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Sad, sad news...

Peter Nellhau

Here is a possible answer -


Now that I'm safely ensconced in a new job well outside the independent film industry I think it's safe to say that Tartan Films is more or less solely responsible for me being laid off from my last job. More specifically, I think the legal brouhaha surrounding the release of Mysterious Skin is what did me and several others in during the fateful summer of 2006.

Marco Gonzalez Ambriz

I'll take Phone over Reygadas any day.


Sad news

but Oldboy was an awesome movie

bill bixby

I'm sad to see Tartan go, but to write "I guess they knew where the money was" in the context of the company shutting down is kind of sloppy.


Peter -- Thanks for the link. Some useful information in there...

Blackmail -- I'd love to hear more, if you're interested in sharing.

Marco -- Fair enough, to each his own.

Bill -- didn't mean for the comment to sound facetious. I honestly do think they struck while the iron was hot, and made the most of it. Perhaps if they had diversified, the drop-off in J- and K-Horror might not have hurt them so much?


Thanks for the wrap-up, FB. It's odd how little has been written about this, relative to its significance.

What really irks me is, financial troubles like the ones that sank Tartan don't just materialize overnight. (And word had been circulating for well over a year. A friend who works in exhibition informed me that their release slate was languishing partly due to unpaid bills to Technicolor and various key film venues. As a result of bad dealings, they'd been blacklisted from Film Forum and other plum screens.)

So why did Tartan go on a buying spree at Cannes 2007? Now, SILENT LIGHT, IMPORT EXPORT, and YOU THE LIVING are almost guaranteed to go straight to video in the US. And that's the *best* case scenario. They also bought EX DRUMMER last year, at Toronto, I believe. And that's not even getting into their 2006 backlog.

THINKFilm made news last week for sending Azazel Jacobs' MOMMA'S MAN over to Kino, and I say, good for them. That's integrity -- don't take the filmmakers down with you. I guess Tartan execs thought they could spend their way out of a hole? I'd suggest Gamblers Anonymous.

Ryland Walker Knight

Yea, do you think we ever will see a Region 1 DVD of _Silent Light_?

Victor Morton

I'm about as far from a film purist as it gets ... but if ever there was a movie that it'd be cruel to release straight-to-DVD, it's SILENT LIGHT. This is a real crusher.


Thanks to a legal pissing contest over the DVD release of Mysterious Skin, my former employer lost several court cases and a substantial sum of money that forced it to purge several talented people, myself included. I wasn't really privy to the conversation surrounding this issue, but from the sound of it Tartan convinced Araki to sue over the DVD release, which had already been produced and was ready to ship. Production and promotion costs, on top of the settlement, really hit the bottom line.

Of course releasing gems like Ellie Parker and other luminous titles on DVD didn't help much either.


the asian extreme end of the market, as part of the growth in asian film we've seen during the life of DVD, has done a lot of damage. it's the only aspect of tartan's output that had interested me the past years - though i used to pick over rental stores for their french output in the mid-90s - so i'm not sure there was more focus on this part of their slate over other output, particularly as independant labels as a whole (let alone tartan) struggle to actually promote the stuff they're releasing... at least, the reason the asian extreme fair was visible never felt as though it was purely tartans doing, more than they benefitted from manipulating how certain extreme elements of asia's recent output could be portrayed and included in a generalised series of sleeve designs that became identifiable despite how diversely some of the stuff could be described if you watched the stuff. people picked up on this marketing trick as a guide to what was worthwhile - sticking to it through thick and thin to enough of an extent that people will perhaps be harder to persuade when offered things outside this field, even though there has always been more than extreme japanese stuff out there in america.

tartan, ultimately, will have been regarded as worthwhile and successful by those that gained from how obvious the company became (thus taking the effort away from less mainstream films - potentially this can clearly go dramatically wrong, as it's not necessarily a genuine interest when it happens all too easily, despite how we would like to find it easier to promote to non-fanboys), rather than well remembered for a diverse and progressive building of an audience. they failed because things went wrong in many places, but not because it was all out of their hands either.

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