An American film distributor has purchased the rights to a documentary about Charlie Hebdo, the French satirical magazine that was attacked on Jan. 7 by extremists who killed 12 people, including some of the magazine's most prominent cartoonists. Kino Lorber, the company, bought the rights from French company Pyramide International, which holds the rights to the documentary, "It's Hard Being Loved by Jerks" ("C'est dur d'être aimé par des cons").
The documentary, released in France in 2008 and directed by Daniel Leconte, is named after the caption of a popular Charlie Hebdo cartoon. In 2006, the magazine sparked an uproar in France when it reprinted a set of highly controversial cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad originally published in a Danish paper. The documentary examined the legal battle that ensued in France after Charlie Hebdo was charged with defamation, is considered sympathetic to the cause of freedom of expression for which the magazine championed. Some of those interviewed in the documentary were killed in the January attacks. When the documentary was first released, it sold about 40,000 tickets, according to Eric Lagesse, president of Pyramide.
The day after the January attack, the film was re-released in France, eventually playing in 110 theaters and selling about 10,000 tickets, according to Variety magazine. Pyramide is offering the film again to distributors at the Berlin Film Festival, which ends Feb. 15.
Lagesse told AFP he thinks the film will succeed in American universities and arthouse cinemas. Kino Lorber is expected to release the film in universities and major U.S. cities this spring. Elizabeth Sheldon, a senior vice president at Kino Lorber, said the film would be "a catalyst for conversation."
"As a distributor, freedom of speech concerns me at first range and today it is more important to keep defending those ideas," Pyramide's Lagesse said. "More than ever."