XLrator Media has picked up worldwide distribution rights to “Queen Mimi,” Yaniv Rokah’s acclaimed docu about a charismatic homeless woman, now 90 years old, who lived for 20 years in a Santa Monica, Calif., laundromat until customers Zach Galifianakis and Renee Zellweger pooled their resources to get her a furnished apartment. Rokah and executive producer Alexander van de Leur announced the news while at the 12th Bahamas Int’l Film Festival (Dec. 1-12) where it played Dec. 2.
Founded by former Weinstein exec Barry Gordon in 2010, XLrator Media plans a limited theatrical release of “Queen Mimi” in February across L.A., Chicago and New York before its VOD and digital platform release in the early spring.
Doc will have its L.A. premiere at the ArcLight on Dec. 13 as part of the Slamdance Cinema Club.
“Queen Mimi” is Israeli-born Rokah’s directorial debut, whose acting credits include “World War Z,” “NCIS: Los Angeles,” “The Beast,” and YouTube series “Kendra,” which Jon Avnet wrote expressly for him. Rokah was a barista in the coffee shop across from the laundromat when he thought of documenting Mimi’s life after striking a friendship with her. “I had no clue how to shoot a film, I just knew I had to so I used my iPhone before buying a proper camera,” said the Lee Strasberg-educated thesp.
Rokah raised his $75,000 budget via a Kickstarter campaign, which attracted the likes of executive producer Michael Shamberg, who first started producing docus before exec producing “Pulp Fiction” and “Django Unchained,” among other notable pics.
“Queen Mimi” has been racking up awards since its March world premiere at the Vail Film Fest, including best documentary at the Manhattan Film Festival and best director at the Saint Tropez Int’l Film Fest.
Rokah is prepping his feature debut “Leading Lady,” based on a true World War II story about 1930s Vienna stage actress Dorothea Neff who hid her Jewish costume designer Lilli Wolff, who later became her lover. Scribe Shira Rosenfield approached Rokah with her script after seeing “Queen Mimi.” “In a way Neff is similar to Mimi, they both represent the human spirit,” said Rokah.