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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.

The New York Times Letting Go to Move On Sponsored by The New York Times SEE MORE

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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May 20, 2019

Kathy Griffin Movie ‘A Hell of a Story’ Gets Theatrical Release (EXCLUSIVE)

Ramin Setoodeh, Variety

“Kathy Griffin: A Hell of a Story,” a documentary comedy from the star comedian, has sold to Brainstorm Media for a special theatrical release this summer, Variety has learned.

The movie will play in U.S. theaters on July 31, for a one-night special event. Fathom Events is a partner on the deal, and Griffin will join audiences for a live Q&A following the film.

“A Hell of a Story,” which is directed by Troy Miller, premiered at SXSW in March to strong reviews. The film takes place at the end of Griffin’s recent “Laugh Your Head Off” tour, where she discusses the fallout from a controversial 2017 photograph where she posed with a fake severed head that looks like it belonged to Donald Trump.

As a result of the picture, which Griffin meant as a joke, she was blacklisted by Hollywood. She stopped getting job offers in movies and TV. And even worse, she underwent lengthy federal investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice and the Secret Service on suspicion of conspiracy to assassinate the president.

Griffin self-financed and produced the film herself. The theatrical version of the film is a different cut than what audiences saw at SXSW. It include documentary footage interspersed with her onstage comedy.

“I am so excited to be announcing my first-ever theatrical release,” said Griffin in a statement. “I’m honored to be given the opportunity to showcase my comedy and the raw behind-the-scenes-footage of the last two years. The film pulls back the curtain for a gritty, unapologetic look at this era of cultural chaos and Trumpism. You’re going to hear things in this film you’ve never heard before—and it’s funny as hell.”

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May 16, 2019

‘We Have Always Lived in the Castle’ Review: An Arch, Feminist Fairy Tale

Jennifer Szalai, The New York Times

By Jennifer Szalai May 16, 2019

In “We Have Always Lived in the Castle,” a playfully arch and unsettling film based on Shirley Jackson’s 1962 novel, there’s nobody obvious to root for; everyone is dour, foolish, phony or deranged. Possibly even murderous. Under Stacie Passon’s precise direction, this gothic fable of isolation and violence expertly treads a fine line between tragedy and camp.

Merricat (Taissa Farmiga), still childlike at 18, lives in the cavernous Blackwood family chateau with her older sister, Constance (Alexandra Daddario), and their sickly Uncle Julian (a reliably furtive Crispin Glover). The girls’ parents died several years ago after eating a suspicious meal that left Uncle Julian debilitated and the sisters shunned. Constance, unfailingly coifed and composed, makes do as a dutiful homemaker, baking pies and canning fruit with a glistening smile plastered on her pretty face. A skulking, slouching Merricat endures the taunts of the townspeople when she makes weekly trips for provisions, rushing home to bury trinkets in the castle’s enormous garden and casting protective spells.

The sisters take care of each other; they cuddle in bed and fantasize about living on the moon, which hangs outside of Merricat’s window like a cartoon cutout. Their home is full of lush fabrics, gorgeous wallpaper and a worrying number of candles. (Piers McGrail’s cinematography makes the tableaus look like twisted photo spreads from Life magazine.) Farmiga’s Merricat speaks in a clipped cadence that sounds both creepy and competent; her knowledge of mushroom toxicology is troublingly comprehensive. Uncle Julian silently glides into the frame in his wheelchair, suddenly reciting cryptic lines from the family history he’s writing. Constance tends to the house in what appears to be a state of willful oblivion, looking cheerful and stunned.

The delicate balance of the household is upended with the arrival of Charles (Sebastian Stan), a dashing cousin who seems helpful at first but whose authoritarian streak reveals itself when he takes an aggressive interest in Merricat’s buried treasures and starts calling Constance “Connie.” (Having him chug milk from the carton is also a nice touch.) Like the jeering men in the town, Charles turns out to be an entitled patriarch; under every languid grin lies a leer and a smirk.

Mark Kruger’s screenplay isn’t subtle, but then neither is Jackson’s novel — a sharp, demented fairy tale in which the women live happily ever after despite the men, rather than because of them. The outside world is cruel, capricious, inhospitable; only when the sisters lock themselves inside their crumbling castle can they truly be free.

We Have Always Lived in the Castle

Director Stacie Passon

Writer Mark Kruger

Stars Patrick Joseph Byrnes, Una Carroll, Peter Coonan, Joanne Crawford, Alexandra Daddario

Running Time 1h 30m

Genres Drama, Mystery, Thriller

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April 16, 2019

See Taissa Farmiga in creepy trailer for We Have Always Lived in the Castle

Clark Collis, Entertainment Weekly

Adapted from Shirley Jackson’s 1962 mystery novel, We Have Always Lived in the Castle (out May 17) stars Taissa Farmiga as Merricat Blackwood, who lives with her sister Constance (Alexandra Daddario) and her Uncle Julian (Crispin Glover). The trio are survivors of an arsenic poisoning that killed everyone else in the family five years prior. Merricat is bold and imaginative, and protects the property with “spells”. Despite being hated by the townspeople, the sisters live an idyllic life, until cousin Charles (Sebastian Stan) arrives. Charles offers to help around the house, and inquires about the family’s finances. Constance is charmed by Charles, and Merricat resents Charles’ intrusion. As Charles and Merricat battle for control, tragedy threatens to strike again.

“I read Castle first when I was in high school,” said filmmaker Stacie Passon in her director’s statement. “It is smart, suspenseful, dark satire. The story, narrated by an 18-year-old sociopathic girl named Merricat Blackwood, is a rich mix of American political and social commentary. The themes of isolation, gender, class warfare seem even more relevant today.”

We Have Always Lived in the Castle is released in theaters and on VOD, May 17.

Exclusively watch the film’s trailer above.

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February 06, 2019

Reviews: ‘St. Agatha’ sports a psycho nun; ‘The Isle’ offers location, location, location; yet another ‘Amityville’; plus the MMA noir of ‘A Violent Man

Noel Murray, Los Angeles Times

Some of horror’s most memorable movies happened because the filmmakers had access to a great location: like a shopping mall or an abandoned hospital. In the case of Matthew and Tori Butler-Hart’s supernatural thriller “The Isle,” it was the remote Scottish island of Eilean Shona.

Co-written and co-produced by the married Butler-Harts — and directed by Matthew — “The Isle” follows the plight of three mid-19th century shipwrecked sailors, who make their way to a tiny island, cloaked in mist. There they meet the four residents: the gregarious Fingal (Dickon Tyrrell), the standoffish Douglas (Conleth Hill), his niece Lanthe (Tori Butler-Hart), and the roving madwoman, Korrigan (Alex Wilton Regan).

The three seamen (played by Alex Hassell, Graham Butler and Fisayo Akinade) quickly realize the islanders won’t make it easy for them to leave. There are no boats to ferry them home; and a mysterious wailing appears whenever they even think about escaping.

“The Isle” isn’t especially scary. It’s more of an adventure/mystery, as the heroes keep pressing their hosts — at the risk of their own lives — for more information about where they are, and about what happened to the people who used to lived there.

But the picture’s a pleasure to watch throughout, largely because of Eilean Shona. The Butler-Harts built their story around the place, and don’t squander any of the spectacular scenery. This island looks like something from a dark fairy tale — so that’s exactly what the filmmakers have made.


‘The Isle’

Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 36 minutes

Playing: Starts Feb. 8, Laemmle Glendale, Glendale; also on VOD

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January 17, 2019

‘Don’t Come Back From the Moon’ Review: When Men Leave, Children Grow Up.

Jeannette Catsoulis, New York Times

CRITIC’S PICK

Gentle, wistful and often quite beautiful, Bruce Thierry Cheung’s “Don’t Come Back From the Moon” is a dreamlike meditation on abandoned children and dying locations.

Set amid the arid emptiness of California’s Salton Sea, its almost alien landscape in perfect harmony with the movie’s title, the filament of story unfolds through the teenage eyes and low-key narration of Mickey (Jeffrey Wahlberg). His small community, he tells us, was once a holiday destination, but the lake is shrinking and the last factory has closed. Now men are leaving, slinking off into the night without explanation — except for one, whose exit note says he has gone to the moon.

Trailer: ‘Don’t Come Back From the Moon’CreditCreditVideo by Brainstorm Media Mickey’s father (a briefly seen James Franco) is the latest to depart, leaving Mickey to worry about his quietly devastated mother (a wonderfully subdued Rashida Jones), and his younger brother (Zackary Arthur). The bond between the siblings, and among their similarly deserted friends, is the one emotional constant in a movie that weaves pain and anger and sorrow into a haunting mood of unresolved yearning.

Adapting Dean Bakopoulos’s 2005 novel, Cheung fashions a sense that time has stopped and lives are suspended — until fathers come home, or prosperity returns. Children forced too soon to become adults act out and draw inward in scenes that some may find aimless and metaphorically strained. Yet the movie’s emotional potency is undeniable, its slow crescendo of wounded feelings and shimmering photography leaving unexpected imprints on the eyes and heart.

Don’t Come Back from the Moon NYT Critic’s Pick

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November 15, 2018

Reviews: Amir Khan is a contender in 'Team Khan,' plus more documentaries

Robert Abele, Los Angeles Times

An exasperatingly slick documentary with a charismatic subject, “Team Khan” follows two years in the rise of British-born Muslim boxer Amir Khan, a dashing champion chasing the ultimate test of greatness: a match against the likes of a Floyd Mayweather or Manny Pacquiao.

Directors Blair Macdonald and Oliver Clark secured great access across training sessions, photo-ops, moments with wife Faryal and their 2-year-old daughter, and spirited get-togethers in gray suburban Northwest England with his extended Punjabi clan. If “Team Khan” offers any insight as it aggressively packages him with the familiar tropes of verité sports-doc portraiture, it’s how the closeness of Khan’s relatives — many of whom work for him — keep him grounded behind that high-wattage smile and disciplined drive to make the most of his lightning quick blows.

Built around a few key bouts in Las Vegas and New York meant to set him up for that hoped-for call to challenge a legend, the directors’ “Rocky”-ish approach has its upside (Khan is easy to root for) and downside (is this a film or a commercial?). There are also side trips to cement his philanthropic bona fides, including a trip to Pakistan to show support after 2014’s Peshawar school massacre, and a visit to his ancestral village. If your taste for athletic snapshots has tired of tales of the troubled, Khan’s at least smoothly offers someone as comfortable being a Muslim hero and family man as he is a fast-jabbing contender.

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About Brainstorm

Development and Production

Brainstorm Media has developed and produced a number of movies and series. It is currently developing, producing and/or co-financing new movies for a variety of TV, SVOD and theatrical release.

Film Distribution

Having been involved in distribution since 1995, Brainstorm has been a trend-setter in VOD, TV and other media. Now that the indie film industry has evolved, the company treats distribution more like a craft. The distribution plan for each individual film is tailored for that movie to maximize the outcome. In the movie business, it’s been generally accepted that the development and production are the only areas which require creativity. No longer. As the business continues to change, distribution will further evolve as a craft designed to facilitate a connection between filmmakers and their audience.