Mongrel, Capri ink dist'n deal

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TORONTO -- Canadian independent film distributor Mongrel Media on Thursday said it will partner with Capri Releasing to distribute its film titles domestically, beginning with the May 4 theatrical release of Sarah Polley directorial debut "Away From Her."

As part of the co-distribution agreement, Toronto-based Capri Releasing will retain the rights to films it acquires, while Mongrel Media will partner on their theatrical and home video releases on a fee-for-work basis.

Mongrel president Hussain Amarshi said Capri is tying up with his company to take advantage of its growing leverage and muscle in the Canadian exhibition sector.

"It's a recognition that we have a certain expertise that we've developed over the last many years, and the films they are interested in will be better served with the setup we have," Amarshi said.

In recent years, Mongrel has grown as a boutique distributor to the point it has a Canadian output deal with Sony Pictures Classics.

Gabriella Martinella, president of Capri Films and Releasing, said in a statement that partnering with Mongrel Media on releasing films will allow her company "to focus on supporting and working with Canadian producers to make the best films possible."

Other Capri titles that Mongrel will help release include Roberto Faenza's "Come into the Light," Marcelo Gomes's "Cinema, Aspirins & Vultures," Robert Duvall's "Angelo My Love" and Stephen and Timothy Quay's "The Piano Tuner of Earthquakes."

The platform release of Polley's "Away From Her" will be timed to coincide with Lionsgate's U.S. release of the Julie Christie-Olympia Dukakis drama on the same date.

In Polley's debut feature, Christie portrays the forgetful, elderly wife of a philanderer in a nursing home, who turns her affections to another resident, played by Michael Murphy.

"Away From Her" has made the rounds on the festival circuit, bowing first at the 2006 Toronto International Film Festival before a U.S. premiere at Sundance and a recent European premiere in Berlin.

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