Indie Films Opening June 14: Doc ‘Relentless Patriot’

Indie Films Opening June 14: Doc ‘Relentless Patriot’

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There’s been much speculation about distributors being wary about taking films critical of Donald Trump for fear he will sue – most recently Ali Abassi’s biopic The Apprentice, which premiered at Cannes to great reviews. The former president hates the movie and backer Dan Snyder has disavowed it. But if you love the guy, there’s new a place to go.

This weekend sees the first film from conservative production and distribution outfit Global Ascension Studios, which is releasing documentary Relentless Patriot on about 700 screens. Directed by Christopher Martini, it follows Staten Island’s Scott LoBaido, an aggressively pro-Trump artist and activist who paints flags and courts controversy with in-your-face street performances. In a recent gambit outside the lower Manhattan courthouse where Donald Trump was on trial, he released 100 penis-shaped mylar balloons decorated with the faces of Trump adversaries.

It’s catnip to the red state faction.

Global Ascension was launched by real estate and tech entrepreneur Josh Macciello to counter “woke” Hollywood. Its website notes that the doc’s release coincides with Flag Day and former President Donald Trump’s birthday. “With support from President Trump and the backing of Global Ascension Studios, the film seeks to inspire and mobilize audiences passionate about American patriotism.”

In an interview with Deadline, Macciello said Ascension’s next documentary will be on Trump himself and will come out before the 2024 presidential election, showing “sides of him people haven’t seen … This isn’t going to be QAnon-MAGA conspiracy, but who the man is.” The company is also finalizing contracts for a Rudy Giuliani doc. Feature projects in development include a political thriller, and a project based on the book The Deeds Of My Father about the Pope family, which bought the National Enquirer in the early 1950s and turned into a sensationalist tabloid.

That tabloid’s former owner David Pecker was a witness at Trump’s hush money trial, acknowledging that he colluded to buy and bury stories by women about the former president, and to publish stories that would hurt Trump’s opponents, ahead of the 2016 election.

A jury last month found Trump guilty on 34 felony counts in the case. Macciello disagrees with the verdict. “I feel in my heart that those charges are all BS.”

The site has photos of hims and Trump and the doc screened early at Mar-a-Lago. But he insists Global Ascension is not political. “I lean conservative, a family guy, Italian American, born and raised in Brooklyn. I live in California now, but I’m a registered Independent, you know, because to me, the best idea wins. But I happen to lean conservative … I was born and raised on Diff’rent Strokes and Family Ties and Good Times, and all these shows that, you know, that taught values and morals. And I think we lost our way a bit in media and in production. Right now, they just want to brainwash our kids.”

Projects have varied budgets and are self or bank financed with guarantees by himself or his partners. CEO Derek Chan helped found Oriental DreamWorks. Producer Arthur Sarkissian of the Rush Hour franchise, While Your Were Sleeping and Last Man Standing is head of global production.

Macciello, who hasn’t’ been a public figure although he got some press in 2012 when he bid unsuccessfully to buy the Dodgers — is president and runs day to day.

Meanwhile, traditional specialty fare this weekend is plentiful from Ghostlight to Firebrand, to mafia movie Fresh Kills, dark comedy Cora Bora, French thriller The Two of Us and more in a rather crowded arthouse market.

Bleecker Street opens Lena Dunham and Stephen Fry-starring Treasure, a 1990s set father-daughter road tripbyJulia Von Heinz, on approximately 649 screens. The film world premiered in Berlin, see Deadline review, and had its North American debut last week at the Tribeca Festival. Ruth (Dunham), an American music journalist, and her father, Edek (Fry), a charmingly stubborn Holocaust survivor, journey to his homeland in Poland. While Ruth is eager to make sense of her family’s past, Edek embarks on the trip with his own agenda as the two New Yorkers explore post-socialist Poland.

Firebrand by Karim Aïnouz premiered at Cannes last year, see Deadline review. The film made its NYC debut at Tribeca Festival. Alicia Vikander plays Katherine Parr, the last wife to Jude Law’s increasingly ailing King Henry VIII as palace intrigue and conspiracy theories swirl. Opening on 442 screens via Roadside and Vertical.

Face Off 7: One Wish from 3888 Films opens at 166 locations (144 US) in a wide release Stateside for a Vietnamese film, opening day and day with international territories. From director Ly Hai, the seventh installment of the longest and most successful film franchise in Vietnam has already grossed over $17.5 million in its home market, making it the third highest grossing film of all time in Vietnam. The feel-good family drama stars Thanh Hien as an elderly widow who questions the meaning of family love after an injury forces her to depend on the care of her five busy adult children.

Limited releases: Ghostlight from IFC Films is opening limited in NY, LA and Chicago, the hometown of filmmakers and talent and setting of movie. Expands next week. The film by Kelly O’Sullivan and Alex Thompson explore family dynamics when a melancholic construction worker Dan (Keith Kupferer) finds himself drifting from his wife (Tara Mallen) and daughter (Katherine Mallen Kupferer). He discovers community and purpose in a local theater’s production of Romeo and Juliet. But as the drama onstage starts to mirror his own life, he and his family are forced to confront a personal loss. Written by O’Sullivan. Premiered at Sundance, see Deadline review.

Music Box Films opens French thriller Just The Two Of Us by Valérie Donzelli (Declaration of War, Marguerite et Julien) and written by Audrey Diwan (Happening, Emmanuelle) and Donzelli. Stars Virginie Efira (Other People’s Children, Revoir Paris, Sibyl, Elle, Benedetta) and Melvil Poupaud (By The Grace Of God, Laurence Anyways, Marcello Mio) as a husband and wife whose fairy tale romance turn into a nightmare. Debuts in NYC at Alamo Drafthouse Lower Manhattan, and LA at Laemmle Glendale, followed by national expansion.

Premiered at Cannes in 2023. Won the 2024 César Award for Best Adapted Screenplay with nominations for Best Actress, Best Actor, and Original Score (Gabriel Yared). A 2024 Official Selection Film at Lincoln Center’s Rendez Vous with French Cinema.

Fresh Kills from Quiver Distribution, written and helmed by Jennifer Esposito in her feature directorial debut, opens at 35 locations. Stars Esposito, Emily Bader, Odessa A’zion and Annabella Sciorra as the loyal women of an organized crime family that dominated some of the boroughs of New York City.

Writer-director Noah Schamus’queer ode Summer Solstice debuts at IFC Center, adding Laemmle Glendale next weeks. Stars Bobbi Salvör Menuez (Under The Silver Lake) as a trans man whose life is a jumble of auditions, acting classes, barista jobs, and a quest for love. When his college best friend, cisgender and straight (Marianne Rendón) arrives for an impromptu road, they embark on a weekend getaway  with new gender dynamics and secret emotions. This is the second feature from Cartilage Films, Jasper Bach’s relaunched indie distribution label.

Film Movement presents 20,000 Species of Bees at the Roxy Cinema in NYC this weekend. The film by Basque director Estibaliz Urresola Solaguren features a family where the youngest member, an 8-year-old boy called Aitor, is feeling his way toward a new identity as a girl. Sofia Otero won the Silver Bear for a lead performer at the Berlinale in 2023 where the film premiered, see Deadline review. With Ane Gabarain, Itziar Lazkano and Patricia Lopez Arnaiz.

Hacks scene-stealer Meg Stalter stars in Cora Bora from Brainstorm Media, opening in limited release. The titular Cora goes home to win back her girlfriend, and soon realizes it’s much more than her love life that needs salvaging. Expands June 21. Premiere at SXSW in 2023.

Expansions: A24’s Tuesday with Julia Louis-Dreyfus expands, jumping to about 600 screens in week 2.

I Used to be Funny from Utopia, starring Rachel Sennott moves to about 40 theaters in 30+ markets including a NY expansion — holding at Quad in Manhattan and adding the Nitehawk in Brooklyn — along with a larger LA break (Los Feliz 3, Alamo Drafthouse and Laemmle cinemas).

Kino Lorber’s Banel & Adama and Abramorama’s Protocol 7 continue in limited release.

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