EXCLUSIVE: Fionn Whitehead (Dunkirk), newcomer Leyna Bloom and McCaul Lombardi (American Honey) lead cast in the recently wrapped feature drama Port Authority, produced by Martin Scorsese’s Sikelia Productions and Call Me By Your Name outfit RT Features.

Writer-director Danielle Lessovitz’s feature debut, a result of RT and Sikelia’s joint venture to foster emerging filmmakers, is a love story set in New York’s kiki ballroom scene (the LGBT subculture that includes competitive performances and dance).

The movie follows Paul (Whitehead), an early twentysomething who arrives at the central bus station and quickly catches eyes with Wye (Bloom), a girl voguing with her brothers on the sidewalk. After Paul seeks her out in secret, an intense love blossoms. But when he discovers that Wye is trans, he is forced to confront his desire for her and the deep-seated violence of those around him.

Rodrigo Teixeira of RT Features, Virginie Lacombe of Madeleine Films and Zachary Luke Kislevitz produce with Scorsese and Emma Tillinger Koskoff of Sikelia. Endeavor Content is representing domestic rights and MK2 is handling international sales.

Hercules Film Fund financed the pic with Paris Kassidokostas-Latsis, Terry Dougas and Jean-Luc De Fanti from Rhea Films, who are also executive producing, and Efe Cakarel and Bobby Allen from streaming service and distributor MUBI. Lourenço Sant’Anna and Sophie Mas of RT Features and Frederic de Goldschmidt are also executive producers. Financial support also came from the Torino Film Lab, New York State Council of the Arts and France’s CNC Cinémas Du Monde Fund.

The film marks the first production investment for UK-based streaming service MUBI, which recently picked up UK rights to Suspiria and Under the Silver Lake. MUBI CEO Efe Cakarel told me, “The only way to create a meaningful differentiation in an increasingly crowded SVOD world is creating great original content.” This is expected to be the first of a number of production investments for the firm.

It marks the latest investment from Greek ship owner and businessman Kasidokostas-Latsis via his Hercules banner, which has backed movies including American Made and Good Time and is putting money into upcoming Lionsgate franchise hopeful Chaos Walking and Hilary Swank starrer I Am Mother, among others. Hercules’ production arm is Rhea Films, run by Dougas and De Fanti.

RT Features and Sikelia previously partnered on Jonas Carpignano’s feature A Ciambra and have Antoneta Alamat Kusijanovic’s Murina going into production next year. The former recently announced it is re-teaming with Luca Guadagnino on Blood on the Tracks, written by Richard LaGravenese and based on Bob Dylan’s 1975 album.

Whitehead is represented by Curtis Brown Group, UTA and Peikoff Mahan Law Office. Bloom is repped by Dominion Capo and Cowan, DeBaets, Abrahams & Sheppard LLP.