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Tribeca Film Get Custody on “For Ellen”

A good four months since its back to back Sundance and Berlin Film Festival premieres, So Yong Kim has finally secured a U.S theatrical/VOD release with the Tribeca Film label for her third outing, For Ellen. Circle the September 5th date folks – as the drama will be the first title to be unveiled for New York’s Film Forum’s Fall schedule and then follow an art-house circuit release in the coming weeks.

Gist: Not exactly Kramer vs. Kramer in design, this posits the irresponsible Joby (Paul Dano), an aspiring young rock star in his own catch 22 type of situation. His character finally agrees to sign divorce papers with his estranged wife (Margarita Levieva), he discovers that he is about to forfeit all custody of his six-year-old daughter, Ellen (Shaylena Mandigo). Never having been in Ellen’s life before, Joby suddenly realizes that he’s not ready to lose that part of himself. Hoping to make up for lost time, he tries to win her heart.

Worth Noting: Paul Dano joined the project almost haphazardly – he was a script adviser of sorts and then was offered the lead.

Do We Care?: Among the female film auteurs (Kelly Reichardt, Julia Loktev, Miranda July et al.) whose indie film budgets allow for a more personalized approach, this is perhaps Yong Kim’s most personal film to date as it works from child abandonment issues (that were touched upon in Treeless Mountain) that the auteur mentioned are autobiographical. If you’re into long takes, films without detailed back-stories then we highly recommend this indie film.




Writer-Director So Yong Kim’s Drama Premiered at Sundance,

Stars Paul Dano, Jon Heder and Jena Malone


“Dano’s intense commitment to the role, combined with the partially improvised dialogue, establishes the kind of spontaneity that marks the strong lead performances

in several of Robert Altman’s best films.” –Variety



New York, NY – May 1, 2012 – Tribeca Film announced today that it has acquired all North American rights to FOR ELLEN, a deeply felt dramatic study of a father’s efforts at reconciliation with his young daughter.


The film, which premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, is Kim’s follow-up to independent standouts TREELESS MOUNTAIN and IN BETWEEN DAYS.  Bradley Rust Gray and Jen Gatien serve as producers through SoandBrad and DeerJen films.


Tribeca Film plans a fall release in select theatrical markets, beginning September 5th at New York’s Film Forum.   FOR ELLEN  will  also be released via On Demand platforms where it will be available in 40+ million homes on a variety of video-on-demand offerings, as well as iTunes, Amazon Watch Instantly, VUDU, Xbox and Samsung Media Hub.

Aspiring rock star Joby Taylor (Paul Dano- THERE WILL BE BLOOD, LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE) has wanted nothing more than to “make it”, having flirted with fame but never crossed over into true success.  In the midst of a low period in his life, he agrees to sign divorce papers with his estranged wife (Margarita Levieva “Revenge,” “How To Make It In America”) in order to see money from the sale of their home, only to discover that by signing the papers, he will forfeit all custody of his sixyearold daughter, Ellen (newcomer Shaylena Mandigo).  With a goodnatured lawyer (Jon Heder NAPOLEON DYNAMITE) unable to make headway in reversing the decision, and a girlfriend (Jena Malone INTO THE WILD) that represents an era of his life that he might be ready to graduate from, Joby negotiates a visit with his daughter to explore whether he is able to walk away from his child, and whether it might be too late for reconciliation.


FOR ELLEN stems from Kim’s desire to understand her own father, and an imagined confrontation if he ever returned to her. Using the stark beauty and vast farmlands of an American winter as its backdrop, the film charts Joby’s emotional journey as he realizes what he has lost – and what, if anything, can still be saved.

“With a subtle, understated approach, esteemed director So Yong Kim has made a film that is both deeply moving and deeply resonant,” said Geoff Gilmore, Chief Creative Officer of Tribeca Enterprises. “Fueled by a remarkable performance by Paul Dano and delicately directed by Kim, we couldn’t be more excited to share this very special story about a father trying to connect with his young daughter.”


“We look forward to working with Tribeca Film on the release and distribution of FOR ELLEN,” said Kim.  We are honored to trust our film with such a talented and passionate team.”


Eric Lavallée is the founder, CEO, editor-in-chief, film journalist, and critic at, established in 2000. A regular at Sundance, Cannes, and Venice, Eric holds a BFA in film studies from the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema. In 2013, he served on the narrative competition jury at the SXSW Film Festival. He was an associate producer on Mark Jackson’s "This Teacher" (2018 LA Film Festival, 2018 BFI London). In 2022, he was a New Flesh Juror for Best First Feature at the Fantasia International Film Festival. Current top films for 2023 include The Zone of Interest (Glazer), Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell (Pham Thien An), Totem (Lila Avilés), La Chimera (Alice Rohrwacher), All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt (Raven Jackson).

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