EXCLUSIVE: Oscilloscope Laboratories has acquired U.S. rights to the genre-bending look at the life of musician and trans culture icon Billy Tipton in the documentary No Ordinary Man directed by Aisling Chin-Yee and Chase Joynt. The film production and distribution company founded by the late, great Adam Yauch of Beastie Boys also acquired the U.S. rights to Jeanne Leblanc’s suspense-drama Les Nôtres (Our Own).
The news of the acquisition of No Ordinary Man comes at an appropriate time as March 31 was Trans Day of Visibility. The docu spotlights American Jazz musician Billy Tipton, whose life was often framed as the story of an ambitious woman passing as a man in pursuit of a music career. In No Ordinary Man, Tipton’s story is reimagined and performed by trans artists as they collectively paint a portrait of an unlikely hero. The film features breakout stars in the trans community, including Marquise Vilsón, Scott Turner Schofield, Susan Stryker, C. Riley Snorton, and Thomas Page McBee, among others.
Chin-Yee and Joynt said, “We are thrilled to join the team at O-Scope and can’t wait for audiences to spend time with these extraordinary stories—Tipton’s life and death offer us myriad ways to think about the power of gender, race, family, and media in shaping trans lives both in the past and in the future. There couldn’t be a better time to continue these conversations in the U.S.”
“For me, No Ordinary Man was such an eye-opening and welcome introduction to Billy Tipton,” said O-Scope’s Dan Berger. “Aisling and Chase’s inventive portrait adopts a number of alternative storytelling methods to highlight not only Billy’s life, but what Billy’s life meant to a whole community and culture in general. The film is an incredibly empathetic work, with no shortage of thoughtful and thought-provoking participants, and our hope is that every audience that experiences it has as profound a response to it as I did. All good cinema has the potential to change people, but only great cinema actually does, and No Ordinary Man is truly great.”
No Ordinary Man premiered at the 2020 Toronto International Film Festival, where it was chosen as one of Canada’s Top Ten. The film also won awards at the 2020 Inside Out Toronto LGBT Film Festival and received accolades from various film fests all over the globe.
The deal with Oscilloscope was negotiated by Mimi Steinbauer and Andrew Neel of Radiant Films International, who acquired the documentary after its world premiere at TIFF 2020. Radiant is handling worldwide sales on the film, which was recently screened at the European Film Market (EFM) Online. Oscilloscope is set to release the film later this year.
Les Nôtres had its world premiere at the 2020 Rendez-vous Québec Cinéma festival and won the jury award for Best Narrative Feature at the 2020 Santa Fe Independent Film Festival. O-Scope will release Les Nôrtes on June 18.
In the face of many provincial dramas, the tight-knit community of Sainte-Adeline, Quebec, has always remained united. But when a shockwave engulfs this sleepy community, the townsfolk are forced to confront their contradictions. When it’s discovered that popular high school sophomore Magalie is pregnant, she refuses to reveal the identity of the father. The ensuing scandal rocks Sainte-Adeline, where appearances are deceptive and the layers of a carefully maintained social varnish eventually crack.
“Les Nôtres is born out of an urge to talk about silence. The type of silence that can only exist when people avoid seeing and speaking the truth in order to survive,” said filmmaker Leblanc. “Obviously, we didn’t know how this film would be received by the audience, but we knew it was a story worth telling. When Oscilloscope approached us, I was pleasantly surprised, touched and quite thrilled to have the opportunity to collaborate with them. And so, it is with great pleasure and excitement that we share this important and universal story with you.”
Berger added, “The slow-burn, atmospheric drama that unravels in Les Nôtres is deeply engaging and deeply unsettling. The nuance Jeanne brings to fleshing out the setting and its inhabitants makes us feel as though we have lived there our whole lives. Which is why it’s that much more nail-bitingly effective when everything goes awry.”