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Announcing Level Forward / Screen Forward

LF/SF Joins Independent Movie Theaters, Creating New Distribution Network For Community-Centered, On and Off-Screen Programming

LOS ANGELES and DENVER and TUCSON, Ariz. and MONTCLAIR, N.J. and PLEASANTVILLE, N.Y., Jan. 8, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Level Forward has joined with four independent movie theaters to launch Level Forward / Screen Forward ("LF/SF"), a new theatrical distribution network designed to build stronger, direct, and socially-purposeful relationships between independent filmmakers and diverse communities. The founding cinemas are Denver Film (Denver, CO); The Loft Cinema (Tucson, AZ); Montclair Film (Montclair, NJ), and the Jacob Burns Film Center (Pleasantville, NY). Additional theaters will be announced in 2020.

(PRNewsfoto/Level Forward)

While some strides have been made to support films by, about, and for communities who have historically been under-represented in motion picture storytelling, less progress has been made to advance big screen access for diverse audiences. LF/SF seeks to narrow this distribution gap by establishing stronger connections between creators and viewers, giving community-based theaters greater access to a diverse assortment of programming, a flexible infrastructure for experimentation, and a more transparent financial model.

LF/SF benefits filmmakers, theaters and communities through a set of aligned incentives that support the common goals of distributing high quality creative work, meaningful ancillary programming, and resources for community-based initiatives. Filmmakers work directly with independent cinemas who have the local market expertise and authentic community sensibility, while theaters share best practices, including enhanced community engagement programs and the social change toolbox of Level Forward.

Additional important points:

  • LF/SF partners have agreed to embrace a key component of Level Forward's Impact Model by directing at least 10% of net proceeds to a local non-profit or community-based organizational partner.
  • In addition to films produced and/or financed by Level Forward, the network will be accessible to films from other producers and financiers, based on artistic merit and social impact. Particular attention will be paid to high quality films that have been produced with meaningful participation by their subjects, including taking steps towards gender and racial equity, and, to the extent applicable, Gun Neutral offsets in response to on-screen gun violence.
  • While the focus of LF/SF is film, the network will also program live events tied to Level Forward's stage work (including What The Constitution Means To Me, Oklahoma!, Slave Play and Jagged Little Pill), as well as non-Level Forward projects.

The first film to premiere through select LF/SF theaters will be Kitty Green's The Assistant, with initial showtimes on Friday, January 31, 2020, and Saturday, February 1, 2020, when the film premieres in Manhattan, NY and Los Angeles, CA. Level Forward, and Chair Abigail E. Disney are Executive Producers on the film.

In February, LF/SF will produce its first live event, a ticketed conversation with Slave Play creator Jeremy O. Harris that will be hosted at Montclair Film and livestreamed to other network theaters. Harris will also be curating a selection of films that network theaters may exhibit to accompany the event.

And later in the year, LF/SF will distribute the Shatterbox short film series, produced by Refinery29 and Level Forward. In its third season, the digitally native series includes films from: Veronica Rodriguez, Tiffany J. Johnson, Nicole Emanuele, Parisa Barani, Channing Godfrey Peoples, Kantu Lentz and Chloe Sevigny. This will be the first theatrical run for Shatterbox since it was created in 2017.

Additional programming will be announced in 2020.

"In 2020, we've got to take the mission of sharing the opportunity and influence of creative excellence to the next level," said Adrienne Becker, CEO of Level Forward. "LF Screen Forward partnerships will improve programming, access, customization and transparency, re-shaping the system for the benefit of filmmakers, theaters, audiences and other stakeholders of change." 

"Level Forward has been pioneering new, innovative work that speaks to a range of ideas and experiences, and we could not be more proud to partner with them as we seek to connect our audiences with stories that expand our perspectives and impact our community," said Montclair Film Executive Director Tom Hall.

"The Loft Cinema is honored to be one of the Founding Theaters of LF Screen Forward.  The values, principles and goals of Level Forward align perfectly with The Loft Cinema's mission, and we are excited to see where this venture takes us all," added Peggy Johnson, Executive Director of The Loft Cinema.

"Denver Film is thrilled to embark on this new initiative with Level Forward. The goals of LF Screen Forward align perfectly with our mission and we feel very privileged to be included as a Founding Theater. We can't wait to share this exciting programming with our Denver audiences while, at the same time, supporting our community partners," said Britta Erickson, Festival Director and Interim Executive Director of Denver Film.

About Level Forward

LEVEL FORWARD is building a reshaped entertainment ecosystem, driven by creative excellence in pursuit of equity & economic transformation. Our team develops, produces, finances and distributes storytelling on screens and stages of all sizes to create work that is resonant, purposeful and unexpected. Current films include The Assistant, Topside and Holler; live work includes the touring What The Constitution Means To Me, and Broadway productions Slave Play, Jagged Little Pill, and the Tony-winning Oklahoma!, as well as digital service https://therottenappl.es/. Our impact model supports community change organizations confronting the epidemics of discrimination, racism, and violence, and who are working to build a more equitable and just society. We believe a new exemplar of profit and purpose is due. Join us www.levelforward.co.

Contact: Celiné Justice, cj@levelforward.co

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SOURCE Level Forward