Magazine article Screen International

'We Want to Be on Every Platform'

Magazine article Screen International

'We Want to Be on Every Platform'

Article excerpt

Jonathan Sehring tells Jeremy Kay why 10 years since the launch of IFC Films, its sister label Sundance Selects has become the destination for prestige cinema, while the former is now focusing on broader theatrical releases

The well-wishers who gathered at New York's MoMA in June to celebrate the 10th anniversary of IFC Films might have been surprised to learn that while the label continues to thrive, a profound evolution is under way. IFC Films will always be associated with intelligent, provocative cinema, but it is turning into a platform for broader theatrical releases such as February's The Other Woman and this summer's hit The Trip.

Meanwhile two years after its soft launch, Sundance Selects, the sister distribution channel to IFC Films and IFC Midnight under the AMC Networks umbrella, has become the destination for what Sundance Selects/IFC Films president Jonathan Sehring calls "prestige cinema".

In 2009 Sehring launched Sundance Selects with the support of Robert Redford as a strand focusing on documentaries that had screened at the Sundance Film Festival. Spike Lee's Passing Strange: The Movie was the first to go in August 2009. Sundance Selects was designed primarily as a video-on-demand platform that would occasionally go day-and-date with a film's theatrical release, echoing the pioneering model Sehring created for IFC In Theatres. It ran across a cable TV universe encompassing Comcast, Cox and Cablevision with a combined subscriber base of roughly 50 million people.

Two years later and the label has evolved into a shared branding venture with an expanded remit beyond both Sundance titles and documentaries. "We've got a great brand name in Sundance and it means something globally and to US audiences as well," explains Sehring. "Redford wanted us to expand that brand to theatrical distribution."

Earlier this year Abbas Kiarostami's Certified Copy was given a significant theatrical platform and went on to gross $1.3m in theatres. Sehring adds that the VoD numbers were great, too, but declines to be specific. As with IFC Films and IFC Midnight, the goal at Sundance Selects is to release 18-24 titles a year. Non-fiction releases have included Errol Morris' Tabloid and Cindy Meehl's Buck.

A Cannes shopping spree secured The Kid With A Bike by the Dardenne brothers, Maiwenn's Poliss, Julia Leigh's Sleeping Beauty and a pre-buy on Olivier Assayas' Something In The Air, shooting now in France and Italy. …

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