Distributor ATO Pictures, aka “Art Takes Over” has picked up U.S. distribution rights to Jessica Yu’s excellent water crisis doc “Last Call at the Oasis,” which is one of my favorites from this year’s Toronto International Film Festival. Produced by Participant Media, the company that brought you “An Inconvenient Truth,” “Waiting for Superman” and “Food, Inc.,” this is another well-made, Oscar-worthy cause doc. Actually, it’s one of the best of its kind.
Here’s what I wrote elsewhere about the film regarding its urgency and Oscar certainty:
someone should pick it up as soon as possible. Like TIFF docs programmer Thom Powers noted in his intro at the film’s premiere, distributors shouldn’t have any trouble finding a target audience. It’s necessary viewing for anyone on the planet who drinks water. But while it could wait until next year—and just as with “Food, Inc.” before it, it will still be nominated a year later if it waits—most of this film’s points are best communicated as soon as possible.
Also be sure and check out my two-part interview with Yu and featured subject Erin Brockovich from last week, if you haven’t already.
From what I’ve heard, “Oasis” likely will not qualify for the Academy Award this year, but I still hope ATO gets this in theaters soon and keeps it buzzing through the 2013 Oscar season. I think this is the first doc acquisition for the company, which has previously distributed narrative works like “Terri” and “Mao’s Last Dancer.”
Before opening up as a distributor, though, the spin-off of Dave Matthews’ ATO Records was a production company that worked on at least two docs, “Amandla! A Revolution in Four Part Harmony,” and Dana Brown’s surf film “Highwater.” So they do have some experience with the mode. Also, I like the appropriateness of the acronym given that Yu’s artistic sensibilities take over here, turning just another issue film into a thing of beauty.
I’ll keep an eye out for when ATO picks a release date, because I really think people should see this film asap.