The Philadelphia-based independent film distribution company, Breaking Glass Pictures, just celebrated its 10-year anniversary. Co-founded by Richard Wolff and the openly gay Richard Ross — and named after a David Bowie song — Breaking Glass has been committed to acquiring and promoting LGBTQ films (among other titles).
“We vowed when we started that we would attempt to release one LGBTQ title per month,” Ross said in a recent phone interview. “We’ve eclipsed that, but looking back over the years, we surpassed what we set out to do.”
He continued to reminisce about the early days, “There was so much product at the time we started, and only a few [distribution] companies releasing LGBTQ films. There were so many great films. We knew there was a pipeline for the genre and that there were people who needed to see these films.”
Many of the films in Breaking Glass Pictures’ library were discovered or promoted at film festivals. The company has long been a sponsor of qFLIX, Philadelphia’s LGBTQ+ film festival.
Ross indicated, “We absolutely believe a fest launch is essential. When we sign a film, we immediately ready it for festival launch. We especially love the small festivals, where we know the audience is clamoring for this type of product.”
Ross also effused about the people and features he has been involved with over the years, “It’s enticing to bring a filmmaker into the fold, work with them and anticipate their next project. We consult with them on artwork, the trailer and marketing. We like to get them involved.”
The company has distributed three films with local connections: “Straight & Butch” a documentary directed by local filmmaker Butch Cordora; “Into the Lion’s Den,” a locally set and shot feature, written by Ross’s former assistant, Philip Malaczewski, about three gay men who encounter trouble on a road trip; and “Lazy Eye,” a sexy romantic drama produced by out gay Philadelphia native Todd Shotz.
When asked which films he considered “essential viewing” from his decade of distribution, Ross cited: “An Englishman in New York,” “Edie and Thea: A Very Long Engagement,” “Taxi zum Klo,” “Laurence Anyways,” “Out in the Dark,” “Lyle,” “Sand Dollars,” “Esteros,” “Heartstone,” “B&B,” “Rift,” “Call Her Ganda,” “Cherry Grove Stories,” “Kanarie,” and “Socrates.”
He also singled out films and filmmakers that were of particular importance to him as a distributor.
“Joshua Lim has a style that is very unique — maybe too slow for some — but I love his films, ‘The Seminarian,’ and ‘Godless.’ The Spanish-language film, ‘Four Moons,’ was incredible. If we had lost it, I would have been devastated.”
He added that “Geography Club” is “essential viewing for high school students about loneliness and looking for acceptance. It was another film that broke loose and should move into the mainstream.”
“A smaller film that exploded,” he said, “was ‘My Best Friend.’ It was one of the biggest sellers of the year, and the audience grew far beyond what I thought it would be.”
Finally, he cited “The Falls by Jon Garcia — “We worked with him and gave consulting advice and encouraged him to finish the trilogy.”
Part of the success of Breaking Glass has been the company’s relationship with filmmakers.
Scud, the Asian auteur, sent a testimonial via WhatsApp about his relationship with the company, “Richard Wolff wrote me about distributing ‘Utopians,’ followed by ‘Voyage’ and then ‘Adonis,’ which topped the Amazon LGBT sales chart for months. It’s fair to say Breaking Glass brought my work to America.”
The company now has the distribution rights to Scud’s entire catalog. This month, they are releasing a box set of his first four films: “City Without Baseball,” “Permanent Residence,” “Amphetamine” and “Love Actually…Sucks!”
Likewise, actor-turned-filmmaker Gerald McCullouch is very grateful to have a working relationship with Breaking Glass. He said, “They distributed my first narrative feature, ‘Daddy.’ Our relationship continued with them distributing and getting behind my two ‘All Male, All Nude’ documentaries. They’re one of the champs in the niche-market industry. To have their support has had such an impact on my films finding their audience. The promotional opportunities they’ve brought into my life have been incredible.”
Patrick McGuinn, whose tender romantic drama, “Leather” was distributed by Breaking Glass, concurred, “‘Leather’ has been seen on a lot of platforms. I was not able to sell ‘Leather’ directly to European distributors, but Breaking Glass was able to do that. Filmmakers lack the connections to get their films seen on the platforms that Breaking Glass has access to.”
And then there is Thales Corrêa, whose feature directorial debut, “Bathroom Stalls and Parking Lots,” was acquired by Breaking Glass. He recalled, “I went to the American Film Market. I was trying to shop my film around and show it at festivals. Everyone said, ‘Bring it to Breaking Glass.’ They were well known in the market. When we won the qFLIX audience award, that’s when we made the deal to have Breaking Glass distribute my film.”
Given that the company’s film’s range from highbrow arthouse to guilty pleasures, here are my 10 personal favorites Breaking Glass Pictures releases to commemorate the company on its 10th anniversary:
- “Body Electric,” a poignant, moving, low-key character study from Brazil.
- “Bwoy,” John G. Young’s intense, intimate drama about a tricky long-distance relationship.
- “Capitol Games,” a deliciously bad, unintentionally hilarious romance.
- “Handsome Devil,” John Butler’s charming comedy-drama about two schoolmates.
- “Kept Boy,” a fabulous and naughty romcom about the title character who fears his relationship with his sugar daddy is ending.
- “Last Summer,” Mark Thiedeman’s evocative, impressionistic drama about two Arkansas teens.
- “Lucky Bastard,” Everett Lewis’ bold, compelling film about a buttoned-up home restorer who falls fast and hard for a crystal meth addict.
- “The Revival,” a nifty little sleeper about a drifter who arrives at a Southern Baptist church.
- “Somos tr3s/We Are Thr3e,” a sweet and sexy Argentine romance about a threesome.
- “Steel,” an erotic psychological thriller that features gorgeous guys and gratuitous nudity.