The Exchange has acquired international sales rights to the documentary “Gleason” and will launch sales at Cannes, Variety has learned exclusively.
“Gleason” centers on former NFL player Steve Gleason, who revealed in 2011 that he had been diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. The disclosure came five years after Gleason had memorably blocked a punt on the night the Louisiana Superdome reopened for the first time after Hurricane Katrina.
“Gleason” premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and won the festival audience award in March at SXSW. Amazon Studios acquired the U.S. theatrical rights as well as TVOD and SVOD rights at Sundance and plans to release the documentary theatrically in the U.S. via Open Road this summer.
“Gleason” is written, directed and edited by Clay Tweel and produced by Seth Gordon, Kimi Culp, Scott Fujita, Tom Lavia, Kevin Lake, Mary Rohlich and Thomas McEachin. Mark Shapiro and Will Staeger are executive producers.
The film was financed by IMG Films, a division of the sports agency, along with a large group of donors/supporters surrounding Team Gleason, including executive producer Paul Varisco and New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees. Microsoft and Go Pro also supported the project.
“‘Gleason’ is an emotional, honest, powerful and inspiring look at life, love and parenthood,” said Brian O’Shea of The Exchange. “It is with great pride that we bring such a high quality film that also has a meaningful U.S. theatrical release to our buyers in Cannes.”
The films includes footage shot over four years of Gleason’s post-diagnosis activities, which include becoming a father, skydiving, speaking at the United Nations, attending the State of the Union Address, founding an ALS research project and launching the organization Team Gleason, which has a mission to improve the lives of those who have ALS, the symptoms of which include gradual paralysis.