Gravitas Ventures has secured North American rights to Julian Rubinstein’s “The Holly,” a documentary about the high-profile shooting case of anti-gang activist Terrance Roberts. The film, which debuted at Telluride’s Mountainfilm Festival in May, is executive produced by Adam McKay and Todd Schulman’s Hyperobject Industries. Gravitas will release the docu in three theaters and on-demand on Feb. 3.
Filmed over an eight-year period in Denver’s historic Holly neighborhood, the docu centers around activist, former gang member, and current Denver mayoral candidate Terrance Roberts. When the doc starts, Roberts — whose anti-gang efforts received federal funding — is facing life in prison for shooting someone at his own peace rally. The shooting happened in the Holly neighborhood, which was once the center of Denver’s Civil Rights movement. The neighborhood eventually became the home of Denver’s first Bloods street gang and a target of undercover police operations. In the doc, Roberts’s shooting case offers a window into the political machinations of urban development and the city’s gang activity.
“Gravitas is proud to be bringing ‘The Holly’ to theaters and into homes this upcoming February,” says Bill Guentzler, Gravitas Ventures’ senior director of acquisitions. “Even though the film is set in Denver, we believe the story will resonate nationwide and we know it will further dialogue in order to enact social change.”
In addition to garnering audience choice awards at the Mountainfilm Festival and the Denver Film Festival earlier this year, “The Holly” also won the jury award for best documentary at the Santa Fe Intl. Film Fest in October.
Rubinstein made the docu while working on his 2021 book, “The Holly: Five Bullets, One Gun and the Struggle to Save an American Neighborhood.”
“I began filming because, as I was reporting the book, I ended up feeling like I was standing in the middle of a crime in progress,” says Rubinstein, who grew up in Denver and moved back to the city to document Robert’s story. “This is a film about how power functions in America and how the beneficiaries of gentrification also benefit from street violence.”
Executive producer Damon Davis (“Whose Streets”) says the doc “highlights the risks of being a community activist and the backlash you can receive from multiple sides.”
McKay and Schulman joined the project in April, shortly before the doc debuted. Most recently, Hyperobject Industries exec produced the Hulu docu “God Forbid: The Sex Scandal That Brought Down a Dynasty,” about Jerry Falwell Jr.
Rubinstein produced “The Holly” along with Dia Sokol Savage, Donnie L. Betts and Sarah Dowland. McKay, Schulman, and Davis executive produced the doc alongside Lana Garland cinematographer Tony Hardmon.
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