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Film Acquisition Rundown: Gravitas Ventures Picks Up ‘Elian,’ Magnolia Buys ‘Leaning Into the Wind’ 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.



Gravitas Ventures

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.

Gravitas Ventures has acquired the U.S. theatrical, digital and video rights to “Elián,” the story of Elián González, a five-year-old Cuban boy plucked from the Florida Straits on Thanksgiving Day in 1999, and how the fight over his future sparked a flashpoint for U.S. and Cuban tensions. Directed by Ross McDonnell and Tim Golden, the film is executive produced by Alex Gibney’s Jigsaw Productions.

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

“Elián” is slated for a platform theatrical release beginning in New York and Los Angeles on May 19. The film will also be premiering at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival on April 21. Amazon Prime Video will be the exclusive streaming video home of the film in the U.S., while CNN Films will be the worldwide broadcast and mobile premiere presenter and is the exclusive presenter for U.S. television and Canadian broadcast rights.

Magnolia Pictures has acquired the U.S. rights to the documentary “Leaning Into the Wind,” which recently premiered at the San Francisco International Film Festival, Variety reports. The film follows the British sculptor and photographer Andy Goldsworthy during a creative road trip from through Scotland, Brazil, France and New England.

“Leaning Into the Wind”

“Thomas has crafted another extraordinary film in ‘Leaning Into the Wind,’” Magnolia president Eamonn Bowles said in a statement. “Not only is it a visual masterpiece, it’s also one of the most fascinating character studies I’ve seen in years.”

– FilmRise has acquired the North American rights to Nanfu Wang’s documentary “I Am Another You,” while PBS series Independent Lens has acquired the U.S broadcast rights. The film follows a young drifter named Dylan over a number of years, during which time Wang discovers that her idealism may have clouded her initial judgments of Dylan, and that such extreme freedom may have a hidden cost.

“I Am Another You”


The film marks the latest project from Wang since “Hooligan Sparrow,” which was shortlisted for the 2017 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. “I Am Another You” won two awards at SXSW, including a Special Jury Award for Excellence in Documentary Storytelling. The film will have a theatrical release in late 2017.

– Vertical Entertainment and DirecTV have acquired the U.S. rights to William H. Macy’s “The Layover,” starring Alexandra Daddario, Kate Upton, Matt Barr, Matt Jones, Kal Penn, Rob Corddry, and Molly Shannon. The film will be available exclusively on DirecTV starting August 3 and released theatrically by Vertical Entertainment in September. The movie centers on two single female best friends (Daddario and Upton) who find themselves competing for the same guy (Barr) during an extended layover in St. Louis after their plane is rerouted due to a hurricane warning.

“‘The Layover’ was my first foray into directing comedy, and they weren’t kidding when they say comedy is tough,” Macy said in a statement. “But the film makes me laugh and that’s a good test because I’ve heard I’m a tough critic. Also my producer, Keith Kjarval, and I were excited to do a comedy about smart young women. In my talks with the folks at Vertical and DirecTV, it’s been gratifying that they get the jokes too.”

-A24 and DirecTV have acquired “The Ballad of Lefty Brown,” which was written, directed and produced by Jared Moshé. The film will play for 30 days on DirecTV before being released theatrically, Deadline reports. A Western starring Bill Pullman, Jim Caviezel, Kathy Baker, Tommy Flanagan, Diego Josef and Peter Fonda, the film premiered at SXSW.

Pullman stars as Lefty Brown, a man determined to avenge the death of his best friend, famed lawman Eddie Johnson (Fonda). The deal between DirecTV and A24 continues the partnership the two companies formed in 2013 that has seen them collaborate on film like “Dark Places,” starring Charlize Theron, and “Into the Forest,” starring Max Minghella, Ellen Page and Evan Rachel Wood.

-Kino Lorber has acquired all North American rights to “Tom of Finland,” Dome Karukoski’s biopic about the life and work of Finnish artist and gay icon Touko Laaksonen. A trailblazing figure in post-World War II erotic art, Laaksonen drew thousands of fantasy-filled, homoerotic images of intensely masculine men, often liberated from the moral codes of their times. Quickly spreading throughout the world, his work inspired the early days of the gay liberation movement and became a symbol for generations of LGBTQ people worldwide.

Kino Lorber

“Tom of Finland”

Kino Lorber

“Tom of Finland” is set to have its North American premiere at the upcoming Tribeca Film festival, after a world premiere at the Goteborg Film Festival in February. The film’s world premiere was followed by a release in its home territory, where “Tom of Finland” has taken close to $1 million at the local box office.

– National Geographic has acquired the documentary “From the Ashes,” which explores one of the country’s most contentious topics — coal and the mining industry. Produced by RadicalMedia and directed by Michael Bonfiglio, “From the Ashes” captures Americans in communities across the country as they wrestle with the legacy of the coal industry, and what its future should be under the Trump administration. The film goes beyond the rhetoric of the “war on coal” to present compelling and often-heartbreaking stories about what is at stake for our economy, health and climate.

“From the Ashes” is produced by Sidney Beaumont, executive produced by Joe Berlinger, Jon Kamen, Katherine Oliver and Justin Wilkes. Distributed under the National Geographic Documentary Films banner, the movie will have its world premiere at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival on April 26, followed by a limited theatrical release this summer, and will air globally on National Geographic in 171 countries and 45 languages later in 2017.

– Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions has acquired all international rights to “The Lovers.” A24 will release the film domestically on May 5. The romantic comedy stars Debra Winger and Tracy Letts as a long-married, dispassionate couple who are both having serious affairs. On the brink of separating, a spark between them suddenly reignites their romance. The movie is directed by Azazel Jacobs and produced by Jacobs, Ben LeClair and Chris Stinson.

– Saban Films has acquired the North American distribution rights to Ric Roman Waugh’s “Shot Caller,” starring Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Lake Bell, Jon Bernthal, Emory Cohen, Omari Hardwick, and Benjamin Bratt. Written by Waugh, the crime drama follows a newly released prison gangster who is forced by the leaders of his gang to orchestrate a major crime with a brutal rival gang on the streets of Southern California.

“Shot Caller is raw, gritty, expertly crafted and perfectly cast,” Saban Films president Bill Bromiley said in a statement. Waugh produced under his Cadre Filmworks banner alongside Jonathan King for Participant Media, and Bold Films’ Michel Litvak and Gary Michael Walters. Bold Films’ Jeffrey Stott and Lisa Zambri, Rhodes Entertainment’s Matthew Rhodes, and Participant Media’s Jeff Skoll executive produced.

– Screen Media Films has acquired the U.S. rights to Jason Bourque’s thriller “Drone,” starring Sean Bean, Patrick Sabongui, Maxwell Haynes, Joel David Moore, and Mary McCormack. The film will be in theaters day-and-date on May 26. The movie follows drone pilot and family man Neil (Bean), who has spent his career conducting deadly, covert missions overseas all from the comfort of his suburban hometown. When an enigmatic businessman from Pakistan (Sabongui) shows up at his home seeking revenge, Neil must confront the consequences of his actions.

“’Drone’ is a powerful film that will cause audiences to examine the human consequences of drone warfare,” producer Ken Frith said in a statement. The film was directed by Jason Bourque, written by Paul A. Birkett and Jason Bourque based on a story by Ian Birkett, Roger Patterson, and Paul A. Birkett. “Drone” was produced by Sefton Fincham and Ken Frith and executive produced by Kirk D’Amico, Levi Sheck, Mike Row, Justin Jacobson, Dean Buchanan, Emily Alden, Kevin D. Forester, Lisa Gutberlet.

READ MORE: Film Acquisition Rundown: Kino Lorber Picks Up ‘Dawson City,’ Magnolia Buys ‘Lucky‘ and More

– Strand Releasing has acquired the North American rights to Mexican filmmaker Amat Escalante’s “The Untamed.” The horror-fantasy film set in Guanajuato, Mexico world premiered at the Venice Film Festival followed before playing at the Toronto International Film Festival and San Francisco International Film Festival. “The Untamed” combines a true crime story with “an other worldly experience” and was specifically inspired by two tragic real-life incidents Escalante read about.

“I am pleased and excited that my new film will be released by Strand, a company I have followed and admired throughout the years for its bold and courageous taste in films and filmmakers,” Escalante said in a statement. Strand plans to release the film this summer.

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