November 13, 2017




Los Angeles, CA (November 13, 2017) – Noted art house distributor NeoClassics Films Ltd. is pleased to announce that its first self-produced film, director Carl Bessai’s THE LEARS, a darkly comic, modern-day interpretation of William Shakespeare’s King Lear, is gaining buzz and recognition on its festival run. After premiering April 22, 2017 at the Nashville Film Festival, where it was well received, THE LEARS has screened at the Martha’s Vineyard International Film Festival, the Orlando Film Festival, and most recently at the Virginia Film Festival on November 9, 2017. At Orlando, it won the prize for Best Ensemble and was nominated for Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Actress. Next up will be the Whistler Film,Festival, in Whistler, B.C. on November 30, 2017, which has emerged in recent years as one of Canada’s leading festivals.


THE LEARS stars two-time Academy Award nominee Bruce Dern (THE HATEFUL EIGHT, NEBRASKA); Anthony Michael Hall (FOXCATCHER; THE DARK KNIGHT; The Dead Zone, SIXTEEN CANDLES); Sean Astin (THE LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy); Aly Michalka (EASY A); Irish leading lady Victoria Smurfit (ABC’s Once Upon a Time); and Aussie favorite Nic Bishop (ABC’s Body of Proof) among its strong ensemble cast, assembled by Jennifer Ricchiazzi of LaLa Casting.


THE LEARS was shot in Malibu and other parts of the Los Angeles, CA area and completed production earlier this year. It was produced by NeoClassics Films’ CEO Irwin Olian, in association with Bessai's Raven West Films Ltd. through the production company THE LEARS, LLC. Worldwide distribution rights are available for the film, which is being repped by NeoClassics Films Ltd. (Irwin Olian – and international sales agent CIneville International (Frederic Demey –


Award winning writer-director Bessai helmed from his own script. In the film, world-renowned cutting-edge architect Davenport Lear (Dern), nearing retirement and contemplating his legacy, summons his four dysfunctional children Glenn (Hall); twins Regan (Michalka) and Rory (James Hoare); Kent (Bishop); and Regan’s husband Tom Cornwall (Astin) to a weekend family retreat in one of his signature architectural creations, a Malibu beach estate. When they arrive and hear the bombshell that he has decided to marry his younger personal assistant Diana (Smurfit) that Sunday, it sets off an explosive and humorous round of devious behavior and conflict as each of them jockeys for position, borne by self-interest, greed and jealousy. In the end, this contemporary interpretation of Shakespeare’s classic KING LEAR story raises timeless fundamental questions about the nature of love, sexuality, family relationships and honesty, demonstrating that what lies beneath the surface is often very different from outward manifestations. Rounding out the cast is Davenport’s driver and valet Tyler (Stephen Ellis); Diana’s daughter Delia (Ivy Matheson), and Kent’s date Natalie (Amy Argyle).


Carl Bessai is one of Canada’s leading directors of independent films, having won numerous film festival and North American awards, including at the Vancouver and San Francisco International Film Festivals, as well as several Leo Awards. Based in Vancouver and Los Angeles, Bessai has directed 16 highly regarded feature films to date, including (LOLA (2001), EMILE (2003), NORMAL (2007), MOTHERS & DAUGHTERS (2008), FATHERS & SONS (2010), SISTERS & BROTHERS (2011), BAD CITY (2014) and REHEARSAL (2015). His work has screened at film festivals all over the world, including Sundance, TIFF, Moscow, Pusan and Thessaloniki.


Producer Irwin Olian is the CEO of independent film distributor NeoClassics Films Ltd. and has served as the CEO, member of senior management or director of a number of public and private companies in entertainment, technology and other industries. He served as a senior business affairs executive with talent agency ICM in the Berg/Wiatt era as well as Senior Attorney for Warner Bros Inc. at Burbank Studios for a number of years in the Terry Semel era.


About NeoClassics Films Ltd. Longtime art house distributor NeoClassics Films, Ltd. has successfully released numerous award-winning foreign titles theatrically in the U.S., including French favorites THE HEDGEHOG from director Mona Achache and Christian Carion’s L’AFFAIRE FAREWELL, as well as Amin Matalqa’s multiple-award winning CAPTAIN ABU RAED (Winner of 2008 Sundance World Cinema Audience Award). Other films NeoClassics has distributed in the US include Flemish gems LA MERDITUDE DES CHOSES, MOSCOW, BELGIUM and THE BLACK BALLOON, one of the first feature films to explore life on the autism spectrum. THE LEARS is its first American film and first in-house production. It is presently shifting its focus from domestic distribution to production, financing and international sales. ###







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