'Hawk' makes U.S. landing

Published: Tuesday, January 9, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 9, 2007 at 12:43 a.m.
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"The Hawk Is Dying" has reached a tentative agreement with Strand Releasing to distribute in the United States. The film, which is slated for release next month in New York and Los Angeles, was filmed in Gainesville and based on local author Harry Crews' novel of the same name.

Antidote Films


"The Hawk is Dying" Timeline

1973: University of Florida creative writing professor Harry Crews' novel "The Hawk is Dying" is published by Alfred A, Knopf. It's the story of a Gainesville upholstery dealer who confronts the death of his nephew by channelling his psychological energy into the training of a wild hawk.
2001: Up and coming directory Julian Goldberger, a fan of Crews, writes a screenplay for "The Hawk is Dying" and brings it to well-known independent film producer Ted Hope. Hope gets in touch with Antidote Films.
2001: Antidote Films acquires the rights to Crews' book.
2002: Location scouts from Antidote films come to Gainesville and begin choosing North Central Florida locales to be used during filming.
May 2004: Antidote films announces that Paul Giamatti will take the title role in "Hawk."
October 2004: Preliminary crew from "Hawk" arrives in Gainesville and sets up headquarters at Paramount Hotel and Resort on 13th Street.
November 2004: Cast and crew of "Hawk" begin scheduled 24-day shoot at Payne's Prairie, Rainbow Springs State Park, and residential and commercial buildings around Gainesville.
December 2004: Filming wraps.
December 2005: "The Hawk Is Dying" is accepted as one of 16 films in the Dramatic Competition at Robert Redford's prestigious Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah.
January 2006: "Hawk" screens at Sundance, receives mixed reviews and fails to get a distribution agreement.
May 2006: "Hawk" screens at Cannes Film Festival in France.
Late 2006: Antidote Films reaches tentative agreement with Strand Releasing for U.S. Distribution.
February 2007: "Hawk" to get limited release in L.A., New York and possibly other U.S. cities.
May 2007: "Hawk" scheduled to be released on DVD.
Late 2007: Sundance Channel to begin airing "Hawk."

The flight of "The Hawk is Dying" has been long indeed, with multiple stops and assorted obstacles, but it will finally reach American movie audiences this spring.
Antidote Films, the makers of "Hawk," recently reached a tentative agreement with Strand Releasing to distribute the movie to U.S. theaters. The movie was filmed in Gainesville in 2004 and is based on a book by Gainesville author Harry Crews. It stars recent Academy Award nominees Paul Giamatti and Michelle Williams.
The movie is slated to be released next month in New York and Los Angeles, and possibly to more cities across the country. The film's home-video release is currently scheduled for May 8 and will be widely available.
"It's been a rough, rocky road, but I think that the film will finally get recognized in the proper way," said director Julian Goldberger. "I would think this film would do really well in places like Chicago, Seattle, San Francisco, and the big college towns like Madison and Ann Arbor. That's the real home for a film like this."
"Hawk," a dark, atmospheric drama, tells the story of a Gainesville auto upholstery dealer, played by Giamatti, who grapples with his own sanity after the sudden death of his mentally challenged nephew. He becomes obsessed with training a captured hawk in the process. The film is extremely faithful to Crews' 1973 novel. Filming took place entirely in and around Gainesville in the fall and early winter of 2004.
The movie premiered in January of 2006 at the Sundance Film Festival to mixed audience reaction and tepid interest from U.S. distributors. Since then, it's been re-edited by Goldberger and has had greater success on the international film-festival circuit, including at Cannes. It has appeared around the globe and the producers have secured distributorship in numerous international markets.
According to "Hawk" producer Jeff Levy-Hinte, the theatrical release will be limited, and the film may not even open anywhere in Florida.
"It's going to be a small release," he said. "They call it a specialty release, which is a euphemism for small."
Levy-Hinte said there will be a premiere event tied in with the release, likely at one of the theaters in Los Angeles or New York where the movie opens.
"We can't spend money separate from that showing. There really are no resources," he said.
Strand Releasing, based in Santa Monica, Calif., generally releases arthouse fare, foreign film and films with gay and lesbian themes. The company will likely make most of its money on the release of the DVD, which will be widely available and will include additional commentary from Goldberger and material about Crews that Goldberger said will appeal to literary audiences and fans of the writer.
The movie has also been licensed to the Sundance Channel, and will appear on cable sometime after the release of the DVD.
Though Goldberger expressed interest in bringing the film to Gainesville for a premiere or showing, at this point there are no plans for such an event.
"I'd love to do a Gainesville premiere, but that's really up to the producers," he said.
Levy-Hinte said the company has not received an invitation to premiere the film in Gainesville, nor have they solicited one. Some of the Florida Festivals have been very supportive of the film, he said, and the company has considered the possibility of working out an event in connection with a festival.
After dealing with negative buzz and taking his movie around the world, Goldberger is happy that the movie will finally get in front of American audiences, and is confident that many will enjoy the experience.
"It's been a long road," he said. "This movie will have to find it's way, and it will, and I don't doubt that."

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