Eagle Huntress, Other Projects

DEADLINE – In the final feather in the cap of a memorable dealmaking Sundance Film Festival, Sony Pictures Classics acquired North American rights to The Eagle Huntress, in a mid-seven-figure deal that includes select international territories including Australia, New Zealand, Latin America, Germany, Scandinavia and Asia. SPC will plot a significant theatrical release for one of the best reviewed docus of 2016 Sundance, and this is just the first step for a film whose themes of female empowerment will allow it to travel far.

I’m told that Star Wars: The Force Awakens star Daisy Ridley will narrate the documentary, this coming days after she signed on to be executive producer to use her clout to help boost the film. At the same time, several companies are negotiating for the right to turn the story of 13-year-old Aisholpan Nurgaiv and her eagle into an animated feature, and Ridley will provide the voice for the young heroine. CAA brokered the deal for the docu, and will make the deal for the animated feature.

This caps a storybook festival finish for the first documentary to premiere in the Sundance Kids section when it debuted January 24 at the Prospector Square Park Theatre. What director Otto Bell captured on screen is unprecedented, and the film will be a buzz title come the next awards season. The deal means that SPC’s Michael Barker and Tom Bernard walked off the mountain with four films, including the Frank Zappa docu Eat That Question, the Wall Street drama Equity, and the John Krasinski-directed The Hollars.

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Eagle Huntress

DEADLINE – You cannot escape the Star Wars phenomenon, even at an indie film fest just getting underway in Park City. Star Wars: The Force Awakens star Daisy Ridley has come aboard to be executive producer of The Eagle Huntress, the first documentary to premiere in the Sundance Kids section, with a Sunday debut at the Prospector Square Park Theatre. Morgan Spurlock, exec producer of the film, divulged this to me and said that Ridley signed on after seeing a cut of the film. She hopes it helps create awareness of what they describe as an epic tale of female empowerment.

Directed by Otto Bell, The Eagle Huntress is the true story of Aisholpan, a 13-year-old Mongolian girl who strives to become the first female Eagle Hunter in 2,000 years of male-dominated history. Under the tutelage and support of her father and her grandfather, she learns all aspects of this ancient tradition, including taming her very own eaglet and training it for the annual Golden Eagle Festival, which involves competing against male Eagle Hunters from all over the country. She even dreams of hunting in the frozen winters to prove that a girl can do anything a boy can, so long as she’s determined.

Only Yesterday, Other Projects, Videos

Watch the trailer for ‘Only Yesterday’, Daisy voices the lead character Taeko. It will open in New York at IFC Center on January 1 and expand to additional cities February 26.

Set in the early 1980s, Only Yesterday tells the story of Taeko, a single 27-year-old who’s lived her whole life in Tokyo. Traveling to visit her family in the country, she reflects on her childhood in a series of flashbacks to examine whether she’s been true to the girl she used to be.

Only Yesterday, Other Projects

INDIEWIRE – Considered a lost gem, Isao Takahata’s Only Yesterday was recently included in Time Out’s list of the “Best 100 Animated Movies Ever Made,” and counts Wes Anderson and Roger Ebert among its admirers.

Now, at long last, one of Studio Ghibli’s most acclaimed masterpieces is getting a U.S. theatrical release. Gkids has set a New York release date (January 1st, 2016) to commemorate the film’s 25th anniversary.

The film will play exclusively at the IFC Center with a new English-Language version starring Daisy Ridley (Star Wars: The Force Awakens) and Dev Patel (Slumdog Millionaire, Best Exotic Marigold Hotel). Gkids will expand the distribution of the film to theaters nation-wide on February 26th.

It’s 1982 and Taeko is 27 years old, unmarried, and has lived her whole life in Tokyo. While traveling by train to visit family in the country, memories flood back of her as a schoolgirl in 1966, and she starts to question whether she has been true to childhood herself. Elegantly switching between her adult present and school girl flashbacks, Takahata brilliantly explores the drama, humor and enchantment of everyday life, in a poignant and achingly beautiful masterpiece from one of the world’s most revered animation studios.

Only Yesterday, Other Projects

VARIETY – GKids has acquired North American rights from Studio Ghibli for Isao Takahata’s “Only Yesterday.”

The English-language version is voiced by Daisy Ridley (“Star Wars: The Force Awakens”), Dev Patel, Ashley Eckstein (“Star Wars Rebels”) and Alison Fernandez (“Orange is the New Black”). The movie will be released early next year to coincide with the film’s 25th anniversary.

“With this 25th anniversary release, a broad new audience will now be able to discover what passionate supporters have known for years,” said David Jesteadt of GKids. “‘Only Yesterday’ is a groundbreaking classic and further demonstration of Isao Takahata’s incredible legacy as a filmmaker.”

GKids and Studio Ghibli previously partnered on “When Marnie Was There,” “The Tale of the Princess Kaguya,” “The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness” and “From Up on Poppy Hill.” It also handles North American theatrical distribution for Studio Ghibli’s library of films, including “Spirited Away,” “Howl’s Moving Castle” and “Princess Mononoke.”

“Only Yesterday” centers on a 27-year-old unmarried woman in Tokyo. While traveling by train to visit family in the country, memories flood back of her days as a schoolgirl in 1966, causing her to question whether she has been true to herself.

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