TLA Video’s Ray Murray just announced his latest venture, ARTSPLOITATION FILMS, an artsy genre DVD/Blu-ray label that boasts a staff of familiar names including Cinedelphia friend/Danger After Dark programmer Travis Crawford in the role of “Acquisitions Consultant” (I know he’s psyched about those new business cards).  The company’s first press release just went out and boy are they starting things off with a bang…



An Indian Hip-Hop Drama, a Japanese Gangster Actioner and a Violent Russian Coming-of-Age Tale are the First Three Titles of New Label.

Philadelphia, PA (May 1, 2012)    Artsploitation Films (, founded earlier this year by TLA Entertainment Inc. president Raymond Murray has  announced its initial acquisitions for North America.  They are: Gandu (India, 2010, director: Kaushik Mukherjee [AKA: Q], 85 mins); Hard Romanticker (Hâdo romanchikkâ) (Japan, 2011, director: Gu Su-yeon, 108 mins); and Bullet Collector (2011, Russia, director: Alexander Vartanov, 120 min).

Murray says of the titles, “I could not have a better selection of films to launch Artsploitation. All three are visually and dramatically explosive with innovative film techniques and a trio of unforgettable anti-heroes. Our goal is to select films which entertain as well as push the cinematic envelope – these three certainly do!” Travis Crawford, former Danger After Dark Programmer now Acquisitions Consultant for Artsploitation Films comments, “There are so many innovative and challenging films that slip through the American home video and theatrical distribution cracks, and this company is an exciting corrective to that.  Although there are elements of explicit sexuality and graphic violence present in our films, it is also our mission to present some films that don’t comfortably fit into any established genre.”

Additional titles will be announced in the coming weeks and the Artsploitation team will be at Cannes seeking films for 2013.

The introductory batch of films begins with the ground-breaking independent Indian movie Gandu (the approximate English translation of the title is, affectionately, Asshole!), a radical, playful – and sexually blunt – hip-hop musical about a young Bengali and his rebellious misadventures. International reviews have praised the film with such accolades as, “A high-energy example of a rarefied genre, Bengali thrash-metal rap musical Gandu grabs auds by the throat and gradually works its way down…” (Variety);  “a highly transgressive, visually spectacular assault on the senses” (Time Out London); and “Bold, energetic and by turns both deliberately vulgar and sharply incisive…a film that straddles a heretofore unnoticed line between Danny Boyle’s Trainspotting and Gaspar Noe’s Enter The Void.” (Twitch). The film’s sales agent, Julian Richards of Jinga Films, remarked about the title, “an extraordinary film that defies expectations and I can’t think of a better home for it in North America than Raymond Murray’s exciting new genre label Artsploitation!” The film is slated to be released on DVD/Blu-Ray and VOD in August, 2012.

Hard Romanticker is a riveting, violent, and surprisingly witty juvenile delinquent crime drama that has been called Japan’s version of A Clockwork Orange. Director Gu Su-yeon’s 2011 film is a hardboiled and savage look at a bleached-blond South Korean punk (Gu himself is Korean, and he adapted the film from his own semi-autobiographical novel) running wild on the streets of Shimonoseki in Japan, and engaged in various gangland activity.  The film doesn’t flinch from its brutality, and almost gives director Takashi Miike’s films a run for their money.  International reviews have been almost gushing in their enthusiasm.  “A stunning lead performance by Shota Matsuda as the bleach-blond street tough who lives on the edge and is always happy to engage in a little ultra-violence. Shota Matsuda is a charismatic lead – cool, stylish and brooding – and is the dynamic core of this freewheeling and tough crime drama.” (Screen Daily).  “With stylistic pizzazz and humor as dry as a shooter, writer-helmer Gu Su-yeon makes his firsthand recollections of delinquent hijinks gleefully anarchic and consistently entertaining.” (Variety).  Variety also goes on to note that the film “should pummel its way unopposed into genre fests,” and indeed, Artsploitation Films has plans to tour the movie into several genre-oriented film festivals this year before its release on DVD/BluRay and VOD at the end of this year.

Hard Romanticker – трейлер by kinorota

The third film of the trio is the 2011 Russian drama Bullet Collector directed by Alexander Vartanov, a gorgeously photographed and haunting film which mixes elements of drama with violent fantasy, to remarkable effect.  The story follows a 14-year-old boy living in impoverished circumstances and feeling weak and helpless. He creates a fantasy universe for himself, one where his violent dreams provide him with a sense of empowerment.  But gradually his thoughts of crime and aggression threaten to overcome his real world.  A stunning feature film directing debut for Vartanov that confirms him as a major new filmmaking talent and has been labeled a hallucinatory, vodka-infused take on Truffaut’s The 400 Blows! The film will play film festivals beginning late this summer in North America before a theatrical run later this year. The acquisition was completed by Arndt-Johns and Virginie Devesa, of Paris-based Alpha Violet.

The trailer for Bullet Collector can be found here:

* Fingers crossed for a future Finisterrae release…

Official site.

Author: Eric Bresler

Eric is the Founder/Site Editor of whose additional activities are numerous: Director/Curator of the Philadelphia Mausoleum of Contemporary Art (PhilaMOCA), founder of Tokyo No Records, the brain behind Video Pirates, and active local film programmer including the Unknown Japan screening series. He’s served as a TLA Video Manager, Philadelphia Film Society Managing Director, and Adjunct Professor in Cinema Studies at Drexel University. He is shy and modest. Email Eric.

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