Samuel Goldwyn Films has acquired U.S. rights to climate change documentary The Island President, which picked up the audience award for best documentary at the Toronto International Film Festival earlier this year.
Goldwyn has slated a February 2012 theatrical release for the film, which plays tomorrow (Tuesday) at DOC NYC in New York, and said the films’ producers “have already qualified the film for this year’s Academy Awards.”
Peter Goldwyn, the distributor’s head of acquisitions, said: “After incredibly successful screenings in Telluride and Toronto, we are optimistic that The Island President is an awards-caliber, timely film for which audiences everywhere are going to applaud and cheer. To say we are enthusiastic about its prospects is a major understatement.”
The doc, directed by Jon Shenk (Lost Boys of Sudan), follows Mohamed Nasheed (pictured above), the president of the Maldives, as he comes to power after leading a 20-year pro-democracy movement against the brutal regime of dictator Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.
It sees the newly elected leader battle to fight climate change and struggling to convince world leaders to take strong measures to battle rising sea levels – the Maldives is considered the lowest lying country in the world, and a rise of a mere three meters in sea level will flood its 1,200 islands, rendering the country practically unlivable.
The doc is a coproduction between AfterImage Public Media and the Independent Television Service (ITVS), in association with Actual Films and Impact Partners, with major funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Ford Foundation, John D. and The Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Atlantic Philanthropies, and the Sundance Institute Documentary Fund.
Neil Friedman of Menemsha Films, who represented the filmmakers in negotiating the deal, said: “We had a lot of offers to distribute this film in the U.S. We chose Goldwyn because their vision and enthusiasm for releasing the film is a perfect match with the filmmakers’ vision and enthusiasm in making the film.”
Goldwyn and Ian Puente, Goldwyn’s VP of business development and general counsel, negotiated the deal with Friedman.