Precious Cargo

Precious Cargo

New York based doc specialists Cargo Film & Releasing, headed up by  company president David Piperni and vice-president Daniel Cantagallo, is extending its relationship with documentary legend (and IDFA regular) Barbara Kopple. 


The company is handling not only Kopple’s recent New Homeland (2018) but some of her older titles too, among them Miss Sharon Jones! (2015), about the singer Sharon Jones who continues playing on stage with her band the Dap-Kings as she battles with cancer. Cargo is also representing Kopple’s Oscar winner American Dream (1990), a cinema verité classic about an unsuccessful strike.


Cargo has been at IDFA this week with a typically varied selection of hard hitting, polemical and personal films, all with an edge to them. 


One film Cargo has been selling in Docs For Sale, and which also received its European premiere in Best of Fests, is David Shields’ Marshawn Lynch: A History, about the American football player who infuriated President Trump by sitting during the US national anthem at one game. Another of Lynch’s famous traits is that he doesn’t talk to the press. Shields has therefore put the documentary together (executive produced by Danny Glover) through news footage.


“IDFA is a great place to launch this film on an international platform,” says Austin Kennedy, Cargo’s Director of Sales & Marketing, of a title which Cargo believes has strong international potential. In North America, the film is already on iTunes but the aim now is to attract foreign buyers, whether among streamers, broadcasters or theatrical distributors.


Also new on the Cargo slate is Matt Wolf’s Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project which tells the astonishing story of an African-American librarian and political activist who recorded television 24 hours a day for several decades, starting with the Iran hostage crisis and going on to assemble 70,000 VHS tapes in the process. She preserved footage of wars, revolutions, commercials and much, much more. Her personal archive fills holes in history. As It turned out, the TV networks weren’t keeping this material. 


Kino-Lorber is handling North America but Cargo has international rights to the film.


Cargo has also recently taken on They Call Me Dr Miami, about Dr. Michael Salzhauer, celebrity plastic surgeon and pop culture phenomenon with a huge social media (2 million Snapchat acolytes) following who performs his operations on live streams. The Doctor is also a religious figure who takes his Orthodox Jewish beliefs as seriously as his rhinoplasty.


This is likely to surface at a festival in the spring of next year. Cargo has worldwide rights.


The company is currently drumming up sales for Leave the Bus Through the Broken Window, Andrew Hevia’s quirky new film about an American ex-pat reporting on Hong Kong’s annual Art Basel fair. (The film has an extra resonance given the ongoing Hong Kong protests.) The film’s world premiere was at South by Southwest and its international roll out is beginning now.


Cargo is involved in production as well as sales. New titles which it is financing as well as selling include Techno City which tells the story of the African-Americans who created the techno music revolution in Detroit, and The Father of the Cyborgs, about neurosurgeon and inventor Philip Kennedy, who used brain implants on himself to create the first cyborg. The Irish Film Board is also aboard.