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Outsider Pictures, with Strand Releasing, has acquired all North American rights on “Aviva,” a resolute return to independent filmmaking by the director who lit a fire with his Sundance Grand Prix winning debut, “Fresh,” but is best known by many for the Jerry Bruckheimer-produced feel-good race relations drama “Remember the Titans.”

Scheduled to world premiere in the Visions section of the SXSW Festival this April, and channelling part autobiographical elements, as well as life-long but unexplored influences and years of pent-up frustration from not doing the movies he really wanted to make – Yakin has told Indiewire’s Eric Kohn – “Aviva” turns on Eden, a Yakin alter-ego, who hesitates about marrying his French partner who has moved to New York to live with him.

A simple plot summary is unlikely, however, to do justice to a film which is part musical – with set pieces in a barroom, at a wedding, and flash backing to childhood – and questions gender stereotyping, by having characters who become male or female at different moments. Inspired by Luis Buñuel’s final feature, “That Obscure Object of Desire,” the move reflects the different male and female side to any human being, Yakin told Kohn.

Described by Outsider as a “hypnotic blend of dance and surrealist interrogations of gender identity” building to a “swirling mystical ode to a marriage in crisis,” the film was shot on location in Paris and New York. Produced by Boaz Yakin and Carlos Zozaya for Best Friend In The World and written and directed by Yakin, “Aviva” stars choreographer Bobbi Jene Smith (“Mari”), Zina Zinchenko (“7 Days In Entebbe,” “A Tale of Love And Darkness”), and Or Schraiber (“The Last Planet,” “Mr Gaga”) and introduces Tyler Phillips as Eden Man.

The North America distribution deal was struck between Paul Hudson, president of Outsider Pictures, and “Aviva’s” world sales agent Miguel Govea, along with Brett Walker, at Alief.

Outsider and Strand will give “Aviva” a virtual theatrical release, kicking off in Los Angeles and New York in June 2020.

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Boaz Yakin seen at the Warner Bros. and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer “MAX” Los Angeles Premiere on
Warner Bros. and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer “MAX” Premiere, Los Angeles, USA
Eric Charbonneau/Invision/AP/Shu

This sees a cinema theater sending an email to its membership announcing that it is screening two or three new films or holdovers starting Friday, as it normally would, and that if they want to buy tickets they can click on the link embedded in the email.

The link takes members through to a theater branded page from the distributor’s digital provider – Outsider is using Row8.com – where they can pay for the film and have 72 hours to watch it. The distributor pays a small fee off the top to the digital provider to cover credit card fees, time, design and so on. The remaining 80% of the $12 ticket price is being split equally between the distributor and exhibitor.

Outsider is retaining a window of at least 90 days between virtual theatrical release and electronic sell-through/transactional video on demand, and will release a DVD later in the year or early 2021 when it’s safer to create and distribute a disc.

It is important to both Outsider Pictures and Boaz Yakin to find a way to support independent cinemas in the U.S. during the pandemic, Hudson said.

He added: “Outsider wouldn’t be able to bring virtual cinema to the audience without the support of Boaz, and without the support of Row8 which has designed a system that can be geo-targeted and enables older and more vulnerable audiences to continue to support independent cinema at a time when we must all practice social distancing.” Outsider is kicking off its virtual theatre releases with Cannes Camera d’Or winner “Our Mothers,” which bows May 1, followed by “Aviva.”

Alief’s third original feature, documentarian Antoneta Kastrati’s narrative feature debut “Zana,” will be distributed in North America by Synergetic Films in July. The Toronto 2019 world premiere turns on the psychological legacy of the Kosovo War.

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Aviva Outsider Pictures