A pair of films we’ve been hoping find a home have now been acquired. We’re pleased to exclusively announce that Cinema Guild has secured North American distribution rights for Jessica Dunn Rovinelli’s So Pretty and Empathy. So Pretty premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival in 2019 and won numerous awards internationally. Empathy won the Prix du CNAP when it premiered in FIDMarseille in 2016. Cinema Guild will kick off the partnership with Rovinelli with a special screening of So Pretty with a Q&A at Metrograph in New York on June 8. A digital release will follow for both films.

In So Pretty, four young queers in New York City struggle to maintain their proto-utopian community against the outside world as their lives curiously merge with the 1980s German novel so schön by Ronald M. Schernikau. An investigation of leftist politics and femme identity in the context of an increasingly right-wing world, So Pretty moves freely between fictional depictions and semi-documentary, adaptation and translation, looking towards the artistic and personal worlds its characters generate across time and culture as a space for new tensions and potentials.

Empathy follows a heroin-addicted professional escort as she moves between New York City, Pittsburgh, and Los Angeles. Combining frank images of the actual labor of sex work with intimate portraits of her interpersonal life, the film is an alternately humorous and harrowing look at a seldom depicted side of American life as well as a meditation on the performativity at the core of documentary filmmaking and the sex industry alike. Shot on a mixture of 16mm and HD digital video in luxuriant long takes and written in close collaboration with its subject/star, Empathy marks Rovinelli’s feature-length directorial debut.

“We’ve been admiring the work of Jessica Dunn Rovinelli from afar for years now,” said Cinema Guild Head of Theatrical Tom Sveen. “So when the opportunity came to work with her in helping So Pretty and Empathy find an even wider audience, we couldn’t pass it up. So Pretty posits a utopia and then actively moves toward the world it hopes for. Empathy is a marvel of nonfiction filmmaking that invites us to cast aside judgements and truly spend time with a fellow human.”

“I’ve admired the work Cinema Guild does for years and it’s such an honor that they’re caring for my films into the future,” said Rovinelli. “To be among the incredible company of their roster is so exciting and I’m thrilled to make the films available to wider audiences for the first time.”

The deal was negotiated by Cinema Guild President Peter Kelly with the film’s producers.

Jessica Dunn Rovinelli is a film director, editor, colorist and critic based in New York. She is the director of two award-winning feature films and several shorts, which have played at Berlinale, IndieLisboa, BAM Cinemafest and many more festivals. Rovinelli is also a recipient of grants from the Centre national des arts plastiques (Paris), New York Foundation for the Arts and Film Independent. In 2019, she was selected as one of Filmmaker Magazine’s 25 New Faces of Independent Film. As an editor and colorist, she has worked on a wide range of feature films, short films, music videos, advertisements and branded content. She has lectured at universities and schools around the world, including NYU Tisch, The New School, SUNY Purchase, and the School of Visual Arts. She served as a jury member at the 2021 Long Distance Film Festival.

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