Fernando Cortizo’s stop-motion feature O Apóstolo (The Apostle) is now free to stream online, ten years after a strong festival run that saw the film win several major awards including the Annecy audience award in 2013.
In the film’s description on Youtube, Cortizo explains why he’s made O Apóstolo free to view, calling out its original distributors:
FREE VIEWING on this channel and, if you like the movie, you have the POSSIBILITY TO MAKE DONATIONS here below TO HELP PAY THE DEBTS of the cost of its production, since it did not recover the cost of production due to the SCAM OF THE DISTRIBUTORS.
In 2016, Cortizo and producer Isabel Rey publicly denounced the film’s distributors, explaining, “This situation originated from the multiple scams of the Spanish distributor Aquelarre, which did not pay the guaranteed minimum and kept all the proceeds from the cinemas, and the Latin American co-producer-distributor Tayrona Entertainment, which continues to have the film on its website, and never paid anything.”
Cortizo and Rey say that the film was played on tv in Latin America and in theaters in Russia, but that Aquelarre denied as much and never paid anything to the film’s producers for sales in those territories. In Spain, Cortizo and Rey were promised commercial screenings in 80 cinemas, but in the end, O Apóstolo only ever played in 13 locations.
Thinking back on the film’s festival run and eventual distribution, Rey explained to Cartoon Brew, “We were novices and we didn’t know how that market worked then. In the end, they only played the film during matinees or one morning each week.”
In the decade since the film had its disastrous theatrical run, the costs of production still haven’t been completely recovered. According to Rey, the owner of Aquelarre liquidated that company and set up another without facing repercussions for the losses of O Apóstolo.
What Cortizo and Rey have recovered, though, are the rights to distribute the film. Now, with the future of O Apóstolo back in their own hands, Cortizo and Rey have finally found a bit of catharsis and just want the world to finally have honest access to the film.
“We really want to turn the page,” Rey explained. “The film’s distribution is going very well on the new website. The idea is to have everything available there.”
“We had a few bad years with this film, psychologically and economically,” added Cortizo. “But our attitude now is that people who will see the film are the kind of people who really want to see it and will value the work we did. We ask for donations to cover lost costs, but mostly we’re just getting a lot of joy from seeing the feedback it’s getting that we never got when the film was distributed so poorly.”
Sadly, Cortizo and Rey’s shared experience with O Apóstolo has soured the duo on independent production, and they’ve got no plans to make an original indie film in the future. However, both continue to work in the industry and they’ve got a number of irons in the fire, including Shkid, an ambitious 2d hand-drawn feature project being co-produced out of Spain, Mexico, and the Czech Republic.