Fortissimo turns up ‘Friedmans’ volume

Molestation scandal's effect on family is pic's focus

Fortissimo Film Sales has signed to represent Andrew Jarecki’s Sundance award-winner “Capturing the Friedmans” for international distribution and is offering the docu feature to buyers at the Cannes Film Festival this week.

A study of the manipulation of truth and justice, the film focuses on a Long Island Jewish clan dragged into a decade-long child molestation scandal that resulted in the father’s suicide, one son’s extended prison term and enduring scars for the rest of the family.

The sales deal was negotiated by Jarecki and John Sloss of Cinetic Media with Fortissimo co-chairman Michael Werner. The company is setting up invitation-only market screenings in Cannes.

“Everybody’s been speculating since Sundance about who’s handling international on this film and a lot of good companies have been circling,” says Fortissimo co-chairman Wouter Barendrecht. “Neither Andrew Jarecki nor John Sloss were in a hurry to make a decision because they wanted to go with the company they felt most comfortable with. It’s an outstanding film that fits very well with our catalog.”

May Gotham launch set

Earlier this year, Magnolia Pictures acquired U.S. theatrical rights to release the doc in collaboration with HBO, which has pay TV rights. New York opening is set for May 30 with 15 other key markets to follow June 13.

“I was very careful to create a U.S. distribution structurethat was a little un-usual because this film required a certain delicate hand,” Jarecki told Variety. “I had the same feeling internationally, that I didn’t want to just go into the standard pipeline.

“I spoke with a number of sales agents who all had very strong views, but I was waiting for that bell-like tone and it happened with Fortissimo, who really helped me understand the international sales process,” he added. “They have a very strong commitment to the film and see it, as I do, as a film for the theatrical market overseas and not just for television.”

Jarecki was chosen as one of Variety’s 2003 10 Directors to Watch at this year’s Sundance event, where the film earned the Grand Jury Prize in the documentary competition.

Other titles being represented here by Fortissimo include Peter Greenaway’s competition entry “The Moab Story/The Tulse Luper Suitcases — Part 1”; Un Certain Regard selections “Japanese Story,” from Australian director Sue Brooks, starring Toni Collette; and Moroccan helmer Faouzi Bensaidi’s “A Thousand Months.”

In the market, the company will continue to sell foreign territories on Sundance fare “Camp” and “Party Monster.”

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