Madstone Film Forward advances indies

Most pix saw fest play but not picked up for distrib'n

Madstone Theaters is launching Film Forward, a series of unreleased independent titles to debut commercially with exclusive playdates on the Gotham-based exhib’s screens across the country as an experimental step toward obtaining wider distribution.

“There have been a multitude of very fine films that have never made their way into theaters, and by launching Film Forward, Madstone is giving filmmakers and audiences the chance to discover each other and flourish,” said CEO Chip Seelig.

‘Bunny’ included

Featured titles include Mia Trachinger’s “Bunny,” an offbeat story of war-refugee lovers on the streets of Los Angeles; Tony Gerber’s interconnected mosaic of multicultural life in New York’s five boroughs, “Side Streets,” with Rosario Dawson and Valeria Golino; and J.T. Petty’s supernatural thriller “Soft for Digging.”

Most selections have received some festival play but were never acquired for U.S. theatrical release.

Other films in the series are Richard W. Bean’s “Tattoo, A Love Story,” a romantic comedy about a conservative teacher who falls for a tattooed biker; Derek Simonds’ “Seven and a Match,” about the tangled relationships of a group of former college friends; and Chilean director Sergio Castilla’s drama of teen angst and discovery “Te Amo (Made in Chile).”

“Madstone’s Film Forward is dedicated to finding uncommonly appealing films and giving them a chance to find and grow audiences outside the traditional system,” added Seelig.

Begins May 1

Sponsored by MAC Cosmetics, which will host sneak previews, the series will run May 1-June 11 at six Madstone Theaters in San Diego, Phoenix, Denver, Cleveland, Albuquerque and Ann Arbor, Mich.

Scheme reps an extension of Madstone’s community-oriented programming approach and a response to the tight marketplace for niche product, which may lead to other options for expanding the films’ commercial life.

Exhib is hoping that strong response from regional audiences to some of the titles may segue to broader distribution, possibly under the New Yorker Films banner, which is wholly owned by Madstone, or through a service-deal company.

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