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U.S. vid rights resolution for ‘Decalogue’ distrib’n

10-year fight comes to an end

The 10-year rights logjam that kept what many critics feel is one of the most important films of post-war cinema from U.S. homevideo distribution has finally been resolved.

“The Decalogue,” a 10-film cycle created for Polish Television in 1988-89 by the late Krzysztof Kieslowski, will finally roll out on homevid via Facets Multimedia on March 28 in a five-volume slipcase set with two episodes per cassette.

“The Decalogue” won awards and acclaim at festivals around the world and enjoyed wide video distribution in virtually every other territory outside the U.S. Unfortunately for fans of the Polish auteur, the film was the casualty of a video deal for North America that saw Canadian terms resolved but contained Stateside rights said to be too rich for any specialty distribber.

Best known in the U.S. for his Oscar-nominated trilogy “Three Colors: Red, White, Blue,” Kieslowski used the Ten Commandments as his inspiration for each of the sections, which were filmed at a middle-class high-rise apartment complex in Warsaw.

“Decalogue’s” unavailability and towering reputation — the Village Voice called it “one of the few masterpieces of modern times” — led to sell-out screenings at museums and fests across the country, including a run at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art last year that drew turnaway crowds and ticket scalpers.

“We showed it twice at Lincoln Center and it was sold out both times with lines outside to get in” said Richard Pena, program director of the Film Society of Lincoln Center and the New York Film Festival. “This release means it will be seen by a wider swath of Americans than before and its reputation will insure great interest and popularity.”

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