It's been a flurry of activity over the past couple of days-Spring Break must be over. Magnolia Pictures is beefing up its doc slate for 2010, headed by the much anticipated omnibus project Freakonomics, based on the best-selling 2005 book by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, in which the authors, an economist and a journalist, respectively, apply economic theory to a diverse range of phenomena in contemporary culture. The doc, which will close the 2010 Tribeca Film Festival, is comprised of cinematic chapters, helmed by some of the most prominent names in nonfiction-the ubiquitous Alex Gibney, whose film Casino Jack and the United States of Money comes out May 7, also through Magnolia; Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady, whose 12th and Delaware airs this August on HBO; Morgan Spurlock (Super Size Me); Eugene Jarecki (Why We Fight); and Seth Gordon (The King of Kong). Chad Troutwine, who produced the ensemble piece Paris, Je T'Aime, is producing Freakonomics with Dan O'Mearta and Chris Romano. Michael Ciepley of The New York Times feels that Magnolia might have a hit on its hands, and with its previous hit, Food, Inc., having been inspired by two best-sellers, Fast Food Nation and The Omnivore's Dilemma, he's probably right. The film opens in theaters this fall.
Another omnibus project, Convention, has found a home with Sundance Selects, which will release the film on-demand May 12, then in theaters beginning June 4 in New York City. The film documents the behind-the-scenes run-up to the historic 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver. AJ Schnack was the ringleader of the project, gathering together an impressive ensemble of docmakers to make it happen: Steve Bognar and Julia Reichert (The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant); Laura Poitras (The Oath); Paul Taylor (We Are Together); and Daniel Junge (The Last Campaign of Governor Booth Gardner). "This is an extremely well made and entertaining documentary of a historic event that will delight anyone with even a remote interest in national politics," said Jonathan Sehring of Sundance Selects, in a statement. "We are thrilled to be working with AJ and the all-star team of directors he has assembled. We think this is a great film for all our platforms."
Schnack commented, in the statement, "Having the opportunity to work closely with some of my favorite filmmakers during the historic convention week was tremendously inspiring. I'm very excited about our new partnership with Sundance Selects and am glad that viewers of all political stripes will soon have a chance to see the film."
Elsewhere in acquisition-land, Arthouse Films picked up Lucy Walker's Waste Land, which won audience awards at both Sundance and Berlin this year. The film, which will be released some time this year, follows renowned artist Vik Muniz as he journeys from his home base in Brooklyn to his native Brazil and the world's largest garbage dump, Jardim Gramacho, located on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro. There he photographs an eclectic band of "catadores" -- or self-designated pickers of recyclable materials.
Walker's other Sundance 2010 film, Countdown to Zero, which explores the dangerous presence of nuclear weaponry around the world, will be released theatrically July 9 through Magnolia Pictures and Participant Media.
Finally, as reported in indieWire, Balcony Releasing is distributing The Sun behind the Clouds: Tibet's Struggle for Freedom to US theaters this spring. The film, directed and produced by Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam, opened March 31 in New York City.