“The stars, for them, are not the people on the screen but the directors”: A24, the new code of independent cinema

By Clementine Goldszal

Published today at 06:00

Jonah Hill, Greta Gerwig, Harmony Korine, Robert Pattinson, Michelle Williams, Jesse Eisenberg, Alicia Vikander and Adam Sandler have collaborated with A24.

One morning in June 2012, in New York, Noah Sacco starts a new job. The 25-year-old is heading towards an industrial building overlooking the West Side Highway, a highway located along the Hudson River, west of Manhattan. Arrived in a tiny office, with a table for any furniture, he finds himself facing a wall covered with sheets of paper displaying the various logo projects of his employer, A24, a small newly created company of which he is the first employee.

A distribution company like there are hundreds in American cinema and whose role is, once a film has been shot, to offer it the best exposure possible, to ensure that theaters program it, that festivals select it, that the promotional campaign seduces the spectators, that word-of-mouth works…

David Fenkel, Daniel Katz and John Hodges, the founders, explain to Noah Sacco that the name A24 is that of a highway that crosses Italy from west to east, from Rome to Teramo. A memory of a crazy trip. The three thirty-year-olds, who have cut their teeth in several areas of independent cinema and have convinced the Eldridge investment fund to help them get started, offer him to take care of development and acquisitions, with the mission of finding films in search of a distributor.

Cannes, culmination of a phenomenal year

Ten years later, Noah Sacco is no longer the only member of the A24 team. They are now about 150 around the world. After several addresses in New York, the company signed a fifteen-year lease in October for 18,000 square meters of office space in the heart of the very elegant Chelsea district. Since 2015, in addition to distributing films, A24 produces them, financially supporting projects from the original idea to the final cut. Between twelve and fifteen feature films per year, for a total budget of 70 million dollars.

To decorate their offices, as well as their premises in Los Angeles and London, the two leaders (John Hodges having left the adventure, without the circumstances and reasons for this departure being made public) can now count on the rewards collected over the years by all these films distributed and produced. Seven Oscars and three Emmy Awards, plus a host of other awards from festivals around the world.

Will they return from this seventy-fifth edition of the Cannes Film Festival with a reward, even a Palme d’Or? It would be a consecration. While waiting for the winners, Saturday May 28, the studio will be present everywhere on the Croisette: two films in competition (Stars at Noonby Claire Denis, and Show-Upby Kelly Reichardt), three at the Directors’ Fortnight (Menby Alex Garland, Funny Pagesby Owen Kline, and God’s Creatures, by Anna Rose Holmer and Saela Davis), one at Critics’ Week, the feature debut of actor Jesse Eisenberg, When You Finish Saving the World, screened at the opening, and UFOs, like the new series by Olivier Assayas, adapted from his 1996 film, Irma Vep (Un certain regard category), or the documentary on Jerry Lee Lewis by Ethan Coen, without his brother Joel, screened in special screening.

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“The stars, for them, are not the people on the screen but the directors”: A24, the new code of independent cinema