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R.I.P. New Yorker Films

Posted by Ty Burr  February 24, 2009 12:46 PM

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Another distributor of off-Hollywood cinema has bitten the dust, and this time it's one of the pioneers. New Yorker Films has closed its doors after 43 years in business.

Founded by Dan Talbot in 1965, New Yorker was an essential conduit by which films from overseas reached American eyeballs and sensibilities. Without the company, no Bertolucci, no Godard, no Rivette, no Fassbinder; no "Shoah," no "Aguirre: The Wrath of God" (above), no "Before the Revolution." The company's library, 400 titles strong, kept the uncompromising visions alive through theatrical rentals and a DVD releasing company; the sale of that library is very much like a world-class museum shutting its doors. Like Brandeis but a greater loss, in my opinion.

What happened? In the words of Talbot's partner, Jose Lopez, in an e-mail to IndieWire, "The parent company of New Yorker Films has defaulted on a loan. The assets of New Yorker were used as security on the loan. The lender has informed us that it intends to foreclose on these assets. New Yorker stopped doing business yesterday." And that's all, folks. The company's influence wasn't just felt in the movies it released, or even (for Manhattanites) at the flagship theaters Talbot operated in the city over the years, but throughout the indie film industry, filled as it is with people who got their starts working for New Yorker. IndieWire has a number of eulogies from friends and former staffers; reading them makes you realize what a difference this one shoestring operation has made to the best American movies being made today. With the shuttering of New Yorker and other specialty film distributors, one has to ask: Where are the alternate movie experiences going to come from now? And how will anyone see them?


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Ty Burr is a film critic with The Boston Globe.

Mark Feeney is an arts writer for The Boston Globe.

Janice Page is movies editor for The Boston Globe.

Tom Russo is a regular correspondent for the Movies section and writes a weekly column on DVD releases.

Katie McLeod is Boston.com's features editor.

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Emily Wright is an Arts & Entertainment producer for Boston.com.

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