Sundance title “Captains of Zaatari” has sold into Utopia for the U.S., where it will get a theatrical release this fall.
London-based sales agent Dogwoof secured the movie with Robert Schwartzman and Cole Harper’s fledgling distributor Utopia, which is planning a day-and-date release in cinemas on Nov. 19 in New York and Los Angeles, alongside a premiere on Apple TV and Altavod.
Directed and produced by Ali El Arabi from Egypt, the film follows two best friends, Mahmoud and Fawzi, living in the Zaatari Refugee Camp in Jordan, who dream of becoming professional soccer players. Despite being confined under challenging conditions, they remain hopeful and practice day in and day out. When a world-renowned sports academy visits, both have a chance to turn their dream into a reality.
The film, which world premiered in competition at Sundance in January, has also sold into Sherry Media (Canada), Trigon (Switzerland) and Movistar (Spain).
The pic was co-produced by Aya Dowara, Amjad Abu Alala and Michael Henrichs; with consulting producers Daniel J. Chalfen and Mark Lotfy. Support was provided from the Beirut DC Madar Fund, CineGouna Platform, FinalCut Venice, IEFTA, Malmo Arab Film Festival, Medimed and the Tribeca Film Institute.
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“‘Captains of Zaatari’ is a film that pulls off what all great nonfiction cinema aspires to — connecting viewers to the emotional stakes of the universal coming-of-age experience. Utopia is honored to partner with the talented filmmaking team to get it onto screens across the U.S.,” says Danielle DiGiacomo, head of content at Utopia.
Elsewhere, Sundance title “Sabaya” from director Hogir Hirori (“The Deminer”), has also secured a raft of international sales. The pic, which won the World Documentary Directing Award at Sundance, sold to Studio Hamburg (Germany), SND (France), and Dalton (Benelux).
MTV acquired the title following its world premiere in Park City and will schedule a qualifying theatrical release in North America from July 14. Dogwoof will release theatrically in the U.K. and Ireland on Aug. 10 and Swedish distributor Folkets Bio is planning a release in late 2021.
“Sabaya” was produced by Antonio Russo Merenda and Hogir Hirori for Lolav Media and Ginestra Film. It is co-produced by SVT with the support from The Swedish Film Institute, the Nordisk Film & TV Fond & Film Stockholm/Filmbasen, in association with YLE and VGTV.
“Sabaya” follows Mahmud, Ziyad and their group of fellow Yazidis who, with just a mobile phone and a gun, risk their lives trying to save Yazidi women and girls being held by ISIS as Sabaya (abducted sex slaves) in the most dangerous camp in the Middle East, Al-Hol in Syria.