Behind Super LTD: How NEON’s Experimental Offshoot Approaches Films Like ‘Quo Vadis, Aida?’

Quo Vadis, Aida
Courtesy of Venice Film Festival

Think of it as the boutique label’s boutique label.

Super Ltd., the distributor of the Oscar-nominated “Quo Vadis, Aida?,” is an offshoot of “Parasite” producer Neon, and was launched to handle more experimental work. It’s not that Neon, which has made a name for itself with indie hits like “I, Tonya” and “Border,” is in the business of backing franchise fare, but Darcy Heusel and Dan O’Meara, Super Ltd.’s founders, say the label’s small size has helped them provide a personalized touch for movies that might struggle to find an audience. In the case of “Quo Vadis, Aida?,” a searing drama about a U.N. translator who works to save a family during the Bosnian war, that meant conceiving a distribution plan and launching an awards season strategy within six weeks of the film being acquired.

“We’re lean and mean,” says O’Meara. “Because it’s just the two of us making decisions, we can move quickly and be more experimental.”

In addition to running Super Ltd., O’Meara serves as Neon’s head of nonfiction and Heusel runs the company’s audience engagement and impact. The two executives were motivated to launch the label after working together on “Honeyland,” a 2019 Macedonian documentary about a beekeeper in a remote mountain town; the film became a modest commercial success while earning Oscar nominations for documentary feature and inter- national feature.

“We just take a very specific approach to our films,” says Heusel. “Whether it’s a foreign film or a documentary, you have to be able to start small and build your audience up from there.”

This year, Super Ltd. has also released “Notturno,” a critically acclaimed documentary shot along the borders of Iraq, Kurdistan, Syria and Lebanon, and plans to release at least two other films — Tony Stone’s “Ted K,” a look at Ted Kaczynski, the “Unabomber,” and Theo Anthony’s “All Light Everywhere,” which explores the ubiquity of surveillance technology. The label has a mandate from Neon founder Tom Quinn to keep growing its slate.

Neon isn’t the only indie studio that has a sub-brand, of course. IFC has IFC Midnight and Magnolia boasts Magnet, but those labels tend to handle genre fare. Super Ltd. doesn’t have the same kind of focus.

“We did not create it with a hard-and-fast idea that we’re going to do a certain kind of movie and only that type of movie,” says O’Meara. “When we talked to Tom about it, he said, ‘I like all kinds of movies, and you like all kinds of movies. Just make movies you want to see.’”