Duo to simultaneously premiere pic

IFC Films and the SXSW Film Conference and Festival will simultaneously world preem Joe Swanberg’s “Alexander the Last” on March 14 at the fest and on the channel’s “Festival Direct” VOD platform.

Produced by Noah Baumbach, pic explores the highs and lows of a young marriage.

Steven Soderbergh, who’s pic “Che” will be released on Wednesday via VOD, joined IFC prexy Jonathan Sehring, SXSW Film producer Janet Pierson, and Swanberg to announce the partnership Monday at the Sundance Film Festival.

Soderbergh explained that since theater chains have locked out movies like “Che,” VOD becomes a natural option. He also stressed that filmmakers have to give up the idea of a purely theatrical release and “change their thinking in the way they expect revenue to be generated.”

“It’s our job to connect talent with audiences,” said SXSW’s Pierson. “Conversations are getting louder about how festivals can and should aggressively help filmmakers.”

“It’s a smarter way to make the release an event,” added Swanberg. “Better than just sitting in a theater, waiting on people to come.”

Swanberg’s previous film, “Nights and Weekends,” also went out on IFC’s VOD after a theatrical run. “More people saw it on VOD than ever saw it in the theater,” he explained.

Other upcoming SXSW films are also involved in the deal. Javor Gardev’s neo-noir “Zift” and Matthew Newton’s dark comedy “Three Blind Mice” will have their simul-preem on the channel and fest. And in a fest rewind, IFC will offer the 2008 SXSW pics “Medicine for Melancholy” and “Paper Covers Rock.”

Sehring said they will look to expand the program to other festivals, “It’s a natural leap for us.”

“At a time when the U.S. marketplace for truly American independent and foreign films is rapidly changing, and many films are having difficulty getting exposure, IFC Films has created opportunities for a wide range of films to find an audience,” said Sehring.

While IFC was guarded about the actual numbers, Sehring said 250 VOD transactions equals $1.8 million. “It’s been a big success,” he said.

IFC also announced the formation of IFC Midnight, a new genre label, for their Festival Direct platform. It will include horror, sci-fi, thriller, and erotic arthouse. New titles included Duane Graves and Justin Meeks’ horror pic “Wild Man of Navidad” and Laurence Trillings’ “Group Sex.”

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