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November 18, 2015

Sara Kiener and Merrill Sterritt have brought their audience-building and distribution expertise to films supported by Cinereach.

In late 2015, Cinereach announced that Sara Kiener and Merrill Sterritt have joined the Cinereach team to pioneer our expanding focus on audience and distribution strategies. The co-founders of Film Presence partnered in 2010 to focus on audience engagement for non-traditional theatrical releases. They quickly expanded their services to include supporting larger theatrical campaigns and building communities around films at all stages of production and distribution, through new online platforms and strategic community screening campaigns. Their clients have included Radius, Magnolia Pictures, A24 and others.

“Innovative audience strategies are increasingly important as our films navigate the evolving distribution landscape,” said Philipp Engelhorn, Cinereach founder and executive director. “Sara and Merrill are at the forefront of the space and will greatly expand how Cinereach fulfills our commitment to filmmakers. We’ll be able to offer Cinereach-supported films more opportunities to reach audiences and add to the cultural conversation.”

“We couldn’t be more thrilled to join Cinereach, to help them create meaningful bridges between the films they support and the audiences those films deserve,” said Kiener and Sterritt in a statement. “We’re excited to work with their team and the incredible network of filmmakers they’ve been nurturing since 2006.”

At Film Presence, Sterritt and Kiener worked on over 60 theatrical campaigns for films including the Oscar winning CITIZENFOUR, a Cinereach supported film, and Twenty Feet From Stardom. They also championed a six-month theatrical and educational screening campaign for the Emmy Award Winning After Tiller. In addition to CITIZENFOUR, Film Presence also worked on the Cinereach-supported films Call Me Kuchu and The Great Invisible. In 2012, they began applying their outreach techniques to crowd-funding and have helped client films raise over $1 million, including $340,000 for Don Cheadle’s forthcoming Miles Ahead. Prior to Film Presence, Kiener was exhibitor relations manager at Magnolia Pictures. Sterritt previously managed the production assistance program at Women Make Movies.

At Cinereach Merrill and Sterritt will focus on current Cinereach productions, including Mike Plunkett’s feature debut Salero (which premiered at IDFA 2015) and the upcoming Untitled MIA Project by Steve Loveridge, as well as works supported through other Cinereach initiatives.

Cinereach is a film foundation and production company that champions vital stories, artfully told. It offers adaptive financial and creative support that frees the filmmaking process from systemic barriers and commercial pressures to make way for innovative work. Cinereach seeks projects and collaborators that can offer audiences new experiences and understanding, stimulate the imagination, and grapple meaningfully with the complexities of our time. Since 2006, Cinereach has supported close to 200 films globally, including The Diary of a Teenage Girl, Evolution of a CriminalCutie and the Boxer, It Felt Like Love, and Pariah. Recent Cinereach-produced films include Salero, TeenageThe Cold Lands and Beasts of the Southern Wild, which was nominated for four Academy Awards including Best Picture. Cinereach is a founding partner of Sundance Institute’s Transparency Project, and a non-profit ally of Sundance #ArtistServices.