Switzerland may be known for its political neutrality, but Zurich-based producer Arthur Cohn has succeeded in a rare feat of ambassadorial unity, bringing together a group of rival U.S. studios on a single DVD project.
Due for release Feb. 3 through Chicago-based Home Vision Entertainment, the nine-DVD box set “Arthur Cohn Presents” required collaboration from the home entertainment divisions of Sony Pictures Classics, Miramax, Paramount, Columbia TriStar, Buena Vista and Universal.
The set includes Cohn’s six Oscar-winning titles: Foreign-language winners “Black and White in Color,” by Jean-Jacques Annaud; “Dangerous Moves” by Richard Dembo; and “The Garden of the Finzi-Continis” by Vittorio De Sica; and feature documentary laureates “American Dream” by Barbara Kopple; “The Sky Above, the Mud Below” by Pierre-Dominique Gaisseau; and “One Day in September,” by Kevin Macdonald.
Also included in the package are Brazilian director Walter Salles’ “Central Station” and “Behind the Sun,” De Sica’s “A Brief Vacation” and James Foley’s “Two Bits.”
“All the companies involved were very forthcoming, which is extremely rare in such a competitive business,” said Cohn. “But they feel that if it can help memorable films to be seen by a wider audience, they shouldn’t stand in the way.”
Cohn sees the set not only as a record of his own work as producer, but as a testament to the diversity of films recognized by the Academy in the foreign-language and docu categories.
“It is solely due to the Oscar and its tremendous sendoff that many of these films found distributors and success throughout the world,” said the veteran producer. “Without the Academy, they might have gone nowhere.”
The package also includes a bonus film, the unreleased doc “Children of the Night,” about the 1.3 million Jewish children who died in the Holocaust.
Cohn has a number of projects in development, including an adaptation of Nobel Prize-winning Japanese author Kobo Abe’s surreal crime novel “The Ruined Map,” scripted by Erin Dignam, about a detective’s search through the Tokyo underworld for a missing salesman.