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Desparately Seeking Studio: Peter Brosens & Jessica Woodworth’s The Fifth Season

Despite the accolades (awards, festival prizes, and critical praise), sometimes a film that we’ve praised and seemingly has a very bright future ahead, will somehow be passed over, go unnoticed or for reasons unknown, may have fallen through the cracks. A play of words on the 1985 Madonna film, our monthly “Desperately Seeking Studio” is our way of bringing attention to a film that has yet to be picked up for distribution and deservingly should find an audience. This month we put the focus back on: Peter Brosens & Jessica Woodworth’s The Fifth Season (La cinquième saison)

The woefully underrated partnership of Belgian co-directors Peter Brosens and Jessica Woodworth have seen their previous collaborative features, Khadak and Altiplano, tour the festival circuit to critical acclaim, playing the likes of Sundance and Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), taking home the Luigi De Laurentiis Award from Venice for best first feature along with a variety of others from around the world.  As the first two features in a trilogy loosely based around the theme of man’s fluctuating relationship with nature, both were handled half-heartedly on the domestic front by the little known Life Size Entertainment and the generally reliable documentary-distro First Run Features, respectfully (thankfully, both films are currently streaming on Amazon and come highly recommended).  Capping the meditative trifecta with a dark divarication, The Fifth Season debuted at TIFF last year where we were taken aback by its stark descent into a world where societal existence is thrown headlong into the anxious arms of apocalypse when agriculture fails to yield the vitals necessary for daily subsistence. (My glowing review of the film can be found here.)

To our surprise, there has been silence on the American front, despite the film hitting over 50 festivals worldwide, taking home a pair of awards once again from Venice, and seeing its theatrical release in Italy, France, Poland, Holland and its native Belgium.  As the number four film on my top ten list of unreleased films of 2012 (here), The Fifth Season stands alone as the only film still without a US distributor.  Such a remarkable film deserves a domestic home and it would fit nicely in with the growing  international catalogs of the reputable folks of The Cinema Guild,  Oscilloscope Labs, Drafthouse Films, Kino-Lorber, or even IFC Films, if they were so inclined to look back just a single year for more dark art-house fare to pair with their current output.

While the film floats in distro-limbo, it seems Brosens and Woodworth have wasted no time grovelling, as they’ve already gone into production on their new collaboration, Kebab Royal, a film that sees a Belgian ‘King’s undercover odyssey across the Balkans, a journey loaded with mishaps, wrong turns, revelations and moments of grace. Not to mention a collision with that age-old miracle known as true love at first sight’, seeming to once again expand upon their gorgeously established, culturally rich oeuvre.

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