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Drafthouse Films acquires long-lost Australian horror film Wake in Fright

07.19.2012by: Eric Walkuski

Drafthouse Films, the film distribution arm of the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema announced today their acquisition of North American rights to classic Australian thriller WAKE IN FRIGHT. Directed by Ted Kotcheff (RAMBO: FIRST BLOOD PART II), the film tells the story of a British schoolteacher's descent into personal demoralization at the hands of drunken, deranged derelicts while stranded in a small town in outback Australia.

Virtually unseen in the United States and renowned in its home country after years of neglect, WAKE IN FRIGHT is ripe for rediscovery and returns to cinemas beginning with engagements at Film Forum in New York City on OCTOBER 5th, The NuArt in Los Angeles on OCTOBER 19th and expanding to additional markets before a home video and VOD release in Q1 of 2013.

WAKE IN FRIGHT originally made its debut at Cannes in 1971, where it earned a Palme D'Or nomination. The film made its return to the festival in 2009 courtesy of guest-curator Martin Scorsese, following the completion of a comprehensive restoration. It was there where Wake In Fright held the honor of being one of two films to have been shown twice in the history of the festival. The film is lauded for its stark and uncompromising vision by champions such as Roger Ebert who said Wake In Fright is "powerful, genuinely shocking and rather amazing," and celebrated musician/songwriter/screenwriter Nick Cave, who said the film is "the best and most terrifying film about Australia in existence."

Believed to be lost for many years, WAKE IN FRIGHT was restored after an exhaustive decade-long search for original film elements. Fortuitously, the negative was unearthed in Pittsburgh, PA, in canisters marked for destruction just one week away from its impending incineration. The materials were then restored frame-by-frame at Sydney's AtLab Deluxe with the aid of the National Film and Sound Archives of Australia.

"Kotcheff's stunning and dreadfully creepy film inspired a generation of accomplished Aussie filmmakers," says Drafthouse Films Acquisition Director Evan Husney, "and we couldn't be more thrilled to be the outfit that unleashes this masterwork to movie-lovers everywhere. I say without hesitation that this film is truly one of our all-time favorites."

Extra Tidbit: Have you ever heard of WAKE IN FRIGHT? I must admit that I had not until now... but I'm glad I did!

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