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Friday gives Life to black niche films

Indie film co. to release two pics a year

Jeff Friday, a co-founder of the Acapulco Black Film Festival, has launched niche distribution label Film Life, which he hopes will inject more cultural diversity into the arthouse market.

Headquartered in Gotham, Film Life aims to release two pics a year, each acquired for under $1 million.

Friday expects the Acapulco fest to serve as a screening mechanism for the distribution label. Company’s first feature, Carl Seaton’s “One Week,” which snagged the filmmaker’s trophy and the audience award in Acapulco in June, will be released on 100 screens in October.

Friday likened his label to a mini-Miramax, saying it will “take small, niche out-of-the-box films and carve out an audience of black moviegoers.”

Like the Acapulco fest, which was created in 1997, after an Oscar boycott by Jesse Jackson, Film Life will seek to promote high-quality black and Latino cinema that, Friday said, has been overlooked by mainstream distribs.

“I want to prove to the industry that with the right type of niche marketing that some of these films can be successful.”

Friday isn’t the first niche distrib to bring high expectations to an indie landscape that’s proved especially rocky in past months, but he expects to defray some risk through corporate sponsorship, and by leveraging the releases through the Acapulco fest and Film Life’s Web site, GoSeeBlackMovies.com.

An ad industry vet, Friday has lined up sponsors like Coke and HBO for the fest, and has already enlisted the former’s help to subsidize the release of “One Week.”

“When we open in October,” he said, “all P&A costs will be paid for in advance.”

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