One of the most controversial -- and acclaimed -- films of the year is coming to America a little earlier than expected. As reported at Hollywood Elsewhere, Christian Mungiu's 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, the Romanian film that won the Palme D'Or at Cannes, was going to be released January 25th 2008; now, though, the film will be playing a one-week engagement in L.A. starting December 21st. This move is entirely a decision by American releasing studio IFC to make it easier for film critics to put 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days on their year-end Best-of lists. It's easy to see the challenge for IFC: without a 2007 opening, 4 Months could fail to capitalize on the momentum it's built at Cannes, Telluride and Toronto in the past year's festival season; at the same time, with only festival screenings and a one-week run in L.A., the film may not have a broad enough footing to land on enough major Top Ten and critic's groups listings.

I was fortunate enough to see 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Daysat Cannes, and it's an amazing, breathtaking, knockout film; IFC purchased the film at Cannes, and began a strong publicity strategy, including bringing Mungiu to Toronto for interviews, including one with Cinematical. At the same time, I can easily think of other acclaimed films that have plenty of buzz for 2007 that have yet to play San Francisco -- or, for that matter, anywhere outside of the festival circuit or L.A. and New York (Lake of Fire is the first film that comes to mind for this year, or how The Lives of Others didn't play in SF prior to January 2007). The announcements from The New York, L.A., Chicago and San Francisco critic's groups will begin in the second week in December -- and until then, there's no way to know if IFC's gamble will pay off ...