EXCLUSIVE: Everyone has been back from Sundance long enough that sinuses are returning to normal and the high-altitude respiratory distress is a distant memory. But deals keep dropping for festival films. Hulu has just acquired U.S. rights to the Liza Mandelup-directed documentary Jawline, which won the Special Jury Prize for Emerging Filmmaker at Sundance. The film premiered there in the U.S. Documentary competition.
It becomes the second Sundance docu deal for Hulu, which paid $2 million for The Untitled Amazing Johnathan Documentary.
Austyn Tester is a handsome 16-year-old from Tennessee who is rescued from the confines of his small hometown by the online-streaming world. There, he’s adored by thousands of young girls, all eager for his “likes,” his attention, or just to hear him say their names. For Austyn and many like him, a big enough fan base could mean a ticket out of rural America and into a new life of wealth and fame—quite the undertaking when you’re coming of age. Austyn is a rising star in the live-broadcast world, a post-millennial digital phenomenon that lets streamers engage with millions of people in a heady mix of fantasy, teenage desire, and (occasionally) genuine real-life positivity—all of this as they search for authenticity and connection. Austyn may be separated from his fans, but the emotions his viewers feel are just as real as anything we feel “IRL.” Jawline covers Austyn as he is discovered by a manager and sets off on a U.S. tour to build his following and make his dreams come true.
Pic was produced by Bert Hamelinck, Sacha Ben Harroche, and Hannah Reyer. Executive Producers include Michael Sagol and Jasper Thomlinson. The film is a Caviar Production, made with support from Cinereach, SFFilm Documentary Film Program and Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program.
CAA Media Finance brokered the deal on behalf of the filmmakers.