If you loved 2011's Weekend or 2004's Tarnation, you probably have Ryan Werner to thank. In the case of Weekend, Werner, then the head of publicity and marketing for IFC Films, was one of "15 to 20 people" at the movie's South by Southwest premiere. Post-screening, Werner sent an email to his company, pleading that they purchase the rights to what he called "an important movie for the gay community [that] could cross over to a bigger audience." Within months, in a West Village bar, Werner overheard a straight couple singing Weekend's praises. As for Tarnation, Jonathan Caouette's DIY self-portrait, Werner got access to a DVD and watched it with a colleague before securing global rights and taking the film to Cannes, where it "screened through the roof" and received a "20-minute standing ovation."
Werner has worked for Wellspring, Magnolia Pictures, and a slew of other indie distributors, coordinating festival strategies, awards campaigns, and even advertising design for everything from How to Survive a Plague to the Oscar-winning The Great Beauty. In January, Werner accepted a position with Cinetic Media, a New York-based company that oversees all manner of film development and employs Werner as a "senior executive," a title with an opaqueness that's fitting given Werner's all-hats-worn autonomy.
Through Werner, who's cultivated close relationships with filmmakers in addition to other film publicity pros, Cinetic has extended its marketing reach, helping to trumpet the merits of epics like Richard Linklater's Boyhood and gems like the Dardenne brothers' Two Days, One Night. Through Cinetic, Werner can be wholly selective about the films he takes on, a curatorial practice he's also putting to use as the new programmer at large for Brooklyn's BAMcinematek, where he's had full-circle experiences like organizing Tarnation's 10th anniversary screening. "It's nice to rediscover the world," Werner says of his past year, a testament to his tireless, wide-eyed need to treasure hunt.