EXCLUSIVE:Zeitgeist Films and Kino Lorber have teamed to acquire The Doctor From India, a feature documentary from Jeremy Frindel. It’s the latest deal between the companies who earlier this year formed a multi-year strategic alliance that in part has them co-acquiring four to five features per year. Their latest, the docu Bombshell: The Heddy Lamar Story, bowed in November.
Zeitgeist previously teamed with Frindel on his One Track Heart: The Story of Krisna Das. His followup follows Dr. Vasant Lad and his mission to bring the ancient holistic healthcare system of wellness called Ayurveda from India to the West in the late 1970s.
Under the companies’ deal, Zeitgeist will market and release the film theatrically and Kino Lorber will handle home entertainment.
Said Zeitgeist co-presidents Nancy Gerstman and Emily Russo: “One Track Heart made us ‘true believers’ in [Frindel’s] work and his passion for his subjects and The Doctor From India, another wonderful documentary on a subject we all should become familiar with, is a must-see.”
Kino Lorber CEO Richard Lorber and Russo negotiated the deal with Craig F. Cohen of McCue Sussman.
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‘Antebellum’ has a ‘Get Out’ vibe, but doesn’t live up to its twist
“Antebellum” is built around a provocative twist, and it’s a good one — as well as one that definite..
“Antebellum” is built around a provocative twist, and it’s a good one — as well as one that definitely shouldn’t be spoiled even a little. Once that revelation is absorbed, however, the movie becomes less distinctive and inspired, reflecting an attempt to tap into the zeitgeist that made “Get Out” a breakthrough, without the same ability to pay off the premise.
Originally destined for a theatrical run, the movie hits digital platforms trumpeting a “Get Out” pedigree in its marketing campaign, since there’s an overlap among the producing teams.
More directly, the film marks the directing debut of Gerard Bush + Christopher Renz, who have championed social-justice issues through their advertising work. The opening script features a quote from author William Faulkner, whose intent will eventually become clearer: “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”
If that sounds like a timely means of drawing a line from the horrors of slavery to the racism of today, you’ve come to the right place.
The story begins on a plantation, where the brutal overseers carry out grisly punishments against those tilling the fields. A few have just tried to escape, led by Veronica (Janelle Monae), and they pay a heavy price for their resistance, which does nothing to curb her defiance.
Also written by Bush + Renz, the script take too long before revealing what makes “Antebellum” different, but the middle portion — a “The Twilight Zone”-like phase when it’s hard to be sure exactly what’s going on — is actually the film’s strongest. (Even the trailer arguably gives away too much, so the less one knows, the better.)
The final stretch, by contrast, veers into more familiar thriller territory, and feels especially rushed toward the end, leaving behind a host of nagging, unanswered questions. That provides food for thought, but it’s also what separates the movie from something like “Get Out,” which deftly fleshed out its horror underpinnings.
Although the filmmakers (in a taped message) expressed disappointment that the movie wasn’t making its debut in theaters, in a strange way, the on-demand format somewhat works in its favor. In the press notes, Bush says the goal was “to force the audience to look at the real-life horror of racism through the lens of film horror. We’re landing in the middle of the very conversations that we hoped ‘Antebellum’ would spur.”
“Antebellum” should add to that discussion, so mission accomplished on that level. Monae is also quite good in her first leading film role (she did previously star in the series “Homecoming’s” second season), but otherwise, most of the characters remain underdeveloped.