Development: Clooney Looking to Direct Sci-Fi Thriller; Zemeckis Adapting Roald Dahl's Witches

Deadline has revealed that development and finance company MajorJazz has bought The Black Room, a spec script written by Grady Hendrox and Nicholas Rucka described as a “paranormal horror” about “marriage, deceit, and the constant intrusion of the past into the present.” 

SYFY WIRE, June 20, 2018


‘The Black Room’ Picked Up By MajorJazz, Based On Co-Writer’s Experience In Psychic Research Institute

MajorJazz, a development and finance company with ties to Wall Street and Silicon Valley has acquired The Black Room, a paranormal horror spec about marriage, deceit, and the constant intrusion of the past into the present written by Grady Hendrix and Nicholas Rucka.



Jan Wahl: 'All Is Lost' and 'Torn'

Shot in the East Bay ... two of our fine local filmmakers, Jeremiah Birnbaum and Michael Richter, illuminate a timely story about two mothers forming a bond when their sons are killed in a terrorist attack.... This is brave filmmaking with an excellent acting ensemble.

CBS SF BAY AREA, October 25, 2013


Movie review, "Torn": aftermath of an attack

"Torn" is a succinct and emotionally truthful drama about the aftermath of a terrorist attack, as experienced by two families. It's a portrait of grief and devastation, and also of the ways in which the police and media can jump to conclusions and feed off of the public's anger and confusion...



Review: 'Torn' tackles post-9/11 values

“Torn” capitalizes on a gripping and emotional storyline to deliver a terrific ending.... [W]ith its focus on ordinary, realistic people dealing with an event that is all too possible, it does something a lot of better-financed Hollywood movies don’t: It makes you think.

THE MERCURY NEWS, October 23, 2013


Two Mothers, Divided by Their Sons

Slowly uncovering the prejudices that calamity can unleash, Michael Richter’s screenplay lays bare the damage wrought by Sept. 11 while deftly dodging hysteria, wondering how we differentiate between innocent teenage behaviors and dangerous red flags. Most of all, it wonders if we can ever fully know the people we live with, leaving the question to resonate as deeply as the two women’s grief...

THE NEW YORK TIMES, October 17, 2013


Film Review: Torn

From a terse, wonderfully observant and unsentimental screenplay by Michael Richter, director Jeremiah Birnbaum has made a refreshingly low-key, unhysterical account of a modern tragedy and the very specific ways it affects people, long after horrific incidents happen.... Richter tells the tale with admirable economy—the film runs 80 minutes—as well as an unstressed but devastating emotional authenticity. He could have ended his film with the question of the boys' culpability unanswered and that ambiguity would have been sufficient, but instead he reveals the truth, and the revelation is breathtakingly poignant...



Specialty B.O. Preview: 'All Is Lost', '12 Years A Slave', 'Torn'

“About a year ago, I saw the final cut of the film and fell in love with it.” The film won the Grand Prize at the Rhode Island International Film Festival, but kept its festival run to a minimum. “We didn’t do the festival circuit...We wanted to take the film out in the fall, though we were too late for Toronto"...

DEADLINE HOLLYWOOD, October 17, 2013


Torn: Film Review

Michael Richter’s screenplay weaves together its various themes and such subplots as Lea’s tentatively resuming a relationship with her long estranged ex-husband (Patrick St. Esprit) with intelligence and sensitivity, not to mention an uncommon succinctness (the film runs a scant 80 min). The relationships between the complex characters are well drawn, and the ironic ending manages to touchingly upend our expectations...



A Tender, Well-Performed Narrative on Multicultural Intricacies Amid Tragedy in Torn

Michael Richter’s intimate script traverses this mercurial territory without veering into hysterics—a great accomplishment. When the women tearfully confront one another, you’re on the journey toward acceptance with them. Made for less than $500,000, Torn is proof that a little can go a long way. In fact, the microscale perfectly lends itself to the story’s quiet revelations... 

THE VILLAGE VOICE, October 16, 2013



A genuinely unsettling microcosm of modern terrorism... Torn rings with the sound of quiet truth. “I have a bomb and a Pakistani kid, so I’m sure you can appreciate where we’ll have to go with this,” a detective (John Heard) says early on. The welcome surprise of Birnbaum’s film is that where it has to go is so unexpected.

THE DISSOLVE, October 16, 2013



Exclusive: Trailer & Poster For Post-9/11 Drama ‘Torn’

If there is anything we have learned post-9/11 is that the spectre of threat and the presence of fear can arrive from completely unexpected places.... This exclusive trailer gives you a taste of what's to come with this film that won the Grand Prize at the Rode Island Film Festival.  "Torn" opens in limited release on October 18th.

INDIEWIRE, September 3, 2013


Movie Review: Cold Souls

Cold Souls is an Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind filtered through a Russian worldview. It's comical, yes, but glum and brooding, too, a wintry waltz through acting, underground commerce and metaphysics...

ORLANDO SENTINEL, September 29, 2009


Cold Souls

Even with the light lifts from other sources (Barthes has also cited Federico Fellini and Eugène Ionesco as inspirations), the multinational writer/director’s debut feature is an original, and Giamatti is masterful, swaddled in a heavy beard and an existential slump.

AUSTIN CHRONICLE, September 18, 2009


Review: "Cold Souls" is edgy seriocomedy

Peppered with ingenious twists of imagination, "Cold Souls" walks a tightrope between intellectual slapstick and edgy social commentary. Virtuoso cinematographer Andrij Parekh gives the film an elegant, uneasy Kubrickian look that complements the action to perfection...

STAR TRIBUNE, August 27, 2009


Cold Souls

I enjoy movies like this, which play with the logical consequences of an idea. Barthes takes her notion and runs with it, and Giamatti and Strathairn follow fearlessly. The movie is rather evocative about the way we govern ourselves from the inside out. One of Nina’s problems is that she has picked up little pieces from the souls of all other people she has carried. Don’t we all?

ROGER EBERT, August 19, 2009


Cold Souls

The chief pleasure to be derived from watching Cold Souls is that it's a journey into the unexpected. To one degree or another, even the best screenplays tend to follow projectable trajectories, even when the specifics are obfuscated. Cold Souls travels so far off the beaten trail that it's difficult to discern where it might be going. Granted, the final destination is more conventional than one might expect from such an offbeat motion picture, but this is one of those movies where the journey counts more than the arrival. There aren't many analogs available; it bears a passing resemblance to the twisted conceptions of Charlie Kauffman, but even that is an imperfect comparison.

REEL REVIEWS, August 11, 2009


Lightened Loads

In the sixteenth chapter of the Gospel according to St. Matthew, Jesus asks his disciples, “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” If the disciples offered a reply to this, it is not recorded. In any case, the first question is rhetorical, although some of us will take a lifetime to discover, to our consternation, just how much truth it tells. To the second question, however, “Cold Souls” has an exact answer; namely, a credit card.

THE NEW YORKER, August 10, 2009


Cold Souls

Writer-director Sophie Barthes’ darkly funny, twisty-cool existential tragicomedy, loaded with smart notions and filmed like a surrealist dream, really takes off… The inventiveness of Barthes’ story is matched by a sense of visual fluidity that’s especially striking in a first feature…



Cold Souls

You'll laugh till it hurts at Cold Souls, a comedy of shocking gravity starring Paul Giamatti as a neurotic actor named Paul Giamatti... The film is superbly shot by Andrij Parekh and edited by Andrew Mondshein, but it's the hilarious and heartbreaking Giamatti who provides it with, well, soul.

ROLLING STONE, August 6, 2009


Sad eyes peer dreamily through 'Cold Souls'

Some of the best movies feel like vivid dreams.  As it turns out, the surrealistic Cold Souls did originate as a dream, one that writer/director Sophie Barthes had after watching Woody Allen's futuristic comedy Sleeper (1973).

USA TODAY, August 2009


Real, Rough Life, in Front of a Lens

Arriving at a moment when smart, pointed humor in movies is in short supply, “Cold Souls” could never be described as social realist. It is simply flat-out funny.

NEW YORK TIMES, March 24, 2009


Movie Review – Sangre de Mi Sangre (2008)

Sangre de Mi Sangre is the remarkable writing debut of Christopher Zalla, who also directed.



Sangre de mi Sangre

"Sangre de Mi Sangre," the grand jury prize winner at Sundance 2007 ... is built around two relationships, both touching, both emotionally true.

ROGER EBERT June 19, 2008


Sangre de mi sangre

Fusing a bit of Shakespearean mistaken identity with Biblical tales of greed and redemption, writer/director Christopher Zalla’s first feature couldn’t come at a better time… Well-acted and gripping, Sangre de mi Sangre—which won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance—augurs well for Zalla’s career.

PASTE MAGAZINE, June 13, 2008


Sangre de mi Sangre

[Sangre de mi Sangre] offers more consistent entertainment value than most of the summer Hollywood blockbusters.



Refugee Woes in Brooklyn

TWO timely issues – illegal immigration and identity theft – power the stylishly dark “Sangre de Mi Sangre,” the first feature by Kenya-born, Columbia-educated filmmaker Christopher Zalla.

NEW YORK POST, May 16, 2008


Sangre de mi Sangre

Few modern movies have the visceral excitement and heartbreaking, lived-in reality of this one, which, in its compelling immediacy, recalls the great works of Italian Neo-Realist cinema.... The film is brilliantly cast in a way to make you care vitally about every character.  Juan is a thoroughly reprehensible scamp, but the lusciously handsome Hernández floods the character with a volatile charisma reminiscent of Robert De Niro in Mean Streets, with a little Tony Curtis in Sweet Smell of Success thrown in for good measure....  After this film, both actors should be as hot as Y Tu Mamá También’s Diego Luna and Gael Garcia Bernal.



Sangre de mi Sangre

Christopher Zalla ... makes an impressive debut with this suspense feature about illegal immigrants and stolen identity.