Talk of the Town: New Yorker Goes Bust

File under economics indicators and just a tremendous bummer for cinephiles. New Yorker films has gone out of business, and Salon writer Andrew O’Hehir gives it a nice obit. Apparently, the distributor had to close after their films and DVDs were used as collateral on a loan by owners Madstone Films. Madstone collapsed, defaulted, and now New Yorker is no more. Chances are if you saw a film by Fassbinder, Rivette, Akerman or Kusturica, it was thanks to partners Dan Talbot and Jose Lopez. O’Hehir boggles at the sheer willfulness of the enterprise:

“In a broader sense, New Yorker’s long-term willingness to defy the marketplace realities of American film distribution never seemed like a sustainable business model. While the films listed above attracted at least some American viewers, New Yorker was worshiped in cinephile circles precisely because it often took on difficult and adventurous cinema that was destined to find almost no audience. Sometimes Talbot and Lopez seemed to be running an educational foundation under the guise of a for-profit business. In bringing films by African cinema godfather Ousmane Sembène, Chinese rebel Jia Zhang-ke, obscure American auteur Lodge Kerrigan and legendary French documentarian Chris Marker to a handful of American viewers they were undeniably performing a public service, but they surely didn’t make any money in doing so.”

Of course, once you get that sweet taste of Celine and Julie Go Boating, you want more. So O’Hehir’s real question is: what next? Some insist New Yorker will continue. Others dream of their library falling into caring hands, like IFC. Others wonder “whether anybody still wants to see them.” One glib response would be to insist on an AIG-style bailout. Another is to wonder if similarly tiny art-house distributors like Kino and Rialto have made similarly fragile financial arrangements …

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One Response to “Talk of the Town: New Yorker Goes Bust”

  1. The Slate: Who’s Doing What to Whom and For How Much « SquallyShowers Says:

    […] Bilge Ceylan’s Three Monkeys has changed hands following New Yorker Films going bust. Zeitgeist Films will now distribute the Cannes prize-winner. Expect it to bow in New York in […]

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