×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Toronto: Neon Lands Documentary ‘The Biggest Little Farm’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Neon has harvested John Chester’s crowd-pleasing critical hit “The Biggest Little Farm,” a documentary feature following the director and his wife, Molly, as they attempt to develop a sustainable farm by reawakening the ecosystem on 200 acres just an hour north of Los Angeles.

After what some close to the film described as “insane competition” — with seller UTA Independent Film Group fielding multiple offers from studios, mini-majors, and streamers shortly after the film’s world premiere at Telluride — the $2-million deal for North America was reached last night at the Toronto International Film Festival, where the film had its international premiere Friday.

Finding a strong domestic theatrical partner for the film, which Variety’s Peter Debruge dubbed “fresh air for the soul,” was the filmmakers’ goal. Neon plans a major U.S. theatrical release in 2019, screenings at major festivals, and a robust marketing campaign and P&A support.

“Making this film has been an eight-year labor of love, and it was very important for us to find a theatrical partner that believed in it as much as we do,” said director John Chester, a veteran TV doc cinematographer. “Neon is approaching the distribution of this film with the same innovative and bold vision with which we built the farm. We could not be more excited to partner with them to share our film with the world.”

Neon’s Tom Quinn was behind the release of breakout docs such as Oscar-winners “Man on Wire” while at Magnolia and “Twenty Feet From Stardom” and “Citizenfour” while at Radius, and, since joining Neon, the $12-million grossing “Three Identical Strangers.”

“Biggest Little Farm” chronicles eight years of daunting work and outsized idealism as John and Molly Chester attempt to create the utopia they seek, planting 10,000 orchard trees, over 200 different crops, and bringing in animals of every kind. The pair’s attempt to create perfect harmony takes a series of wild turns but they come to realize that to survive they will have to reach a deeper understanding of the intricacies of nature and life.

The film was directed, produced, and written by Chester, who co-wrote it with Mark Monroe (“Icarus”)’ produced by FarmLore Films and Sandra Keats (“Eating Animals”). The executive producers are Laurie David (“An Inconvenient Truth”) and Erica Messer. Amy Overbeck edited the film, with Jeff Beal writing the original score.

The domestic deal was negotiated by Neon with UTA Independent Film Group on behalf of the filmmakers. Neon has been very active at this year’s Toronto, buying “Vox Lux” and “Wild Rose,” two buzzy dramas that premiered to strong reviews.

VARIETY PORTRAIT STUDIO AT TIFF

More Film

  • Lisa Borders Time's Up

    Time's Up President Lisa Borders Resigns

    Lisa Borders has resigned as president of Time’s Up, she and the organization announced on Monday. Borders is resigning due to family issues, she said in a statement. Time’s Up COO Rebecca Goldman will now serve as interim CEO. “As Time’s Up continues to grow, I am proud of the work I have done to [...]

  • Keira Knightly as "Rachael Morgan" in

    Film Review: Keira Knightley in 'The Aftermath'

    Less widely seen (and acclaimed) than it deserved to be, James Kent’s debut feature “Testament of Youth” was one of the great recent love-in-wartime dramas, translating the intimate romance and sprawling human tragedy of Vera Brittain’s WWI memoir with a grace and heft worthy of its David Lean allusions. Four years on, it’s not hard [...]

  • Inside Amazon's New Feature Film Strategy

    Amazon's New Film Strategy: Straight-to-Service Titles and Starry Sundance Buys

    It was close to midnight when Amazon Studios chief Jennifer Salke got the text. The company had failed in its quest to acquire “Brittany Runs a Marathon,” a body image dramedy that captivated Salke when she saw it at Sundance. A sales agent on the project messaged her to say that a competitor offered a [...]

  • Alfonso Cuaron71st Annual Writers Guild Awards,

    Alfonso Cuarón on Academy's 'Inevitable' Reversal on Televised Oscar Categories

    Alfonso Cuarón isn’t exactly surprised that the Academy reversed its decision and will now air all the Oscar categories during the live show on Sunday. Feb. 24. Calling the decision “inevitable,”Cuarón tells Variety that he thinks the Academy should take things even further. “Let’s stop calling them technical categories!” he told Variety on Sunday night [...]

  • TorinoFilmLab Announces Selections for 2019 ScriptLab

    TorinoFilmLab Announces Selections for 2019 ScriptLab (EXCLUSIVE)

    The TorinoFilmLab has announced the 20 feature projects and five story editor trainees who have been selected to take part in the 2019 edition of ScriptLab, an initiative focused on the development of fiction feature film scripts in early development stage. Beginning in March, this year’s participants will team up with filmmakers from around the [...]

  • Alita Battle Angel

    North American Box Office Declines From Last Year With Weak Presidents Day Weekend

    “Alita: Battle Angel” easily won a tepid Presidents Day weekend with a $34.2 million at 3,790 North American locations, estimates showed Monday. Overall domestic moviegoing for 2019 has plunged 22.1% to $1.24 billion as of Monday, according to Comscore. That’s $350 million below the same date a year ago and the lowest figure at this [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content