LONDON — Amy Berg’s controversial documentary “An Open Secret,” which deals with the sexual exploitation of teenagers by Hollywood insiders, is attracting fresh sales interest following its U.K. premiere at the Raindance Film Festival in London.
Prior to its world premiere at the DOC NYC film festival in November, “An Open Secret” was tipped to be one of the most talked-about films of 2015. Berg’s provocative film features first-hand testimony from witnesses and survivors of abuse. But instead of sending shockwaves through the industry, the film made headlines of its own when executive producer Gabe Hoffman publicly rebuked his director for failing to promote the film, which made little impact on its release in the U.S. this summer.
As the film made its U.K. premiere at Raindance, however, sales agent Marcel Van Berkel, of Rooftop Content Group, told Variety that he believes the film will have a life internationally beyond this very public spat. “We have not encountered problems related to the behind-the-scenes disputes,” he said. “We focus solely on getting this relevant title to the right audience. A challenge we did face is that the subject of the movie is sometimes too difficult for some buyers. We feel this is a movie that matters and therefore embrace without any problems the fact that we need to push a bit harder on this one, starting with smaller deals here and there that will lead to bigger deals eventually. We are extremely proud to be able to represent such an important movie.”
Citing its universal themes, Van Berkel says the film has interest from all over world, not just English-speaking territories. “The documentary has already been shown in several festivals around Europe, and it has been on TV in Israel,” he said. “We have pending deals with Scandinavia, U.K., Spain, Poland and Australia. Middle East is planning a theatrical release, which we are very excited about. It’s a snowball effect — we have interest from more countries and expect them to follow after those countries I mentioned.”
The hot-button subject-matter, however, remains the biggest sticking point. “Of course we prefer all-rights distributors, who would ensure a possible theatrical release combined with television/VOD deals,” he said. “Especially in countries such as U.K., Germany or France, we feel a theatrical release is feasible and would be successful. Rooftop is handling all foreign distribution outside of the States so the strategy depends on each territory. We need to be realistic that in some smaller territories a theatrical release is not possible and therefore we sell to TV channels and VOD portals directly as well, thereby always weighing the best possible options and again, ensuring the movie meets its audience.”