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ZEITGEIST GETS ‘MURDER’

Indie distrib picks up rights to 5 pix

NEW YORK — Indie film distributor Zeitgeist Films Ltd. has acquired U.S. rights to Yvonne Rainer’s “Murder and murder” and four other pics that it will release this year.

Rainer’s seventh feature, “Murder and murder” won a Teddy Bear award for best essay film at last month’s Berlin Intl. Film Festival. It will open in June at New York’s Walter Reade Theater as part of a weeklong retrospective of Rainer’s work, which includes such films as “Privilege” and “The Man Who Envied Women.” Retros are also planned for San Francisco, Boston and Los Angeles.

Zeitgeist, which is run by Nancy Gerstman and Emily Russo, also has picked up all North American rights to “Anthem,” a documentary about two young women who hit the road in search of Americans they consider to be cultural icons. Among the people that filmmakers Shainee Gabel and Kristin Hahn interview are then-White House advisor George Stephanopoulos, gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson and Sundance Institute founder Robert Redford.

Gabel and Hahn are writing a companion book to their docu that will be published by Avon/Morrow this summer. It will also be called “Anthem.”

In addition to Zeitgeist’s previously announced acquisition of Olivier Assayas’ erotic “Irma Vep” with Hong Kong superstar Maggie

Cheung, the indie distrib has acquired two more selections from last year’s New York Film Festival. They are:

* Arnaud Desplechin’s “My Sex Life … or How I Got Into an Argument,” a portrait of the friendships, flirtations and love affairs of a group of thirtysomething Parisians; and

* Deepa Mehta’s “Fire,” an exploration of the conflicting desires for tradition and freedom within a modern Indian family. Starring Shabana Azmi, Nandita Das and Kulbushan Kharbanda, the film made its North American premiere at the Toronto Intl. Film Festival.

Also on the Zeitgeist slate is “Conspirators of Pleasure,” Czech animator Jan Svankmajer’s black comedy about a group of loosely connected people trying to live out their erotic fantasies.

This fall, Zeitgeist will mount a complete retrospective of the films of the Brothers Quay, prior to the homevideo release of the Quays’ 1996 feature “Institute Benjamenta.”

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