NEW YORK, Jan. 17 /PRNewswire/ -- A&E IndieFilms announced today a preemptive acquisition of the North American television rights for the documentary feature "MY KID COULD PAINT THAT" -- A Film by Amir Bar-Lev. The unique hybrid deal combines the rights acquisition with an equity investment and brings A&E IndieFilms on board as a partner with the filmmakers. The film is slated to have its world premiere this weekend at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival.
"MY KID COULD PAINT THAT" -- A film by Amir Bar-Lev follows the story of the internationally renowned 4-year old artist Marla Olmstead, who sold hundreds of thousands of dollars of abstract paintings before her father was accused of secretly having a hand in the work. The picture explores issues as diverse as child prodigies, the making of celebrities, the public's skepticism about modern art, and the ethics of documentary filmmaking.
The film goes into Sundance with A&E IndieFilms as a partner interested in finding and fully supporting the best theatrical deal possible. The acquisition on the eve of the film's premiere at Sundance was driven by A&E IndieFilms' continued focus on presenting the best documentary features and being part of the process as early as possible to help strategize and guide the theatrical and video release in addition to television.
The film's early buzz among buyers as a feature documentary with strong theatrical potential contributed to A&E's desire to partner with the filmmakers prior to the film's premiere. This hybrid deal combines the acquisition of rights along with an equity investment allowing all parties to benefit in the greater success of the film and to work together, along with the filmmaker's reps, to decide the best possible future plans for the film in all distribution platforms.
"We love the film and believe it has great potential to break out. It's a perfect fit for A&E IndieFilms and our strategy to invest in feature documentaries at every stage and bring them to audiences in theaters, on video and, of course, on television," said Bob DeBitetto, Executive Vice President and General Manager, A&E Network.
"A&E IndieFilms has co-produced several of my recent favorite documentaries, and I'm delighted to be in these films' company," said the film's director Amir Bar-Lev. "This deal will allow me to pay back my parents, my friends, my parents' friends, and my Aunt Nell -- a turn of events that I'm sure none of them ever expected. I'm looking forward to holding my head high at future holidays and family events."
The deal was engineered and brokered by Submarine and CAA on behalf of the filmmakers and A&E Network's Bob DeBitetto, Executive Vice President and General Manager; Robert Sharenow, Senior Vice President, Non Fiction and Alternative Programming; and Molly Thompson, Director of Programming, A&E IndieFilms.
"MY KID COULD PAINT THAT" -- A film by Amir Bar-Lev is directed and produced by Amir Bar-Lev for Axis Films and executive produced by John Battsek and Andrew Ruhemann for Passion Pictures. The film is edited by John Walter and Michael Levine and co-produced by Stephen Dunn.
AXIS Films is the production entity of Amir Bar-Lev. Bar-Lev's feature directorial debut, FIGHTER, won 6 international awards and was named one of the top documentaries of the year by Newsweek, The Rolling Stone, and The Village Voice. FIGHTER was released theatrically in the fall of 2001, and broadcast on IFC. Bar-Lev has since directed several award winning documentary and narrative shorts, including NEW ORLEANS FURLOUGH, and CHRIS DONAHOE: INDEPENDENT FILMMAKER. Bar-Lev has also produced numerous television programs for VH1, Sundance Channel, SpikeTV, MTV, and The Weather Channel.
A&E IndieFilms is the feature documentary production arm of A&E Networks. The division acquires, commissions and provides finishing funds for feature documentaries. The films are aimed for theatrical release first, before their showing on the TV network. In 2006, A&E IndieFilms produced "Jesus Camp," which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and was released theatrically by Magnolia Films. A&E IndieFilms also partnered with Thinkfilm on the Oscar-nominated, Sundance-winning documentary "Murderball."
Currently Oscar nominee Nanette Burstein ("On the Ropes" and "The Kid Stays in the Picture") is directing "American Teen," a film on high school students in Indiana. The network also recently green lit a documentary by RJ Cutler which boasts unprecedented access to Anna Wintour and the staff of Vogue magazine as they prepare the legendary September issue of the magazine.
In 2005, A&E IndieFilms became the founding sponsor of a $25,000 works-in-progress grant with the International Documentary Association. In 2006, Heineken matched that grant -- and the winner, Ashley York for her film "Ah Satan" will receive a total of $50,000.
Source: AXIS Films