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San Sebastian: Red Bull Media House Diversifies

Action sports film force plans move into non-sports movies

SAN SEBASTIAN — Red Bull Media House (RBMH), one of the major players shaping the burgeoning action sports movie scene, has set a goal of robust diversification, including movies made outside its hallmark action-sports arena.

Move comes as the highly enthusiastic San Sebastian reaction to Rush Sturges’ “Chasing Niagara,” has persuaded RBMH to invest in a Mexican-Spanish voiceover from Mexico’s Rafa Ortiz. “Chasing Niagara’s” star, big waterfall kayaker Ortiz already delivers the voiceover in “Niagara’s” English-language original which world premiered at San Sebastian Tuesday in fest’s Savage Cinema, launched in 2013 in collaboration with RBMH.

A coming of age tale of friendship structured by Ortiz’s preparations, aided by Sturges and Evan Garcia, to run the Niagara Falls, “Chasing Niagara” will make its North American premiere in October at Mexico’s Docs DF Mexico City Intl. Documentary Film Festival where its sales campaign will begin.

“Beyond Brazil, Mexico is the second most relevant market in Latin America and I hope [success there] will have a Latin American ripple effect,” Philipp Manderla, RBMH head of feature films, said at San Sebastian.

“Also, I talked to some Mexican producers here who said that Mexicans were looking for relatable hero stories. ‘Chasing Niagara’ is a documentary. But Ortiz is certainly someone many Mexicans can look up to.”

A flagship RBMH title at November’s upcoming American Film Market, along with the sequel to “The Art of Flight,” “Chasing Niagara” will receive a home entertainment release, conditional on theatrical distribution.

“We’re looking at Q2 next year, spring in the U.S. hemisphere, a good time for kayaking, customizing the release algorithm according to interest,” Manderla commented.

Sturges’ River Roots shingle produced “Chasing Niagara” for RBMH, which fully-financed and takes all rights, the same set-up as on “The Art of Flight” and its sequel, where Jackson-based Brain Farm produces for RBMH. But RBMH is ringing multiple production and distribution options, Manderla said. It can produce in-house, as on “Cerro Torre” and now “Blood Road,” which follows a U.S. mountain biker who visits Vietnam where she retraces the place where he died. It can fully-finance, taking all rights. Or co-produce, taking select rights, as on Guido Perinni’s “Degrees North,” starring free-rider snowboarder Xavier de la Rue, which also world premiered this week in San Sebastian’s Savage Cinema.

Options for the theatrical play of RBMH movies also range widely. Released Dec. 25, “Streif: One Hell of a Ride,” about Kitzbuhel’s Hahnenkamm skiing race, including the race down the Streif – billed as the Super Bowl of the winter sports world – was the most successful local movie of the year at the Austrian box office, battling it out with Ridley Scott epic “Exodus: Gods and Kings” for the No. 1 B.O. crown.

“Cerro Torre” played the Banff Mountain Film Festival and its World Tour, which amplified its theatrical reach.

The U.S. premiere of “Streif” will now take place on Nov. 3 in New York’s East Village, with U.S. Alpine ski racer Daron Rahlves, film’s director Daron Samina and Axel Naglich, Streif Race director and movie consultant, in attendance.

“What is crucial is that even though we involve ourselves with the production, we make a great effort to enhance the individuality of each project. We’ve found a level of engagement that allows us to give each film its space and place, but allows us to attach ourselves to more content,” Manderla said.

Now RBMH wants to broaden its gamut all the more.

“We’re a strong force in the action sports market but I think our ambition goes much further. So the approach is two-fold. On the one hand, we want to involve ourselves in projects that transcend this, and make sure the projects are interesting to people outside of their respective discipline, working with the most creative and best productions we find or develop ourselves,” Manderla said.

The second trajectory, however, is diversification. “You will see films coming out of Red Bull Media House that aren’t about action sports, or sports for that matter,” he added.

Per Manderla, RBMH is “already in development and consideration of various non-sports features.” Watch this slot.

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