Drafthouse Films Acquires Cannes Award Winner THE TRIBE

Todd Brown, Founder and Editor
Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy's The Tribe turned many heads when it premiered in Cannes and not just for the image above. A major award winner in the Critics Week selection, The Tribe plays out entirely in a Ukrainian boarding school for the deaf with all communication carried out in sign language with no subtitles or other translation offered. You get the raw emotion on screen and nothing else - unless, of course, you understand sign language. The result was a potent bit of work that will now be coming to US audiences through Drafthouse Films.

AUSTIN, TX - July 2, 2014 - Drafthouse Films has acquired North American distribution rights to the 2014 Cannes' International Critics' Week award winner The Tribe. Blowing away critics and audiences alike, the radically ambitious film has been called "an unprecedented cinematic accomplishment" by Indiewire, while The Guardian heralds it "the great discovery of this year's festival."
 
Set at a Ukrainian boarding school for the deaf, the film's narrative unfolds purely through sign language without a need for employing subtitles or voiceover, resulting in a unique, never-before-seen cinematic experience that engages the audience on a new level. The film dominated the Cannes' Independent Critics' Week awards, winning the Nespresso Grand Prize, the France 4 Visionary Award and the Gan Foundation Support for Distribution grant.
 
 
Directed by Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy and produced by Valentyn Vasyanovych and Iya Myslytska from Garmata Film Production, The Tribe's astonishingly intimate and raw depiction of disenchanted youth features a cast comprised entirely of non-professional, deaf actors including leads Grigory Fesenko as Sergey and Yana Novikova as Anna.
 
 
 
"As I was watching The Tribe, the goosebumps on my arms quickly signaled that I was seeing something truly special," said Drafthouse Films CEO Tim League. "Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy is a massive talent. I am confident that he will quickly become a world-renowned director, and I am excited and proud to be sharing his striking first feature with North America."
 
 
 
"When working with a film like The Tribe, we immediately became more sensitive to signs and language: passion speaks first. We received an amazing response after our first market screening in Cannes, and Drafthouse Films showed from the very beginning all the right signs - and the strongest passion-to distribute our film in North America," noted Alpha Violet's Co-CEOs Virginie Devesa and Keiko Funato.
 
 
"I am very glad that my film will be released in the United States," added Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy. "I have always believed in the universality of film's language, and have always believed that dialogue and subtitles change the way different audiences perceive the film in different countries. I am pleased to have created a universal film that audiences around the world can perceive in the same way, regardless of race, language or country. People laugh at the same parts and are horrified by the same parts. I think The Tribe is a truly universal movie in terms of language, and this makes me supremely happy."
 
The Tribe will screen in select theaters across North America and will be released on a variety of VOD platforms and digital, DVD, and Blu-ray formats.

Check out the trailer below.

Around the Internet:
  • I believe that is the whole point of presenting it in this way, universality. Sub-titles have been a plague on cinema since their inception, as they distract from the visuals and create an awkward back and forth movement with our attention. In stripping the need for them, we can focus on the film unfolding in a more direct manner, and someone from Latvia to Mexico to Sweden can understand it without the need of knowing exactly what they are saying. Dialogue is usually the least telling aspect of film anyway. So, I am extremely excited to see this film and experience it how I would in real life anyway, not understanding what they are saying. After all, they cannot hear what others are saying to them unless they know sign language, it seems to be a nice parallel.

  • marshy00

    Couldn't disagree with you more about subtitles. They have been a fantastic tool for helping us enjoy cinema from all over the world in as close to how native speakers of that particular language are able to.

    Regarding this film we will have to wait and see, I just don't buy this "universality" argument when there are quite clearly some people who will be able to understand far more of the film than I will.

  • J Hurtado

    As a person who regularly pays to view and review films with no subtitles, I'd like to take this opportunity to call you a lazy bastard.

  • marshy00

    hahaha as if you ever needed an excuse to do that? I do it myself sometimes, and can be absorbed for hours watching unsubtitled Chinese TV. I'm just calling bullshit on this whole "universality" thing, and the idea that subs are in any way a bad thing.

  • To each their own cinema, but I agree we will have to wait and see if this film manages to be universal!

  • marshy00

    I gotta be honest. I really don't get the idea of this film being screened without subtitles. Sign language is no more a universal language than any other language - you either understand it or you don't. Were the characters attempting to converse with each other using no shared nor discernible language then that would make sense to me. The fact they are all communicating in a language (sign language) they all understand and which some but not many members of the audience will also understand, this notion of universal language is lost. Ultimately the result will be just like watching any unsubtitled film in a language you don't understand. Sure, you get the jist of what is going on, but you lose a hell of a lot of the details. I'm really looking forward to watching THE TRIBE, and am thrilled by the news my friends at Drafthouse Films will be distributing it, but this "no subs" thing makes no sense to me.

  • Should also note that "sign language" is not a universal language among deaf communities. More than 300 sign languages have been developed around the world, so there's no guarantee that a deaf person in the U.S. who has learned American Sign Language will understand the sign language in the movie, whether it's Latvian Sign Language or another. Still, perhaps the point is to be more like a silent movie and understood without words.

  • marshy00

    Right, also true.

  • Guy

    The film certainly seems intriguing, but on a side note I'd like to know why it's so important for a film's language to be universal? Of course, as a film director, you want people to see and enjoy your movie. On the other hand, where does the artistic value of a movie come from: its universality or its uniqueness?

  • Aleks

    For me, a truly great is both universal and "unique".
    Except for laziness and/or ineptitude I really can't think of a reason why any filmmaker wouldn't want to tell his story, no matter how specific or obscure, in the most universal fashion possible. I mean, how cool is it when somebody from Latvia can resonate deeply with a film about a horny Honduran horticulturalist?

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