John Sloss’ Gotham-based Cinetic Media is reformatting its international biz, Cinetic Media partner Bart Walker said Sunday on the Lido.
Cinetic is handling international sales on Kelly Reichardt’s “Meek’s Cutoff,” which played in competition Sunday.
The restructuring follows the departure of former Cinetic Intl. head Shebnem Askin-Schreger, who left Cinetic’s one-year-old global sales and consulting unit to join Fox Intl. Prods.
“We source a lot of finance for our films internationally. Sales evolved out of that. We will continue with them,” Walker said.
An announcement on the restructuring will be made soon but Cinetic will not close its international division, Walker insisted.
“Cutoff” has been pre-sold to Italy’s Archibald Films, underscoring Venice’s effect on sales. Generally, films screen on the Lido then sell at Toronto, where most of the world’s foreign distributors congregate. But there is one large exception to this business flow: Italy, still one of the five biggest movie markets in Europe. A Venice fest berth, especially in competition, can spark a sale to Italy, whose distributors want to avoid Lido bidding wars.
Archibald acquired “Cutoff” unseen when it was announced as a Venice selection, Walker said.
“We wanted to have a distributor in Italy, because we’re starting the life of the film in Venice,” Walker added.
Cinetic will use the Lido not so much to sell the film but to start building buzz for its release.
“Generally, our strategy is to show the completed film. We believe in it,” Walker said.
That strategy looks to be paying off.
Reichardt’s first film at Venice, Michelle Williams starrer “Cutoff” garnered good buzz at Sunday’s press conference.
Reichardt said the film came about when she saw photos of prisoners in Guantanamo Bay as screenwriter Jon Raymond discovered the story of nineteenth century guide Stephen Meek.
Based on true events in 1845, “Cutoff” follows Meek as he leads three families traveling by covered wagon way off the Oregon Trail to a place with very little water.
Raymond saw similarities between the events at Guantanamo Bay prison and Meek’s pioneer story — “people following a leader who, out of ignorance or stupidity, doesn’t know where he’s going,” Reichardt said.
Williams, who also starred in Reichardt’s “Wendy and Lucy,” is “very game” and brings “something particular” to her characters beyond what’s in the screenplay, said the helmer.