Zeitgeist Films has picked up domestic rights to “Chris & Don: A Love Story,” a doc about Blighty writer Christopher Isherwood and his 30-year relationship with American painter Don Bachardy.
The film, which preemed at Telluride and November’s AFI fest, comes from first-time helmers Guido Santi and Tina Mascara. It incorporates interviews, homevid footage, actors re-enacting dramatic scenes, as well as excerpts of Isherwood’s diaries.
The story chronicles Isherwood and Bachardy’s romance from the day they met on a beach in Santa Monica in 1953, when the writer was 48 and the painter just 18.
Andrew Herwitz, prexy of the Film Sales Co., negotiated the deal for an undisclosed figure. The Gotham-based Film Sales Co. was also an exec producer on the pic. Zeitgeist intends to hit festivals and will unspool a limited summer theatrical release to qualify for Oscar consideration, with plans down the road to expand to multiple domestic markets.
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“The fact that the film is about the 30-year love relationship between two men made it a natural for a number of the gay distributors to pursue. What I think is telling is that, ultimately, the strongest and best offer came from Zeitgeist, an arthouse distributor which appeals to mainstream audiences,” Herwitz said. “I think this augurs for the crossover potential of the film.”
Zeitgeist co-prexy Nancy Gerstman said she anticipates the more obvious marketing niches — gay and lesbian, arthouse and literary — but expects mainstream auds will be drawn in by what boils down to a universal love story. Zeitgeist has scored at the B.O. with many docs, including last year’s “Into Great Silence.”