for IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Five Sisters Productions’ film “Manna from Heaven” opening nationally in theaters on whistle-stop tour
WHAT: MANNA FROM HEAVEN (the feel-good film from Five Sisters Productions) is currently being released in theaters nationwide. Like MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING, the film has begun with a roll-out, and is catching fire, now opening in multiple theaters in new areas. In an unique move, the independent company of five real-life sisters has decided to release this old-fashioned film in an old-fashioned way — as a whistle-stop tour (similar to a concert tour), where the sisters travel with the film to personally spread the word about this project close to their heart. In addition, the sisters, partnered with R.S. Entertainment, decided to launch the national distribution in the midwest and other regional markets. MANNA will open in New York and LA in April.
What’s more, MANNA FROM HEAVEN could be truly called a “family” film. MANNA is the third film from the five Burton sisters (Gabrielle, Jennifer, Maria, Ursula, and Charity Burton) of FIVE SISTERS PRODUCTIONS. The film was written by their mother (award-winning screenwriter Gabrielle B. Burton), and was produced by the Burton sisters along with their father (Roger Burton).
The stellar ensemble cast includes Academy Award winner SHIRLEY JONES, Academy Award winner CLORIS LEACHMAN, Academy Award winner LOUISE FLETCHER; Academy Award nominee SEYMOUR CASSEL; and stars from broadway, television, and film: URSULA BURTON, SHELLEY DUVALL, JILL EIKENBERRY, FRANK GORSHIN, HARRY GROENER, FAYE GRANT, WENDIE MALICK, and AUSTIN PENDLETON.
MANNA FROM HEAVEN is an uplifting, quirky comedy about a neighborhood caper which is getting strong positive word-of-mouth. Now awareness of the underdog true indie and its passionate band of sibling creators is growing, spurred on by positive reviews about the prize-winning film, as well as a swelling number of enthusiastic movie-goers using the internet for word-of-mouth. Of interest to film exhibitors, MANNA has outperformed many studio films in its theaters during its successful runs in Missouri, Kansas, and the Washington DC area. AMC has offered to help the film with marketing support because of its proven public appeal.
In addition to their commitment to making high quality films, Gabrielle and her sisters are committed to community involvement and social responsibility. Notably, they have partnered with HABITAT FOR HUMANITY on MANNA’s national release. They have offered to donate proceeds from an opening screening in each market to the charity.
“People have said they want to see more intelligent, feel-good films about rediscovering hope at any age,” said Maria, sister #1, actor, and co-director of MANNA with Gabrielle. “They often say that there just aren’t films like MANNA out there now — an American-made independent comedy with a terrific cast. In fact, the big hurdle is competing against the studio films. Movies today have a $35 million dollar average budget for advertisement — well, we’ve got green fliers. But people are coming to see MANNA and telling their friends or bringing back groups. The response is wonderful.”
Even in the face of daunting competition, the grassroots campaign to get and keep MANNA FROM HEAVEN in theaters is working. With the success of the whistle-stop tour, the sisters hope that the film industry will see the desire in the marketplace for quality, independent movies with a mature cast. The Burtons are also talking with audiences across the US about the power they have over the future of films. “By buying a ticket, every person can influence the types of American movies being made and offered to the public,” said Gabrielle, co-director and sister #4. “With the focus now on weekend box office reports, people are, in effect, ‘voting’ for the types of movies they want to see.”
WHO: The Burton sisters of FIVE SISTERS PRODUCTIONS (directors Maria and Gabrielle, producers Jennifer and Charity, and actor Ursula), as well as their parents (co-producer Roger Burton and writer Gabrielle B. Burton) are available for interviews. Note: All of the stellar cast are enthusiastic about the film and are available for telephone and/or remote interviews, dependent on their work schedules.
MEDIA CONTACT: Joe Kurzer — 614-306-4743
MANNA is rated PG. For further info, visit: www.fivesistersproductions.com
More information on MANNA FROM HEAVEN:
THE FEEL-GOOD COMEDY AND ITS EXTRAORDINARY CAST (SHORT SYNOPSIS)
MANNA FROM HEAVEN is a lighthearted comedic fable about what happens when you get a “gift from God” (a financial windfall), but many years later you find out it was a just a loan — and it’s due immediately. A feel-good film with a star-studded ensemble cast, MANNA is a delightful and refreshing comedy.
Once upon a time, many years ago, a neighborhood in Buffalo, NY is mysteriously showered with 20-dollar bills. Theresa, a young girl who everyone thinks is a saint, doesn’t have much trouble convincing her loose-knit “family” that the money is a gift from heaven to split up. Years later, Theresa, who has become a nun, decides that it is time to pay the money back, so she calls the eccentric group back together to repay the “loan.” The problem is, nobody has the money, nobody wants to give back the money, they don’t know to whom it belongs, and most of them can’t stand each other. Theresa has some tall talking to do to get this querulous group on board, but her gift was always to see the best in everyone, and she eventually wins them over. What follows is an witty, intelligent, feel-good comedy about rediscovering hope at any age. Through a roller coaster of comic twists and turns, the characters (played by an all-star cast) learn about family, romance, reconciliation and redemption — and the city’s community also blossoms in the process. By working together they begin to realize their full potential and each, in a moment of selflessness, finds the dreams they thought the money would buy them.
The heartwarming comedy is appealing to a wide audience. MANNA FROM HEAVEN appeals to young viewers, who know the film’s talented cast through classic and/or currently popular TV shows (“The Partridge Family,” “Batman,” “Just Shoot Me,” “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”), as well as to older audiences more familiar with the actors through their movies (“Oklahoma,” “The Last Picture Show,” etc.)
A FAMILY AFFAIR
MANNA FROM HEAVEN is a true “family” film. MANNA was produced and directed by the five Burton sisters (Maria, Jennifer, Ursula, Gabrielle, and Charity Burton) of Five Sisters Productions. MANNA was written by their mother, Gabrielle Burton, an award-winning author. Their father, Roger Burton, retired from his job as a professor at the University at Buffalo to help produce the film with his daughters. The Burtons filmed MANNA in their hometown of Buffalo, NY, and the whole town came together to make it possible.
MANNA FROM HEAVEN is the third feature film by Five Sisters Productions in six years. MANNA FROM HEAVEN is rated PG. Their first film, the romantic comedy JUST FRIENDS, is currently playing on AMC and the WE Channel, and their film TEMPS is being developed into a TV series.
FIVE SISTERS, A MOVIE, AND A VAN
With a minimal advertising budget (versus the average movie’s ad budget of $35 million), Five Sisters Productions is using a grassroots campaign to raise awareness about MANNA FROM HEAVEN. The Burton sisters are going to new cities with the film, doing community marketing — from visiting ballroom dance clubs and hair salons (characters in the film have those professions) to giving talks at Rotary Clubs and doing Q&As at the theaters.
The Burtons are telling people they can VOTE AT THE BOX OFFICE . By going to a film early on, movie-goers are not only affecting how long that film will run — an independent film like MANNA is booked one week at a time — but also, in essence, they are casting a “vote” for more future movies like that.
The Whistle Stop release tour of MANNA FROM HEAVEN will take the Burton sisters across the country during the next year. Currently, the MANNA VAN is being painted as part of the W NY “Art on Wheels” exhibit. See www.mannafromheaventhemovie.com to follow the MANNA Van across the US.
MANNA LAUNCH & MANNA FOR CONGRESS!
MANNA FROM HEAVEN opened in Branson, Missouri on August 2nd and was renewed for six weeks. (Most independents that make it to theaters now play for one to two weeks.) MANNA then opened in Kansas City, KS and MO. The film ran for eight weeks, and was also expanded into additional theaters.
MANNA screened for Congress in October at the MPAA, with a reception hosted by Jack Valenti (President of the MPAA), Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY), Rep. Thomas Reynolds (R-NY), and Rep. Karen McCarthy (D-MO). MANNA opened in theaters in the DC area, including MD and VA, and was renewed four times.
A PARTNERSHIP WITH HABITAT FOR HUMANITY
Five Sisters Productions will donate their portion of the proceeds from one evening screening in each new market to Habitat for Humanity. Though this is unusual for a production company, Five Sisters is committed to community involvement and social responsibility. MANNA FROM HEAVEN is about a community coming together and, in the process, rediscovering hope, and the theme echoes the work of Habitat for Humanity.
An intelligent, feel-good movie about rediscovering hope at any age.
when you get a gift from God (a financial windfall)
but, many years later, find out
it was just a loan– and it’s due immediately!
Manna From Heaven
~A comedic fable ~
with a star-studded ensemble cast, including:
Academy Award nominee SEYMOUR CASSEL,
Academy Award winner LOUISE FLETCHER,
Tony Award nominee HARRY GROENER,
Academy Award winner SHIRLEY JONES,
Academy Award winner CLORIS LEACHMAN,
Emmy nominee WENDIE MALICK,
and AUSTIN PENDLETON
Love, laughter, happiness…everything money can’t buy.
More information: http://www.fivesistersproductions.com
- CRITIC’S PICK, The Washington Post
- WINNER Special Audience Award, Sarasota Film Festival
- WINNER People’s Choice Award, Ft. Myers Beach Film Festival
- WINNER Audience Award, Big Bear Film Festival
- WINNER NY State Filmmakers Award, Empire State Film Festival
Bob Garfield – NPR
“Capra-esque — charming, charming, charming!”
Natalie Hopkinson – WASHINGTON POST
“CRITICS PICK! Two feel-good hours of old-timey family entertainment… A much-needed reprieve from the angst, irony and mean-spiritedness that is endemic to modern cinema.”
Liz Smith – NEW YORK POST
“The Burton siblings [had a special screening of] their film, “Manna From Heaven,” at the Cantor Film Center on East Eighth Street this week, and a great little movie it is. Dig this cast…Several Oscar winners and nominees and even a Tony citation are in this amazing group. You’ll be hearing more about the Burtons!”
Ain’t it Cool News
“This movie has it all: a good plot, great characters and performances, hilarious moments, and genuinely touching personal moments… What follows are some hilariously funny actions and reactions between the family members and anyone outside the family who inadvertently gets involved, along with some surprisingly tender moments in which characters think about some of their forgotten dreams and missed opportunities. I’m generally pretty cynical, but I still really enjoyed this movie. I wish more good family movies like this came along.”
Patricia Finneran – IFP, NYC
“A wonderful testament to the generosity of the human spirit – something we are all needing right now!”
Gary Groman – BRANSON COURIER
“MANNA FROM HEAVEN is an entertainment blessing… A story of personal relationships and interactions involving some of funniest and most entertaining characters you will ever meet, human goodness, kindness, faithfulness, and, most of all, the miraculous wonder of dreaming and achieving those dreams.”
Carl Gottlieb (JAWS, THE JERK)
“MANNA is a marvel of ingenuity, character and comic invention.”
Synapsis Digital Magazine
“A truly original comedy, which will have the whole family laughing… Delightful feel good comedy [that] explores in a delightful yet insightful way the dynamics of the ‘modern family’…This movie has witty and thought provoking dialogue…I recommend [Manna From Heaven] as one…to raise the spirits.”
Congress Representative Karen McCarthy (D-MO)
“It is the perfect film for this moment in history. You’ll walk out of the film soaring.”
Senator Charles E. Schumer (D-NY)
“We don’t have enough of these movies. It says something wonderful about family and everything else.”
“If you liked The Full Monty, you’ll love MANNA FROM HEAVEN.”
“An excellently crafted film and a thoroughly enjoyable experience!”
This film is a gem and a true piece of art. On all points of skillful, tasteful filmmaking, “Manna from Heaven” ranks high. The screenplay is superbly written, and it is difficult to imagine a better cast than that utilized by the Burton team. The cinematography and editing demonstrate a firm command of the film medium. If you like your movie-going pleasure laden with charming wit, beautiful scenery, and the right balance of sentimentality, this is the film for you.
“A lovely way to spend an evening”
I had a wonderful time at the show, and my friends and I spent the rest of the evening talking about Manna. Splendid performances, great writing and cinematography: that’s what I call a moving picture.
“An uplifting comedy with twists and turns!”
Extremely well written, cast and directed…Dialogue is witty, engaging and funny with characters that are a bit out there. It’s great to see a feature film that has a backbone to it and a theme of doing the right thing.
“Two Thumbs Up!”
All in all, this film is fabulous – RUN, don’t walk, to go see it!
“Magnificent. # 1 Feel Good Flick”
“The Best – I cried with Joy!”
“Fantastic – See it again and again!”
“Reminded me a lot of a Woody Allen film. Great Stuff!”
“FABULOUS! BEST I’ve seen this year — maybe ever!”
THE PRODUCERS: Five Sisters Productions
Charity Burton (Producer). Charity’s latest Five Sisters Productions feature is MANNA FROM HEAVEN. Charity produced the romantic comedy JUST FRIENDS, which is currently playing on AMC and the WE Channel. She also produced the feature film TEMPS (a slice-of-life film about the “other” side of Generations X and Y) and is working on developing TEMPS into a TV series. Charity has performed principal roles in many plays including 1776, ALICE IN WONDERLAND, and BABY. At Denison University, she studied dance, theater, and anthropology/sociology. While there, she performed in THE RESTAURANT and she co-wrote/produced/directed, and performed in the well-received play VENUS ON THE HALFSHELL. Charity studied Bhratan Natyum dance in Malaysia while teaching at an Indian orphanage in Kuala Lumpur. Since working for Americorps, organizing and teaching literacy programs in New Orleans and in East Los Angeles, Charity also teaches in the LA Unified School System.
Gabrielle C. Burton (Director, Producer). Gabrielle directed MANNA FROM HEAVEN. She wrote, produced, and acted in the feature film TEMPS, and is currently working on developing it into a t.v. series. Gabrielle also co-produced JUST FRIENDS. As an undergrad at Harvard/Radcliffe, she wrote and directed the full length plays SAGE AND TIME and CLUB VENUS at the ART’s Loeb Ex theater, and was featured on the Voice Of America program and in the Harvard CRIMSON as a talented young artist. She was awarded summa cum laude for her creative writing thesis Where The Best Is Like The Worst. A work-study scholar at the Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference in 1995, she was invited back as staff in 1996. After an Isobel Briggs scholarship to study at Berklee College of Music, she won a Rotary Scholarship to study film at the Ecole Superieure d’Audio-Visuel in Toulouse, France, where she received a DEUP degree with High Honors for her work. SAGE AND TIME, one of the shorts she wrote and directed while in France, was selected for the 1996 La Corrida Int’l Film Festival in France. Gabrielle worked on the television program LAW & ORDER, where she trailed two directors in their director training program. She also regularly acts in films, plays, and commercials.
Jennifer Burton (Producer). Jennifer produced MANNA FROM HEAVEN. While producing Five Sisters Productions’ film TEMPS, Jennifer completed her Ph.D. at Harvard in English Literature. She received a Mellen Grant for her dissertation on hope in American film and theater of the 1920s. In addition to being a producer with Five Sisters Productions, she is currently a Du Bois Fellow at Harvard and is working with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. on a book of debates in African-American History. Her theater and film experience includes leading roles in VIEUX CARRE, SPRINGS AWAKENING, THE PARTY, TRAVELER WITHOUT LUGGAGE, and RICHARD II. She has also worked as a jazz singer at THE HOLLYWOOD SAVOY in Paris. As an undergraduate at Harvard/ Radcliffe, she wrote, directed, and acted in the University’s first performance thesis. After graduation, she was awarded a Luce Fellowship to study Japanese Theater for a year in Tokyo.
Maria Burton (Director, Producer, Actor). Maria directed and acted in MANNA FROM HEAVEN. Her second feature film TEMPS, which she produced with her sisters under their banner, FIVE SISTERS PRODUCTIONS, is currently being developed into a TV series. Variety called TEMPS a “dead-on take of a generation at the crossroads.” Her first feature, the romantic comedy JUST FRIENDS, was sponsored by Deluxe, Kodak, and Panavision. JUST FRIENDS is distributed worldwide and currently can be seen on AMC and the WE Channel. Variety said JUST FRIENDS, an “…entertaining romantic comedy about commitment in the ’90s,… reveals director Maria Burton as talent to watch.” Hollywood Reporter said, “Director Maria Burton’s affection for the story’s characters is infectious and gives the story its strength.” Maria graduated from Yale University with a degree in theater and filmmaking. While at Yale, Maria directed plays as well as short films. Her play, THE LITANY OF THE CLOTHES was chosen for the prestigious Yale Dramat Mainstage, and was then selected for production at the Harvard Loeb Theater. It went on to win first prize in the Earth Daughters’ playwriting contest and was produced by Lorna Hills’ UJIMA Company in Buffalo, NY. In LA, Maria has produced and directed numerous theater shows, including the acclaimed and long-running A…MY NAME IS ALICE. Maria is also a working actor and recently appeared in the television show STRONG MEDICINE.
Ursula Burton (Actor, Producer). Ursula co-starred in MANNA FROM HEAVEN. She graduated from Yale University with honors, earning degrees in both Theater Studies and English Language and Literature. Working on both coasts, her extensive theater credits include the title role in ANTIGONE, Bridget in Yeats’ CATHLEEN NI HOOLIHAN, Nerrissa in THE MERCHANT OF VENICE, and Wanda in THE BABY DANCE. She produced and acted in the long running LA premiere of the musical, A…MY NAME IS ALICE and won Honorable Mention in Backstage West’s Garland Awards for her performance in HEMINGWAY AND THE DOS PASSOS WARS. Among other credits in film and TV, Ursula has appeared in SGT. BILKO with Steve Martin, THE ELLEN SHOW with Ellen DeGeneres, THE PRACTICE, STRONG MEDICINE, Trimark’s CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD, JUST FRIENDS, DEATH OF A SALESWOMAN, Touchstone Pictures’ MAFIA! , and DIVINE SECRETS OF THE YA-YA SISTERHOOD with Ashley Judd. She is also currently developing the film TEMPS, in which she starred, into a television series.
THE WRITER: An award-winning author… and the Five Sisters’ mother
MANNA FROM HEAVEN was written by Gabrielle Burton, an award winning novelist and screenwriter. In addition to having her novel HEARTBREAK HOTEL republished by the prestigious Dalkey Archive Press last year, Gabrielle Burton has won the Mary Pickford Prize for screenwriting from the American Film Institute and the Austin Film Festival’s top prize for screenwriting. She was one of only eleven writers invited to participate in the Equinoxe screenwriting conference in Bordeaux, France, and was asked to participate in the IFP Screenwriters Lab. Gabrielle Burton has also been awarded the Nicholl Fellowship from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.