Docs

Sundance ’21: Neon acquires Jamila Wignot’s “Ailey”

New York-based distributor Neon has acquired the distribution rights to Jamila Wignot’s feature-length documentary Ailey, an intimate portrait on dance legend Alvin Ailey, following its world premiere at the 2021 Sundance Film ...
February 1, 2021

New York-based distributor Neon has acquired the distribution rights to Jamila Wignot’s feature-length documentary Ailey, an intimate portrait on dance legend Alvin Ailey, following its world premiere at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival.

The 82-minute film, which debuted at Sundance on Saturday, Jan. 30, incorporates never-before-heard audio interviews recorded in the last year of the enigmatic choreographer’s life, with rare dance performances by the Ailey Company.

Possessed by his ambitions, Ailey’s work fused theater, modern dance, ballet, and jazz with black vernacular in an effort to create choreography that spoke to the struggles of African Americans, all while enduring racism and homophobia, as well as addiction and mental illness. 

Wignot’s Ailey marks Neon’s second acquisition stemming from the 2021 Sundance Film Festival, having first acquired the North American rights to Jonas Poher Rasmussen’s animated feature-length documentary, Flee, on Friday (Jan. 29).

Ailey was produced by Insignia Films in association with American Masters Pictures, the Ford Foundation’s JustFilms, ITVS, XTR, Impact Partners and Black Public Media.

Executive producers on the film include: Stephen Ives, Amanda Pollak, Michael Kantor, Emily Blavatnik, Judy Kinberg, Sally Jo Fifer, Tony Hsieh, Roberto Grande, Mimi Pham, Bryn Mooser, Kathryn Everett, Jenny Raskin, Geralyn White Dreyfous and Regina K. Scully.

Lauren DeFilippo produced alongside archival producer Rebecca Kent.  

Neon’s Ayo Kepher-Maat and Jeff Deutchman negotiated the deal with for Cinetic’s Jason Ishikawa and Shane Riley on behalf of the filmmakers. 

London-based distributor Dogwoof handles international sales.

Ailey is a searing and inspirational account of a visionary artistic genius who used his gift of dance and movement to express the Black American experience,” said Darcy Heusel, Neon’s head of impact and audience engagement, in a statement. “Jamila Wignot has created an indelible portrait of both the artist and his work and Neon is thrilled to be part of continuing his legacy by bringing this remarkable film to theaters across the country.”

Photo courtesy Sundance

About The Author
Barry Walsh is editor and content director for realscreen, and has served as editor of the publication since 2009. With a career in entertainment media that spans two decades, prior to realscreen, he held the associate editor post for now defunct sister publication Boards, which focused on the advertising and commercial production industries. Before Boards, he served as editor of Canadian Music Network, a weekly music industry trade, and as music editor for HMV.com. As content director, he also oversees the development of content for the brand's market-leading events, the Realscreen Summit and Realscreen West, as well as new content initiatives.

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