Kino Lorber Takes In The Dardennes’ ‘Young Ahmed’; Freestyle Digital Media Acquires ‘Immortal Hero’; Gravitas Ventures Lands ‘Doubting Thomas’; More – Film Acquisition Roundup

Young Ahmed
Kino Lorber

Kino Lorber has acquired U.S. rights to Young Ahmed, the latest film from Belgian directors Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne to bow at the Cannes Film Festival, where it won the Best Director prize this year. The film is having its North American premiere at the upcoming COLCOA French Film Festival in Los Angeles, and it will hit theaters in early 2020, followed by VOD .

The pic centers on a Belgian-Arab Muslim teenager named Ahmed (Idir Ben Addi) who lives in a small town with a secular single mother and siblings.  He has frighteningly become radicalized through the influence of a magnetic, local extremist imam and becomes fixated with killing his female teacher in the name of his religious convictions.

Kino Lorber SVP Wendy Lidell and Wild Bunch’s Eva Diederix made the deal along with CAA Media Finance.

“We are proud to present to US audiences the latest masterwork from Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne,” Lidell said of the brothers, two-time winners of Cannes’ Palme d’Or. “Like all their great films, Young Ahmed portrays with great empathy a character grappling with a moral dilemma, and does so by telling an engrossing story bursting with suspense.”


Freestyle Digital Media has acquired domestic rights to the spiritual drama Immortal Hero, based on the life Ryuho Okawa, the Japanese spiritual self-help guru, bestselling author and founder of the Happy Science movement. Freestyle plans a theatrical release October 18 in 20 U.S. markets after it world premieres in competition two days earlier at the San Diego Film Festival. It hits VOD next year.

The film from Happy Science’s HS Production follows Okawa (played by Makoto Mioya), a successful writer who collapses from a heart condition that doctors thought would kill him. Unbeknownst to anyone but Makoto, he has been communicating with powerful spiritual beings and accessing their wisdom and advice for most of his adult life. In a near-death visitation at the hospital, the spiritual beings come to him to remind Makoto that he can cure himself with the power of his own mind. He becomes and enlightened and transformed teacher in his “rebirth.” (See the trailer below.)

Okawa also produces, and his daughter Sayaka Okawa penned the script. Betsy Chasse negotiated the deal on behalf of the filmmakers with Freestyle Digital Media.

Here’s the trailer:


Music Box Films

Music Box Films has acquired North American rights to Stuffed, the documentary about the art of taxidermy from director Erin Derham that world premiered this year at SXSW. Derham discovers a new generation of taxidermists dedicated to applying their artistry to a field that has conservation at its core. The pic will bow theatrically October 16 at New York’s Film Forum followed by a limited theatrical run this fall and VOD early next year.

The docu delves into the wild world of modern taxidermy that runs the gamut from preserving the remains of the last Pinta island tortoise in existence to the “rogue taxidermy” subculture that specializes in the creation of fantasy or “cryptozoological” animals.

The deal was negotiated by Music Box president William Schopf.


Gravitas Ventures has acquired North American rights to Doubting Thomas, a drama from writer-director Will McFadden, who also stars. It will hit theaters beginning October 11 and be available on-demand on October 15.

A complex tale that ​touches on institutional racism and assumed privilege, the story begins when around an African American baby is born to white parents, tearing the family apart as secrets are revealed, their love is tested, and the legacy of racism hits home. Sarah Butler, Jamie Hector, Rob Belushi, Zach Cregger, James Morriso and Melora Walters also star.

The pic, a production of The Long Way Home in association with Lexicon, is produced by Mark Mathias Sayre, Casey Morris and Laura Jane Salvato. Dal LaMagna is executive producer.

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