New Distributors Deaf Crocodile and Gratitude Films Target Asian Art-House Titles at North American Audiences

The Shepherdess and the Seven Songs
Deaf Crocodile, Gratitude Films

Two Indian art house films, “The Shepherdess and the Seven Songs” and “The Village House” head the joint slate of a pair of new distribution companies addressing the North American market.

Deaf Crocodile and Gratitude Films aim to give the two titles theatrical and digital releases in the second half of 2021, when it is hoped that North American cinemas are open and audiences return. They are also handling world sales outside India on “The Village House.”

Headed by Craig Rogers and Dennis Bartok, Deaf Crocodile will straddle distribution, restoration and post-production. Its focus is on world animation, LGBTQ films, cult horror and fantasy. Gratitude is sited in Los Angeles and Mumbai-based and headed by Anu Rangachar, producer and former programmer at the Mumbai Film Festival. The two companies aim to work together on four to six films per year.

Deaf Crocodile is separately working on a restoration of John Carpenter’s iconic “Assault on Precinct 13” in collaboration with the film’s producer Joseph Kaufman. It plans to deliver a 4K version that will premiere at a major festival before enjoying a theatrical-only re-release in early 2022.

A mystical feminist drama, “Shepherdess” was directed by Pushpendra Singh and last year played at major festivals including Berlin, Hong Kong and Jeonju. Set in the disputed territory of Jammu and Kashmir, the film follows a young bride who marries into a tribe of nomadic herders. Her inner thoughts are told through folk songs.

The debut feature of Achal Mishra, “The Village House” (aka “Gamak Ghar”) is a portrait of an extended family as its members gather at the matriarch’s rural home over a period of two decades. It premiered at the Mumbai festival’s Indian Gold section in 2019 and subsequently played at the 2020 editions of the New York Indian and the San Diego Asian festivals.

The three executives first met when Rogers and Bartok were running start-up distributor Cinelicious and Rangachar was helping them secure rights to Anurag Kashyap’s “Gangs of Wasseypur.” “We share a mutual passion for bringing emerging new voices from around the globe to U.S. audiences,” said Bartok.

Bartok has also held multiple roles at the American Cinematheque over a period of nearly 30 years. Rogers was head of restoration at Cinelicious and previously spent ten years in post-production at Imax. Rangachar co-produced Arun Karthik’s “Nasir,” which won the NETPAC award for best Asian film at the 2020 edition of the International Film Festival Rotterdam. Her next co-production is “Rapture,” the feature debut of Dominic Sangma, which has picked up development support from the Hubert Bals Fund, Visions Sud Est, Rotterdam’s CineMart and Film Bazaar.