The Blitz Films production marks Georgian-born director Nick Sarkisov’s English-language film debut. David McKenna, whose credits include “Blow” and “American History X,” wrote the script.
Dorff plays a man who channels his aggression into becoming a major champion in the cage-fighting sport but when his second son is born with Williams Syndrome, an incurable developmental disorder, he runs away from his family. McKenna’s own 15-year-old son Colin, who was born with Williams Syndrome, portrays the boy. When his elder son, played by Darren Mann, decides to follow his father’s footsteps into the fight game, a media firestorm results in the father and son facing each other in a battle that neither can truly win.
The cast also includes Karrueche Tran, Elizabeth Reaser, Donald Faison, Drew Starkey, Ava Capri, Saïd Taghmaoui, as well as real life UFC fighters Tyron Woodley, Cowboy Cerrone, Eryk Anders, and former UFC fighter Kenny Florian.
“Director Nick Sarkisov and writer David McKenna have made an ambitious and tender film about the pain that can be passed across generations,” Arianna Bocco, executive VP of acquisitions and productions of IFC Films said. “‘Embattled’ is a potent piece of work, fueled by powerful performances from Stephen Dorff and Darren Mann, and just the type of rich and textured filmmaking that we support.”
The price was in the low seven figures and there were several bids.
Eryl Cochran, Scott LaStaiti and Sergey Sarkisov produced the film and Dorff, Nick Sarkisov, Frank Ragen, Colleen Camp, and Rhys Coiro served as executive producers. The deal for the film was negotiated by Bocco and IFC’s Aijah Keith with CAA Media Finance on behalf of the filmmakers.