×

Sundance grand jury prize documentary winner “The Exiles” is finally getting a release on video on demand. Gravitas Ventures will release the documentary executive produced by Chris Columbus and Steven Soderbergh on Jan. 10, almost a full year after its Sundance debut.

The documentary, directed by Violet Columbus and Ben Klein, centers on three exiled dissidents and survivors of the Tiananmen Square massacre, incorporating decades-old footage from the Chinese protests. The use of that footage, part of Christine Choy’s unfinished “Tiananmen/China Today” project, drew criticism from those involved in it following its Sundance victory.

In 1989, Choy, recently Oscar-nominated for her work on “Who Killed Vincent Chin?,” began filming the leaders of the Tiananmen Square pro-democracy protests. She reunites with the three dissidents in “The Exiles,” which interweaves Choy’s footage, shelved for 30 years, with newly shot interview segments

“Violet Columbus and Ben Klein intimately capture the passion and strength of Christine Choy and the activists she followed and display how their actions still reverberate to this day,” says Bill Guentzler, Gravitas Ventures’ senior director of acquisitions.

Columbus and Klein add, “In light of the recent protests across China, which echo the pro-Democracy Movement of 1989, our film feels especially timely, and we look forward to sharing it with audiences in the U.S. and Canada.”

After the doc’s Sundance release, members of Choy’s original filmmaking team, protested the lack of credit for them in “The Exiles.” Betty Kwong and Ted Liu now have executive producer credits for their work on the archival footage. (Renee Tajima-Peña was credited as co-producer and co-director of the archival footage in the Sundance version of “The Exiles” and the Gravitas version.)

“The Exiles” is the feature debut of Columbus, daughter of Chris Columbus, and co-director Klein. Todd Phillips, a former student of Choy’s, also appears in the documentary. In addition to Sundance, “The Exiles” was invited to screen at various film festivals throughout the world, including Full Frame Documentary, Hot Docs, the Hamptons International Film Festival, and the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA).

Prior to its VOD debut, “The Exiles” will have a limited theatrical run in San Francisco at The Roxie theater beginning Dec. 9. 

This story has been updated to correct the names of the filmmakers on the “Tiananmen/China Today” project, and further clarify the credit dispute.