Strand nabs U.S. rights to ‘Killer’

NEW YORK — Santa Monica-based indie distributor Strand Releasing has picked up the U.S. rights to “Office Killer,” the directorial debut of photographer Cindy Sherman that was originally scheduled for release by Miramax Films.

“Killer” was written by Tom Kalin and produced by Christine Vachon, whose credits include “I Shot Andy Warhol” and Miramax’s upcoming “Velvet Goldmine,” directed by Todd Haynes.

Strand was chosen to distribute “Office Killer” after a series of delicate negotiations between Miramax, which still owns international and ancillary rights to the arthouse-styled genre film, and Good Machine, Ted Hope’s and James Schamus’ Gotham-based indie, which produced the film through its Good Fear joint venture with Kardana Films.

Based in Santa Monica, Strand has worked closely with Hope and Schamus in the past, releasing such Good Machine films as Gregg Araki’s “Totally F***ed Up,” Lodge Kerrigan’s “Clean Shaven” and Hal Hartley’s short films.

“We’ve had a longstanding relationship with Good Machine and Christine Vachon. We are totally delighted to be able to distribute this film. Every frame is imbued with Cindy Sherman’s unmistakable visual sense,” said Marcus Hu, a partner in Strand along with Jon Gerrans.

“Office Killer” stars Carole Kane as a mousy murderer who stalks the halls of Constant Consumer magazine, and features Jeanne Tripplehorn as her career-obsessed assistant and Molly Ringwald as her paranoid colleague. It was one of three American films in competition at the Locarno Film Festival and is also screening at the Edinburgh fest. The pic will make its North American debut as part of Midnight Madness at next month’s Toronto Film Festival.

Miramax could not be reached for comment, but tensions between Sherman and Miramax co-chairman Harvey Weinstein were running high earlier this summer. During a preview of Sherman’s photograph collection “Untitled Film Stills,” which was recently purchased by the Museum of Modern Art, Sherman complained publicly about the cuts Weinstein suggested that she make in her film. Madonna sponsored the exhibit, which will travel from MOMA to the Museum of Contemporary Art in L.A. in November.

Despite earlier creative differences, sources said the version of “Office Killer” that Strand will open in Gotham at the Film Forum on Dec. 3 and in Los Angeles at the Nuart on Dec. 5 was ultimately approved by Miramax, Sherman, Vachon and Good Machine.

Strand recently scored in the arthouse market with its re-release of the Jean-Luc Godard classic “Contempt,” which it jointly distributed with Rialto Film AG. On Friday, it opened Ira Sachs’ “The Delta,” a gay romance exploring the intersection of class, race and sexuality. Also on the Strand release schedule are:

“Latin Boys Go to Hell,” Ela Troyano’s film adaptation of the Andre Salas novel that follows a young photographer’s assistant with a passion for pop stars and Mexican telenovelas;

“Nenette et Boni,” Claire Denis’ story of a brother and sister that reteams Gregoire Colin and Alice Houri, who starred in Denis’ adolescent drama “U.S. Go Home;” and

“A Self-Made Hero,” Jacques Audiard’s story of a French man who fabricates a glorious identity for himself during the waning months of World War II. It stars Matthieu Kassovitz (“La Haine”) and Anouk Grinberg (“Mon Homme”).

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