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Film News Roundup: Christo Documentary ‘Walking on Water’ Bought for North America

In today’s film news roundup, “Walking on Water” gets North American distribution, Abramorama acquires rights to “Family in Transition,” and the Cinema Italian Style film festival sets its opening night film. 

ACQUISITIONS 

Kino Lorber has acquired North American rights to “Walking on Water,” centered on installation artist Christo and his 2016 art piece “The Floating Piers,” Variety has learned exclusively.

The yellow walkway was mounted for 16 days during that summer, a 3-kilometer walkway that allowed visitors to safely walk across stretches of Italy’s Lake Iseo to experience the sensation of floating and walking on water. More than 1.2 million people walked on “The Floating Piers,” making it the most-visited art event of that year.

The documentary, directed by Andrey Paounov, had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival and will have its New York premiere on Nov. 10 at DOC NYC and a theatrical release in 2019.

Originally conceived with his wife and collaborator Jeanne-Claude before she died in 2009, “The Floating Piers” was Christo’s first public installation since “The Gates” project in Central Park in 2005. The film shows the complex dealings required to merge art and state politics, engineering challenges and logistical nightmares.

Jay Weissberg praised “Walking on Water” in his review for Variety: “The artist’s forceful character does battle with technology, bureaucracy, corruption and the elements, resulting in an installation of stunning beauty and a documentary that delights in capturing the act of creation.”

Christo’s large-scale art installations since the 1960s include “The Wrapped Reichstag Building” in Berlin, “The Umbrellas” in California and Japan, “The Running Fence” in California, “The Wrapped Coast” in Australia, “The Pont Neuf Wrapped” in Paris, and “The Surrounded Islands” in Miami.

“A work of cinema about a work of art can be a tricky proposition, with sometimes competing visions that sink each other, so it was an exhilarating surprise to be so aesthetically buoyed by ‘Walking on Water,'” said Richard Lorber, CEO. “The film is a fresh, urgent reminder of his passionate vision and matched by a bold cinematic plunge into the guts of artistic creation. You’re there with its terror, frustration, euphoria and ultimate, inspiring revelation.”

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Abramorama has acquired the U.S. theatrical rights to “Family in Transition” ahead of its international premiere at DOC NYC.

“Family in Transition” follows the journey of a husband and father of four children in the traditional and conservative town of Nahariya, Israel, who finally decides to tell his family that he’s a transgender woman. Directed by Ofir Trainin, the film follows a family that, despite personal difficulties and social stigmas, insists on staying together, believing that love will overcome all difficulties.

The film’s international premiere will be held Nov. 11 at DOC NYC, followed by a theatrical release in Los Angeles on Nov. 16 and in New York on Nov. 23.

“Family in Transition” won the best Israeli documentary film award at DocAviv, qualifying the film for a documentary feature film Academy Award this year.

“This is a beautifully made, deeply moving film that will at times thrill, at times challenge, but always interest a broad range of audiences. Abramorama is proud to put it in theaters across the U.S. at this uniquely appropriate time,” added Richard Abramowitz, CEO of Abramorama.

FILM FESTIVAL

The Cinema Italian Style film festival will open with Matteo Garrone’s “Dogman,” Italy’s submission to the 2019 Academy Awards’ best foreign language film category, on Nov. 13 at the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood.

The festival will continue Nov. 15-18 at the Aero Theater in Santa Monica, Calif., with “Boys Cry,” “Naples in Veils,” “There Is No Place Like Home,” “Euphoria,” “Loro,” “The Stolen Caravaggio,” “Nome Di Donna,” and “Like a Cat on the Highway.”

“Dogman” is screening as part of the AFI Fest. The story centers on a dog handler in Rome who is also dealing cocaine.

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