Motion Film Group, Inc., a newly formed independent film venture from entertainment financier Fotis Georgiadis, has acquired the worldwide sales and distribution rights to writer/director Rashaad Ernesto Green’s debut feature Gun Hill Road, which premiered to a sold-out crowd and standing ovation at Sundance on Monday, January 24 in the U.S. Dramatic Competition. The coming-of-age drama set in The Bronx stars Esai Morales (“Caprica,” “NYPD Blue”), Judy Reyes (“Scrubs”), and Isiah Whitlock Jr. (Cedar Rapids, “The Wire”). Ronna Wallace of Eastgate Pictures LLC along with Andre Des Rochers, Esq. of Gray Krauss Des Rochers LLP negotiated the seven-figure deal on behalf of Gun Hill Road producers Ron Simons of SimonSays Entertainment and Michelle-anne M. Small of A Small Production Company.
Motion Film Group plans to release the film theatrically in early summer, with an initial U.S. launch into New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. Further theatrical expansion will occur throughout the summer, with video release likely in the fall. The company also plans to debut the film to the international buyers market at the Cannes Film Festival and Marche du Film in May.
Gun Hill Road follows macho ex-con Enrique (Morales) who returns to the Bronx after his latest prison sentence to find the world he once knew has turned upside down. While his wife, Angela (Reyes), struggles to hide an emotional affair, his now-teenage son, Michael, explores a sexual transformation well beyond Enrique’s grasp. Unable to accept his child, Enrique clings to his masculine ideals while Angela attempts to hold the family together and protect Michael. Still under the watchful eye of his parole officer (Isiah Whitlock, Jr.), Enrique must become the father he needs to be or, once again, risk losing his family and freedom.
The film features performances by seasoned actors Morales, Reyes, Isiah Whitlock Jr., Franky G, Vincent Laresca, Miriam Colon, and Vanessa Aspillaga, as well as acting debuts by extraordinary people Green discovered on the streets and subways of New York City, including newcomer Harmony Santana, who portrays the conflicted teenager in the story.
Motion Film Group’s Georgiadis previously worked as the principal financier behind the acquisition and release of “Hounddog” from Empire Film Group in 2008 and director Joel Schumacher’s “Twelve” from Hannover House last summer. The formation of Motion Film Group represents the next step toward independence and control over all new entertainment investments being pursued.
“We have learned a lot over the past three years, and have developed a core team that we can work with under our own distribution label,” said Georgiadis. “We’re very excited to add this impressive film to our 2011 theatrical roster, and look forward to a successful result.”
Motion Film Group has a theatrical marketing and bookings team organized, as well as existing relationships with major publicity firms, labs and media outlets. Further details of the theatrical release plans and support teams behind Gun Hill Road will be released in March.
Gun Hill Road is produced by SimonSays Entertainment in association with A Small Production Company. With a mission to “tell every story,” SimonSays Entertainment, Inc. develops diverse projects for film, television, and theater. The debut film from SimonSays, Night Catches Us, opened theatrically in December 2010 through Magnolia Pictures.
Rashaad Ernesto Green, the writer and director of Gun Hill Road, is an award-winning director of short films such as “Premature,” “Cuts” and “Choices.” Green was included on the latest edition of Filmmaker Magazine’s elite 25 New Faces of Independent Film list. A Bronx native, Green earned a BA from Dartmouth, an MFA from the NYU Graduate Acting Program, and an MFA from the NYU Graduate Film Program.
[ via press release]