IFC Films picks up 'Melancholy'

Feature debut for writer-director Barry Jenkins

NEW YORK -- IFC Films has nabbed worldwide rights to writer-director Barry Jenkins' romantic drama "Medicine for Melancholy."

Jenkins' feature debut, which premieres Friday in competition at the L.A. Film Festival, revolves around an African-American couple dealing with issues of class and identity in San Francisco's black community. Wyatt Cenac (Fox's "King of the Hill") and Tracey Heggins star.

The film, produced by Justin Barber and Cherie Saulter, "will not only inspire and ignite great discussions among the African-American community but is sure to engage audiences across the globe," said IFC Entertainment president Jonathan Sehring.

IFC mainly acquires U.S. or North American rights to features, but has recently started acquiring more worldwide rights to American indies like the Cannes fest entry "The Pleasure of Being Robbed" and "Medicine." Sehring said that while there are no plans for an IFC international theatrical distribution or sales arm, in-house employees may pursue overseas sales for "Medicine" to foreign distributors after it hits the international fest circuit.

Sehring referenced IFC parent Cablevision's acquisition of Sundance Channel and said his company was looking at new distribution models for indie cinema, hinting that a global network is one possible initiative being explored. "There's a real gap in the marketplace for true American independent titles abroad, with distribution companies set up so that local films get seen first, then U.S. studio titles and then foreign-language titles last," he said. "IFC is bullish on getting American indies seen abroad."

IFC Films' day and date distribution program will release the film in theaters and via VOD sometime in 2009. The deal was negotiated by IFC's Arianna Bocco and Jeff Deutchman with George Rush, who represents the film.