My Dog Tulip gets a U.S. distributor

As previously noted here, good U.S. distribution for an independent animated feature is very tricky thing to acquire. Nina Paley went the self-distribution route with her film Sita Sings The Blues, while smaller companies like Regent ($9.99), IFC (Mary & Max), Zeitgeist Films (A Town Called Panic), and Gkids (The Secret of Kells) try their best to introduce animated films into the competitive marketplace.

That said, I can report some good news for Paul Fierlinger’s My Dog Tulip. The film has been picked up by Apparition, a fairly new theatrical distributor out of NYC specializing in independent films for the U.S. market. They take on only about 7 films a year and, based on some of their live action acquistions (Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Hope and Jane Campion’s Bright Star), have gained a solid reputation.

Christopher Plummer and Isabella Rossellini voice Fierlinger’s animated tale of friendship between an elderly bachelor and his German Shepherd. The film was awarded Honorable Mention for Best Animated Film at the 2009 Ottawa International Animation Festival. Appriation will release Tulip in September 2010.


  • http://www.elliotelliotelliot.com Elliot Cowan

    That is great news.

    Also – A Town Called Panic is terrific. My favorite animated film of the year.

  • Seni

    Ah, Man’s Best Friend! I love the closing line, “Sometimes, Love really is a Bitch.” How creative.

  • Kate

    I’m sold! This looks adorable. :)

  • http://www.rauchbrothers.com Tim Rauch

    Awesome! This is a solid film that deserves distribution. It could be tricky to market, but if you go see it you will enjoy yourself!

  • tom

    That’s good news

  • Himalayan Pink

    I’m frankly puzzled about why this movie has been reasonably well received.

    It features:

    An overlong running time.
    An unlikable lead.
    A lack of narrative cohesion or flow.
    A very long discourse on the bowl movements of dogs.
    An even longer speech about the sex habits of dogs.

    This community bemoans the use of fart and sex jokes in hollywood cartoons, but when an independent film spends a great deal of its running time discussing the very same thing it’s considered art.

    An independent film doesn’t necessarily translate into interesting viewing. I caution anyone who thinks they are in for an “adorable” movie about a dog to stay far, far away. But hey, if you are really into dog poop…

  • http://www.sitasingstheblues.com/ Nina Paley

    Nina Paley went the self-distribution route with her film Nina Sings The Blues

    Because I am a terrible distributor, I’m not self-distributing Sita (well, not any more than anyone else who shares copies). Sita is audience-distributed, not self-distributed. Some of that audience includes professionals. Gkids distributes the film theatrically (I love them, by the way) in the US, and IndiePix is releasing a DVD distribution any day now (in addition to my distribution, and QuestionCopyright.org’s distribution, and FilmKaravan’s). There’s no professional distribution monopoly, but there is professional distribution. Which is good, because if I had a monopoly on the film, I’d sue myself.

    Gkids, by the way, landed Sita a week-long theatrical run at the IFC Film Center in New York Dec. 25-31 (more info once IFC puts it on their web site). They rock.

  • http://www.sitasingstheblues.com/ Nina Paley

    Oh, and congratulations to Paul Fierlinger! I should have written that first!

  • http://vincemusacchia.blogspot.com vince m

    I love the look of it. I hope I get the chance to see this film, indy releases are usually a bit hard to find. Hopefully the Brewmasters will update us when it’s released.

  • http://www.tresswygert.blogspot.com Tres Swygert

    The tagline at the end of the trailer really sealed the deal for me. It’s also interesting that Christopher Plummer is having another project in animation (Up, 9). The more I hear his voice for an animation project, the more I want him in other projects.

  • http://willfinn.blogspot.com/ Will Finn

    The look of this really appeals to me. Congratulations to Mr. Ferlinger, I look forward to seeing this.

    Himalayan Pink does have a point about the gross factor however–it’s no hyperbole to say that 99% of the indie animated films I have ever seen in the last 20 years (including 2 in the last two weeks), if they depict an animal at all, have a seemingly MANDATORY “animal graphically and gratuitously urinates, excretes, humps and/or copulates scene”. This seems to go ignored at best or lauded at worst, while mainstream fart jokes in animation elicit automatic fury. The latter are admittedly tedious but what’s with the double standard? At this point it would be novel to see anybody go the distance without any of the above.

  • http://bakertoons.blogspot.com/ Charles Brubaker

    Let me be third and side with Himalayan Pink and Will Finn. Hell, it’s probably worse in indie cartoons. There’s even a whole animation festival dedicated to them (Spike and Mike)

    I get that independent films have little to no executive interference, but just because you’re free to be “edgy” as you want doesn’t mean you have to.

    Nothing against Paul Fierlinger, BTW. I think he’s a fine animator.

  • http://www.myspace.com/pilsnerspicks Pilsner Panther

    Personally, I’m enchanted by the low-key color scheme and the loosely inked drawings in this trailer, both of which are striking in this age when practically everything on the screen is overdone to the Nth degree. Also by the fact that the dog actually behaves like a dog and doesn’t have any human-type dialogue. This looks like a real charmer, and the voice talents are first-rate, too!

    Perhaps, here’s an animated film that both the kids and the grownups can enjoy, just like in the old days when the Disney and Fleischer studios (and others) made simple magic, and didn’t belabor the point that that was what they were doing.

    If it’s full of poop jokes— oh well, nowadays, what isn’t?

  • http://www.enigmation.de slowtiger

    It took Hollywood the better part of the 20th century to finally dare to show a toilet on screen, just as an example of everyday reality. It still counts as “risky” to show most stuff human beings deal with – it’s only acceptable when done in gory action movies, or referenced in a kind of bad taste pub or student humor.

    In the same time independent films (at least some) didn’t close their eyes on reality. It is a big difference to tell a story about a dog who, like every dog, sometimes farts, and poor gagwriting in a Hollywood film which relies on fart gags because it’s totally lame.

  • Chris D.

    I was pretty stoked to see Christopher Plummer as our protagonist. I had not heard of this film prior, and after viewing the trailer I really look forward to watching this.

  • http://pyatyletka.blogspot.com Nick Cross

    I loved this movie! This is great news!

  • http://pyatyletka.blogspot.com Nick Cross

    …of course I think you have to be a ‘dog person’ to enjoy it thoroughly.

  • http://www.elliotelliotelliot.com Elliot Cowan

    Delighted to see that the achievements of one of our fellows is so closely followed by a discussion about the nature of animated defecation.

  • Tim Brown

    This trailer looks terrific! Thank God it’s getting distributed…this looks better than most dramas being made today!

  • http://asteriskpix.blogspot.com richard o’connor

    Scatology is not used for gag comedy in this film. Instead, the character of the owner is explored and the nature of love and companionship is illuminated.

    I wonder if those who think is was a cheap laugh saw the right film.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/ariville/ Ariel

    Beautiful simple design. Looks like a nice film.

    Can’t wait to see it on the screen.

  • http://www.sitasingstheblues.com/ Nina Paley

    The preview looks beautiful. How many here have actually seen it?

  • Casper the friendly executive

    It looks loverly and feels like the UK too… if just all the pretty bits. Looks like it’s about real dogs too, not Disney dogs or Dreamworks dogs. Sad to see the sniping start so soon though. We really can’t let ourselves have a single good moment can we?

  • http://willfinn.blogspot.com/ Will Finn

    BTW just to be clear about my side rant above, it’s not aimed at this film: I haven’t seen this particular movie yet and when I do, I wouldn’t be surprised or mortified by some “earthy” content–the main character is a real dog after all.

    My beef above is more to the instance (quite literally a cliche by now) where an animal is introduced arbitrarily onscreen, gratuitously does its business to score a quick shock laff and then disappears. And it’s just a beef, not a crusade; both recent instances I mentioned earlier were otherwise excellent movies which I enjoyed a great deal.

  • http://www.tabithadraws.blogspot.com Tabitha

    I saw this film at the Ottawa Animation Fest and loved the design but was kind of weirded out by the story. My mum saw it too and, despite being into dogs, her reaction was similar. Really wanted to like it, though…

  • Chris Sobieniak

    I guess I would be in Himalayan Pink too, though I feel given the circumstances of this film, it’s not meant to be somewhat exploitative or as a cheap laugh to those that are into it. While it is true we’ve come a long way in how far we can take it in cinema, the indie film route often was open to this subject from the start. I hope to see this film someday myself despite it’s happy and ‘ugly’ moments.

  • Carolyn Bates

    That’s great news. I loved this film – and I love dogs, but you don’t need to be a dog lover to like this. I saw it at Ottawa but I’d been wanting to see it after reading about it on Michael Sporn’s site. Fierlinger’s Still Life with Animated Dogs was wonderful. I really liked the look and its raw style, how it captured a dog’s essence, while also showing us bizarre flights of fancy such as Tulip, delicately marking her scent while wearing her little tutu.