AC Independent, Anonymous Content’s new sales and finance division, is set to introduce Pippa Ehrlich’s anticipated follow-up to her Oscar-winning “My Octopus Teacher,” as well as Walter Salles’ “Sócrates,” to buyers at the Berlin Film Festival.
Ehrlich’s untitled new project and Salles’ “Sócrates” are part of AC Independent’s robust slate of documentary features from celebrated filmmakers.
In her upcoming project, Ehrlich will shed light on the secretive and endangered world of pangolins, a species viewed as mythological creatures. When Stevie, a baby pangolin, is rescued from death at the hands of poachers in Johannesburg, an investment manager pivots his life to become the animal’s caretaker, teaching him to trust the world again and, in doing so, rediscovers his own purpose. Hand-reared until his release back into the wild, Stevie takes Gareth into his dragon world and together they find freedom and healing in the wild.
The film, which explores the deeply personal bond between man and animal, is produced by George Chignell alongside Nick Shumaker and Jessica Grimshaw for Anonymous Content. Craig Foster serves as executive producer.
“It’s a really interesting to see her delving into the natural history space in a way that she did so successfully with ‘My Octopus Teacher,’ but also adding different complexities in terms of animal intake,” said Shumaker.
Jessica Grimshaw, SVP of unscripted films, television and podcasts at Anonymous Content, said the banner has been “big fans of Pippa on the studio side of things for four years and have been very eager to find something with her.” “When she brought us this, even as a pitch, it got us all emotional. Even just hearing her talk about this relationship between Stevie and Gareth,” Grimshaw continued. “We just knew immediately it was a story we wanted to take on because it would do what Pippa does so beautifully, which is connect the heart and soul of animal storytelling to a to a human audience.”
AC Independent has also boarded the latest project of Salles, whose best known titles include “Central Station” and “Motorcycle Diaries,” delivers an intimate portrait of one of the most important players in Brazilian football, Sócrates. The four-part documentary weaves archival materials with contemporary interviews and never-before-seen footage kept by family, friends, and colleagues. “Sócrates” explores the contradictions, glories and failures that shaped the history of football in Brazil. The docu miniseries is produced by AC Brazil, Anonymous Content’s joint venture with RT Features and CAA, and Salles’ Videofilms and financed by Globo Films.
“It’s such an exciting opportunity to work with a master of cinema, which Walter is, and to take on the sports element with the social elements,” said Shumaker. He added that the film will “appeal to sports aficionados, but given kind of the social nature of what Sócrates did during his lifetime, it can expand out to an audience interested in social justice.”
The executive said some of these documentaries will be released theatrically, while others will end up on streamers. “We’re just there to support the director’s voice,” he added.
AC Independent, which is overseen by Shumaker, launched at the end of 2022 and is already overseeing domestic and worldwide sales for a broad and rapidly growing roster of exciting films. The newly launched division is also involved in financing, strategies and advisory for select titles across AC Studios, Anonymous Content non-fiction projects, and Anonymous Content’s management division, as well as work alongside Anonymous Content’s expanding joint ventures. AC Independent will also curate select third-party content from top independent producers and directors from around the world.
AC Independent’s documentary slate also includes “5 Seasons of Revolution” which world premiered at Sundance; as well as Elizabeth Lo (“Stray”)’s “Mistress Dispeller” which is being produced by Anonymous Content, Impact Partners and Lo; and Penny Lane’s (“Hail Satan?”) “Mrs. America.”
“Mistress Dispeller” follows a “mistress dispeller” in China who is hired by couples in crisis to break up affairs and save their marriages by any means necessary. Submarine Entertainment and Anonymous Content are handling sales.
“Mrs. America,” meanwhile, is being produced by Anonymous Content, Fremantle and Spinning Nancy. The documentary will explore the changing role of American womanhood through the Mrs. America Beauty Pageant’s near half-century history. The banner is also handling an untitled political thriller feature documentary co-directed by Emmy Award-winning filmmakers Jesse Moss (“Boys State”) and Tony Gerber (“The Notorious Mr. Bout”).