EXCLUSIVE: Vertical Entertainment has acquired North American rights to Miss Juneteenth, which made its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival and later won an award at SXSW in March. The debut feature of writer-director Channing Godfrey Peoples now is aimed at a June 19 release, that date marking the 155th anniversary of the Juneteenth holiday.
Vertical is hoping for a theatrical release depending on the status of theaters amid the coronavirus pandemic, but it aims to bow the film on digital on the American holiday, which commemorates the abolition of slavery in Texas on June 19, 1865, two years after the Emancipation Proclamation — a celebration that includes an annual beauty pageant.
In the pic, Nicole Baharie stars as former beauty queen Turquoise Jones, now a hardworking single mom who is preparing her rebellious teenage daughter Kai (Alexis Chikaeze) for the pageant, hoping to keep her from repeating the same mistakes in life that she made. Kendrick Sampson also stars in the pic, which won the Lone Star Award at the virtual SXSW for the best film from the state of Texas.
It was produced by Ley Line Entertainment and Sailor Bear, with Neil Creque Williams, Jeanie Igoe, James M. Johnston, Toby Halbrooks, Tim Headington and Theresa Steele Page producing. David Lowery and Nate Kamiya are executive producers.
“It’s not every day that you feel completely affected by a first-time filmmaker’s work, but Channing’s vision and the knockout performances from the entire cast had a resounding impact on the entire team here at Vertical,” Vertical co-president Rich Goldberg said. “We couldn’t be prouder to be partnering with the entire Miss Juneteenth team to bring this film to North American audiences.”
Vertical’s Peter Jarowey and Josh Spector negotiated the deal with CAA Media Finance on behalf of the filmmakers.
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