EXCLUSIVE: IFC Films has acquired North American rights to Julian Higgins’ feature directorial debut God’s Country, starring BAFTA and Emmy winner Thandiwe Newton (Westworld, Crash), on the heels of its debut at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. It will release the film won in a bidding war in theaters this fall.
The acquisition is IFC Films’ third out of this year’s virtual festival, following its pick-up of the horror-thrillers Resurrection (starring Rebecca Hall and Tim Roth) and Watcher (starring Maika Munroe), and marks the seventh for its parent company AMC Networks.
Higgins and Shaye Ogbonna scripted God’s Country, which is based on the short story “Winter’s Light” by James Lee Burke. In the character-driven thriller set in the snowy wilderness of the American West, Newton plays Sandra Guidry, a Black professor living and working in a rural college town who discovers a mysterious red truck parked in her driveway, and soon learns it belongs to a pair of local hunters seeking to enter the forest behind her house. Sandra turns them away politely but firmly – her experience tells her these are not the sort of men to welcome freely into her world. But they won’T take no for an answer, and soon Sandra finds herself drawn into an escalating battle of wills that puts her most deeply held values to the test.
Jeremy Bobb (The Outsider), Joris Jarsky (The Little Things), Jefferson White (Yellowstone), Kai Lennox (The Girl from Plainville) and Tanaya Beatty (Through Black Spruce) round out the cast. Higgins and Halee Bernard produced alongside Cold Iron Pictures’ CEO Miranda Bailey and Amanda Marshall, with Anthony Ciardelli and The Film Arcade’s Jason Beck exec producing.
“Thandiwe Newton delivers one of the most beautifully complex and realistic portraits of a modern-day woman dealing with grief and isolation within the confines of a traditional western turned on its head,” said IFC Films President Arianna Bocco. “Julian Higgins has impressively directed a taut thriller that will surely keep audiences on the edge of their seats.”
“IFC Films has established a deep commitment to independent filmmakers and a passion for movies that engage and challenge audiences,” added Higgins. “GOD’S COUNTRY has been a yearslong labor of love for our entire team, and I am truly thrilled we’ve found the perfect home.”
Higgins is a Los Angeles-based writer, director and producer who previously adapted “Winter’s Light” into a an Oscar-shortlisted 2015 short film of the same name. His shorts have screened around the globe and won dozens of prizes, including the gold medal Student Academy Award, two Student Emmy Awards and the grand prize of Ron Howard’s “Project Imagination” Contest. The New Hampshire native holds a BFA in Film from Emerson College and an MFA in Directing from the American Film Institute, and currently teaches directing at both institutions.
Established in 2000 and based in New York City, IFC Films is a leading U.S. distributor of independent film. Other upcoming releases from the company include the Golden Lion award-winner Happening, from director Audrey Diwan; the Cannes Best Actor winner Nitram, from director Justin Kurzel; and Andrea Arnold’s first feature documentary, Cow. IFC Films is a sister label to IFC Midnight, and is owned and operated by AMC Networks Inc.
SVP of Acquisitions and Productions Scott Shooman negotiated the deal for God’s Country on behalf of IFC Films, with ICM Partners on behalf of the filmmakers.
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