EXCLUSIVE: Oliver Sacks: His Own Life, the Ric Burns documentary about the famed neurologist and author that the premiered this fall at the Telluride Film Festival, has been acquired by Zeitgeist Films in association with Kino Lorber. As part of the U.S. rights deal, the pic will open theatrically in May 2020 at Film Forum in New York, followed by a national rollout.
The documentary, which counts American Masters Pictures among its producers, will have its exclusive U.S. broadcast premiere in 2021 on PBS’ American Masters series.
Burns explores Sacks’ life and work as the renowned thinker shares details of his battles with drug addiction, homophobia, and a medical establishment that accepted his work only decades after the fact. It features exclusive interviews with Sacks done just weeks after he received a terminal cancer diagnosis, and months prior to his death in August 2015.
“We were very impressed by the sensitivity Ric Burns showed in telling Sacks' story and his ability to get a very private individual like Sacks to open up to him,” Zeitgeist Films co-presidents Nancy Gerstman and Emily Russo said of the pic, which played the fest circuit including New York, Hamptons and AFI. “It's not an easy thing to win the trust of such a person and we felt that we got to know Sacks intimately and gained an enormous empathy for what he experienced in his life. Everyone who thinks they know Oliver Sacks through his writings will be surprised by his lifelong struggles, and those few people who don't already know his work will be dazzled by his achievements.”
Leigh Howell, Bonnie Lafave and Kathryn Clinard produced the pic, a a Vulcan Productions, Steeplechase Films, American Masters Pictures, Motto Pictures, Passion Pictures, HHMI Tangled Bank Studios, Sandbox Films and Independent Television Service production in association with Artemis Rising Foundation, ARTE and WDR.
Executive producers include Paul G. Allen, Carole Tomko, Rocky Collins, Michael Kantor, Julie Goldman, Christopher Clements, Doron Weber, Arthur G. Altschul Jr., Margaret Munzer Loeb, Nion McEvoy, Regina K. Scully, Geralyn White Dreyfous, David Guy Elisco, Sean B. Carroll, Sally Jo Fifer, John Battsek, Nicole Stott and Greg Boustead.
Kino Lorber SVP Wendy Lidell and CEO Richard Lorber negotiated the deal with Submarine’s Ben Schwartz, Josh Braun and Matt Burke on behalf of Steeplechase and the filmmaking team.
The specialty box office space has quickly adapted to the changing film landscape as many are shifting to virtual theatrical openings. Many indie and arthouse titles do day and date releases and are VOD-only so the transition, for the most part, is familiar territory for many distributors and production companies.
Written and directed by Jonathan Jakubowicz, Resistance tells the true story of a group of Girls and Boy Scouts that created a network that went on to save nearly 10,000 orphans whose parents had been killed by the Nazis in the World War II. Jesse Eisenberg takes the lead role as an aspiring Jewish actor who has a need to help the children which leads him to the world of pantomime. As a result, he would become the iconic French mime Marcel Marceau.
Jakubowicz is known for his film Hands of Stone which premiered at Cannes in 2016. The film starred Edgar Ramirez who also appears in Resistance as the legendary boxer Roberto Duran as it followed his life and shed light on his trainer Ray Arcel played by Robert De Niro. In 2005, the Venezuelan director helmed the crime drama Secuestro Express which went on became the nation’s biggest box office hit for Venezuela at that time. The socially-driven narrative of kidnapping was based on his own experience of being kidnapped and then-President Hugo Chávez was not happy with it. Two lawsuits were filed against the film for alleged defamation and a charge against Jakubowicz promoting drugs and calling out the
Also, two lawsuits were filed against the film in the Venezuelan Supreme Court; one to remove the film from circulation because it contained alleged defamation, the other to charge Jakubowicz with promoting drugs and putting the country and its regime in a negative light. That said, Jakubowicz is not afraid to push the envelope when it comes to socially-minded narratives.
Resistance also stars Ed Harris, Clémence Poésy and Matthias Schweighöfer. Jakubowicz serves as a producer along with Claudine Jakubowicz, Dan Maag, Thorsten Schumacher, Carlos García de Paredes and Patrick Zorer. The film drops on digital platforms and cable VOD today.
Also opening virtually this weekend is Deborah Kampmeier’s Split, Virgin, Hounddog Tape, which is based on true events.
Set in New York City, Tape hits close to home when it comes to the Time’s Up movement. It follows two aspiring actresses Isabelle Fuhrman and Annarosa Mudd who cross paths with the darker side of the entertainment industry and how women are taken advantage of. The film addresses questionable behavior that often goes unseen and looks to answer the question: “How could this kind of thing happen?”
“Tape is based on my dear friend's true story. Making...