EXCLUSIVE: Echo Bridge has acquired U.S. rights to director Bryan Buckley’s The Pirates of Somalia (formerly known as Dabka). The film, which bowed this spring at the Tribeca Film Festival, examines what led up to the hostage saga depicted in Captain Phillips.

The film stars American Horror Story’s Evan Peters along with Oscar nominees Barkhad Abdi, Melanie Griffith and Al Pacino. The plan is release it in 10 markets nationwide day-and-date December 8. Rights include theatrical, TVOD and SVOD.

Based on the New York Times bestseller The Pirates of Somalia by Jay Bahadur, the story follows rookie journalist Bahadur (Evan Peters), who, after having a chance encounter with an experienced war correspondent (Pacino), uproots his life and moves to Somalia looking for the story of a lifetime. Hooking up with a local fixer (Abdi), Bahadur attempts to embed himself with the local Somali pirates, getting in way over his head.

This is Buckley’s second feature film following the 2015 Sundance Film Festival pic The Bronze, which was released by Sony Pictures Classics in 2016. The deal comes as Somalia finds itself one of the countries on President Donald Trump’s current travel-ban list; if enacted, the Somali people featured in the film would not be able to travel to the U.S. to support the film.

Bryan Buckley
Mark Mann

“I am so pleased to be partnering with Echo Bridge, who share the same level of commitment to this film that we do,” said Buckley. “This is an important and powerful story that demonstrates the courage of those journalists who have risked their lives to tell us the truth. It’s piece of work that needs to be shared with all audiences; therefore, we could not be more thrilled to have found the right partner to provide this film with the proper platform.”

Echo Bridge chairman and CEO Steven Paul, whose previous credits include Marvel’s Ghost Rider and Paramount’s Ghost in the Shell, said the film “is one of those stranger-than-fiction stories that demands being told. It has all the elements of a first-rate adventure. It’s thrilling and funny but most of all an important story that few people hear about beyond the headlines.”

The film is produced by Buckley, Mino Jarjoura and Matt Lefebvre of Hungry Man Films, as well as Claude Dal Farra of BCDF Pictures and Irfaan Fredericks. The executive producers include Paul of Echo Bridge; Compton Ross, Phil Hunt, Stephen Kelliher, and Hilary Davis of Bankside Films; as well as Peter Pastorelli, Michael S. Murphy, Hank Perlman, Kevin Byrne and Robin Shenfield.

The deal for the film was negotiated by UTA Independent Film Group and Echo Bridge Acquisition Corp. The film was financed by Hungry Man Films and Head Gear Films and repped by Bankside Films for international sales.