Arthouse Has A Blood Sucker Too In ‘You Won’t Be Alone’; The Contractor’ Debuts; ‘CODA’ Back On Screens – Specialty Preview

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The heroine of Goran Stolevski’s You Won’t Be Alone is a witch, with echoes of vampire and zombie, yes, but mostly with a haunting desire for human connection in 19th century rural Macedonia.

The film’s Sundance premiere got great reviews (see Deadline’s here). It’s 94% Rotten Tomatoes Certified Fresh with critics as Focus Features opens Stolevski’s debut feature on 147 carefully curated screens.

You Won’t Be Alone is subtitled and its narrator, the witch Nevena, grew up alone in a cave with a limited grasp of language. (“I feel pretty confident that there is little to no crossover” audience with Morbius, said Focus distribution chief Lisa Bunnell, referring to Sony’s scientist-turned-vampire wide release.)

Nevena (Sara Klimoska) is freed from her cave by a hideously deformed evil spirit called the Wolf-Eatress, or Old Maid Maria (Anamaria Marinca), who grows increasingly vengeful as they wander the mountainside and it’s clear her protegee prefers the company of humans. Nevena learns more about them from each body she takes over – two women and a man (Noomi Rapace, Alice Englert, Carloto Cotta). She uses their corpses to transform herself so there is a lot of scooping out of entrails and drinking and splattering of blood even if it’s not a typical horror pic. “Goran is a director who’s extremely talented and unique,” said Bunnell. “We wanted to audiences to discover his incredible storytelling theatrically like we did.”

Focus played festivals, curated screenings and worked with theaters (Alamo, Landmark, Angelika) on marketing along with a push on social media push and on its growing Focus Insider subscription site.

Paramount opens action thriller The Contractor at 489 locations with a simultaneous PVOD release. See Deadline review. Chris Pine stars as Special Forces Sergeant James Harper — discharged from the Army, in debt and desperate to provide for his family – who contracts with a private underground military force. When his first assignment goes awry, the elite soldier finds himself hunted and on the run, caught in a dangerous conspiracy. Directed by Tarik Saleh, written by J.P Davis.

Post-Oscar note: Apple is re-releasing Best Picture Winner CODA at over 600 locations with open captions accessible to deaf and hearing impaired. The film debuted in theaters with about 50 runs in 20 markets, as well as on AppleTV+ in August.

Also opening: IFC Films presents its Cannes 2021 pickup Nitram on 15+ screens, on-demand and on AMC+. Deadline review here. By Australian director Justin Kurzel (The Snowstorm Murders, Macbeth, Assassin’s Creed, The True History of the Kelly Gang). Written by Shaun Grant. The psychological drama set in Tasmania in the mid-1990s is the real life story of the worst lone-gunman mass killing in Australia’s history. Caleb Landry Jones is the lonely and frustrated shooter, who won the Best Actor award for his performance as Nitram, based on real Martin Bryant. Anthony LaPaglia and Judy Davis play his parents. With Essie Davis as Helen as a reclusive heiress who befriends Nitram.

From IFC Midnight, home invasion thriller Barbarians, the directorial debut of Charles Dorfman (producer of Maggie Gyllenhaal’s The Lost Daughter). Written by Dorfman. Stars Iwan Rheon, Catalina Sandino Moreno, Tom Cullen, Inès Spiridonov. Premiered at the 2021 Fantastic Film Festival. Set over twenty-four hours, Barbarians sees couple Adam (Rheon) and Eva (Moreno) awake in their dream house. They’re joined later by another couple for Adam’s birthday. But when the doorbell rings the evening takes a nightmarish turn. On 41 screens, on demand.

Cohen Media Group presents Gagarine in 24 theaters in 15 top markets. Directed by Fanny Liatard and Jérémy Trouilh. Youri, 16, has lived all his life in Gagarine Cité, a vast housing project on the outskirts of Paris, with dreams of becoming an astronaut. When plans to demolish his community’s home are leaked, he joins the resistance. The film was shot on the cusp of the actual demolition of Cité Gagarine in collaboration with its residents in Ivry-sur-Seine. Directors won for Best First Film at the Lumières International Press Awards in France.

Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein’s documentary The Business of Birth Control opens at the IFC Center in NYC, expanding to LA April 7 then to select theaters nationwide. Self-distributed. Follows their previous collaboration on 2008 doc, The Business of Being Born. Sixty years after the pill revolutionized women’s emancipation, the film examines the complex relationship between hormonal birth control and women’s health and liberation and highlights a new generation seeking alternatives to the pill and redefining reproductive justice. Directed by Abby Epstein, executive produced by Ricki Lake. Produced by Epstein, James Costa, Holly Grigg-Spall, Anna Kolber.

Samuel Goldwyn Films presents family action-adventure film Dakota on 15+ screens. Stars Abbie Cornish, Lola Sultan, Patrick Muldoon. A recently widowed single mom (Cornish) lives on her family’s farm in Georgia with her daughter (Sultan). Life on the farm is a challenge and things get more complicated when a combat dog called Dakota, arrives on their doorstep and the local sheriff tries to get his hands on their land. Kirk Harris directed from a script by Johnny Harrington.

Vertical Entertainment presents Every Last Secret. Written and directed by Matthew Coppola. To the dismay of her overprotective father (Ray Liotta), Penelope (Sophie Turner), a teenager living in New York City, takes interest in an emotionally volatile war veteran (Mark Kassen) suffering from PTSD. As their bond grows deeper, dark family secrets emerge.

Saban Films presents gangland revenge thriller Bull in 10 theaters. Written/directed by Paul Andrew Williams. With Neil Maskell, David Hayman, Tamzin Outhwaite. Bull (Maskell) is a vicious mob enforcer seeking revenge on the gang that double-crossed him.

Jud Apatow’s comedy The Bubble from Netflix continues at the Bay Theater and opens in five additional theaters and on streaming. See Deadline review. The cast and crew of a blockbuster action franchise attempt to shoot a sequel while quarantining at a posh hotel. Starring Karen Gillan, Iris Apatow, Fred Armisen.

Noting A24’s Everything Everywhere All At Once expands from 10 to 38 screens this week before a national release next.

And Neon’s Memoria begins its “never ending national tour” this weekend at New York’s IFC Center with Los Angeles’ Nuart Theater following on April 8. The distributor announced last year that the film — from director Apichatpong Weerasethakul, and starring Tilda Swinton — planned an unusual release strategy it called a “cinemas only…forever” tour. It has booked over 100 special engagements across multiple cities each week at arthouse cinemas. pop-up drive-ins, museums, art galleries, university screenings and outdoor events. See Deadline’s Cannes review.

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