New Yorker’s spree

Distrib slates 9 pix including 'Moolaade'

New Yorker Films is beefing up its slate with nine feature acquisitions in recent months, including veteran Senegalese auteur Ousmane Sembene’s Cannes prize winner “Moolaade.”

The 81-year-old Sembene’s “Moolaade” (Protection) examines the controversial subject of female circumcision, still practiced in many African countries. Strongly tipped to screen at the New York Film Festival, the drama will open Oct. 15 at Gotham’s Lincoln Plaza Cinemas, with other cities to follow.

The crop of recent New Yorker pickups also includes films by Italian director Marco Bellocchio and a number of newcomers on the international filmmaking scene whose work has been turning heads at festivals over the past year.

“What I like is that there’s a balance between old talent like Sembene and Bellocchio and new talent like Daniel Burman and Hiner Saleem,” New Yorker Films president Dan Talbot told Daily Variety.

Distrib also acquired Intl. Critics Week hit “Brodeuses” by debuting French director Eleonore Faucher. Cross-generational portrait of the wry friendship between an unwed pregnant teen and a woman struggling with the recent loss of her son stars Lola Naymark and Ariane Ascaride. It’s due for a fall release.

In August, New Yorker will reissue Jerry Aronson’s 1993 doc feature “The Life and Times of Allen Ginsberg,” with eight additional minutes of footage of the Beat poet in the time leading up to his death.

The same month, distrib will open actress-turned-director Valeria Bruni Tedeschi’s Tribeca fest audience prize winner, “It’s Easier for a Camel … ” The drama of a wealthy Parisian woman trying to make sense of her life stars the director alongside Chiara Mastroianni and Jean-Hugues Anglade.

Recent acquisitions due for fourth-quarter release are Kurdish director Saleem’s minor-key comedy about an isolated village enduring tough times, “Vodka Lemon,” which was a top prize winner at the Venice fest last fall; and Argentinian Carlos Sorin’s “Historias Minimas” (Intimate Stories), a San Sebastian fest honoree that weaves together three parallel journeys across the Patagonian steppes.

Berlin buys

Talbot also acquired two titles out of this year’s Berlin Film Festival, due for first-quarter 2005 release.

Those are Tunisian-born, France-based director Abdellatif Kechiche’s “L’Esquive,” an ensemble drama about an emotionally remote teen in a Paris housing project; and Argentinian Burman’s “Lost Embrace,” a portrait of dislocated youth in a Buenos Aires immigrant community. Latter pic won the Grand Jury Prize and a Silver Bear for lead actor Daniel Hendler in Berlin.Also due for early 2005 release is Bellocchio’s “My Mother’s Smile” (aka “The Religion Hour”), a drama starring Sergio Castellitto about a staunch atheist forced to re-examine his lingering ties to the church.

Recent New Yorker releases have included doc features “My Architect” and “To Be and to Have,” Cannes prize winner “Distant” from Turkish helmer Nuri Bilge Ceylan and Chinese director Jia Zhang-ke’s “Unknown Pleasures.”

Distrib will celebrate its 40th anniversary in 2005.

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