I Am Eleven set for wide US release

Genevieve Bailey’s documentary I Am Eleven will play in multiple US cities starting next month, among the widest releases in that market for an Australian title.

The Melbourne-based DIY filmmaker has signed deals with a theatrical distributor and an on-demand cinema platform which will make the film available progressively throughout the US.

“We’re aiming big in the US so it took a lot of time to work out the right partners,” Bailey told IF.

New York-based International Film Circuit has booked the film into the AMC Theatres circuit, launching in Gotham on September 12 followed by a staggered roll-out in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, Chicago and Washington DC, before a national expansion. The progressive release will enable Bailey to host Q&A screenings and arrange publicity in the key cities.

Separately the distributor is dating the film in art houses in cities including New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.

Concurrently, Gathr Films will market the film on its on-demand platform, which enables people throughout the US to request screenings in the cities and venues of their choice. Bookings are confirmed when a minimum number of tickets is sold.

Gathr will block the film initially in cities where the film is being released in commercial cinemas. Bailey spoke to Gathr and rival theatrical on-demand platform Tugg (which is piloting its service in Australia).

She chose Gathr because it successfully handled Girl Rising, Richard Robbins’ documentary which tells the stories of nine girls from different parts of the world who face arranged marriages, child slavery, and other injustices.

Girl Rising grossed $US1.7 million from on-demand screenings, Bailey said. Gathr will market I Am Eleven to every person who bought a ticket to Robbins' film.

Bailey’s Proud Mother Pictures is launching a crowd-funding campaign via Kickstarter, aiming to raise $35,000 to fund the marketing and publicity campaigns in the US.

In the US she will use a technique which worked well in Australia, inviting people to post their photos on the website and finish the sentence “When I was 11…”

I Am Eleven was shot in 15 countries, has screened at festivals in more than 20 countries and played for a record 26 weeks at Melbourne’s Cinema Nova.

Bailey has started work on her next project, Happy Sad Man, a documentary which looks at the highs and lows of male emotions.

She sees the demise of Robin Williams as a poignant reminder of the often tragic consequences of depression. “I want to dispel the stigma surrounding mental health,” she said. She has already filmed interviews in Sydney with four men and is looking to talk to guys who have a high public profile.

As well as the feature-length documentary she plans to shoot interactive, multi-platform versions which will tell multiple stories online.