Cinematical's Indie Roundup: 'Le Refuge,' 'Countdown to Zero,' 'Picture Me'

Indie Roundup is your weekly guide to what's new and upcoming in the world of independent film. Pictured from left to right:
Le Refuge, Countdown to Zero, and Picture Me.

Deals. It was another busy week of acquisition activity. Here's a quick rundown, with details courtesy of our friends at indieWIRE.
  • Strand Releasing picked up Francois Ozon's Le Refuge. Isabelle Carre stars as woman impregnated by her late boyfriend; she 'develops a strong bond with her boyfriend's brother.' Oh, the French! Look for it in theaters this spring.
  • Magnolia Pictures grabbed the documentary Countdown to Zero, directed by Lucy Walker, a Sundance premiere that "follows the escalating global nuclear arms crisis." A fall release is in the works.
  • IFC Films acquired Duncan Ward's satire Boogie Woogie, set in the contemporary London art scene. The cast is impressive, including Danny Huston, Stellan Skarsgard, Heather Graham, Alan Cumming, Christopher Lee, Charlotte Rampling, and Amanda Seyfried. It hits video on demand systems on April 21 and theaters on April 23.
  • Strand Releasing also will distributePicture Me, a doc by Ole Schell and Sara Ziff that goes behind the scenes of the high fashion modeling world. With the successful release last year of fashion-related docs The Last Valentino and The September Issue, this could be a sleeper. Strand will send it down the runway this summer.
  • Paladin accounced plans for its release of Great Directors, a documentary by Angela Ismailos that "celebrates films and filmmaking by interviewing ten of the world's most acclaimed living directors." Conversations with the likes of Bernardo Bertolucci, David Lynch, Stephen Frears, Agnes Varda, Ken Loach, Liliana Cavani, Todd Haynes, Catherine Breillat, Richard Linklater and John Sayles. "Top markets" will get the film in late spring.
After the jump: religious differences at the box office.

'My Name is Khan'Indie Weekend Box Office. Opening at 120 theaters, My Name is Khan earned an average of $18,875 per location. Our source, Box Office Mojo, does not always include Indian films in their totals, but Fox Searchlight is the distributor, which explains why Khan made the list. It's already the "highest grossing specialty film released in 2010," according to indieWIRE.

Our own Jenni Miller asked: "Want to see a real romance that makes you laugh and cry and root for the heroes and is beautifully shot and full of all the things that Hollywood feel-good films lack? My Name is Khan has got your number." The film stars Shah Rukh Khan as a Muslim man from India. Despite their religious differences, he romances a Hindu hairdresser, but the events of 9/11 threaten to tear them apart forever.

Rialto Pictures' re-issue of Akira Kurosawa's epic Ran made $13,470 in its second week of release at one theater. It's a rather magnificient film, as I recall from a single viewing during its original run, and should still look splendid on the big screen. Check the distributor's web site to see if your city is one of the lucky ones that will host the 25th anniversary release.

A "rather sketchy" Israeli neighborhood is examined in Ajami, which took in $12,171, on average, at four theaters in its second week of release. Cinematical's Eric D. Snider says that "rather sketchy" neighborhood in Jaffa is where "Muslims, Christians, and Jews live uneasily with each other ... We discover that many of our assumptions were wrong, and that having more of the facts lets us see things more clearly. ... Ajami, nominated for an Oscar in the foreign-language category, is bleak, but not in a dreary, oppressive way -- more in a suspenseful way, the way certain good movies can take us to dark places without leaving us there."

Switching back to indieWIRE's box office report for a moment, two docs scored well. Erik Gandini's Italian media doc Videocracy and eccentric family doc October Country are both playing at New York's IFC Center. Check out the trailer for Videocracy right here at Cinematical.

A.J. Schnack has more insightful comments on the week in documentaries at his site, All These Wonderful Things.