New Yorker Films, “the pioneer independent-film distributor that was an art-house fixture” for 43 years, said Jeffrey Bloomer in Paste, announced on Monday that it “would auction off its library and end operations immediately.” Apparently, the company “had been put up against a loan, which is now in default.” Given the state of the economy, “stories like New Yorker’s will become increasingly common.”

“It’s probably safe to speculate,” said Scott Tobias in The Onion’s A.V. Club, “that the massive hole the company leaves behind in the acquisition and distribution of challenging, auteur-driven foreign films will be difficult to fill.” New Yorker Films distributed movies by such greats as Antonioni, Bertolucci, Chabrol, Denis, Fassbinder, and Godard, to name just a few. This is very sad news for the independent film world.

The lesson, said Anthony Kaufman in IndieWIRE, is beware “when new media companies come in with fanfare, optimism, ambition, and seemingly endless capital, and plan to rescue an art-film mainstay.” Then again, who knows if New Yorker would have lasted this long if Madstone Films hadn’t bought the company in 2002? But the question now is: “What will happen to New Yorker’s vast and incredible library of titles”?

Well, it would have “obvious appeal” to a DVD company, a TV network, or an online distributor, said Andrew O’Hehir in Salon, so the Independent Film Channel “might be the most logical potential bidder.” And there are other “small, arty distributors that would love to own New Yorker's catalogue, including Facets Video, Kino International and Koch Lorber Films.” There's still a chance for a somewhat happy ending.