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May 04, 2022

Comedy ‘How to Please a Woman’ Sold to U.S., U.K., Other Territories by Beta Cinema (EXCLUSIVE)

Leo Barraclough, Variety

Comedy “How to Please a Woman,” starring “Veep” and “Bridget Jones Diary” actor Sally Phillips, has generated brisk business for Beta Cinema. Brainstorm Media has taken all rights for the U.S. and will release the film theatrically on July 22, and pay TV operator Sky has secured all rights for the U.K.

Beta Cinema also sold all rights for Canada (Mongrel Media), Poland (Monolith Films), former Yugoslavia (Discovery), Czech Republic (Bohemia Motion Pictures) and Hungary (ADS).

Madman will put the film out in Australia and New Zealand on a wide release on May 19 and May 26, respectively.

Phillips stars as 50-year-old Gina, who feels she has become “invisible to everyone.” Establishing a house-cleaning service, staffed by good-looking male cleaners who provide cleaning with benefits, the film follows her as she learns how to ask for what she wants and encourages other women to do the same.

“We fell in love with this movie as we feel most people will when they see it,” said Michelle Shwarzstein, head of distribution at Brainstorm Media. “This film manages to tackle an often taboo subject in the funniest and most heartfelt way. People will walk away smiling.”

Paul Wiegard, co-founder and CEO of Madman Entertainment, stated: “Australian and New Zealand exhibitors are backing this feel-good, relatable comedy about female sexuality and vulnerability. More than 300 screens have already confirmed. The film offers a fun girls’ night out, the themes of empowerment and pleasure connecting with the primary audience.”

Thorsten Ritter, exec VP acquisitions, sales and marketing at Beta Cinema, stated: “We acquired ‘How to Please a Woman’ very early at script stage as it resonated with us as a truthful, enlightening and smart comedy for a mature audience. I am very pleased to see all of what we envisaged from the script and the filmmakers behind it worked out so beautifully.”

Erik Thomson (“The Black Balloon,” “The Furnace”), Alexander England (“Alien: Covenant”), and Caroline Brazier (“Three Summers,” “Rake”) round out the cast of this Australian production, written and directed by Renée Webster.

It is produced by Tania Chambers and Judi Levine of Feisty Dame Productions and Such Much Films, supported by Screenwest, Lotterywest and Screen Australia.

At the Cannes Film Market, Beta Cinema will host a market screening for “How to Please a Woman” on May 19, 11:30 a.m. at Olympia 3.

Recent highlights for Beta Cinema include Berlinale 2022 Special Gala entry “The Forger,” featuring Louis Hofmann from the Netflix series “Dark,” and David Hayman and Udo Kier starrer “My Neighbor Adolf.”

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November 04, 2021

Brainstorm Media Acquires Stephen Fingleton’s ‘Nightride’

Elsa Keslassy, Variety

Brainstorm Media has acquired North American rights for “Nightride,” a dark humored, action-packed thriller from BAFTA-nominated helmer Stephen Fingleton (“The Survivalist”), starring Moe Dunford (“Vikings,” “Texas Chainsaw Massacre”) and Joana Ribeiro (“The Man Who Killed Don Quixote”).

The deal, which was handled by UTA Independent Film Group, will see Brainstorm releasing the film in select theaters and on demand next spring.

“Nightride” is set in Belfast over the course of a single night, and follows a smalltime dealer, Budge, as he tries to pull one last deal with cash borrowed from a dangerous loan shark. When the handover goes terribly wrong, Budge finds himself in a race against the clock to get a hold of his missing product and find a new buyer before the loan shark tracks him down. Irish scribe Ben Conway (“Hunter’s Fall”) penned the script.

“We are thrilled to be working again with Pulsar on another stellar film,” said Brainstorm’s head of distribution, Michelle Shwarzstein. “‘Nightride’ is an expertly crafted, edge-of-your-seat thriller that we can’t wait to show audiences in North America.”

Pulsar Content, the Paris-based sales vehicle headed by Gilles Sousa and Marie Garrett, has also sold the film in major international territories, including Vertigo for the U.K., Programstore for France, Lusomundo for Portugal, Mauris Film for CIS, MCF for Ex Yougoslavia, Gulf Film for the Middle East, The Coup for South Korea and Shaw for Singapore.

“Nightride” was produced by Paul Kennedy for Village Films, Jon Silk for Silk Mass and Céline Dornier for Logical Pictures. The film is expected to be delivered at the end of the year.

Fingleton made his feature debut with “The Survivalist,” a post-apocalyptic thriller which was nominated for a BAFTA and won prizes at Tribeca, Sitges and the British Independent Film Awards.

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July 22, 2021

If You Thought Dating Was Bad, Wait ‘Til You See Billie Piper’s Rare Beasts Trailer

Anne Cohen, Refinery29

In nearly every tale of romance, there’s a foil. You know, the nightmare date that provides the catalyst for the protagonist to realize that they’re meant for bigger and better things. In When Harry Met Sally, it’s the mythical guy who plucks a hair off Meg Ryan’s head to floss with it at the table; in Gilmore Girls, it’s Jackson’s cousin Rune. But Rare Beasts, Billie Piper’s directorial debut, doesn’t have a foil — at least, not a traditional one. Instead of Mandy (Piper, who also wrote the script) leaving the insecure, vile Pete (Leo Bill) sitting across from her in a stylish London bar on the trash heap of bad choices, she leans in. She’s in her early 30s, her son is a brat, her parents are dysfunctional, and she really just wants a man. Why not choose chaos? Yes, she will see him again. No, it probably will not go well.

Rare Beasts, which will play in select theaters and on demand August 20, is the film equivalent of a pressure cooker. Anxiety, fear, loathing, lust, hatred, love, and ambition are just some of the emotions swirling within Mandy as she navigates life as an adult woman in a world that keeps telling her to do more, want more, expect more. When she meets Pete , an obnoxious traditionalist who thinks the opposite, it’s almost a relief. Maybe if she sets her bar a little lower, she can just let go. “My late 20s and my early 30s were a really challenging time,” Piper told Refinery29 ahead of Rare Beast’s trailer release. “I felt that there was this common female crisis — certainly amongst my peers — about this idea of ‘you can have it all, you can be a working mother and a professional woman and have a social life.’ All of those things in combination, I found to be incredibly stressful. That messaging was really overbearing and I saw lots of women around me being out of control, and I wanted to write about this in a raw, hopefully authentic way.” It took Piper five years to finish the script, precisely because she was juggling raising two sons with a successful career as an actress and producer. Still, Rare Beasts marks her first time in the director’s chair — and it wasn’t an easy sell.

“It was a leap of faith,”“People were like ‘There are no likeable characters, everyone is really mean to each other, and it’s really theatrical,’ Piper said. “Fortunately for me, by the time it got picked up, it was in the wake of Phoebe Waller-Bridge and [other] really brilliant women talking honestly about what it costs to be a woman. The timing was crucial.”

There certainly are some echoes of Fleabag in the trailer for Rare Beasts from the desolate characters to the almost upsettingly blunt dialogue. “When you meet the characters, they’re all at the end of their rope,” Piper said. “There’s not a lot of optimism. But it felt familiar to me, and I hope that women will be able to go ‘I do know what that feeling is, I do understand that anxiety, I do feel pulled and pushed in that way.’”

But there’s something darker, and less hopeful at play here. Fewer hot priests, more nihilism. Rare Beasts feels like a fever dream of toxic masculinity, set to a fairy-tale score. (And yes, that is Lily James you spot dancing in a wedding dress — she and Piper are friends, and she was eager to lend her support.) Rare Beast joins Piper’s long history of challenging taboos about women on screen, starting with the controversial cult hit The Secret Diary of A Call Girl, which she developed with frequent collaborator and Succession writer and producer Lucy Prebble. “That show got so critically panned in the UK,” she said. “It was like, ‘How dare you talk about a woman enjoying her job as a sex worker?’ It didn’t land then. But it’s a very different time now — you can talk authentically about certain things.” More recently, her and Prebbles’ HBO Max series, I Hate Suzie, about an actress woman whose nudes are hacked and her life turned inside out, was nominated for 12 awards, and renewed for a second season.

With her pitch-black comedy, Piper hopes to confront the messiest aspects of modern womanhood, while also providing a safe space to process difficult feelings. “Wanting romance now is really challenging,” she said. “[Rare Beasts] is about what I would consider the guinea pig generation of a woman making more money than a man. There’s a huge guilt to being a working mother, and there’s a lot of confusion around modern feminism — am I being a good enough feminist? Am I supporting the cause well enough? Pressure, pressure, pressure. It makes for something quite unhinged.”

Watch the full trailer below:


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June 02, 2021

Isabelle Huppert Starrer ‘Mama Weed’ Finds U.S. Home (EXCLUSIVE)

Elsa Keslassy, Variety

Music Box Films and Brainstorm Media have acquired U.S. distribution rights to “Mama Weed,” Jean-Paul Salomé’s crime comedy starring Isabelle Huppert.

Sold by France’s Le Pacte, the movie stars Huppert as Patience Portefeux, a French-Arabic translator for the Paris drug police who stumbles into a massive store of marijuana and becomes a savvy wholesale pusher no one ever saw coming.

Music Box Films will release the film in theaters July 16, with Brainstorm Media handling the digital and home entertainment releases, slated for July 23.

The deal was negotiated by Brainstorm’s Michelle Shwarzstein, head of distribution, and Le Pacte’s Camille Neel, head of international sales, with Music Box Films’ head of acquisitions Brian Andreotti.

“Isabelle Huppert gives a delightfully unexpected performance in this hidden gem of a film that we are thrilled to share,” said Shwarzstein. “We are also very excited to continue our great track record of partnering with the team at Music Box Films to do so, ensuring this crowdpleaser finds a warm reception in the U.S.”

The movie, based on Hannelore Cayre’s popular novel, was nominated at this year’s Cesar Awards for best adapted screenplay. Huppert plays a translator who interprets the daily calls and conversations between the city’s biggest drug dealers. In the evenings, she looks in on her aging mother at the long-term care facility where she is months behind in paying the bills. When she overhears the son of one of her mother’s nurses on the wiretap at work, Patience is moved to protect him. But her involvement in his business quickly escalates and she finds herself in possession of a huge store of marijuana and the insider knowledge required to move it.

Although it was released in theaters in 2020 during the pandemic, “Mama Weed” was successful at the French box office, as well in Germany, among other European countries. Le Pacte has sold the film around the world.

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February 26, 2021

Werewolf Thriller ‘Bloodthirsty’ Lands at Brainstorm Media, Sets Release Date (EXCLUSIVE)

Rebecca Rubin, Variety

“Bloodthirsty,” a werewolf thriller about a rising singer who finds herself in a compromising position, has sold U.S. distribution rights to Brainstorm Media. It will release in theaters and on demand on April 23.

The film, which premiered at the virtual Fantastic Fest Celebration, was directed by Amelia Moses. Wendy Hill-Tout wrote the script with her daughter, songwriter Lowell.

The story centers on Grey (portrayed by Lauren Beatty), a singer who relocates to a remote cabin to work on her second album with noted music producer Vaughn Daniels (Greg Bryk). But as her songwriting progresses, she starts to transform into a powerful, bloodthirsty beast.

Lowell says the film was inspired by her own experiences and the pressure she felt when trying to write a follow-up album to her first record, “We Loved Her Dearly.” Along with crafting the screenplay, she also wrote original music for “Bloodthirsty.”

“We can’t wait to share this fantastically twisted werewolf horror film with audiences nationwide,” says Michelle Shwarzstein, Brainstorm Media’s VP of marketing and acquisitions. “Led by an amazingly talented female filmmaking team, this movie will not fail to surprise and delight.”

“Bloodthirsty” is produced by Wendy Hill-Tout and Michael Peterson. David Bond and Alan Bacchus served as executive producers.

Brainstorm Media is a boutique film distributor and production company, which was founded in 1995. Recent releases include “The Wolf Hour” with Naomi Watts, “Working Man” featuring Peter Gerety and Talia Shire, “Into the Labyrinth” starring Dustin Hoffman and the YA horror series “The Sinners.”

The deal was negotiated by Michelle Shwarzstein and Steve Break on behalf of Brainstorm Media and Pip Ngo of XYZ Films on behalf of the filmmakers.

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January 14, 2021

THE SINNERS Have Arrived In Latest Trailer

Sarah Musnicky, Nightmarish Conjurings

Brainstorm Media has unveiled the official poster, trailer, and release date for the upcoming thriller THE SINNERS. Make sure you check out the trailer below and let us know what you think! THE SINNERS is a thrilling murder mystery about seven girls from a religious town that start a cult where they embody the seven deadly sins. Seven schoolgirls, part of a clique dubbed The Sins, become the lethal target of an unknown killer after a harmless prank goes horribly wrong.

The film stars Kaitlyn Bernard (Spontaneous, A Father’s Nightmare), Brenna Llewellyn (“The Followers”, When A Tree Falls), Brenna Coates (“Coroner”, Ice Girls), Keilani Elizabeth Rose (“Lucifer”, “Flimsy”), Jasmine Randhawa (There’s Something Between Us), Carly Fawcett (Night Sweats, “Disasters At Sea”), Natalie Malaika (Fractured, Stolen By My Mother: The Kamiyah Mobley Story), Aleks Paunovic (Puppet Killer, “Van Helsing”), Michael Eklund (Bright Hill Road, “Wynonna Earp”), Tahmoh Penikett (“Dollhouse”, “Altered Carbon”), and Lochlyn Munro (“Riverdale”, Scary Movie).

The film is directed by Courtney Paige (Everything and Everyone, Suspension). The screenplay was written by Courtney Paige, Erin Hazlehurst (The House That Sterling Built, 9 Questions), and Madison Smith (“Salvation”, “The Order”).

THE SINNERS will be available On-Demand on February 19, 2021, from Brainstorm Media.

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September 24, 2020

Robert Port’s ‘Recon’ Gets Veterans Day Eve Bow Via Fathom And Brainstorm Media

Patrick Hipes, Deadline

EXCLUSIVE: Fathom Events and Brainstorm Media are teaming on the theatrical release of Recon, the Robert Port military thriller starring Alexander Ludwig, Sam Keeley, Chris Brochu and Franco Nero. They are aiming to premiere the pic, set during World War II and based on a true story, as an exclusive one-night nationwide event November 10, the day before Veterans Day.

So far, the companies have lined up screenings on almost 350 screens at AMC and Regal venues as well as at smaller exhibitors, with an eye on 500 total before the event, which will feature behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with the cast and crew at each screening.

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Port, who with Bill Guttentag won the Documentary Short Oscar in 2003 for Twin Towers, adapted Richard Bausch’s 2008 novel Peace about the true war story into Recon and made it his feature debut. The film centers on one long day as four American soldiers stationed in Italy debate their own fates and life itself as they struggle to make it off a mountain alive. They face the worst that war can offer and as a result each finds his own peace.

RELATED STORY Fathom Events To Premiere Rod Lurie’s Military Thriller ‘The Outpost’ In Theaters This Summer Enderby Entertainment’s Rick Dugdale produced with Richard Bullock. Maury Povich is executive producer.

Fathom and Brainstorm previously partnered in July 2019 on a similar one-night-only event for Kathy Griffin: A Hell of a Story.

“We are honored to partner once again with Brainstorm Media and bring this important film to the big screen as we head into Veterans Day,” said Fathom CEO Ray Nutt. “Recon is a great way to honor those who served so bravely not only during World War II but to honor veterans of all wars.”

Added Brainstorm president Meyer Shwarzstein: “We are thrilled to be working with Fathom again on this film. No one is more effective at reaching audiences and bringing them together for a shared experience. Robert Port has made a film that is both authentic and moving and we can’t wait for people to see it this November.”

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July 01, 2020

Louis Gossett Jr., Shohreh Aghdashloo Starrer 'The Cuban' Lands at Brainstorm Media

Etan Vlessing, The Hollywood Reporter

Tommaso Boddi/WireImage; David Livingston/Getty Images Louis Gossett Jr., Shohreh Aghdashloo

The coming-of-age drama from director Sergio Navarretta is set for a July 31 theatrical and virtual release. Brainstorm Media has picked up the U.S. rights to Sergio Navarretta’s The Cuban, a coming-of-age drama starring Oscar winner Louis Gossett Jr. and Shohreh Aghdashloo.

The indie, shot in Canada and Cuba, is set for a theatrical and virtual release July 31, with plans for VOD in the fall. “The Cuban is exactly the film we need right now. It’s filled with Afro-Cuban and salsa music, brilliant performances and a ton of heart,” Michelle Shwarzstein, vp marketing and acquisitions at Brainstorm Media, said in a statement Wednesday.

The Cuban, also starring Degrassi: Next Class actress Ana Golja, Giacomo Gianniotti and Lauren Holly, centers on a young Afghan immigrant named Mina (Golja) who starts her first job, at a nursing home, where an unexpected friendship with Luis, a Cuban resident with dementia, reignites her love of music and changes her life.

Gossett Jr. plays the nursing home resident Luis, and Aghdashloo portrays a former doctor who pushes her niece Mina to go to medical school. The screenplay is by Alessandra Piccione, and the film is produced by Piccione and Navarretta of S.N.A.P. Films, alongside Golja and Taras Koltun.

“I am thrilled to be partnering with Brainstorm to release The Cuban in the U.S. The film is a love letter to the diverse cultures and generations of people that make up our communities. In these unprecedented times, sharing art that uplifts the human spirit and brings us together is more crucial than ever before,” director Navarretta said in a separate statement.

The U.S. deal was negotiated by Shwarzstein at Brainstorm Media and by Piccione on behalf of the filmmakers.

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July 25, 1911

Horror Pic ‘Ravage’, With Bruce Dern & ‘Succession’ Actress Annabelle Dexter-Jones, Sells To U.S., UK, More — Cannes

Andreas Wiseman, Deadline

EXCLUSIVE: Brainstorm Media has acquired U.S. rights to horror film Ravage from VMI, which is selling the pic at the virtual Cannes market.

Brit actress Annabelle Dexter-Jones (Succession), two-time Oscar-nominee Bruce Dern, and Robert Longstreet (The Old Man And The Gun) star in the film about a nature photographer (Dexter-Jones) who witnesses a violent crime while alone in the woods. After being captured by the culprits, she uses her survival skills to take them out one by one.

Brainstorm Media is planning to release the film in select theaters and VOD on August 21. The deal was negotiated by Michelle Shwarzstein and Steve Break for Brainstorm Media with J.D. Beaufils for VMI, on behalf of the filmmakers.

Written and directed by Teddy Grennan, the film had its world premiere at the 2019 Genre Blast Film Festival and went on to win Best Feature at the New York City Horror Film Festival in 2019. Producers are Marsha Oglesby, Bennett Krishock and Grennan.

“We’re thrilled to be working for the first time with VMI on Ravage and excited to bring a stylish, satisfying and gritty female-led horror film to U.S. audiences,” said Michelle Shwarzstein, Brainstorm Media’s Vice President of Marketing and Acquisitions.

“This will be the first of many partnerships with Brainstorm Media and we felt that Ravage was the perfect fit. Ravage is exciting, raw and Anabelle Dexter Jones is one of the best female protagonists that the audience will root for till the end.” – JD Beaufils, VMI’s President of Sales.

The film has also been sold to Signature Entertainment for UK, Phoenicia Pictures for Middle East, Korea Screen for South Korea and Falcon Pictures for Indonesia during virtual Cannes.

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May 07, 2020

‘Working Man’ Review: Powerful And Timely Story Of Factory Workers Fighting Back After Losing Their Jobs

Pete Hammond, Deadline

Certainly the new film Working Man wasn’t intended to be released at a time when unemployment is at or approaching its highest level since perhaps the Great Depression. With more than 33 million Americans newly out of work, factories continuing to close and other results of the coronavirus pandemic, this film takes on new urgency. But most importantl, it might inspire empathy toward those who are adding to these sad statistics on a daily basis by putting a human face on what is otherwise a number on a news report.

Allery Parkes (Peter Gerety) is an older worker at a plastics factory in a working-class Illinois town where just about everyone seems to be employed by the big companies — blue-collar lifers whose occupation is also who they are. It definitely is how Allery is defined, even as he is old enough to retire. When the factory shuts down and everyone loses their job, Allery doesn’t take it well; he begins returning every day, lunchbox and Thermos in tow, to the empty building where even the power is turned off. This confounds not only his former co-workers, who just watch as he marches through the neighborhood to the non-existent job, but also his devoted wife Iola (Talia Shire) who just can’t understand why he is doing this. Soon though he is joined by the uber-enthusiastic colleague Walter (Billy Brown) who not only takes charge but makes Allery’s quiet statement a crusade by also enlisting the rest of the workers to return to the building, sleeping bags with them, and stay there until they finish the job they had started as a way to guarantee they will be paid. Can they turn it all around? Well, it’s complicated, as Allery finds.

As things are revealed about Walter as well as why the factory really shut down, the situation begins to change things in a big way. In addition to all this, the poignant and pertinent script by writer-director Robert Jury hits a sad moment in Allery and Iola’s marriage as they still deal with the tragic death of their only son.

Jury’s film is reminiscent of the collective work of the great British director Ken Loach, whose cinematic career frequently has been directed at the plight of the working man in England. Now here’s an American director who has brought it much closer to home. This is a promising feature debut, to be sure.

For those going through the heartache of having your whole world suddenly turned upside down, take heart: This film is not a total downer and even offers hope. It is memorable in many ways, but first and foremost as a showcase for some fine actors who don’t get leads in movies these days. Gerety, a recognizable actor from many films and TV shows including as last season’s key villain in Ray Donovan, is simply superb, saying more with one facial expression than many actors can do with 20 pages of dialogue. Shire again proves what a fine actress she is, underplaying emotions buried inside, instead putting faith in her weekly Bible studies. Also just excellent is Brown (How to Get Away with Murder), how has perhaps the showier role and delivers on all cylinders. These are the three main actors, but there is terrific support all around in this film which defines what smart independent moviemaking is all about.

It would be powerful material to absorb at almost any time, but that we have it right now is particularly heartening and important.

Producers are Clark Peterson, Maya Emelle, Lovell Holder, and Jury. Released through Brainstorm Media It is currently available on VOD and digital platforms. Check out my video review with scenes from the movie at the link above.

Do you plan to see Working Man? Let us know what you think.

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About Brainstorm


Brainstorm is a full-service, all-rights, boutique distributor with deep, longstanding relationships and direct distribution deals that span the current digital landscape. Known for our creativity and flexibility, we craft every release strategy to fit the film. Armed with the wisdom of our 25+ years in the business and a passion for the content we represent, we continue to navigate the ever-changing media ecosystem with excitement.

Development and Production

Since its inception in 1995, Brainstorm Media has developed and produced dozens of features films and series. It currently has a robust slate of feature films and series in development with various platforms. In 2021, Soul Santa, the first film produced as part of the company’s partnership with Reuben Cannon Entertainment, was BET’s top-performing Christmas movie.