WarnerMedia OneFifty, WarnerMedia’s content innovation hub, has snagged the U.S. rights to the winner of the Sundance Film Festival Alfred P. Sloan prize, “Son of Monarchs,” for HBO Max where it will start streaming this fall.
The semi-autobiographical film by biologist-filmmaker Alexis Gambis stars Tenoch Huerta (“Narcos: Mexico”), who is playing a villain in the upcoming “Black Panther” sequel. Here he plays Mendel, a Mexican biologist working at a lab in New York who is called back home for his grandmother’s funeral in his hometown of Angangue, a butterfly forest town set near the stunning Monarch butterfly reserves of Michoacan, Mexico. Once back home, he embarks on a personal journey where he faces the traumas of his past and his own mixed identity.
“This film exemplifies what WarnerMedia OneFifty is all about: It is a powerful, unique, and bold vision from a talented creative team and an innovative filmmaker that perfectly juxtaposes, art, science and culture,” said Axel Caballero, VP, WarnerMedia, artistic and cultural innovations, and head of WarnerMedia OneFifty, adding: “A film that so beautifully presents an allegory of identity, immigration and environmentalism through the visuals of the amazing monarch butterflies is exactly what OneFifty content brings to HBO Max.”
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OneFifty unveils the official poster in Variety.
“I am thrilled that our Monarch/human tale has found a home with OneFifty and HBO Max, who understand the necessity to tell hybrid, cross-cultural stories, and support bold storytelling as a means to elevate and give voices to all species,” said Gambis, who is French-Venezuelan.
“Son of Monarchs” held its Mexican premiere at the Michoacan region’s prestigious Morelia Int’l Film Festival in 2020 prior to its participation in Sundance’s NEXT sidebar this year. Since then, the film has screened at dozens of festivals, including SFFILM, Atlanta, and Milwaukee, winning a Grand Jury Prize in the New American Cinema Competition at the Seattle International Film Festival.
Abraham Dayan and Maria Altamirano produced the film. The deal was negotiated by Leslie Cohen, HBO/HBO Max SVP of content acquisitions and Andrew Herwitz, president of The Film Sales Company, which bears the U.S. rights, on behalf of the filmmakers.
WIDE Management holds the international sales rights to “Son of Monarchs” and will present it at Cannes’ Marché du Film where its market screening is scheduled for July 10.
News comes just a few weeks before this year’s NALIP Media Summit where “Son of Monarchs” will be showcased. OneFifty is a long-standing partner of NALIP, an organization committed to showcasing multicultural stories and supporting Latinx creatives.
Gambis is working on his next feature “The Next Jaguar,” an Ecuador-U.S. production that plans to start production next year. The story is about an indigenous family who summons an evolutionary biologist to revive the last Jaguar shaman, keeper of the ancient traditions of the Ecuadorian Amazon.
“‘The Next Jaguar’ puts a spotlight on the environmental resistance movements, notably those led by indigenous people, who are speaking up about their threatened livelihood and traditions,” said Gambis. “Indigenous teaching and rituals provide us with a prism through which we see the fragility of our planet,” he added.
Gambis has also been in Madrid to conduct some research and shoot a few clips for another project, “El Beso” (“The Kiss”), about Spanish neuroscientist and science fiction writer Santiago Ramon y Cajal, the first Spanish scientist to receive a Nobel Prize.