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Abu Dhabi-funded film could be in line for an Oscar nomination

September 9, 2010

Gregor Stuart Hunter
The National (UAE)
September 8, 2010

Newmarket Films, an independent distributor, has
secured the US distribution rights for The Way
Back to be screened at 600 cinemas in America on January 21.

In addition, the adventure film is scheduled for
a one-week limited release just before the Oscar
deadline for nominations on December 1, setting
Hollywood buzzing with speculation it could be among those up for an award.

The film is directed by Peter Weir, best known
for movies such as Master and Commander and The
Truman Show, who had difficulties securing a
distributor because of The Way Back’s subject matter.

Set during the Second World War, itcharts the
escape of a gang of prisoners of war from a Gulag
camp and their subsequent trek to freedom across Tibet and India.

Weir said the film was difficult to pitch to
Hollywood studios who felt the bleak storyline
and grim subject matter made it a risky
investment. The film stars Jim Sturgess and also
featuresColin Farrell and the Academy Award nominee Ed Harris.

The movie is based on Slavomir Rawicz’s acclaimed
novel published in 1955 and called The Long Walk:
The True Story of a Trek to Freedom.

Despite distribution troubles, the film has
received glowing early reviews, with Stephen
Farber of The Hollywood Reporter describing it as
"a major achievement by one of the great directors of our time."

Newmarket announced it had scooped the rights at
the Telluride Film Festival in Colorado, where
the film’s world premiere took place on Friday.

Its release date in the UAE is yet to be
announced as a local distributor has to be secured.

The film was backed by National Geographic
Entertainment, Exclusive Films and imagenation
Abu Dhabi, which is part of the Abu Dhabi Media
Company (ADMC) that owns and publishes The National.

"The story was chosen because it tells the story
of five people trying to survive, despite their
differences and despite the elements that were
facing them throughout the way," said Omar Abed
Rabbo, a spokesman for ADMC. “It’s a story of
human endurance and a love of freedom ­ that’s
the message that we’re trying to convey.”

Weir told the entertainment news website he was delighted the film would finally see the light of day.

"If you can sit here as I can and say ‘that is
the film I wanted to make,' what happens after is
just fate, luck and timing,” he said.

Weir and Newmarket said there were no plans for an Academy Award campaign.
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