Paris-based Carlotta Films, a leading player in the distribution of heritage cinema, is preparing a number of major releases next year, including a retrospective of Pier Paolo Pasolini and a showcase of works by Hungarian filmmaker Béla Tarr. Commemorating the 100th anniversary of Pasolini’s birth, the retrospective will featuring restored versions of “Accattone” (1961), “Mamma Roma” (1962) and others.
Carlotta is currently at the Lumière Festival and International Classic Film Market in Lyon, where it’s launching several titles, including 4K restorations of François Truffaut’s five-picture series “The Adventures of Antoine Doinel,” released between 1959 and 1979. They include “The 400 Blows,” “Antoine and Colette,” “Stolen Kisses,” “Bed and Board” and “Love on the Run.” Carlotta is releasing the films, newly restored in 4K by MK2, in French theaters and on DVD/Blu-ray in December. They are part of Carlotta’s ongoing collaboration with Paris-based MK2 that also included the 2020 release of a Claude Chabrol collection.
The company also presented six films in Lyon — never before released in France — by Japanese actress and director Kinuyo Tanaka (pictured above on the set of “The Moon Has Risen”) that span nearly a decade. Carlotta is planning to release them together in French theaters in April 2022 as a major retrospective showcase event, according to managing director Vincent Paul-Boncour, who describes the works as part of “the golden age of Japanese cinema.”
Tanaka’s films are characterized by the strong female characters at the center of her stories. The films include “Love Letter” (1953), a postwar tale of thwarted romance; “The Moon Has Risen” (1955), a portrait of a mother and her three daughters; “Forever a Woman” (1955), which centers on a woman and her secret passion to be a poet; “The Wandering Princess” (1960), about the marriage between a young girl and a royal and their separation by war; “Girls of Dark” (1961), the story of a former prostitute trying to build a new life; and “Love Under the Crucifix” (1962), which revolves around religious conflict in Japan and a young woman’s love for a married Catholic man.
Carlotta has in the past championed Japanese heritage cinema with similar theatrical presentations of works by Yasujiro Ozu that have been very successful. A big event retrospective showcase is better than releasing individual titles one by one, particularly for audiences, Paul-Boncour explained.
Carlotta also enjoyed success this summer with its release of Iranian director Mohammad Reza Aslani’s 1976 gothic family thriller “The Chess Game of the Wind.” Banned in Iran in 1979 and for years presumed lost, the film was restored by L’Immagine Ritrovata for Cineteca di Bologna and The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project and presented last year at the Il Cinema Ritrovato festival in Bologna, where it was acquired by Carlotta. The film went on to screen at the Lumière Festival as part of the Cannes Classics selection last year.
“It was a film that came from nowhere, that had never before been released in France,” says Paul-Boncour. “We had the chance to license the rights and release it as if it were a new movie.”
As cinematic discoveries, titles like “The Chess Game of the Wind” and the Tanaka films are first released in theaters, where they are seen by audiences and benefit from word of mouth, he adds. “This is how the films are discovered, in theaters and then on all visual media.”
While heritage cinema is a niche market, “you have the opportunity with a movie like ‘The Chess Game of the Wind’ to release it like a new arthouse title, which is great,” he notes.
Carlotta will release “The Chess Game of the Wind” on DVD/Blu-ray next year.
While Carlotta’s theatrical activities were hampered by the pandemic, the distributor remained busy, managing all rights to its titles, launching a subscription video service last year and continuing with its DVD/Blu-ray single-title and box set releases. With theatrical starting up again, the company is looking forward to 2022.
“We have a lot of exciting projects for next year,” Paul-Boncour says.