“Minyan,” an acclaimed tale of sexual and spiritual identity directed by Eric Steel, has sold to Strand Releasing in North America.
The film, starring stage breakout Samuel H. Levine of Broadway and the West End’s “The Inheritance,” played in the official selection at last year’s Berlin International Film Festival and went on to win Outfest’s grand jury prize for U.S. narrative feature.
In Judaism, a minyan refers to the minimum amount of celebrants required for certain religious traditions. Set in 1980s Brighton Beach, the film follows a young Russian Jewish immigrant who is caught up in the tight constraints of his community. He develops a close friendship with his grandfather’s new neighbors — two elderly closeted gay men who open his imagination to the possibilities of love and the realities of loss. In the East Village, he finds a world teeming with the energy of youth, desire and risk amid the height of the AIDS pandemic.
The sale was brokered by Strand’s Jon Gerrans and ICM Partners on behalf of the filmmakers.
“We’re thrilled to be working with Eric. His directorial debut, ‘The Bridge,’ left an indelible mark in my mind of his filmmaking skills, and ‘Minyan,’ his narrative feature is truly a touching recollection of a harrowing period during the AIDS crisis and told with honesty and poignancy,” said Hu.
Strand is aiming for a fall 2021 theatrical release. AgX and Easy There Tiger served as production houses. Luca Borghese, Ben Howe, Eric Steel and Luigi Caiola are producers. Anne Carey and Johnny Belkin-Holland executive produced.
Levine, who stars along Ron Rifkin, made his name in Matthew Lopez’s “The Inheritance” under the direction of Stephen Daldry. He will also appear in the upcoming “Red, White and Water” opposite Jennifer Lawrence and Samira Wiley for director Lila Neugebauer.
Rifkin’s lengthy and esteemed career includes performances in “Silent Running,” “L.A. Confidential,” the series “Alias” and “Brothers & Sisters,” up to the recent buzzy short “Daddy,” directed by Christian Coppola. He is a Tony winner for the 1998 Broadway revival of “Cabaret.”
“It is a profound honor to be working with Marcus, Jon and their team — and still hard to believe that I can now say I am a Strand filmmaker. I’m 56 — no longer a young man — and I’ve worked in the movie business pretty much since the day I graduated from college. I took a winding path to make my first feature, and Strand has been a beacon to me the entire way as a visionary distributor of superb, sublime independent film and especially supportive of queer filmmakers,” Steel said. “So much so that their logo is etched in my memory from watching their films over and over — ‘Wild Reeds,’ ‘The Living End,’ ‘Love is the Devil,’ and ‘Stranger by the Lake to name just a few.”
Based on the short story by David Bezmozgis, the screenplay was written by Steel and Daniel Pearle. Visit Films is handling international sales on the film.
Strand Releasing is based in Culver City and run by co-presidents Hu and Joe Gerrans. Recent releases include “Monsoon” by Hong Khaou, starring Henry Golding, and the documentary “My Rembrandt.” They’ll next release Bassam Tariq’s “Mogul Mowgli” starring Riz Ahmed.