LONDON — Peccadillo Pictures has acquired U.S. documentary “Real Boy” for the U.K. and Ireland. The distributor, which specializes in LGBT titles, intends to release the film, about a transgender teen, in cinemas in early 2017 ahead of home entertainment and VOD roll-out towards the end of the first quarter or early second quarter of next year.
Directed by Shaleece Haas, “Real Boy” is a coming-of-age story about transgender teen musician Bennett Wallace as he navigates his journey through the transitioning process, juxtaposed with his mother’s own journey from deep misgivings to acceptance and finally support.
The film received its world premiere at BFI Flare, the U.K.’s leading LGBT festival, in March where both Haas and Wallace were in attendance. It has since played the Gaze Ireland festival in Dublin and Trans Pride South West in Bristol and is due to play at the Scotland Queer Intl. Film Festival, the Iris Prize Festival in Cardiff, Wales, and the Shropshire Rainbow Film Festival in October.
It will be broadcast in the U.S. by PBS in 2017.
Haas says she has been “humbled” by the reception “Real Boy” has received in the U.K. and throughout Europe, saying BFI Flare was the ideal place to premiere the film as, alongside enthusiastic audiences, it provided the opportunity to meet festival programmers from around the world, as well as the initial connection with Peccadillo.
“It’s been a really busy year for us. We put a hold on acquisitions until we were in a reasonable position to know when we would be releasing and that is all happening now,” says Tom Abell, chairman of Peccadillo, with the deal for “Real Boy” now finalized.
Abell tells Variety the film will receive a special release under the distributor’s PoutFest brand early in 2017. PoutFest is a touring film festival, which usually runs for three-to-four months through the U.K. summer, which takes LGBTQI films to cinemas all across the country. The 2016 tour played at extensive sites around London and reached more than 50 cities across the U.K. and Ireland.
“Peccadillo does an excellent job of reaching audiences in the U.K.,” says Haas. “Their PoutFest theatrical tours are always excellent and they have a stellar reputation for distribution across all media. I am delighted that ‘Real Boy’ will be joining their collection.”
Abell thinks that, in addition to the documentary’s clear qualities as an interesting story that is informative about the challenges facing both transgender people and those around them, it is Wallace that is key to its appeal. “Bennett is a central character that people can really relate to,” says Abell.
The distributor will also make the film available to U.K. schools via Into Film, a U.K.-wide program designed to support teachers and educators achieve a wide range of effective learning outcomes through the use of all types of films.
“We have already experienced an excellent reception to the film among young people,” says Haas. “They’ve been some of our most engaged and thoughtful audiences and I am excited to bring the film into classrooms across the U.K.”
“Real Boy” received its U.S. premiere at the Independent Film Festival (IFF) Boston at the end of April, where it won the Karen Schmeer Award for excellence in documentary editing. It has since won a raft of festival prizes including best documentary at the Giffoni Film Festival in Italy.