Tuesday, February 24, 2009

R.I.P. New Yorker Films (1965-2009)

by Chris MaGee

It really seems like it's been death by a thousand cuts for international and especially Asian film fans in the last year. Since May of last year we've seen both Tartan UK and USA and BCI Eclipse got out of business, sending their catalogue of films into limbo. Now word comes that a veteran of art house and foreign film distribution has gone out of business as well.

New Yorker Films, the distributor for a 400 film catalogue that includes DVDs of Hirokazu Kore-eda's "Maborosi" and "After Life", Shohei Imamura's "The Eel", and Nagisa Oshima's "Gohatto (Taboo)" was announced on their website that they have ceased operations and "...thank the filmmakers and producers who trusted us with their work, as well as our customers, whose loyalty has sustained us through the years."

Founded by Dan Talbot in 1965 and quickly becoming the preeminent distributor of art house cinema in the United States the company, who took it as a matter of pride that their bread and butter were "difficult films", found the current economic client to too difficult to keep things going. Now 82-years-old Talbot told New York Times that the company's film library is being sold as collateral on a loan that it owes its parent company Madstone Films which acquired New Yorker in 2002.

Truly sad news, and if there's only one thing I can say to you all out there about this carnage in the film distribution business in the past year it's this: Stop downloading films. If the film is actually available on DVD, especially a domestiv Region 1 DVD, go out and buy it. It's companies like New Yorker Films, Tartan, BCI Eclipse and many others who have introduced not only Japanese films but films from around the world to entirely new audiences. Don't devalue their work and the films they distribute by going online and taking them for free. If people actually start doing this then hopefully there will be fewer and fewer of these kind of sad stories to post.

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