Cohen Film Collection is gearing up for a number of newly restored releases, among them Simon Callow’s 1991 drama “The Ballad of the Sad Café” and a number of Buster Keaton works.
Part of New York-based Cohen Media Group, Cohen Film Collection restores classic films and re-releases them theatrically. It’s vast catalogue includes the Merchant Ivory collection, of which “The Ballad of the Sad Café” is a part.
Based on the 1951 novella by Carson McCullers, the film stars Vanessa Redgrave, Keith Carradine and Rod Steiger.
The George Eastman Museum in Rochester, New York, is currently finishing the restoration of the film, which Cohen Film Group plans to release next year.
“There’s still a number of features to go, so we’re working our way through those, including some of the films set in India, which I’m personally really interested in,” says Tim Lanza, Cohen Film Collection vice president and archivist.
The Merchant Ivory films, among them “Maurice” and “Howards End,” continue to attract strong international interest due to their lasting appeal, adds Liz Mackiewicz, Cohen Media Group’s senior vice president of international distribution.
“These films are so relevant, especially because they deal with a lot of tremendous social issues, so they still work.”
Accompanied by new bonus materials, the new restorations are seeing robust business for all rights, from theatrical and home entertainment distributors to streamers, Mackiewicz adds.
The company is also continuing its collaboration with the renowned Cineteca di Bologna film archives, which is restoring all of Keaton’s silent films as part of a multiyear agreement with Cohen Media Group. The Cineteca has completed work on “The Saphead,” Herbert Blaché and Winchell Smith’s 1920 comedy feature that launched Keaton’s career as a leading man, as well as the shorts “Electric House” (1922) and “Balloonatic” (1923).
Cohen Film Collection is also working on a restoration of “A Walk on the Moon,” by the late Raphael D. Silver. The 1987 drama, about a Peace Corps volunteer who travels to a Colombian village, stars Kevin Anderson and Terry Kinney.
The restoration was part of an agreement with filmmaker Joan Micklin Silver, Raphael D. Silver’s wife, who died last year. That collaboration also included her 1975 feature “Hester Street” (pictured), starring Carole Kane. Cohen Media Group just released that film in selected cities in the U.S. “Hester Street” also screened last year at the Lumière Festival in Lyon as part of the Cannes Classics sidebar in what was the world premiere of the 4K restoration.
Cohen Film Collection likewise restored Raphael D. Silver’s 1978 prison drama “On the Yard,” starring John Heard.
Theatrical presentations remain very important for the company’s releases. Charles Cohen, Cohen Media Group’s chairman and CEO, is very committed to theatrical, Lanza notes. “It’s obviously a difficult time for theatrical all around the world, but it seems like people are beginning to come back and we’re hopeful that that will continue to grow. We are definitely committed to theatrical.”
Cohen Media Group owns the Landmark Theaters arthouse chain in the U.S. and Curzon Cinemas in the U.K.
Among Cohen Film Collection’s upcoming U.S. releases are Jacques Rivette’s “Love on the Ground” (1984) and “The Gang of Four” (1989). The titles are part of Cohen Media Group’s deal with Celluloid Dreams for a number of features by the French New Wave director that Cohen Film Collection will release in North America. Celluloid Dreams carried out the 4K restorations of the films.
Also set for release in 2022 is Bertrand Blier 1974 comedy-drama “Going Places,” starring Gérard Depardieu, Miou-Miou and Patrick Dewaere and acquired from Paris-based Sofinergie Capac.
From Pathé, the company also has such titles as Costa-Gavras’ “Amen” (2002); Patrice Chéreau’s “Queen Margot” (1994); Patrice Leconte’s “Monsieur Hire” (1989) and Jacques Deray’s “Symphonie pour un massacre” (1963).
Lanza is especially thrilled about the Deray film release. “I’m pretty excited about it. It’s a 4K restoration and it will be really nice to introduce an American audience to this French crime film.”
In addition to its classic pics, Cohen Media Group’s current lineup includes Beth Elise Hawk’s documentary “Breaking Bread,” a profile of microbiologist Nof Atamna-Ismaeel, the first Muslim Arab to win Israel’s MasterChef cooking competition show and her A-Sham Arab Food Festival in Haifa that celebrates culinary delights from the Levant and helps bridge the country’s social divisions.