Deaf Crocodile and Gratitude Films To Debut With Contemporary Indian Indies & ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13 This Spring

Editor, U.S. ; Dallas, Texas (@HatefulJosh)
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A pair of new distributors have announced their arrival on the theatrical scene this morning with the bold acquisition of two contemporary Indian independent films fresh off successful festival runs. Deaf Crocodile, a partnership of former Cinelicious Pics/Arbelos execs Dennis Bartok & Craig Rogers, and Gratitude Films from festival programming veteran (Jio MAMI Mumbai) Anu Rangachar have come together to present The Shepherdess and the Seven Songs (Laila Aur Saat Geet) and The Village House (Gamak Ghar) to US audiences this spring. Deaf Crocodile will also be releasing a brand new 4K restoration of John Carpenter's siege classic, Assault on Precinct 13 exclusively to theaters in 2022 following a festival premiere.

It is rare that Indian indepedents make it to American cinema screens, which makes this initial foray for both companies a bit of a bold gambit, but one we are definitely excited about. Deaf Crocodile's team of Bartok & Rogers were also behind the US releases of Anurag Kashyap's Gangs of Wasseypur and psychedlic animated oddity The Belladonna of Sadness with Cinelicious Pics as well as Bela Tarr's Satantango with Arbelos among many others, so their affinity for risk-taking is well-documented. 

Gratitude's Rangachar is a long time festival programmer who recently jumped behind the scenes with her executive producer role in Arun Karthik's festival hit, Nasir. Her keen eye for up and coming talent in India has helped a number of smaller production see the light of day through her work with the Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival over the years. These two films will be her first foray into distribution as a partner with Deaf Crocodile after having built a solid relationship with the primaries on getting Wasseypur to US cinema screens in 2015.

Have a look at the details of these exciting new films:

Date:  February 24, 2021

New Distribution Companies DEAF CROCODILE and GRATITUDE FILMS

Bring New & World Cinema and Select Restorations To Audiences Nationwide.

First Releases Are Acclaimed Indian Films THE SHEPHERDESS AND THE SEVEN SONGS

and THE VILLAGE HOUSE, plus 4K restoration of John Carpenter’s

ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13.

DEAF CROCODILE and GRATITUDE FILMS are two newly launched Distribution companies bringing new and world cinema and select restorations to North American audiences via theatrical release, VOD, Blu-Ray & DVD and television. The companies were started by three art-house veterans and friends:  film restoration expert Craig Rogers and distributor and exhibitor Dennis Bartok for Deaf Crocodile; and former longtime Mumbai Film Festival programmer Anu Rangachar for Gratitude Films.  Together, the two companies are forming a unique partnership to bring vibrant and challenging independent cinema from across India to North American audiences.

Deaf Crocodile is a boutique Distribution + Restoration + Post-Production company focused on New, Independent, Lost/Unseen and World Cinema with a special interest in World Animation, LGBTQ films, Cult Horror + Fantasy, and the work of neglected and underrepresented Filmmakers from across the spectrum.  Rogers is overseeing Restoration + Post-Production services and Bartok is handling Acquisition and Distribution.  The company is located in Los Angeles.

Gratitude Films Inc. is a boutique Distribution company founded by Anu Rangachar in the USA with the aim of acquiring and distributing art-house World Cinema, with a special focus on Asian and Indian films.  The company is located in Mumbai and Los Angeles.

“We all share a mutual passion for bringing emerging new voices from around the globe to U.S. audiences,” says Dennis Bartok.  “A great part of the fun in distribution, exhibition and programming is finding those rare and beautiful movies like THE SHEPHERDESS AND THE SEVEN SONGS and THE VILLAGE HOUSE.  These are just the kind of poetic, engaging and deeply human films we want to introduce to art-house audiences. ”

“I’m very excited to be continuing to do what I love – that is discovering hidden, lost or forgotten films and bringing them to a new audience,” says Craig Rogers.  “I believe moviegoers will be touched by these films’ beauty and universal themes. Although many art-house theatres are shuttered in the U.S. right now due to COVID-19, we’re fully committed to the theatrical experience and looking forward to releasing these films in the Fall when theatres hopefully re-open and audiences return.”

“I have been having multiple conversations with friends in North America for the past few years as I became aware of the huge gap in the US art-house distribution circuit for Indian independent cinema and I was looking for the right collaborators,” says Anu Rangachar.  “I have known Dennis Bartok for a long time now and always marveled at his deep knowledge of Indian Cinema.  Both Dennis and Craig are huge cinephiles and that’s reflected in their work.  So it was a very natural and organic collaboration that comes out of all of our mutual admiration for the same things we care for in quality Independent cinema.”

The companies will roll out their first co-presentations theatrically and digitally in the Fall of 2021, beginning with director Pushpendra Singh’s stunningly beautiful and mystical feminist drama THE SHEPHERDESS AND THE SEVEN SONGS, set in the disputed territory of Jammu and Kashmir in northwestern India and following an independent young bride named Laila who marries into a tribe of traditional Bakarwal herders (in Gujari and Hindi languages with English subtitles); and THE VILLAGE HOUSE, the astonishing debut feature from 23-year old writer/director Achal Mishra.  In the vein of Bergman’s FANNY AND ALEXANDER, THE VILLAGE HOUSE is a lovely, luminous and gentle portrait of a large extended Indian family over several decades as they gather at the matriarch’s rural home.  (In Maithili language with English subtitles).  Deaf Crocodile and Gratitude will handle North American distribution for THE SHEPHERDESS AND THE SEVEN SONGS and World distribution (outside of India) for THE VILLAGE HOUSE.

“I was inspired by the feminist ideas in this folktale by Vijaydan Detha, but wanted to make it as a contemporary story. I have always been interested in a folk aesthetic and am always fascinated to find connections in different folk cultures which highlight how oral traditions have traveled across the world over centuries,” observes THE SHEPHERDESS AND THE SEVEN SONGS director Pushpendra Singh.  “The ending of this folk tale reminded me of Lal Ded, the 14th century mystic poetess from Kashmir and this led me to adapt it there. We shot the film with the migration cycle of the Bakarwal nomads in three schedules in different seasons.”

"THE VILLAGE HOUSE is a very personal film based on my childhood experiences, and is, in a way, my attempt to preserve the memory of our ancestral home,” says director Achal Mishra.  “The film has been very warmly received by audiences across India and we are really excited now to bring the film to an international audience.”

On its own, Deaf Crocodile is currently working on a new restoration of John Carpenter’s explosive 1976 urban action classic ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13 in collaboration with the film’s executive producer Joseph Kaufman.  Utilizing the original 35mm camera negative and sound elements, this pristine and painstaking restoration will be the first-ever 4K version of the film available, slated for a special theatrical only re-release in early 2022 following its festival premiere.

“Almost all of John Carpenter's movies are owned by large entertainment conglomerates.  One exception is ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13, which is owned by people who made it,” says Joseph Kaufman.  “As executive producer of the film, I am excited to work with Deaf Crocodile on a 4K scan of the original camera negative, and the possibility of applying new technology, including HDR10 and Dolby Vision, to extract much more from the negative image than has been possible before, while still respecting the movie's original roots.”

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