Mini-studio, Level Forward has acquired North American virtual theatrical rights and impact distribution privileges for “I’ll Meet You There,” a portrait of three generations of a Muslim-American family. The company will roll out the film from Feb. 3, 2021.
The film was one of ten chosen from 1,305 submissions for SXSW’s narrative feature competition earlier this year before the spread of the coronavirus pandemic forced the festival’s cancelation.
It was directed by Pakistani-American filmmaker Iram Parveen Bilal, who made her feature debut with the acclaimed “Josh” that played the international festival circuit in 2013.
“I’ll Meet You There” follows Majeed, a Chicago policeman, and his teenage daughter Dua, a gifted ballerina, who are unexpectedly visited by Baba, Majeed’s long-estranged father from Pakistan. Majeed is given a career-making opportunity that he can’t turn down, but it requires him to use his father’s help to gain access to the local mosque, while Dua, under Baba’s guidance, begins to question her passion for dance.
The cast includes Faran Tahir (“Iron Man”), Nikita Tewani, Muhammad Qavi Khan, Sheetal Sheth (“Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World”), Shawn Parsons (“Palomino & Swissy”), Andrea Cirie, Nitin Madan (“Brown Nation”), Michael Pemberton, Samrat Chakrabarti (“The Sinner”) and Rachit Trehan.
Launched in 2018, Level Forward develops, produces and finances creative works across stage and screen. It has previously been involved with Kitty Green’s “The Assistant,” Heidi Schreck’s Amazon series “What The Constitution Means To Me,” and “Jagged Little Pill” on Broadway.
The film will open through Level Forward’s Labz Live platform and in partnership with Screen Forward’s network of theaters including founding partners Sie Film Center in Denver, Colorado, Loft Cinema in Tucson, Arizona, Montclair Film in Montclair, New Jersey and Jacob Burns Film Center in Pleasantville, New York. Participating cinemas will be announced in January.
The impact distribution will be in the form of theme-driven, live digital experiences, presented by Level Forward and the Organization of Pakistani Entrepreneurs.
In 2017, President Trump issued an executive order banning people from a few Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S., leading to protests. These acted as a catalyst for a successful crowdfunding campaign for “I’ll Meet You There.” President-Elect Biden is expected to reverse the executive order imminently.
“As storytellers coming from systemically underrepresented communities, we often feel unseen and unheard all the way from financing to distribution, publicity and even in the critics and reviewers world,” said Bilal. “We are relegated to only stay within our communities with the false perception that our stories don’t matter beyond. Here is a company that lives and breathes inclusion and refreshingly, matches its actions to its words. It is our honor to bow to the world alongside Level Forward and we are excited to engage with the audiences that we always knew existed. It was just a matter of (finding) a champion to have faith in our vision and build with us. Indeed, if you build it, they will come.”