20th Century Fox and PBS’ AMERICAN MASTERS Series Acquires Martin Scorsese’s Elia Kazan Documentary A LETTER TO ELIA

     September 7, 2010


20th Century Fox and PBS’ American Masters series have acquired the rights to Martin Scorsese’s documentary A Letter to Elia.  The film centers on the life of the influential Oscar-winning director Elia Kazan.  Co-directed by Kent Jones, the film has been making the festival rounds screening at the Venice Film Festival, the Telluride Film Festival, and it will play at the New York Film Festival on September 27th.

The documentary will be included in Fox’s upcoming 18-disc Elia Kazan Film Collection DVD gift set and will air as part of PBS’ American Masters series on October 4th accompanied by a short documentary featuring actors and directors talking about Kazan’s influence on them and the American film industry.  I personally haven’t seen the documentary, but I’m curious to see how Scorsese approaches Kazan’s controversial testimony in House Committee on Un-American Activities during the Red Scare.  Hit the jump to read the press release.

elia_kazan_01Here’s the press release:

Martin Scorsese’s A LETTER TO ELIA



Documentary Chronicling the Life and Work of Acclaimed Director Elia Kazan

World Premieres at Venice International Film Festival, Premieres in North America at Telluride Film Festival, Official Selection New York Film Festival

PBS National Broadcast Premiere on October 4, 2010

The Elia Kazan Film Collection, featuring the Documentary and 15 of Kazan’s Most Noteworthy and Popular Films In a Collectible DVD Gift Set, Arrives November 9th from Fox Home Entertainment

New York, NY (September 1, 2010) – Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment and THIRTEEN’s “American Masters” series today announced that they have acquired A Letter to Elia, Martin Scorsese’s new documentary exploring the life and talent of Oscar©-winning director Elia Kazan.  The film, co-directed by Scorsese and Kent Jones, made its world premiere at the Venice International Film Festival and its North American premiere at the Telluride Film Festival.  It is also an official selection of the New York Film Festival where it will screen alongside Kazan’s America, America on September 27th.

Martin Scorsese cites the works of Elia Kazan as being highly influential on his life and career.

Of making the film, Scorsese says, “It took many years. I asked my old friend and collaborator Kent Jones to work with me, and we spent quite a long time looking at the films, talking about them, looking at the life, the fame, the infamy, and finding the tone, the balance that felt right for this picture.  I feel that the finished film speaks to the power of art, in this case the art of Elia Kazan.”

With respect to the Elia Kazan Film Collection, Scorsese added,  “I’m very excited that Fox is making our film available as part of a box set of Kazan’s work – I’m especially pleased by the inclusion of five pictures that have never been released on DVD, Wild River and America, America in particular. Getting the movies seen – that’s what we’re all aiming for.”

A Letter to Elia, produced by Scorsese and Emma Tillinger Koskoff, was co-financed and executive produced by Stone Douglass and Taylor Materne’s Far Hills Pictures.  WME Global assembled financing and brokered the distribution deal to PBS and Fox.

A Letter to Elia will air nationally on PBS as part of the “American Masters” series on October 4, 2010, accompanied by a companion short documentary featuring some of the country’s most noteworthy actors and directors talking about Kazan’s influence on their work and on the American film industry.

On November 9th, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment will release the Elia Kazan Film Collection, an 18-disc DVD gift set including A Letter to Elia and 15 of Kazan’s most acclaimed and noteworthy films.  The full collection, in addition to the documentary, includes:   A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1945), Boomerang! (1947), Gentleman’s Agreement (1947), Pinky (1949), Panic in the Streets (1950), A Streetcar Named Desire (1951), Viva Zapata! (1952), Man on a Tightrope (1953), On the Waterfront (1954), East of Eden (1955), Baby Doll (1956), A Face in the Crowd (1957), Wild River (1960), Splendor in the Grass (1961), and America, America (1963).  Of the collection, 5 films have never before been released on DVD:  A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Viva Zapata!, Man on a Tightrope, Wild River, and America, America. The Elia Kazan Film Collection will be available for $199.98 U.S. / $349.98 Canada.

To support the Elia Kazan Film Collection and the “American Masters” airdate, the documentary, as well as some of Kazan’s films, will tour the country, playing at a variety of art house theaters, cinematheques and film societies, including The Guild Cinema in Albuquerque, NM; The Plaza Theatre in Atlanta, GA, hosted by Emory University; The Brattle Theater in Cambridge, MA; The Burton Theater in Detroit, MI; The Phoenix Art Museum in Phoenix, AZ; The Northwest Film Center in Portland, OR; and the AFI Silver Theatre and Conference Center in Silver Spring, MD; among others.

More information on the film, the complete list of screening engagements, as well as the opportunity to pre-order the Elia Kazan Film Collection, can be found at www.lettertoelia.com.

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