Ned Rifle (2014): Dark Comedy, Third Panel in Hal Hartley’s Trilogy (Henry Fool, Fay Grim)

Vimeo is partnering with indie director Hal Hartley for the North American spring release of his dark comedy “Ned Rifle,” starring Liam Aiken and Aubrey Plaza.

“Ned Rifle,” which premiered at the Toronto Film Fest in September, is considered to be Hartley’s best work since “Henry Fool,” 17 years ago.

The film will show on a day-and-date platform this spring through a limited exclusive window with Vimeo On Demand, then will expand via Hartley’s own successful storefront Possible Films and other aggregated platforms. “Ned Rifle” will also see a theatrical five-city art-house launch, led by a run at New York City’s IFC Center, that will coincide with the VOD release.

“One can never be independent enough,” said Hartley. “This is a real opportunity to take advantage of new business models, new marketing ideas and platforms, and ultimately, to effectively reach my audience in the most direct and successful way possible.”

Aubrey Plaza plays the long-lost flame of Henry Fool in the third and final chapter of Hartley’s trilogy, launched with 1997’s “Henry Fool” and continued with 2007’s “Fay Grim.”

Returning actors include Thomas Jay Ryan (Henry Fool), Parker Posey (Fay Grim), Aiken and James Urbaniak reprising their original roles.

Hartley’s script for “Henry Fool,” which won the screenplay award at Cannes Fest, depicts how Urbaniak’s Simon Grim writes an epic poem in blank verse, winning acclaim and controversy for its pornographic content, while Henry Fool abandons writing and takes Simon’s old job as a garbageman to support his family.

In “Fay Grim,” Posey’s character descends into a world of espionage to locate the notebooks that belonged to her fugitive husband, Henry Fool.