Diverse festival notables from Hannah Ha Ha to The Blue Caftan join a spattering of specialty horror titles led by Consecration, and the U.S. theatrical debut of Gaspar Noé’s controversial Irréversible: Straight Cut.
The last is presented by Altered Innocence, whose owner Frank Jaffe spoke with Deadline about why he wanted to give Noe’s unusual 2019 director’s cut — of the Argentinian/French director’s disturbing 2002 film Irreversible — a release Stateside. “It’s a film that needs to be seen. Or made available,” he said. StudioCanal approached him twice. “They said, ‘No one is brave enough to take on this film. Will you?’” And “there is an audience for it…Tickets are selling.”
Jaffe said he first watched Irreversible, or tried to, via Netflix mail order DVD when he was 14. “My dad made me turn it off halfway through.”
It had a big impact on him. He’s an admirer of Noe’s work. “I am extremely sensitive to the fact that it’s an extremely tough film,” he said. It stars Monica Bellucci, Vincent Cassel and Albert Dupontel over the course of a violent and tragic night in Paris as two men attempt to avenge the brutal rape and beating of the woman they love. The original film, which premiered at Cannes, unfolds with the story in reverse. Straight Cut, which debuted in Venice, flips that to depict events chronologically.
Straight Cut opens in LA at the Landmark Nuart and in NYC at IFC Center. A restored version of the original film will play concurrently in select cities as it rolls out, including to a half dozen Alamo Drafthouse locations later this month.
Noe’s latest films include Vortex, Lux Aeterna and Climax.
Jaffe founded Altered Innocence in 2015 with a focus on international, LGBTQ and coming-of-age films including Beautiful Beings (Iceland’s submission for the International feature Oscar), Cannes entry Knife+Heart and the U.S. premiere of Spain’s previously unreleased cult title Arrebato (Rapture).
Widest specialty opening: IFC Films, which is having a good run with horror ($15k-budgeted Skinamarink at $1.9 million) opens Consecration by Chris Smith and starring Jena Malone on 762 screens. Malone, a woman who goes to a convent in Scotland to investigate the suspicious death of her brother, uncovers murder, sacrilege and a disturbing truth about her own past.
XYZ Films presents Mexican thriller Huesera: The Bone Woman in about 30 locations. Directed by Michelle Garza Cervera and starring Alfonso Dosal, Mayra Batalla, Natalia Solian. A woman’s joy at becoming a first-time mother quickly disappears when she’s cursed by a sinister entity and forced into a chilling world of dark magic.
With horror being a specialty favorite, especially lately, there are always a few more. Erik Bloomquist’s She Came from the Woods with Cara Buono, Clare Foley, Spencer List and William Sadler, from Mainframe Pictures; Daughter by Corey Deshonfrom Dark Star Pictures with Casper Van Dien; SP Media Group’s Disquiet by Michael Winnick with Jonathan Rhys Meyers.
Festivals: From last Cannes, Strand Releasing presents The Blue Caftan in NY/LA at the Film Forum, Laemmle Royal and Glendale. Written and directed by Maryam Touzani. Morocco’s official entry for Best International Film. A couple who run a caftan store in one of Morocco’s oldest medinas hire a young assistant to help with the business. Starring Lubna Azabal, Saleh Bakri, Ayoub Missioui. Deadline review here.
Cinedigm presents Hannah Ha Ha, directed by Joshua Pikovsky and Jordan Tetewsky. The Slamdance Grand Jury Narrative Feature prizewinner opens at NY’s AMC Empire and AMC Americana at the Brand and Alamo Downtown in LA. Starring Avram Tetewsky, Hannah Lee Thompson, Roger Mancusi in the story of a young woman whose life gets shaken up when her brother pays a visit. The Slamdance jury statement called it “a beautiful film in the vein of the American working-class cinema from the ’70s and ’80s…chosen for its incredible lead actor and its sensitive portrayal of the quiet eradication of a community by powers beyond their control.”
Seriously Red from Gravitas and Lionsgate, opens on 140 screens. By Gracie Otto. Premiered at SXSW and stars Daniel Webber, Krew Boylan, Rose Byrne and Bobby Cannevale. The ups and downs of a would-be Dolly Parton impersonator and her powerful booking agent. Deadline review here.
Greenwich Entertainment presents iMordecai, directed by Mordecai Samuels based on his own life. Starring Judd Hirsch and Carol Kane. The couple are Holocaust survivors living in Miami. Mordecai takes the big step of getting an iPhone, which transforms his life. Opening on a regional platform basis with two runs (Miami and Boca Raton) and expanding next week in select South Florida locations before a national break week three.
A2 and Apple present Sharper, directed by Benjamin Caron, in limited release. Starring Julianne Moore, Sebastian Stan, Briana Middleton, Justice Smith, John Lithgow, Darren Goldstein. Deadline review here. Streaming on Feb. 17. Motivations are suspect as a con artist takes on Manhattan billionaires.