Distributor Bob Berney was hailed as the conquering hero after the runaway success of “Memento.” However, triumph in Hollywood makes you a natural target for failure, and it’s hard to find a more fertile ground for a future flop than a nascent indie distributor. So when Berney was hired 18 months ago to run Bravo Networks’ new theatrical division, IFC Films, it seemed only natural the company would face an uphill battle.
The naysayers are holding their tongues. With the back-to-back success of Alfonso Cuaron’s “Y Tu Mama Tambien” and Joel Zwick’s “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” IFC is having an extraordinary year. What makes these hits especially noteworthy is they all looked like potential flops, with each receiving varying degrees of disdain from buyers when first unspooled.
“Memento” only received the lowest of lowball offers. “Y Tu Mama” frightened corporate-backed distribs with its sexy content. And “Greek Wedding” was left at the altar by its original distrib, Lions Gate Films. (IFC takes a fee from producer Gold Circle Films in exchange for distributing the pic.)
“For ‘Y Tu Mama,’ I saw really solid reviews for an established director,” says Berney. “And ‘Greek Wedding’ filled a niche that no one else was filling — the family comedy.”
Still, Berney is no soothsayer. “This (success) tells me to be really, really careful when looking at the films,” he says. “You get narrowcast and stuck in one pattern.”
IFC has just released another nearly orphaned title, “Gangster No. 1.” The film wrapped in 1999 and was released in the U.K. two years ago. It also will handle Jesse Peretz’s “The Chateau” in August.
Upcoming for next year are two documentaries: “A Decade Under the Influence,” which looks at filmmaking in the 1970s, was directed by the late Ted Demme and is being completed by Richard La Gravenese. Also anticipated is “Lost in La Mancha,” Louis Pepe and Keith Fulton’s look at the “unmaking” of Terry Gilliam’s “Don Quixote.”