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Let’s Go to The Movies: “Rich Hill” Premieres in Theaters

Rich Hill PosterDoors opened on Friday to the highly anticipated theatrical release of Rich Hill. The buzz around this film began in January, when it won the prestigious Documentary Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival, and it hasn’t stopped. Now the wait is over: Rich Hill is in theaters and — beginning today — available on iTunes.

The documentary chronicles the lives of three boys in an impoverished Midwestern town and the unique struggles they confront with their families. A year and a half of filming was masterfully edited into a 92-minute feature film, and the result is breathtaking. Critics have been singing the praises of Rich Hill as a social document, calling it a “vital documentary” and a “great service.” Indiewire even said that the film is “the type of media object that could and should be put in a time capsule for future generations.”

Visually, it has been hailed as “overwhelmingly gorgeous,” the work of a “gifted cinematographer with a poet’s eye.” The doc has earned spots on the “Must-See Lists” of Indiewire and Rolling Stone, as well as comparisons to the likes of Terrence Malick and to the recent film Boyhood.

For the film’s theatrical premiere, 15 year-old Andrew Jewell, one of the three boys from Rich Hill, joined Emmy Award-winning director Tracy Droz Tragos in New York City. The pair gave interviews on WNYC Radio and MSNBC, and participated in a Q&A following the theatrical premiere. Next, look out for Tracy Droz Tragos discussing the film on The Daily Show on August 7th. As the buzz around Rich Hill continues, you can find its theatrical listings here and box office information here. Rich Hill is also available on iTunes here.

Check out photos from the premiere and Andrew’s trip to NYC below:


Talk About a Grand Slam: The Orchard Acquires Sports Doc ‘No No: A Dockumentary’

No No DockumentaryIf you’re halfway through your corporate league’s baseball season or in the middle of MLB’s season on your couch, you’ll definitely want to catch No No: A Dockumentary, the narrative that shines light on the life of no-hitter base-baller Dock Ellis. And since we’ve acquired worldwide rights to the full-length, you’ll soon be able to see it for yourself!

The Orchard’s Film team scooped up the knock-out after its premiere at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. When Fall 2014 rolls around, audiences will be able to score the release either theatrically or digitally by way of The Orchard’s documentary brand Opus Docs.

Director Jeffrey Radice captures a different side to the Dock story. Although he’s most-known for the no-hitter he threw while on LSD, his outspoken (at-times outrageous) attitude, and the foam hair curlers he wore during games, not many people are aware of his drug addiction, eventual turn-around, and the help he provided to others in similar situations.

Radice’s goal behind the film? “To share Dock’s full story with his legions of fans,” which Radice (making his directorial debut) and crew accomplish through detailed interviews from Ellis’s friends, family and teammates.

There’s plenty to read about the famed trip, but now you’ll be able to take your own trip down Dock Ellis’s memory lane to learn more about the MLB Pittsburgh Pirates Pitcher.

You can get more details on the official acquisition from The Wrap and Indiewire, and read the complete press release here.

Welcome Opus Docs, The Orchard’s New Documentary Channel

opusdocsPublic defenders fighting for the rights of poor people on trial in the Deep South of America; a professional strongman who can bend a penny with two fingers; a teacher of autistic young men in Newark, New Jersey; what do these characters have in common? Well not much, other than that their stories are riveting, and their lives the subjects of finely crafted and unforgettable documentary films. These documentary films — Gideon’s Army, Strongman and Best Kept Secret, are just three of the award-winning non-fiction films that are part of Opus Docs, a new owned and operated channel launched by the Orchard.

The YouTube channel will serve as the core of the channel, hosting trailers and extra content from the films that will link out to other platforms where the films can be watched (like iTunes and Amazon) and most importantly, the Opus Docs’ Hulu channel. With a slate of films that have been curated from the most prestigious film festivals around the globe — Sundance, Berlin, South by Southwest, Telluride, IFF Rotterdam, L.A. Film Festival, IDFA in Amsterdam, even Moscow and Minsk! — Opus Docs showcases the artistry and vision of both emerging and veteran nonfiction filmmakers, who filter stories that are important, quirky, humorous, enlightening and inspiring through their beautiful and unique lenses.

Recently released and upcoming docs including Rebecca Richman-Cohen’s Emmy-nominated immersion into the trial of alleged Sierra Leone war criminal Issa Sesay, War Don Don; Stefano Sardo’s rapturous look into the history of a global food movement, Slow Food Story; and Jared Goodman’s Captive Beauty, a look into a beauty pageant inside a Medellin, Columbia womens’ prison (Executive Produced by Oscar-nominated filmmaker Joe Berlinger), will be available on the Hulu Opus Docs’ channel four to six months after their initial releases on download-to-own and paid rental platforms including iTunes, Google Play, and Amazon Instant Video.

The Orchard’s Film team is thrilled to be adding Opus Docs to its collection of curated and branded channels and expanding the audience for these remarkable — and entertaining — stories. Read the full press release on our website.

Changing the Conversation: What Film Festivals Unveil About Distribution Success

RiseUp on iTunesAfter every large film festival, critics and industry pause to take stock and ask “What does this year’s [insert festival name here] mean for the state of the independent film industry?” What they really mean is: Can filmmakers still get lots of money from distribution deals? Are the distributors doing well enough to pay filmmakers lots of money? If Sundance deals are robust – and this year was indeed a buying frenzy – it is reflected in the attitudes and unfortunately, inflated expectations of every independent filmmaker on the circuit, even the ones who should know better.

Attending the beloved medium-sized Midwestern True/False Film Festival just over a month after attending the behemoth that is Sundance, one bears witness to the relationship between the film festival timeline and filmmakers’ hopes and expectations for the distribution of their films. At True/False, there were a handful of filmmakers who had made deals with the mini-majors and boutique indies at Sundance. These filmmakers have an air of calm and confidence about them; their film will be released in theatres, their distributors will take care of their festival runs, and they will have lovely posters, great publicists, and marketing teams working on the film’s behalf. For them, the fight is largely over.

Then, there are the filmmakers who have yet to “officially” premiere their films. (True/False has a half-dozen “Secret Screenings,” in which the names of films and any identifying details are not released to the public and are not allowed to be reviewed. Therefore, they can fly under the radar until their official World Premieres at the next big fests – South by Southwest and Tribeca.) These filmmakers carry with them a nervous energy combined with a sense of hope. They have hired sales agents, are finalizing their press kits and are hoping for that aforementioned deal.

South by Southwest, which comes less than a week after True/False, is arguably the 2nd most important U.S. film festival. However, it is not a deal-making fest in the way of Redford’s extravaganza (or is it Weinstein’s these days?). I have not yet heard of one film being bought yet, 5 days into the Festival. In fact, all acquisitions announcements over the past 3 days have regarded Sundance films. The Austin fest is a slower burn, and it takes longer for anything to gel. (Personal experience: A film that I associate produced, Billy the Kid, won the “Grand Jury Prize” for Best Documentary in 2007. The night it won, we got calls from every distributor and their mother, but it took weeks for anything to come through concretely, and a lot of it was all bark, and no bite.)

The relaxed pace of Southby means it is difficult to generalize about the “state of distribution”  – did a buying-heavy Sundance mean that the industry is in good health? Do distributors have more money than last year? Is independent film on an upswing again? – until after Tribeca. However, I think this is the wrong framework in which to judge the health of the industry.

… Continue Reading

The Orchard’s Film Distribution Caters to the 99%

February 3, 2012 Film/TV News No Comments

Sundance Film Festival 2012, which officially ended 4 days ago, was rife with the expected daily deal announcements rumored to be in the seven figures. The usual suspects, backed by either major Hollywood studios or corporations – Fox Searchlight, Sony Pictures Classics, IFC Films, etc. – signed contracts and offered filmmakers massive advertising campaigns. Yet, for most filmmakers, these deals reflect the exception, rather than the rule.

In an article entitled Life After Sundance: Distribution and Marketing for the 99 Percent, noted entertainment lawyer and sales rep Steven Beer notes that in this new landscape, “producers will deal their own cards, managing risk and seeking out rewards that include some combination of maximum exposure, return on investment and recognition.” He points to the need to mix old and new models of distribution and the importance of “DVD, VOD, television broadcasts, digital streaming and downloads, whether for sale or subscription […]. Thanks to an emerging class of service providers and content aggregators, there’s a number of distribution options that act as facilitators rather than gatekeepers and render essential delivery services (digital encoding, quality control) for relatively modest fees.” This is what The Orchard’s film arm has been quietly doing for years.

We’ve recently rolled out a number of high-quality, critically-acclaimed documentaries on platforms from iTunes to X-Box:

  • IN THE HANDS OF THE GODS , a critically-lauded, thrilling story of five young British footballers (soccer to us Yankees) who travel across South America in the hopes of meeting their idol, soccer god Maradona.
  • The profoundly moving film PHILOSOPHER KINGS, which won several film festival awards, shows life through the lens of eight custodians of major U.S. universities. Ignored at best, ridiculed at worst, these wise observers have much to teach us.
  • Another festival favorite, CRUDE INDEPENDENCE, captures the problematic intersection of small town America with the international oil industry. When oil is suddenly discovered in tiny Stanley, North Dakota, the townspeople find their world turned upside down.
  • Finally, for a cinematic adrenaline injection, THE ORDINARY SKIER is a gorgeous, fast-paced biography of famed skier Seth Morrison’s rise to the top.

There are lots more to write about, but one blog post cannot tell everything. So stay tuned to this space for news about additions to our rapidly going film collection.

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