New York-based independent distributor Cinema Guild has snapped up North American rights to “The Wandering Soap Opera (“La Telenovela Errante”) by the late Chilean filmmaker, Raul Ruiz. The film screens at Guadalajara (FICG) where Chile is the country guest of honor.
The company has also acquired U.S. distribution rights to topical documentary “I’m Leaving Now” (“Ya Me Voy”) by New York-based Mexican filmmakers Armando Croda and Lindsey Cordero.
“Wandering Soap Opera” debuted at Switzerland’s Locarno Festival and had its U.S. premiere at the Film Society of Lincoln Center, which held a retrospective of Ruiz’s work last year. It will open at the Anthology Film Archives on May 17 before expanding to theaters across the U.S.
“The opportunity to distribute another film by Raúl Ruiz is an unexpected gift and an opportunity we couldn’t pass up,” said Peter Kelly, distribution head of Cinema Guild, which previously released Ruiz’s “Night Across the Street.”
“‘The Wandering Soap Opera’ is free-wheeling and funny, a must-see for cinephiles everywhere,” added Kelly who negotiated the deal with Bruno Bettati of Jirafa Films.
Ruiz shot his sendup of telenovelas in 1990 but died in 2011 without finishing it. His wife, Valeria Sarmiento, completed it in 2017. Shot in 16mm and described as “a dreamily interconnected series of vignettes that spoof on telenovela conventions,” the film reflects Ruiz ‘s sentiments upon returning to his native Chile after a 15-year absence. For Ruiz, the telenovela was the ideal prism through which to understand Chile in the aftermath of Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship.
Written by Josh Alexander, “I’m Leaving Now” also deals with the theme of returning immigrants. Docu revolves around Felipe, an undocumented Mexican immigrant who after living in Brooklyn for nearly two decades, faces the challenge of going home to a family and a country that he barely knows.
When he tells his family of his plans to return, he finds out that all his hard-earned remittances to them have been squandered. His family, deeply in debt, ask him to stay on and keep sending them money.
“We hear so much about immigration issues these days, but we don’t know enough about the lives of the people who are affected,” said Kelly. “Lindsey, Armando and Josh have given us the opportunity to know a little more with this tremendously important and beautiful work.”
Set to open later this year in the U.S., “I’m Leaving Now” had its world premiere at the Hot Docs International Documentary Festival and was an official selection of DOC NYC in November. It won a Jury Special Mention from the Morelia Int’l Film Festival and a Grand Jury Award for Best Documentary at DocsMX.
Cinema Guild’s recent releases include the Oscar-nominated “Hale County This Morning, This Evening,” Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s “The Wild Pear Tree,” Hong Sangsoo’s “Hotel by the River” and Jim McKay’s “En el Séptimo Día.”