The sale comes on the eve of the doc’s world premiere at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. The film was made by Shaul Schwarz and Christina Clusiau, and produced by Lauren Haber and Julia Nottingham of Pulse Films.
The Orchard will handle North American rights, except for broadcast, which go to CNN. An unnamed studio is closing in on international rights to the film, which the producers describe as “a startling exploration” of how the relationship between hunters and conservationists is evolving.
“Trophy” is entered in the U.S. Documentary Competition at Sundance. The Orchard said it plans to release the film later this year on a minimum of 150 screens.
The movie focuses on endangered African species like elephants, rhinos, and lions that are growing ever closer to extinction. “Their devastating decline is fueled in part by a global desire to consume these majestic animals,” the film notes say.
The filmmakers call “Trophy” an investigation of “powerhouse industries” — including not just big-game hunting, but breeding and wildlife conservation within that rubric. “Through the eyes of impassioned individuals who drive these industries — from a Texas-based trophy hunter to the world’s largest private rhino breeder in South Africa — the film grapples with the consequences of imposing economic value on animals,” the announcement of the sale says.
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The film grapples with provocative questions, such as: What are the implications of treating animals as commodities? Do breeding, farming, and hunting offer some of the few remaining options to conserve our endangered animals? It predicts that “Trophy” “will leave viewers debating what is right, what is wrong, and what is necessary in order to save the great species of the world.”
The deal was negotiated on behalf of The Orchard by Danielle DiGiacomo, VP of Acquisitions, and for CNN Films by Stacey Wolf, vice president for business affairs, and Courtney Sexton, vice president for content development for CNN Films. It was negotiated on behalf of the filmmakers by Josh Braun and Ben Braun of Submarine, UTA Independent Film Group and Anita Surendran of Gray Krauss Stratford Sandler Des Rochers LLP. Shaul Schwarz and Christina Clusiau are represented by UTA.