SXSW Winner ‘Most Beautiful Island’ Is an ‘Eyes Wide Shut’ Style Debut Coming to Theaters This Fall

Keep up with the wild and wooly world of indie film acquisitions with our weekly Rundown of everything that’s been picked up around the globe. Check out last week’s Rundown here.

Spanish actress and triple threat Ana Asensio wrote, directed and starred in her feature film debut “Most Beautiful Island,” which won South by Southwest’s grand jury award for narrative feature, and audiences will finally be able to see the thriller, billed as being in the vein of “Eyes Wide Shut” about immigrant life in America, when Orion Pictures and Samuel Goldwyn Film release the movie this fall.

Co-starring Natasha Romanova, David Little, Nicholas Tucci, Larry Fessenden and Caprice Benedetti and produced by Fessenden’s Glass Eye Pix, “Most Beautiful Island” had its New York premiere at this week’s BAMcinemaFest. The film is a psychological thriller set in the world of undocumented female immigrants hoping to make a life in New York City.

READ MORE: ‘Most Beautiful Island’ Review: Ana Asensio’s SXSW Winner Is a Spellbinding Thriller About Immigrant Life In AmericaShot on Super 16mm with a voyeuristic sensibility, the movie chronicles one harrowing day in the life of Luciana, a young immigrant woman struggling to make ends meet while striving to escape her past. As her day unfolds, she is whisked through a series of troublesome and unforeseeable extremes. Before the day is over, she finds herself a central participant in a cruel game where lives are placed at risk for the perverse entertainment of a privileged few.

“[Ana Asensio]is fearless in front of and behind the camera,” Peter Goldwyn, president of Samuel Goldwyn Films, said in a statement. “’Most Beautiful Island’ is a memorable film which captured hearts, minds, and the Grand Jury Prize at SXSW.”

Check out the rest of our weekly Acquisitions Rundown after the break.

– Oscilloscope has obtained the North American theatrical rights to co-directors Judd Apatow and Michael Bonfiglio’s “May It Last: A Portrait of the Avett Brothers.” The film premiered at this year’s SXSW Film Festival where it received the “24 Beats Per Second Audience Award.” “May It Last” is an Apatow Production in association with RadicalMedia and marks Apatow and Bonfiglio’s second collaboration, following last year’s acclaimed “Doc & Darryl,” which was part of the ESPN Films: 30 for 30 series. O-Scope is planning a theatrical event release nationwide later this year.

From longtime fans Apatow and Bonfiglio and filmed with extraordinary access over the course of more than two years, “May It Last” is an intimate portrait of the acclaimed North Carolina band The Avett Brothers, charting their decade-and-a-half rise, while chronicling their present-day collaboration with famed producer Rick Rubin on the their multi-Grammy-nominated album “True Sadness,” which was released on American Recordings/Republic Records. With the recording process as a backdrop, the film depicts a lifelong bond and unique creative partnership, as band members undergo marriage, divorce, parenthood, illness, and the challenges of the music business. More than just a music documentary, “May It Last” is a meditation on family, love, and the passage of time.

“May It Last: A Portrait of the Avett Brothers”

Oscilloscope

– Well Go USA Entertainment has acquired the North American rights for Zhao Xiaoding and Anthony LaMolinara’s “Once Upon a Time,” based on the best-selling novel “Three Lives Three Worlds, Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms,” which also spawned the hit television series “Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms (aka Eternal Love)” earlier this year.

Spanning a thousand years of tangled lives, “Once Upon a Time” is an epic tale of the powerful forces that drive mortals and gods alike toward revenge, loyalty, and love. Bai Qian, a goddess and monarch from the Heavenly Realms, is sent to the mortal world to undergo a trial to become a High Goddess. There, she meets Ye Hua with whom she falls in love and marries. However, when an old enemy reappears in her life, everything she holds dear becomes threatened.

– Strand Releasing has acquired the U.S. rights to Liu Jian’s “Have a Nice Day,” which premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival. The animated neo-noir feature is set in a small town in Southern China finds a young driver who steals a bag containing a million dollars to help save his fiancee’s failed plastic surgery. The deal was done between Jon Gerrans of Strand Releasing and Tanja Meissner of Memento Films International.

“We are very excited that ‘Have a Nice Day’ is coming out theatrically in the U.S.,” Meissner said in a statement. “Strand is the perfect home for this fresh, subversive and politically trenchant pulp thriller!” “Have a Nice Day” is Jian’s second feature, his first, “Piercing 1,” screened at festivals worldwide. Strand is planning a late fall release.

– Orion Pictures and Samuel Goldwyn Films have acquired the North American rights to Zachary Cotler and Magdalena Zyzak’s directorial debut “Maya Dardel” (previously “A Critically Endangered Species”). The film premiered in competition at the 2017 SXSW Film Festival and was nominated for the SXSW Grand Jury Award. “Maya Dardel” stars Lena Olin, Alexander Koch, Nathan Keyes, Jordan Gavaris, Chris Voss, and Rosanna Arquette.

The film depicts the final weeks leading to the ambiguous disappearance of Maya Dardel, an internationally respected poet and novelist, who lived until 2016 in the Santa Cruz Mountains of California. Maya announces on National Public Radio that she intends to end her life and that young male writers may compete to become the executor of her estate. They are challenged intellectually, emotionally, erotically, until one of them begins to fathom Maya’s end game.

– IFC Films has acquired the U.S. rights to Russell Harbaugh’s feature debut “Love After Love,” starring Chris O’Dowd, Andie MacDowell, James Adomian, Juliet Rylance and Dree Hemingway. Directed by Harbaugh and written by Harbaugh and Eric Mendelsohn, the drama documents the divergent ways a family navigates their path forward in the wake of the loss of its patriarch. It had its world premiere at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival where it won the award for Best Cinematography.

“Love After Love” follows college theatre professors Suzanne (MacDowell) and Glenn (Gareth Williams), and their two sons, successful book editor Nicholas (O’Dowd) and aimlessly creative Chris (Adomian). When Glenn becomes ill with cancer, the family waits out his last summer days together. His eventual death prompts curious, contradictory reactions: Nicholas jettisons his long-term relationship with Rebecca (Rylance) and becomes haphazardly engaged to his father’s student, Emilie (Hemingway); Suzanne, now displaced as mother and wife, begins to see a series of men; Chris lurches forward, careening from failure to failure while pursuing an artistic career. Ill-equipped to attend to their mounting emotional needs, the family finds release in alternatively abhorrent and joyful ways.

“Love After Love”

IFC Films

– FilmRise has acquired the Patriot Pictures thriller directed by Johnny Martin “Vengeance: A Love Story,” which stars Nicolas Cage as a detective seeking vigilante justice for a single mother and her family, and Don Johnson as a wickedly talented criminal defense attorney. The film is based on the 2003 novel “Rape: A Love Story” by Joyce Carol Oates. Harold Becker and Michael Mendelsohn developed the film for eight years before bringing this vigilante thriller to film. FilmRise plans to release “Vengeance: A Love Story” in the fall of 2017.

After single mother Teena (Anna Hutchison) is brutally assaulted while walking home late at night on the fourth of July, there is more than enough evidence to convict her attackers—including an eyewitness to the crime, Teena’s 12-year old daughter Bethie (Talitha Bateman). But when the defendants hire prominent criminal defense attorney Jay Kirkpatrick (Johnson), he begins to target Teena’s character and sound credibility. As the truth of what happened to Teena and Bethie that night is distorted and their actions are called into question, detective John Dromoor (Cage) must take up the pursuit of vigilante justice on their behalf.

– Film Movement has acquired Sam Garbarski’s post-war dramedy “Bye Bye Germany,” a film centered on a group of Jewish friends in a displaced persons’ camp in Germany in 1946 who, after surviving the Nazi regime, concoct a plan to raise money in order to leave for America. The film, which premiered at the 2017 Berlin International Film Festival and was an audience favorite at the Seattle International Film Festival, is based on Michel Bergmann‘s novels “Die Teilacher” and “Machloikes” and stars Moritz Bleibtreu, as the ringleader and possible Nazi collaborator. Film Movement will release the film this winter.

In Frankfurt in 1946, David Bermann (Bleibtreu) and his Jewish friends have survived the Nazi regime and are now dreaming of leaving for America. Bermann and his crew praise unsuspecting housewives with flashy pitches until the flattered and flustered ladies have no choice but to buy their irresistible wares. Business flourishes and a bright new future can be seen in the horizon, but questions about Bermann’s past catches up with him: Why does he have two passports? What about his visit to Hitler’s Mountain retreat? Could he have collaborated with the Nazis? The smart, attractive, and uncompromising U.S. Intelligence Officer Sara Simon (Antje Traue) refuses to close Bermann’s case, and though she matches his quick wit with iron severity, it becomes increasingly difficult for her to escape his charm.

– Paladin has acquired domestic theatrical rights to “Shot,” a gripping drama about three lives irrevocably changed when a gun is accidentally fired on a busy Los Angeles street. Starring Noah Wyle and Sharon Leal, and introducing newcomer Jorge Lendeborg, Jr. in his first leading role, the film is a visceral roller coaster ride unflinchingly exploring the consequences of gun violence in America. Directed and produced by veteran filmmaker Jeremy Paul Kagan “Shot” is being targeted for a fall release.

Based on an original story by Kagan and a screenplay by Anneke Campbell and Will Lamborn, “Shot” begins as movie sound mixer Mark Newman (Wyle), is pumping up the volume on a bloody shootout in an action film.  Hours later, after an argument with his wife Phoebe, Mark is suddenly felled by a real random bullet, and lies bleeding on the pavement with a chest wound. With Phoebe desperately trying to stop the bleeding, they both agonizingly wait for an ambulance to arrive as Mark franticly fights for his life.  Meanwhile, hidden behind a fence across the street, a teenager, Miguel (Lendeborg), watches in horror with the still smoking gun in his hand that was just passed to him by his cousin. A gun that was meant to protect him against gang bullies.

Stay on top of the latest breaking film and TV news! Sign up for our Email Newsletters here.