LONDON — WestEnd Films has closed a raft of deals on the documentary about ballet star Sergei Polunin “Dancer,” directed by Academy Award nominee Steven Cantor and produced by another Oscar nominee, Gabrielle Tana (“Philomena”).
Rights on the film have gone to Universum (Germany), TF1 Video (France), Teodora (Italy), Smile (Scandinavia), Karma (Spain), Praesens (Switzerland), Vendetta (Australia and New Zealand), PNW (Canada), Uplink (Japan), At9 (Korea), DDDream (China), Edko (Hong Kong) and United King (Israel), in addition to the U.S. rights deal signed with IFC/Sundance Selects announced recently.
“Dancer” offers “an immersive personal portrait” of Polunin, the youngest principal dancer ever at the British Royal Ballet. The film includes the exclusive clip “Take Me to Church,” directed by David LaChapelle, which reached over 14 million views. “Dancer” itself is directed by Cantor, who was Oscar nominated with Peter Spirer in 1993 in the documentary (short subject) category for “Blood Ties: The Life and Work of Sally Mann.”
Blessed with great power and poise, Polunin took the dance world by storm and became the Royal Ballet’s youngest ever principal. At the peak of his success, aged 25, he walked away, driven to the brink of self-destruction by stardom — his talent more a burden than a gift. The film looks into the life of the complex young man who made ballet go viral. “Urban rebel, iconoclast, airborne angel, Sergei is transforming the shape of ballet as we know it,” WestEnd said.
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“Dancer,” in post-production, is produced by Tana (“Philomena,” “On the Ropes”). Christine Langan from BBC Films, Carolyn Marks Blackwood from Magnolia Mae Films, and Henry Normal and Steve Coogan from Baby Cow are executive producing. WestEnd is handling world sales and is attending next week’s MipTV.