Zeitgeist Films and Kino Lorber acquire world rights to the films of Yvonne Ranier

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Zeitgeist Films and Kino Lorber acquire world rights to the films of Yvonne Ranier
Yvonne Rainer. New 4K Rrestorations by MoMA open theatrically at Metrograph in New York on February 17th, 2023. Photo courtesy of Kino Lorber.

NEW YORK, N.Y..- Zeitgeist Films in association with Kino Lorber, two of the leading distribution companies for art-house and international films in the U.S., have acquired world rights to the seven feature films directed by Yvonne Rainer, newly restored in 4K by The Museum of Modern Art and the Celeste Bartos Fund for Film Preservation. The seven restored films will be featured in a theatrical retrospective beginning February 17 at Metrograph in New York, with an in person appearance by Yvonne Rainer on opening night.

A pioneering figure of the avant garde movement, Yvonne Rainer’s artistic career spans over five decades across both dance and film. Making use of archives, reenactments, photographs, and unconventional audiovisual techniques, her films draw on critical theory and erudite analysis while exploring deeply personal, political, and social themes. Her genre-defining work and collaboration with other artists has earned her a MacArthur Fellowship, two Guggenheim Fellowships, and three Rockefeller Fellowships, among other accolades. Rainer is widely regarded as one of the most influential performance artists of the twentieth century; as critic J. Hoberman wrote in the Village Voice in 1986, “Rainer is the avant-garde’s most important woman filmmaker since Maya Deren...more likely, she’s the most influential American avant-garde filmmaker of the past dozen years, with an impact as evident in London or Berlin as in New York.”

Two of the newly restored feature films, Privilege and MURDER and murder, received their original theatrical release from Zeitgeist Films. In addition to the US release of the new restorations, Kino Lorber will represent the films to the international marketplace for similar retrospective opportunities.

The seven feature restorations include her debut feature Lives of Performers (1972), a subversive reflection on romantic alliances that incorporates archival footage and Rainer’s own choreography; the unconventionally structured Film About a Woman Who… (1974), which meditates on doubt, relationships, and performance; Kristina Talking Pictures (1976), which blends collage, narrative, and documentary in its story of a female lion tamer traveling to New York to become a choreographer; Journeys from Berlin/1971 (1980), which uses the framework of an American woman’s extended therapy session to explore the daily experience of terrorism; the wryly funny The Man who Envied Women (1985), chronicling the aftermath of a breakup between a philandering professor and his artist wife; Privilege (1990), which focuses on menopause and the experience of aging; and her final feature, MURDER and murder (1996), a meditation on female aging in its portrayal of a budding romance between two middle-aged women.

Co-Presidents Emily Russo and Nancy Gerstman of Zeitgeist Films said, “Though Yvonne Rainer was an established master before she came to our company with Privilege, we have been proud to handle her complete catalog of seven titles for the entirely of Zeitgeist’s existence—nearly 35 years. These stunning restorations, for which we owe much gratitude to MoMA, will assure Yvonne’s work will be treasured by future generations in their finest editions.”

“It’s been a pleasure to work with and be represented by Zeitgeist all these years,” added Rainer.

Zeitgeist Films is a New York-based distribution company founded in 1988 which acquires and distributes the finest independent films from the U.S. and around the world. In 2017, Zeitgeist entered into a multi-year strategic alliance with renowned film distributor Kino Lorber. Zeitgeist has distributed early films by such notable directors as Todd Haynes, Christopher Nolan, Francois Ozon, Olivier Assayas, Laura Poitras, Atom Egoyan and the Quay Brothers. Their catalog includes films from the world's most outstanding filmmakers including Margerethe Von Trotta, Ken Loach, Guy Maddin, Derek Jarman, Peter Greenaway, Yvonne Rainer, Andrei Zyvagintsev, Astra Taylor and Raoul Peck. Previous Zeitgeist Films releases in association with Kino Lorber include Ken Loach’s Sorry We Missed You, Connie Hochman’s In Balanchine’s Classroom, Blerta Basholli’s Hive, Daniel Raim’s Fiddler’s Journey To The Big Screen, and most recently Eva Vitija’s Loving Highsmith. Five Zeitgeist films have been nominated for Academy Awards and one, Nowhere in Africa, won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. Their films have been honored by festivals throughout the world with Grand Prizes at Cannes, Berlin, Sundance, Tribeca, and IDFA in Amsterdam. The Museum of Modern Art honored Zeitgeist with a month-long, 20th anniversary retrospective of their films in 2008.

With a library of over 4,000 titles, Kino Lorber Inc. has been a leader in independent art house distribution for 35 years, releasing 30 films per year theatrically under its Kino Lorber, Kino Repertory and Alive Mind Cinema banners, garnering seven Academy Award® nominations in nine years. In addition, the company brings over 350 titles yearly to the home entertainment and educational markets through physical and digital media releases. With an expanding family of distributed labels, Kino Lorber handles releases in ancillary media for Zeitgeist Films, Milestone Films, Cohen Media Group, Greenwich Entertainment, Artsploitation, Palisades Tartan, Menemsha Films, Raro Video, and others, placing physical titles through all wholesale, retail, and direct-to-consumer channels, as well as direct digital distribution through over 40 OTT services including all major TVOD and SVOD platforms. In 2019, the company launched its new art house digital channel Kino Now which features over 1300 titles from the acclaimed Kino Lorber library. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Kino Marquee initiative was launched pioneering "virtual cinema" releases of art house films with revenue shares that allow audiences to support almost 500 local independent theaters. Kino Lorber was honored with a Special Award from the New York Film Critics Circle for this effort. In 2021, the company launched Kino Cult, an AVOD channel specializing in new and rare, acclaimed genre films. In 2022, Kino Lorber acquired streamer MHz Choice, the leading North American destination for acclaimed international TV.

“Yvonne Rainer’s work in the cinema can be seen as a milestone, marking a point of no return for women’s cinema and daring the cinema more generally to look for new directions. Her movies are so infused with the immediacy of personal struggle with life and its representations, that they resist monumental categorization or historic institutionalization.” – Laura Mulvey

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