It marks the second Sundance acquisition for The Orchard — the indie studio partnered with MoviePass for rights to “American Animals,” a heist thriller with Evan Peters and Barry Keoghan. The Orchard was also in the mix for “Leave No Trace” and “Blindspotting,” but other studios ultimately landed the rights to those Sundance films.
“We the Animals” won the NEXT Innovator Award at Sundance in a tie with “Night Comes On.” The film focuses on three boys growing up in rural New York. Their young parents have a stormy love affair that tears their family apart and reconstitutes it over the course of the film. Two of the boys grow into versions of their erratic but kindly father, but the youngest son, Jonah, is more sensitive and artistic in temperament, and forms a closer bond with his mother.
“We the Animals” was adapted by Dan Kitrosser and Jeremiah Zagar from Justin Torres’ debut novel of the same name. Critics hailed the sensitive direction of Zagar, as well as the performances of actors Evan Rosado, Isaiah Kristian and Josiah Gabriel, all of whom were first-time performers. IndieWire’s Eric Kohn compared it favorably to “Moonlight,” writing that it “…evokes a growing awareness of being ostracized in an indifferent life, until the ecstatic potential for a new stage finally lands.”
“With ‘We the Animals,’ Jeremiah has masterfully created a dream-like backdrop for a story of personal identity and family,” Paul Davidson, the Orchard’s EVP for film and TV, said in a statement. “It is a captivating, magnetic film that deserves to be seen in theaters and we are proud to be a part of making that happen.”
“It’s always been my dream to get this movie out in theaters as widely as possible, and I’m thrilled to work with The Orchard to make that happen. I think they’re the perfect partner for this film,” Zagar said.
The cast also includes Raúl Castillo and Sheila Vand.
The deal was negotiated by Danielle DiGiacomo, VP of Acquisitions for the Orchard, and Eric Sloss of Cinetic Media. “We the Animals” was financed by Cinereach and produced by Cinereach and Public Record.