IFC picks up Harvey Weinstein biopic doc

Director Barry Avrich calls subject 'the Last Bully'

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TORONTO -- Harvey Weinstein is about to get the big-screen treatment, although the indie mogul will not be controlling the final results.

IFC Films announced Thursday that it has acquired Barry Avrich's documentary "Unauthorized: The Harvey Weinstein Project," which will recount the career of the Miramax co-founder who now heads the Weinstein Co. with his brother Bob.

IFC picked up worldwide rights, except for Canada, to the doc, which is nearly completed.

Avrich, a Canadian filmmaker who wrote and directed the 2005 doc "The Last Mogul," about Lew Wasserman, told the New York Times this year that he had unsuccessfully sought Weinstein's cooperation on the film.

Instead, he said, Weinstein at first suggested Avrich do a doc about Arthur Krim, who headed United Artists and Orion Pictures. Weinstein then mentioned that Quentin Tarantino was planning a competing Weinstein doc, although that project has apparently never progressed beyond the talking stages.

The Weinstein Co. had no comment on the latest developments with Avrich's film.

In a proposal Avrich sent out to potential distributors, the filmmaker wrote, "There are those that say making a documentary film on Harvey Weinstein is career suicide or, in fact, personally dangerous. Others have warned me that Harvey will never allow the film to get distribution."

In stepping up to the challenge, IFC -- which has released other docs critical of the movie industry like Kirby Dick's "This Film Is Not Yet Rated" -- described Avrich's film, which is narrated by Peter Fonda, as "a powerful, uncensored, no-holds-barred account that traces Weinstein's path from concert promoter on the cold streets of Buffalo to his first trip to the Cannes Film Festival, where he arrived with one pair of pants and closed his first movie deal, to winning an Oscar and breaking the bank with his first $100 million film. It examines his complex relationships with his brother, his staff and the Hollywood community at large and features interviews with industry insiders and the Hollywood creative community."

In the acquisition announcement, Avrich justified the project, saying, "I believe that great stories must be told. Harvey and Bob Weinstein, without a question, redefined so many rules of Hollywood marketing, distribution and filmmaking that you simply can't ignore their impact on history. ... Without Hollywood's 'Last Bully,' there would be no 'Pulp Fiction,' no one would have known about that English patient, Rob Marshall would still be a chorus boy and Quentin would be recommending Bruce Lee's greatest hits in some video store."

IFC made two other acquisitions this week at the Toronto International Film Festival: James Gunn's "Super" and Werner Herzog's 3D doc "Cave of Forgotten Dreams."
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