Cinematical's Indie Roundup: 'Sweetgrass,' 'Clarkworld,' 'Broken Embraces'

Indie Roundup gathers a selection of indie film news from the past seven days and offers a peek ahead to what's coming

Deal. Do not despair that the first month of the new year will be filled solely with the expansion of award contenders. Distribution rights in the US for Sweetgrass have been acquired by The Cinema Guild, according to indieWIRE, and the documentary will open at Film Forum in Manhattan on January 6, followed by a rollout across the country.

Directed by Ilisa Barbasch and Lucien Castaing-Taylor, Sweetgrass "follows the last sheepherders to trail their flocks up into Montana's Beartooth mountains for summer pasture," per its official synopsis. After debuting at the Berlin Film Festival last year, the doc played the festival circuit quite successfully, picking up positive critical notices. Check out the splendid trailer in all its quiet, chud-chewing glory after the jump.

Online / On-Demand Viewing. Debuting on demand next Sunday, Clarkworld paints a portrait of filmmaker Bob Clark. Best known for his perennial holiday favorite A Christmas Story, Clark also made the groundbreaking Porky's, which set the tone for all raunchy teen comedies to come, and the significant slasher pic Black Christmas, another flick that was a trendsetter (or at least ripped off at will). Director Deren P. Abram talked with Peter Billingsley (former child star turned filmmaker), Kim Cattrall, Jon Voight, Denise Richards, Mary Steenburgen, John Saxon, Scott Baio, and other people who weren't even in any of his movies! We have the trailer for this one after the jump, too, which makes for an interesting contrast with the one for Sweetgrass. Look for the movie on cable systems via Cinetic FilmBuff.

After the jump: box office talk; trailers for Sweetgrass and Clarkworld.
Indie Weekend Box Office. Even as a teen vampire romance tore up the box office, Lee Daniels' Precious continued to claim its share of revenue. As our own Eugene Novikov commented, "Precious showed no signs of slowing down upon expanding into semi-wide release this weekend; $100 million remains plausible, and if Lionsgate fulfills its award ambitions, possibly more." Precious averaged $17,300 per theater (629 locations), according to Box Office Mojo.

'Broken Embraces'The top of the chart, however, belonged to Pedro Almodóvar and his latest, Broken Embraces (pictured), which took in an average of $53,556 at the two theaters where it opened. Almodovar has a devoted audience, and the presence of Penelope Cruz should help as the film expands in the coming weeks. Critical reception has been generally favorable, according to Metacritic, with A.O. Scott of The New York Times opining: "Every one of us has [lost so much over the years], and if Mr. Almodóvar has grown wise enough to understand that art is a dreadfully inadequate compensation, he is still generous enough to offer it to us anyway."

Also debuting strongly: Fantastic Mr. Fox, which is very much a Wes Anderson indie despite (or maybe because of) the all-ages appeal and studio backing ($50,878 average at four theaters). Alexander Sokurov's 2005 film The Sun opened in one theater and earned $11,588 (more on the positive wave of critical reaction at indieWIRE); Werner Herzog's Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans played in 27 theaters and averaged $9,089, which is not too shabby, all things considered.

Further down the disappointment register comes John Woo's Red Cliff. The international version, edited down from more than four hours of footage spread over two films, drew only $6,552 at two theaters.The timing might have been off on this one, but I hope it can hold its own as it opens in more theaters this holiday weekend.

Trailers: Check out the trailer for Sweetgrass:

And here's the trailer for Clarkworld: