Documentary

Sundance ’20: Distributors round-up, part two

To mark the launch of the 2020 Sundance Film Festival, Realscreen is sharing what several of this year’s distributors and sales houses are bringing to the annual event, as well as the ...
January 23, 2020

To mark the launch of the 2020 Sundance Film Festival, Realscreen is sharing what several of this year’s distributors and sales houses are bringing to the annual event, as well as the types of projects they’re hoping to buy.

Click here to view part one of our distributors round up.

The festival’s 42nd edition runs Jan. 23 to Feb. 2 at various venues across Park City, Salt Lake City, and at the Sundance Resort in Utah.

KINO LORBER

Kino Lorber, formerly Kino International, is a distributor focusing on art-house and international films, founded by Donald Krim and Richard Lorber in 2009.

Who from Kino Lorber is attending Sundance?

Richard Lorber (CEO), Wendy Lidell (SVP of theatrical distribution and acquisitions), and Nicholas Kemp (director of marketing) will be attending.

What projects are you bringing to Sundance?

We are not going into the festival with anything this year, but hope to come out of it with at least one or two. And of course we will be meeting with filmmakers, agents and other partners.

What kinds of projects are you looking to buy, if any?

We only acquire completed films, and those we believe have strong potential for a full throttle national theatrical release. It differentiates our value to filmmakers and sales agent and gives us a competitive edge against channel backed buyers and SVODs looking mainly for awards glory and if at all a short sojourn on the big screen. But we keep a very open mind. We’re a diversified distribution company with talented teams devoted to theatrical, digital, home video and educational releases. There’s room for almost every kind of documentary in our catalog.

We’ll be looking for films that will draw crowds to theaters and ones that will entice the at-home viewer who can now stream our films on KinoNow.com. We’ll be seeking out titles that will resonate with students and educators as well as our large and dedicated home video customer base. We’re also looking for documentaries that will factor into next year’s awards conversation. Above all, we’re looking for films and filmmakers that will stand the test of time – the classics of tomorrow that will live alongside the established ones in our 2,800 title-strong library.

Here’s a sampling of the 40-plus films we’ve acquired at Sundance over the last few years, with almost two thirds of them docs…

What films has your company bought or sold at Sundance in the last year or two?

In 2018, we acquired World Cinema Grand Prize Winner, Of Fathers And Sons (pictured below), which went on to an Oscar nomination after our 2019 release. Another Oscar nominee we acquired a few years before at Sundance was the hugely acclaimed 5 Broken Cameras.

Last year we acquired The Disappearance of my Mother, which was just named Best Debut Feature at Cinema Eye Honors and, out of the Spotlight Section, Anthropocene: The Human Epoch, an IDA Award winner which we released on 110 screens nationwide in a special event tied to the UN Climate Summit.

Other recent Sundance documentaries we acquired in Sundance were Chef Flynn, Machines (2016 World Cinema Doc Jury Award) and Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked the World.

What is your take on the current state of the documentary market and Sundance’s role in it?

Kino Lorber SVP Wendy Lidell says: “The documentary market is better than ever. Theatrical audiences love good documentaries and, of course, they have long ancillary lives. Sundance’s role in raising the profile of documentaries in the market has been pivotal. The festival gives documentaries a status equal to that given narrative features, and builds the buzz that enables distributors to launch them commercially. We think the documentary curation at Sundance is superb and we look to the festival as a key source for our bespoke theatrical releases.”

of fathers and sons - still 3

CARGO FILM & RELEASING

Founded in 2000, Cargo Film & Releasing are a New York-based sales agency and international distribution company. Cargo reps documentary features for the domestic and international marketplace.

Who from Cargo Film & Releasing is attending Sundance?

David Piperni and Daniel Cantagallo.

What projects are you bringing to Sundance?

Once Upon A Time in Venezuela (main photo; pictured below): Selected for the World Cinema Documentary Competition. Directed by Anabel Rodriguez Rios.

Tomboy: In production. Directed by Lindsay Lindenbaum. Tomboy is slated to premiere at the 2020 SXSW Film Festival.

Can you describe the projects you’ll be showcasing?

Bold, immersive, timely and distinct projects directed by women.

What is your take on the current state of the documentary market and Sundance’s role in it?

Documentary market: Many good films; not enough outlets. Sundance is the event for awards bait films. Due to outlets doing less acquisitions and more originals, a film selected at Sundance doesn’t help a film get bought like it used to in years past.

once upon a time in venezuela - still 2

ENDEAVOR CONTENT

Endeavor Content specializes in financing, sales and advisory services for premium television properties, documentaries, and feature films. Endeavor Content is a division of Endeavor.

Who from Endeavor Content is attending Sundance?

Mark Ankner; Abraham Bengio; Gerren Crochet ; Christine D’Souza Gelb; Alexis Garcia; Harriet Harper-Jones; Joanna Korshak; Will Maxfield; Deborah McIntosh; Christopher Slager; Graham Taylor; Alex Walton; *Liesl Copland; *Kevin Iwashina; and *Blake Levin.

*Indicates non-scripted focus

What projects are you bringing to Sundance?

In Competition:
40-Year-Old Version
Midnight
Bad Hair
The Night House
The Nowhere Inn
Relic
Kids
Come Away

U.S. Dramatic Competition:
Farewell Amor
Save Yourselves!
Sylvie’s Love
Wander Darkly
Premieres
Four Good Days
The Glorias
Next
Omniboat: A Fastboat Fantasia
Spree

Can you describe the projects you’ll be showcasing?

Many of our films are from first time filmmakers and should be incredible discoveries at the festival this year. Sundance has always championed artists from diverse backgrounds with authentic stories. This year they programmed an eclectic bunch of films ranging from 40-Year-Old Version to The Glorias to Bad Hair.

What kinds of projects are you looking to buy, if any?

Endeavor Content is focused on selling, not buying this year.

What films has your company bought or sold at Sundance in the last year or two?

Assassination Nation
Blinded By The Light
Blindspotting
Brittany Runs A Marathon
Honey Boy
Searching
Sorry To Bother You
The Farewell
The Lodge
The Report

CNN FILMS

CNN Films, the motion picture division of CNN, brings distinguished, thought-provoking documentary programming to audiences on CNN’s platforms around the world.

Who from CNN Films is attending Sundance?

What kinds of projects are you looking to buy, if any?

CNN Films has had success with explorations of historic and contemporary events, as well as significant personalities who have shaped our society. Blackfish (2013), about the tragic consequences of orcas in captivity, was our first Sundance acquisition.

What films has your company bought or sold at Sundance in the last year or two?

Purchased: Trophy (2017 – directed by Christina Clusiau and Shaul Schwartz); Holy Hell (directed by Will Allen; picked up in March 2016)

Sold: Halston (2019 – directed by Frédéric Tcheng); Three Identical Strangers (pictured below; 2018 – directed by Tim Wardle); RBG (2018 – directed by Betsy West and Julie Cohen); Legion of Brothers (2017– directed by Greg Barker)

We’ve also hosted special events for filmmakers and distributors in our annual CNN Films Lounge on Main Street. This year, we are co-hosting a reception for Brown Girls Doc Mafia, and a special filmmakers brunch.

What is your take on the current state of the documentary market and Sundance’s role in it?

The increasing number of platforms has made for a robust documentary market. This is a very positive development since more good work can reach even wider audiences. Since Sundance takes place in January, in many ways it launches the film season. It’s a place to connect with new and returning filmmakers and to see a broad slate of films, and the films are exposed to a discerning audience. Sundance can be overwhelming but in the best way: great films, talented people and creative ideas all connecting in a beautiful place.

three identical strangers
About The Author
Barry Walsh is editor and content director for realscreen, and has served as editor of the publication since 2009. With a career in entertainment media that spans two decades, prior to realscreen, he held the associate editor post for now defunct sister publication Boards, which focused on the advertising and commercial production industries. Before Boards, he served as editor of Canadian Music Network, a weekly music industry trade, and as music editor for HMV.com. As content director, he also oversees the development of content for the brand's market-leading events, the Realscreen Summit and Realscreen West, as well as new content initiatives.