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Saturday, March 21, 2015

DISTRIBUTION Director sues to enforce final cut right

Abel Ferrara threatens to sue over US cut of Welcome to New York (Ben Child, Guardian)

We'll be hearing next week from a local filmmaker who's seen his debut feature radically repackaged by an American distributor. That may end up proving commercially useful, but, like the article below (and the book on Harvey Scissorhands Weinstein that I've frequently recommended), its a good reminder that distributors can get hands on with production, albeit post-production, as much as producers, through marketing, can have a hand in distribution (self-distributing is a further relevant element here).

The maverick film-maker Abel Ferrara is threatening to sue the US distributors of his controversial film about the Dominique Strauss-Kahn scandal, Welcome to New York, to halt the release of a version made without his involvement for the American market.

Ferrara has issued a cease and desist letter to IFC films claiming the new version violates his contractual right of final cut and radically alters the “political and moral content” of the film.
It is understood that the new version of Welcome to New York has been cut from 125 minutes to 108 minutes. Ferrara appears to be most upset about the recutting of a central rape scene which now appears in flashback, potentially leaving the credibility of its victim open to interpretation. “The version being released in the US may lead viewers to think that maybe she imagined it,” said the film-maker. “It does not respect the woman who was raped at all, and the fact that my name is on this film is a crime.”
Ferrara has been locked in a battle with Wild Bunch and IFC since last autumn, with Welcome to New York having debuted outside the official lineup during the Cannes film festival in May. Wild Bunch says the Bad Lieutenant director was contractually obliged to deliver a cut which would meet strict guidelines for films rated R by the US censor. When the film-maker failed to deliver, producers made their own edit.
“This version has existed for eight months, has been released all over the world by distributors to whom we gave the choice between two versions, and all unanimously preferred the shorter version not only for commercial reasons but because they found it much better,” Wild Bunch head Vincent Maraval told Indiewire earlier this month.

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