The film, directed by Kevin Macdonald (“The Last King of Scotland,” “Life in a Day”), chronicles Cai’s life history and inspirations through his signature works of art involving gunpowder and explosives. The story focuses on Cai’s attempts to stage his most ambitious project to date: a fireworks display in the shape of a sprawling ladder, cast over his hometown in China.
“Sky Ladder” premiered in the world documentary category at Sundance, where it received strong reviews. The film pulls back the curtain on a well-known figure to international audiences, and Netflix — which is now available in 190 countries, after an aggressive expansion in January — has been on a buying spree for product that will appeal to viewers around the world.
At Sundance, Netflix also acquired global streaming rights to the Iranian horror movie “Under the Shadow”; “Tallulah,” starring Ellen Page; the Indian sex comedy “Brahman Naman”; “The Fundamentals of Caring” with Paul Rudd; the Molly Shannon cancer dramedy “Other People”; and docs “Audrie and Daisy” and “Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You.”
“Sky Ladder” was produced by Wendi Murdoch (who came to Sundance to support the project), Hugo Shong and Fisher Stevens. Bennett Miller served as executive producer. Cinetic Media’s John Sloss handled sales of the film out of Park City.