Magnolia Pictures has acquired “The Brink,” a fly-on-the-wall documentary about Steve Bannon, the controversial advisor to President Donald Trump. The film follows Bannon as he tries to export his fiery brands of populism and nationalism beyond the borders of the United States.
“The Brink” is directed by Alison Klayman, a filmmaker best known for “Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry,” a 2012 look at the Chinese artist and activist. The sale was announced prior to “The Brink’s” debut at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.
Klayman was able to get what is being billed as “unprecedented access” to the conservative activist and former Breitbart head. In press materials, the studio said that the film “employs a vérité approach that aims to expose Bannon’s tactics, including his relationship with the media.” Magnolia plans to release the film theatrically this spring.
Last year, Bannon was the subject of “American Dharma,” a documentary by Errol Morris that was criticized by some for treating the political advisor too kindly. “American Dharma” was structured as a lengthy sit-down interview. “The Brink” promises to be something different.
It follows Bannon as he leaves his position at the White House less than a week after the Charlottesville “Unite the Right” rally in August 2017. It tracks his moves through the 2018 mid-term elections that ushered in Democratic control of Congress in an apparent rejection of many of the positions that Bannon and Trump espoused. The film also looks at Bannon’s moves overseas, particularly his efforts to mobilize and unify far-right parties in order to win seats in the May 2019 European Parliamentary elections.
“There were a lot of risks and challenges to doing a vérité film like this, and Marie Therese and I could not have felt more supported by our partners Magnolia Pictures and RYOT Films,” said Klayman. “We brought this project to Magnolia as merely an idea and they always understood the film. I feel lucky as a director to have the opportunity to work with them.”
The Brink” was co-financed with RYOT Films. It was produced by Marie Therese Guirgis and Klayman. Executive producers are Adam Bardach, Hayley Pappas, Bryn Mooser, and Matt Ippolito.
Magnolia has had a lot of success in the non-fiction space. The indie studio recently released “RBG,” a look at Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, and “I Am Not Your Negro,” a portrait of writer James Baldwin. Both films were box office successes.
“Alison Klayman and producer Marie Therese Guirgis have pulled off an amazing achievement, going behind the scenes of a historic political and cultural moment and capturing it with both true artistry and import,” said Magnolia President Eamonn Bowles. “‘The Brink’ must be seen by all who care about the dynamics of where our world is heading.”
The deal was negotiated by Magnolia EVP Dori Begley and Magnolia SVP of Acquisitions John Von Thaden with RYOT Films COO Matt Ippolito and the filmmakers. Magnolia Head of International Sales Lorna Lee Torres and Manager of International Sales Catalina Ramirez will be launching the film at EFM this year.