During the past 13 years, Gregory Hatanaka has overseen the distribution of close to 250 films in the U.S. marketplace, including works by the likes of Satyajit Ray, Andre Techine, John Woo and even Edward D. Wood, Jr. Today, Hatanaka is focusing his attentions on a new director: himself!
Hatanaka has written and directed “Until the Night,” an emotionally complex drama parallelling relationships that are fraying to disaster. In one couple, a struggling writer obsesses with various vices to escape the burden of his self-destructive relationship with a jealous and troubled woman. In the second union, a successful young career woman lives the perfect public image as her marriage to a failed actor grows increasingly oppressive.
“Until the Night” culminates Hatanaka’s remarkable career. At the age of 17, while struggling to get his directing career off the ground with a now-aborted romantic drama entitled “Women,” he got his first job working for Headliner Productions, a company which had produced exploitation films in the 1950s. Hatanaka oversaw the distribution of such films as Ed Wood’s rediscovered cult classic “The Sinister Urge” and “God Is My Witness,” the first Bollywood epic to be screened in American art houses. During this period, Hatanaka also theatrically booked films for Circle Releasing – under the guidance of George Pelecanos (now an acclaimed crime noir novelist) – a production and distribution company known most for producing the Coen Brothers’ “Blood Simple,” “Miller’s Crossing” and “Barton Fink.” Among the films Hatanaka worked on was John Woo’s “The Killer,” which he successful re-released in a series of successful midnight runs on the arthouse circuit. During a brief stint at Filmopolis Pictures, he oversaw the release of Andre Techine’s “My Favorite Season” and the final films of Satyajit Ray.
In 1996, Hatanaka formed distribution company Phaedra Cinema, which specialized in bringing the works of indie directors to the screen. Over its five-year period, the company distributed close to 100 films in the U.S. marketplace. Highlights include the Indian film The Terrorist, the acclaimed French films “La Separation” and “L’Ennui” and U.S. indies including Sudden Manhattan and Men Cry Bullets. Currently, Hatanaka oversees acquisitions and distribution for Pathfinder Pictures, a distribution and production company. Recent highlights include a series of classic films from Claude Chabrol, the theatrically-restored cult hit “Master of the Flying Guillotine”, Abel Ferrara’s R’Xmas, the documentary Schlock! The Secret History of American Movies, an upcoming series of films from Japanese cult director Takashi Miike (Audition) and a collection of films from Bollywood. He also Executive Produced the films “Double Deception” and “Shadow Fury,” recently released by Lions Gate Films.
Film Threat caught up with Gregory Hatanaka at his Los Angeles office to discuss his distinct directing debut and his extraordinary work in film distribution.
Get the interview in part two of GREGORY HATANAKA: TAKING NIGHT INTO DAY>>>