In a time when independent and arthouse films fight for even the smallest of screens in multiplexes or any sort of space in high street retailers, we can only but admire the small distributors who continue to take risks. UK and Irish film fans may be familiar with Third Window Films, who in my humblest of opinions are amongst Europe's finest film distributors. Focusing on Asian cinema, a large amount of the most interesting recent Japanese and Korean independent films have been localised and released by the guys over in Third Windows. Love Exposure, Confessions, Confessions of a Dog, Oasis, Cold Fish, Instant Swamp, Turtles Are Surprisingly Fast Swimmers, Peppermint Candy, Memories of Matsuko, Kakera... just a few of the fantastic films that have been brought to cinema and DVD by TWF.
It's with sadness that I read their lengthy facebook update today. Best to read it for yourself over yonder. In short: like many other distributors and record labels, their stock and production schedules were destroyed when a Sony production centre in North London was set alight by ignorant, aggressive rioters. While - thankfully - insured, it's going to have a serious impact on availability of stock for the near future. Production has moved to a smaller plant in England, and while your preorder of the mega deluxe edition of Thor is unlikely to be affected, smaller distributors are going to be waiting a while for things to return to normal, and they face some serious cashflow problems in the meantime.
So, like Third Window did in their post, I'd really encourage everyone to help 'em out while they try to get back to full speed. They have a cinema release of Villain coming up: I saw it on a plane back at the start of the year, and it's pretty great. I actively look forward to seeing it on a screen that isn't a piece of shit. They have a great selection of films to watch over on Mubi, where I intend on checking out the rest of Chang-don Lee's stuff after being deeply impressed by his recent Poetry. And a quick search on amazon will hook you up with some damn good Third Window films for well under a tenner.
Hopefully I don't sound too much like a shill here: I have absolutely nothing to do with Third Window, just as a borderline obsessive fan of Asian cinema they have in recent years proven to be the most consistent independent distributor of interesting, offbeat and high quality cinema from the East. It really is a damn shame to read that a few yobs have had such a negative effect. So, if you can, check out some of their releases in the next few weeks and months, whether digitally or on DVD. I would personally highly recommend the epic, mental, brilliant Love Exposure and the ambitious, moving Memories of Matsuko. Confessions of a Dog is angry, compulsive cinema, and Kakera, Instant Swamp and Turtles... are lovable, quirky gems. Below are a few reviews from the Film Ha Ha archives of Third Window releases. Times are hard enough for film distributors who aim for a niche audience. It's only appropriate to help 'em out when they need it.
And, naturally, so us Irish can finally get to see Sawako Decides ;)
Review: Cold Fish
Review: Instant Swamp