×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Outsider Pictures Prepares U.S. Release for Dominican Republic Oscar Entry ‘Woodpeckers’ (EXCLUSIVE)

The prison drama-thriller and festival favorite snags submission for this year’s Academy Awards foreign-language film category, readies for U.S. release

Paul Hudson’s Outsider Pictures has acquired U.S. rights to José María Cabral’s “Woodpeckers,” which was chosen this week as the Dominican Republic’s candidate for the foreign-language category at the 90th Academy Awards.

The deal was inked between Hudson and Film Factory founder Vicente Canales way before the Academy Award entry choice. Outsider Pictures will now release the film in American theaters starting Sept. 15 at the AMC Empire in New York and then expand the film across the country, including Miami, San Diego, Chicago as well as touring the main male lead Jean Jean across the U.S., Hudson said.

AZ Films has acquired distribution rights to Canada.

Unveiling “WoodPeckers” as its choice, the Dominican Republic looks like the first Latin American country to announce its foreign-language submission. It has chosen a title which always liked like one of its frontrunners.

A buzzed-up title at Ventana Sur’s Primer Corte, where Film Factory Ent. swooped on world sales rights, winning out in a bidding war, “Woodpeckers” world premiered at January’s Sundance Festival, then

cleaned up at Mexico’s Guadalajara Festival, where it won jury and actor prizes. The film has been making the international festival rounds, screening at Seattle, Miami, IFF Panama, Toulouse Latino Film Festival, Lima, New York Havana Film Festival, Off Camera Polonia, Red Carpet in Lefko Greece, Trinidad Tobago and Santander Colombia.

Originally financed with help from incentives resulting from new film laws instituted in the Dominican Republic in 2011. The Dominican Film Commission, the body responsible for selecting its country’s Academy Awards submissions, wasted no time in getting on board the bandwagon created by the initial international success of “Woodpeckers.”

“Woodpeckers” traces its beginnings to the nine months that Cabral spent visiting the Dominican Republic’s Najayo penitentiary, where he first learned about the unique system of communication used between the inmates at the men’s and women’s facilities. The groups were separated by 150 meters, but through the use of sign-language formed intense, and often intimate, bonds.

In the film Julian, the newest male prisoner, and Yanelly, one of the most respected and feared female prisoners, are both incarcerated and “meet” from across the gap between facilities.

“Jose Maria Cabral’s ‘Woodpeckers’ sets a fictional love story against the real-life back drop of prison life in the Dominican Republic,” said Hudson.

He added: “It introduces us to ‘woodpecking’, the unique sign language that the male and female prisoners have developed to communicate with each other from their respective prisons. It is a truly original film.”

The film is part thriller, part love story and a sometimes brutally detailed account of life in a Dominican prison. In a YouTube video where he discusses the film and its inspirations, Cabral talks to current inmates, and revisits the very window where much of “Woodpeckers” takes place, and where similar stories continue to take place today.

Outsider releases six to eight films a year and has built its distribution and world sales slate through acquisitions, sometimes attaching to products as early as pre-production.

John Hopewell contributed to this article

More Film

  • Dami Im and Bong Joon-Ho'Parasite' premiere,

    ‘Parasite’ Wins Sydney Film Festival

    “Parasite,” the South Korean black drama that previously won the Palme d’Or at Cannes, was Sunday named as the winner of the Sydney Film Festival. After collecting a cash prize of A$60,000 ($41,200), at Sydney’s State Theatre, “Parasite” director said: “This Festival is really amazing, especially the audience…really special and extraordinary. This is the most [...]

  • China Film Group's Jiang Ping

    Shanghai: China Studio Chiefs Debate Winter Chills and U.S. Rivalry

    The Shanghai International Film Festival pulled off the impressive feat of assembling leading executives from seven of China’s top film studios. Their discussion focused on the problems that have recently beset the production sector and the industry’s relationship with Hollywood. “The film industry achieved great things in 2018, but it was also the year that [...]

  • Chinese President Xi Jinping claps while

    Propaganda Films to Dominate Chinese Theaters in Anniversary Year

    A presentation at the Shanghai International Film Festival on Sunday shed light on the welter of propaganda films that will compete with Hollywood blockbusters for the attention of Chinese cinema goers in the second half of this year. This year is laden with political significance for China’s ruling Communist Party. It is 100 years since [...]

  • Leung Chiu-wai

    Tony Leung to Star in Shanghai Film Group's 'Fox Hunt' Police Action Film

    Hong Kong’s Tony Leung Chiu-wai and mainland China’s Duan Yihong will head the cast of the Shanghai Film Group’s upcoming “Fox Hunt.” The film is based on real live events and depicts the activities of Operation Fox Hunt, a worldwide anti-corruption initiative managed by China’s Ministry of Public Security. The operation seeks to find and [...]

  • Wings Over Everest

    Terence Chang's 'Wings Over Everest' Set to Swell China's Rescue Film Genre

    “Wings over Everest,” a new action adventure film from veteran producer Terence Chang and “Wolf Warrior 2” producer Lu Jianmin, is poised to join the burgeoning Chinese sub-genre of rescue movies.   The Chinese- and English-language film stars Chinese actress Zhang Jingchu (“Project Gutenberg”; “Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation”), Japanese actor Koji Yakusho (“Babel”; “Memoirs of a [...]

  • The Eight Hundred (The 800)

    China Film Marketing Firms Must Adapt To Internet Age, Says Huayi's Jerry Ye

    Huayi Brothers Pictures CEO and media group VP Jerry Ye made no mention Sunday of the abrupt cancellation of the premiere for his firm’s highly anticipated war epic “The Eight Hundred,” which was set to be the Shanghai Intl. Film Festival’s opening film the night before. Instead, he looked to the future at a panel [...]

  • The Meg

    Chinese Script Development Requires A Different Touch, Top Producers Say

    Leading film producers highlighted the challenges of developing good scripts in China and abroad at a panel during the Shanghai International Film Festival on Sunday. Wanda Media GM Jiang Wei (aka Wayne Jiang) recommended that producers remain aware of the real differences between the scriptwriting process for Chinese productions versus international and co-productions. The fundamental [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content