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Berlin: Kino Lorber Takes U.S. on Charlie Hebdo Docu ‘It’s Hard…’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Allowing Americans access to a film that has gained tragically urgent relevance, Kino Lorber has acquired U.S. rights to Daniel Leconte’s 2008 Charlie Hebdo docu-feature “It’s Hard Being Loved By Jerks,” which is being offered once more to distributors at Berlin by its original sales agent, Pyramide Intl.

A chronicle of Charlie Hebdo’s passionate defense of freedom of speech in 2007 as it fought a legal battle in a French court with Islamic organizations over its publication of cartoons portraying Muhammad, in retrospect, “It’s Hard Being Loved” also explains why Charlie Hebdo became a target for a fundamentalist attack on its offices which left 11 dead on Jan. 7.

While not skating over some of the complexities of Charlie Hebdo’s court case, “It’s Hard” is clearly sympathetic to the cartoonists’ impassioned defense of freedom of speech.

Lorber told Variety that he did not fear, however, being turned away by exhibitors.

“The bottom line is that we are dealing with a community of very courageous arthouse cinemas. We already have indications that an ample number of theaters will be willing and courageous to present a film which does not inflame issues but elevates discussion,” said Lorber.

“It’s Hard” will see its U.S. premiere at March’s UniFrance New York Rendez-Vous With French Cinema Today. It will then form part of a national touring festival of French cinema. Kino Lorber aims to distribute theatrically in select key U.S. markets, said Kino Lorber head Richard Lorber, and initiate digital distribution around late April/May.

Kino Lorber will put large energies into “It’s Hard” being seen on the U.S. university circuit, Lorber added.

From its mid-January bow on UniFrance’s global online French cinema showcase MyFrenchFilmFestival, “It’s Hard…” has run up about 10,000 views worldwide, said UniFrance’s Xavier Lardoux.

Paris-based Pyramide re-released “It’s Hard” in France at Paris’ Luminor theater on Jan. 8, at the theater’s request. Flooded by French theater petitions to re-run the film, Pyramide eventually took the film to 110 theaters. The film is still playing 40, and has sold some 10,000 tickets, said Pyramide head Eric Lagesse.

According to Lagesse, all the grosses collected from the film in France are being donated to Charlie Hebdo.

“For me, this was already an important film at the time we released it in 2008,” said Lagesse about the initial run, when it sold some 40,000 tickets. “As a distributor, freedom of speech concerns me at first range and today it is more important to keep defending those ideas. More than ever.”

Kino Lorber has also acquired all U.S. rights to Guy Maddin’s “The Forbidden Room” which segues from Sundance to Berlin.

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