For those British connoisseurs of Asian cinema the distributor Tartan is probably one you will be acutely familiar with. The Asia Extreme brand of Tartan alone would be responsible for bringing the output of Takashi Miike, Park Chan-wook, Kim Ki-duk, Shinya Tsukamoto and countless other Asian directors to western shores. As well as allowing UK and US audiences to appreciate the cinematic brilliance of Asian classics such as the Vengeance Trilogy, Battle Royale, the Ring Trilogy, Audition, Infernal Affairs, A Bittersweet Life and many others. Away from its Asia Extreme label the company would be responsible for the distribution of both niche modern films and more traditionally classic cinema.
For those willing to invest the money Tartan Classics provided the full back catalogue of the works of Ozu, Bergman, Eisenstein and Jodorowsky. Tartan would also be responsible for distribution of powerful documentaries such as Capturing The Friedmans, Basque Ball, and Super Size Me as well as contemporary film from around the world such as 9 Songs, Battle In Heaven and The Death of Mr. Lazarescu. As such during their time as distributors the Tartan label provided a catalogue that would define the way people talked about films and would showcase the very best the world had to offer. Earlier this year the US side of Tartan Film sold all of their assets to Palisades Media before liquidation and now according to Variety the main offices of Tartan Films have gone into administration. Whilst only the cinema distribution is covered by Tartan Films all aspects of Tartan are handled in the same office and the future of the company looks extraordinarily bleak for the company.
With the closure of both Tartan and Premier Asia/Hong Kong Legends the future of Asian cinema releases in the United Kingdom is looking increasingly fraught and in general the closure of Tartan represents the end of a company who were willing to take risks and invest money on the kind of properties most other distributors wouldn’t have