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Film Acquisition Rundown: Fox Searchlight Picks Up ‘The Spy With No Name,’ FilmRise Buys ‘Marjorie Prime’ and More

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.

“Marjorie Prime”


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.

Fox Searchlight has bought the rights to “The Spy With No Name,” an ebook written by Jeff Maysh and published by Amazon Kindle Single, Deadline reports. Alexandra Milchan and Scott Lambert of Emjag Productions will produce alongside “Argo” executive producer David Klawans.

READ MORE: Film Acquisition Rundown: Grasshopper Film Gets ‘Escapes,’ Amazon and IFC Films Date ‘City of Ghosts’ and More

The true story centers on Erwin van Haarlem, a Cold War secret agent who stole the identity of a Dutch man whose mother had given him up for adoption. The Communist spy pretended to be Johanna van Haarlem’s long lost son for 11 years before being caught.

– FilmRise has acquired the U.S. rights to Michael Almereyda’s “Marjorie Prime,” starring Jon Hamm, Tim Robbins, Geena Davis, and Lois Smith. Based on Jordan Harrison’s Pulitzer-nominated play of the same name, the film premiered at Sundance Film Festival.

“Marjorie Prime” is a humanistic sci-fi story set in the near future, focusing on 86-year-old Marjorie (Smith), who spends time with the young likeness of her deceased husband Walter (Hamm). Walter is a sophisticated holographic projection that provides companionship while stimulating Marjorie’s memory—allowing her to explore their shared past as she lives with dementia. FilmRise is planning a fall awards push centered around Lois Smith, who is 86 and has never been nominated for an Oscar in a career spanning seven decades.

– The Orchard has acquired the U.S. distribution rights to Raoul Peck’s “The Young Karl Marx,” which premiered at the 2017 Berlin Film Festival. The movie explores the origins of the international Socialist movement, the emergence of the Communist League and its founding document, the Communist Manifesto written by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels.

Directed, produced and co-written by Peck (with Pascal Bonitzer), “The Young Karl Marx” stars August Diehl, Stefan Konarske and Vicky Krieps. The producers are Nicolas Blanc, Remi Grellety, Robert Guediguian and Peck. The Orchard plans a theatrical release for the film this fall.

– Sundance Selects has acquired the U.S. rights to director Luke Korem’s “Dealt.” The film made its world premiere at the 2017 SXSW Film Festival and won the Audience Award in the Documentary Feature Competition. “Dealt” is the story of 62-year-old Richard Turner, who is renowned as one of the world’s greatest card magicians, yet he is completely blind.

Jonathan Sehring and Lisa Schwartz, co-presidents of IFC Films/Sundance Selects stated: “We are very excited to help tell the entertaining and uplifting story of Richard Turner following sold out screenings and standing ovations at SXSW. A magician, sleight of hand artist and self-proclaimed card mechanic, watching Richard Turner is nothing short of dazzling.”


Sundance Selects

– Grasshopper Film has acquired the U.S. distribution rights to “Last Men in Aleppo,” directed by Feras Fayyad and co-directed and edited by Steen Johannesen. The film had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival, where it won the World Documentary Grand Jury Prize.

After five years of war in Syria, the remaining citizens of Aleppo are getting ready for a siege. From September 2015 to the fall of 2016, the filmmakers follow the volunteers from The White Helmets as they experience the daily life of death and struggle in the streets of the city. They fight for sanity in a place where war has become the norm.

– Oscilloscope Laboratories has acquired the North American rights to Valérie Müller and Angelin Preljocaj’s “Polina” and Carla Simón’s biographical debut feature “Summer 1993.” Based on the graphic novel by Bastien Vivès and starring Juliette Binoche, “Polina” stars Anastasia Shevtsova as a promising classical ballet dancer who is just about to join the prestigious Bolshoi Ballet when she discovers contemporary dance. Oscilloscope will release it theatrically in July 2017.

“Summer 1993” is a Spanish film that premiered at this year’s Berlin Film Festival, where it took home the Generation Grand Prix and the festival’s overall Best First Feature prize. The coming of age drama follows a six-year-old girl named Frida who is coming to terms with her mother’s death while she moves from Barcelona to the countryside. Oscilloscope will release the film theatrically in late 2017.

“California Typewriter”

Gravitas Ventures

– Gravitas Ventures has acquired the U.S. rights to “California Typewriter,” the documentary launched at the 2016 Telluride Film Festival. The film is named after one of the last remaining typewriter shops in Berkeley, which plays a major role in the doc. Run by Herbert Permillion III and his family, the business is depicted trying to balance financial security with its decades-long passion for selling and restoring typewriters.

The film features nuanced typewriter testimonials from super fans Tom Hanks (who has over 250 machines in his collection), musician John Mayer, playwright Sam Shepard and author David McCullough. It will open theatrically in Los Angeles, New York and a dozen additional markets in the late summer.

– Green Day and Abramorama will collaborate on the distribution of “Turn It Around: The Story of East Bay Punk,” to be released in the U.S. in tandem with Green Day’s Revolution Radio World Tour during the Summer of 2017. Abramorama will release the film, executive Produced by Green Day, in theaters across North America and will work with the filmmakers on the global release across all platforms.

“Turn it Around gave us the opportunity to tell the story of the East Bay punk rock scene, a scene that’s a sacred thing to me, Mike and Tré and to a lot of others who were there at the founding and who helped to shape the genre,” Green Day front man Billie Joe Armstrong said in a statement. The collaboration marks the second time Abramorama will partner with Green Day, the first being on the 135 city release of John Roecker’s “Heart Like A Hand Grenade.”

– Big World Pictures has acquired “Scarred Hearts,” the film adaptation of the autobiographical novel by Max Blecher, which won the Don Quixote Award and a Special Jury Prize in Locarno, and Best Director in Mar del Plata last year. The film will play U.S. festivals in the months ahead, in anticipation of an early 2018 theatrical release.

READ MORE: Film Acquisition Rundown: IFC Buys ‘Rebel in the Rye,’ Gunpowder & Sky Grabs ‘Little Boxes’ and More

During the summer of 1937, Emanuel, a young man in his early twenties, is committed to a sanatorium on the Black Sea coast for treatment of his bone tuberculosis. The treatment consists of painful spine punctures that confine him to a body cast on a stretcher-bed. Little by little, as Emanuel gets accustomed to the limitations of his new life, he discovers that inside the sanatorium there is still a life to be lived to the fullest.

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