodka-swilling dealers and urban archaeologists/collectors, all fascinated with obsolete Soviet-era electronic synthesizers: primitive and ungainly beasts like the Polyvox, ESKO, Yunost and the fabulous ANS Photo-Electronic Synthesizer, a surreal device that translates abstract drawings into sound. This strange universe of “cosmic chill-out tunes,” Space Age dance music and electronic chirps & tweets has been rescued by directors Elena Tikhonova and Dominik Spritzendorfer in this fascinating & cheeky documentary incorporating rare archival footage including the last 1993 interview with famed inventor Leon Theremin. In a bizarre twist, many of these instruments were a by-product of the Soviet military, created in the off-hours by scientist/inventors cobbling together spare transistors and wires — including Theremin’s Rube Goldberg-esque “Rhythmicon” from 1932, the world’s first rhythm machine, described by a museum curator as “space wreckage.” A new generation of avant-garde and rock musicians has embraced the unpredictability and chaos of these instruments: as “Benzo” (aka Richardas Norvila) admiringly says, “On a Western device, you push a button and get a result … On a Soviet instrument, you push a button and get something.” Rooting through discarded storage units for cracked and yellowing keyboards, pulling apart cheap toys and re-wiring their inanely cheerful voice boards, these guerilla circuit benders are creating new cosmic sounds from these forgotten “instruments with expanded abilities.” In Russian and English, with English subtitles. A selection of the Rotterdam Film Festival.