EXCLUSIVE: Magnolia Pictures have acquired worldwide rights excluding Canada to the Sundance breakout Some Kind of Heaven. The documentary marks the documentary feature debut of Lance Oppenheim and puts a Floridian sun-kissed spotlight on the surreal world of The Villages, the nation’s largest retirement community. Some Kind of Heaven is produced by Darren Aronofsky’s Protozoa, The New York Times and the Los Angeles Media Fund. Magnolia is planning an early 2021 release.
After bowing at Sundance in January, the docu received love from critics and audiences alike before hitting the festival circuit. The Villages is sometimes referred to as the “Disneyland for Retirees”. Some Kind of Heaven follows retirees newly arrived at the fountain of youth including a married couple, a widow, and a bachelor search for Eden and a second bite at the apple, only to discover each of the deadly sins out on full display. From synchronized swimming to pickleball, the good life is waiting, as well as a discounted funeral package now at a new, lower price. In the docu, Oppenheim takes a deep dive into The Villages’ perfect facade to explore its residents’ oscillation between reinvention and recklessness, freedom and familiar safety.
“Some Kind of Heaven is a remarkable achievement from a striking new voice in film,” said Magnolia President Eamonn Bowles. “Lance Oppenheim demonstrates an incredible command of his craft and more importantly, a clear-eyed vision of the world around him. It also makes me want to learn pickleball.”
“From Queen of Versailles to Tangerine, I grew up having my mind blown time and time again by so many of Magnolia’s movies and by their sharp curatorial sensibility,” said Oppenheim, who is from South Florida. “I’m so thrilled to be working with them and couldn’t have asked for a better home to launch this film.”
During an interview with Deadline at Sundance, Oppenheim said of the film: “The thing I was trying to find were the people who were deviating from the norm…people who are sticking out.” This included people like Ann and Reggie Kincer, who said that the Villagers have been “workaholics to keep from thinking about their problems in life.” He added, “Everybody knows they’re on the brink of death. They’re just ignoring it.”
Another Villager is Barbara Lochiatto, who said of Some Kind of Heaven: “I think that when you live in The Villages you’re acting the part every day, every night. You’re part of the fantasy.”
As Aronofsky said, the film is “very open and honest with the human struggle, and how that struggle just continues for the rest of our lives…I think it’s hopeful. I find it hopeful. I guess you could read it both ways, but I definitely feel fulfilled at the end of the film. I think that’s how most people walk away.”
Some Kind of Heaven was produced by Aronofsky, Oppenheim, Jeffrey Soros, Simon Horsman, Kathleen Lingo, Melissa Oppenheim Lano, Pacho Velez, and co-produced by Christian Vazquez. Executive producers are Ari Handel, Brendan Naylor, Morgan Earnest, Andrew Blau, Jake Carter, Trevor Groth, Tristen Tuckfield, Lindsay Crouse, and Jeff Orlowski.
The deal was negotiated by Magnolia EVP Dori Begley and SVP of Acquisitions John Von Thaden, and by 30WEST, UTA Independent Film Group, and Submarine Entertainment on behalf of the filmmakers. Magnolia Head of International Sales Lorna Lee Torres and International Sales Manager Marie Zeniter are handling international sales.
Oppenheim is repped by UTA, Anonymous Content, and attorneys Ziffren Brittenham LLP.