Social justice doc Free Chol Soo Lee has been acquired by Mubi following its premiere in the U.S. Documentary Competition at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.
The streamer is planning a 2022 U.S. theatrical release for the film, and will roll out its release plans for the other territories covered in the deal (North America, the UK, Ireland, Latin America, Germany, Austria, Italy and Turkey) in the coming months. The acquisition was negotiated by Submarine Entertainment.
“Our team is overjoyed to be partnering with Mubi, who embrace and share our goal of making sure Free Chol Soo Lee finds a large and diverse audience,” said the doc’s directors Julie Ha and Eugene Yi, both of whom made their feature directing debuts with the film. “With Mubi’s partnership, we hope to ensure a long life for the film and an enduring legacy for Chol Soo Lee and the landmark movement he inspired.”
The doc’s eponymous subject is a young Korean immigrant who was wrongfully convicted of murder in a 1973 gang slaying in San Francisco’s Chinatown. Sentenced to life in prison, he became the focal point of an unprecedented grassroots movement that not only sought to win his freedom, but also laid the foundation for a new generation of Asian American activism.
Free Chol Soo Lee is produced by Oscar nominee Su Kim (Hale County This Morning, This Evening), Emmy winner Jean Tsien and Sona Jo. Executive producers are Sally Jo Fifer and Lois Vossen for ITVS and ‘Independent Lens,’ Stephen Gong for the Center for Asian American Media, and Kathryn Everett, Andy Hsieh, and Bryn Mooser for XTR.
The acquisition is one of the latest in a series of doc buys from this year’s festival. National Geographic Documentary Films was one of the early buyers out of the gate, snapping up the Sara Dosa-helmed Fire of Love and The Territory from director Alex Pritz. Netflix, meanwhile, has partnered with Higher Ground Productions to acquire Special Jury Award winner Descendant, from director Margaret Brown, and Showtime has taken North American rights for 2nd Chance, from director Ramin Bahrani.
(With files from Barry Walsh)