EXCLUSIVE: Greenwich Entertainment has acquired North American rights to Jennifer Peedom’s visually stunning documentary River, “a profound cinematic and musical reflection on how rivers have shaped both the planet’s elaborate landscapes and all human existence.”
Greenwich plans to release the film in theaters on April 21, ahead of Earth Day on April 22. River is a sequel to Peedom’s 2017 documentary Mountain – also a Greenwich release – and reunites the director with her creative collaborators on that earlier film, including the Australian Chamber Orchestra, narrator Willem Dafoe and writer Robert Macfarlane.
“Throughout history, rivers have shaped our landscapes and our civilizations; flowed through our cultures and dreams,” notes a description of the documentary. “River takes the audience through space and time; spanning six continents, drawing on extraordinary cinematography, the film shows rivers on scales and from perspectives never seen before. Its union of image, music and poetic script create a dreamlike film that honors the wildness of rivers, but also recognizes their vulnerability in the face of increased human demands.”
In a statement, Greenwich co-president Ed Arentz observed, “River is a remarkable experience: a rare opportunity to step back from the rush of daily life and hectic entertainments and enter into a meditative kind of cinema that focuses exclusively on imagery of our planet’s flowing water systems allowing one to relish their astounding beauty and viscerally understand our increasingly dangerous interventions.”
Peedom commented on those interventions in an interview with Deadline in conjunction with River‘s world premiere at the Telluride Film Festival last September.
“We have now reached a point where there are very few rivers on the planet that are undrained or diverted or dammed in some way,” Peedom said. “When we dam our rivers, when we divert them, we stop them doing what they were designed to do, which is to spread nutrients and sediment to our valleys to enable us to grow our food and all of these kinds of things… Yes, there’s tremendous power in damming rivers, or literal power—electricity—but there are a lot of unintended consequences from that and we may well be shooting ourselves in the foot.”
River was written by Robert Macfarlane and produced by Peedom, Jo-Anne McGowan (Mountain), and John Smithson (127 Hours). Greenwich’s Ed Arentz negotiated the acquisition with Dogwoof’s Cleo Veger on behalf of the filmmakers. Following its premiere at Telluride, River has gone on to win several awards including the Audience Award for Best International Feature at the Florida Film Festival and the World Documentary Award at the Whistler Film Festival in British Columbia.
River is the second film in a planned trilogy, with Mountain as the first. Dafoe’s narration can be heard in both documentaries.
“His voice is really like an instrument,” Peedom told Deadline. She and Dafoe were on separate continents when they recorded the voiceover. “He was shooting a movie… I’m on Zoom and talking to him. I don’t know that we would have done it that way if Willem and I had never met before. But we’ve met a number of times now and have a great friendship having worked on Mountain together, which we did do in person.”
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