you look at independent film distributors in America, one of the odder birds you’ll find is Samuel Goldwyn Films. While many smaller distributors focus on developing a brand identity (e.g. Lionsgate now primarily releasing horror and action genre pics), Samuel Goldwyn Films seems to operate in its own little odd pocket of the universe where there is no reason why the same studio that put out the sublime anime Tokyo Godfathers couldn’t also put out cheap indie dreck like D.E.B.S. or a fantasia like MirrorMask or a drama like The Squid and the Whale. From documentaries to bestiality-based comedy, there seems to be no particular rhyme or reason except that they grab films that fall through the cracks of other smaller distribution houses.

Now, they’ve snatched up director Milos Forman’s first film in almost a decade. Goya’s Ghosts stars Javier Bardem, Natalie Portman, and – interestingly enough – Stellan Skarsgard as Goya himself. The film is focused, however, on the relationship between a clergyman during the Spanish Inquisition (Bardem) and one of Goya’s muses who is also a subject of the Inquisition (Portman). What’s also notable is that this will be Forman’s third collaboration with producer Saul Zaentz. The two worked together on two previous films that went on to win Best Picture, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Amadeus.

Not only has Goldwyn grabbed the flick, but they’re already planning for a platforming summer release which will serve as counterprogramming to the 500-pound box office behemoths arriving weekly. While the timing makes an Oscar trifecta unlikely, I like that they’re not going to hold back on an obvious prestige picture until the Oscar season of late November/December steps into full swing. There’s no point in spending the millions it would take for something like this to show up on Academy voters’ radar anyway. Let’s just hope the flick is as good as its cast.

Updated: Apparently one of our Chewers, Psycheout00, has seen the flick already and says that Bardem is actually the baddie, while the flick focuses on Skarsgard and Portman’s relationship.