The film is available in the U.S. for a $9.99 24-hour streaming rental or $14.99 digital download at vimeo.com/ondemand/dasweetbloodofjesus.
“I’m hyped on my partnership with Vimeo to get my new joint ‘Da Sweet Blood of Jesus’ out to the world in a new way,” Lee said in a statement. “This is the future of film distribution. Please join us.”
Lee has said the movie was inspired by Bill Gunn’s “Ganja & Hess,” which screened at the 1973 Cannes Film Festival. Lee first saw “Ganja & Hess” when he attended NYU film school, where he now teaches.
The filmmaker, who co-wrote and produced “Da Sweet Blood of Jesus,” raised $1.4 million on Kickstarter for the movie — over the $1.25 million he asked for — from more than 6,400 backers. He filmed it in 16 days in the fall of 2013 in Brooklyn and Martha’s Vineyard with a cast of unknown actors.
A Spike Lee Joint, “Da Sweet Blood of Jesus” is billed as a new kind of love story that centers on an addiction to blood that once doomed a long-forgotten ancient African tribe. When Dr. Hess Green (Stephen Tyrone Williams, pictured above) is introduced to a mysteriously cursed artifact by an art curator, Lafayette Hightower (Elvis Nolasco), he is uncontrollably drawn into a newfound thirst for blood that overwhelms his soul — although he is not, technically, a vampire. Soon Lafayette’s wife, Ganja Hightower (Zaraah Abrahams), comes looking for her husband and becomes involved in a dangerous romance with Hess that questions the very nature of love, addiction, sex and status.
“Spike Lee is one of the most iconic filmmakers of our time and we couldn’t be more thrilled to work with him on this unprecedented release,” said Greg Clayman, g.m. of Vimeo Audience Networks. “We are huge fans of Spike and were drawn to the film’s independent spirit. Having built an audience and raised over a million dollars on Kickstarter, we are beyond excited to bring the film to fans directly one month ahead of the theatrical release.”
The 123-minute film was produced by Lee and producer-actor-academic Chiz Schultz, co-produced by Jason Sokoloff.
“Da Sweet Blood of Jesus” premiered at the annual American Black Film Festival in June 2014, where it was being shopped by ICM Partners for a domestic distribution. (ICM reps Spike Lee.)
Last November, Gravitas Ventures acquired North American rights to “Da Sweet Blood of Jesus,” when the distributor said it would release the film theatrically and on video-on-demand on Feb. 13, 2015.