WestEnd Films has acquired world rights to Untitled Judo, a political thriller co-directed by Guy Nattiv (Skin, Golda) and actress Zar Amir Ebrahimi (Holy Spider).
The film is currently in post-production. WestEnd Films will launch sales at this year’s European Film Market.
The pic is the first feature film to be co-directed by an Iranian and an Israeli filmmaker and follows an Iranian female judoka and her coach as they face life-changing decisions during the Judo World Championships. Elham Erfani (The Case of Sacrifice) is a co-writer on the project.
Arienne Mandi (The L Word: Generation Q) and co-director Zar Amir Ebrahimi star in the lead roles, alongside Jaime Ray Newman (Dopesick, Little Fires Everywhere), Nadine Marshall (The Silent Twins, Small Axe), Mehdi Bajestani (Holy Spider), Lirr Katz (Dismissed) and Ashkan Goldeh.
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The full synopsis reads: Untitled Judo is a thrilling portrait of Iranian female judoka Leila (Mandi) and her coach Maryam (Ebrahimi), who travel to the Judo World Championship, intent on bringing home Iran’s first gold medal. Midway through the competition, they receive an ultimatum from the Islamic Republic ordering Leila to fake an injury and lose. With her own and her family’s freedom at stake, Leila is faced with an impossible choice: feign injury and comply with the Iranian regime as Maryam implores her to do, or defy them both and fight on, for the gold.
Untitled Judo is produced by Adi Ezroni (Save Yourselves!) and Keshet Studios’ Mandy Tagger Brockey (A Late Quartet) alongside Guy Nattiv and Jaime Ray Newman from New Native Pictures. Other credits include cinematography by Todd Martin (The Novice) and editing by Yuval Orr (Strangers, Skin).
The film is produced by Keshet Studios in association with White Lodge Productions, New Native Pictures, Maven Pictures, WestEnd Films, Tale Runners, and Sarke Studios.
The acquisition comes under WestEnd’s brand WeLove, aimed at developing and producing female-specific content and promoting female talent. Range will co-rep North America alongside WestEnd.
“It is a tremendous honor to be collaborating with these true creative forces of nature – Zar, Arienne, and Elham, bringing this important story to life,” Nattiv said. “Untitled Judo is more than a movie to all of us. It’s a creative statement to the world as thousands of innocent Iranian people are paying with their lives for freedom.”
Ebrahimi added: “The story we’re telling in this film is the story of too many Iranian athletes who lost their lifetime opportunities, sometimes forced to leave their countries and beloved ones because of the conflict between systems and governments. May this artistic and cinematographic collaboration with Guy be a tribute to them, beyond frenzies of blind hatred and mutual destruction.”
Nattiv will also be in Berlin to present his latest feature Golda, the political biopic on Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir starring Oscar winner Helen Mirren, which is set to have its world premiere as a Berlinale Special Gala.
WestEnd’s managing director Maya Amsellem added: “We’re so honored to be working with Guy and Zar on this incredible project. The story couldn’t be more timely given the current political and social context in Iran, and we strongly believe that the film will resonate with audiences all around the world.”
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