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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.

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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June 26, 2019

Naomi Watts Thriller ‘The Wolf Hour’ Acquired by Brainstorm Media

MIA GALUPPO, ETAN VLESSING, The Hollywood Reporter

The Naomi Watts thriller ‘The Wolf Hour’ has been acquired by Brainstorm Media after screening at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. The movie, set during the 1977 New York City blackout, is set for a fall theatrical release.

The Naomi Watts thriller The Wolf Hour has been acquired by Brainstorm Media, which nabbed the North American rights.

A fall 2019 theatrical release is planned for Alistair Banks Griffin’s psychological thriller, which also stars Jennifer Ehle, Kelvin Harrison Jr., Emory Cohen, Jeremy Bobb and Brennan Brown.

Set in July 1977 in New York during a citywide blackout that is triggering fires, looting and countless arrests, and the Son of Sam murders that are riddling the city with panic. June (Watts), once a celebrated counterculture figure, attempts to retreat from the chaos by shutting herself inside the yellowed walls of her grandmother’s South Bronx apartment.

“Naomi Watts gives a riveting performance in this tense thriller. We are very excited to bring this movie to U.S. theaters nationwide,” Michelle Shwarzstein, vp marketing and acquisitions for Brainstorm Media, said Wednesday in a statement.

The Wolf Hour screened at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival in its Next section, with Watts executive producing.

Brian Kavanaugh-Jones, Bailey Conway Anglewicz and Bradley Pilz produced.

CAA Media Finance negotiated the deal on behalf of the filmmakers. HanWay Films is handling international sales and distribution.

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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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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.