NEON MAKES THE FIRST ACQUISITION OF SUNDANCE WITH JONAS POHER RASMUSSEN’S FLEE, A UNIQUE TALE OF SURVIVAL AND SELF DISCOVERY
The Film Premiered on Opening Night of the 2021 Sundance Film Festival in the
World Documentary Competition
New York, NY, January 29, 2020 – NEON is excited to announce the first acquisition out of this year’s Sundance, with North American rights to Jonas Poher Rasmussen’s Flee. The film, executive produced by Riz Ahmed and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, was officially selected for Cannes 2020 and made its debut on opening night of Sundance in the World Documentary Competition to rave reviews and critical acclaim for both its intimate story and unique approach. Rasmussen’s feature film debut Searching for Bill, a mix of documentary and fiction, won him the Nordic Dox award at CPH:DOX, and the international competition prize at DocAviv.
Flee, a film unbound by documentary constraints and swept up in an astonishing array of archive footage, ’80s pop music, and a hand-drawn craft that brings audiences directly into the experience of a teen fleeing multiple countries—and the psychological impact on how he loves, trusts, and understands his burgeoning identity. Rasmussen weaves together a stunning tapestry of images in a triumph of storytelling and filmmaking ingenuity to tell a deeply affecting story of a man grappling with his traumatic past in order to find his true self and the real meaning of home.
The film tells the story of Amin Nawabi (a pseudonym) as he grapples with a painful secret he has kept hidden for 20 years, one that threatens to derail the life he has built for himself and his soon to be husband.Recounted mostly through animation to director Jonas Poher Rasmussen — his close friend and high-school classmate, he tells for the first time the story of his extraordinary journey as a child refugee from Afghanistan. Through heartfelt interviews between Jonas and Amin, FLEE tells an unforgettable story of self-discovery.
FLEE is produced by Final Cut for Real, in co-production with animation studio Sun Creature, Denmark, Vivement Lundi!, France, MostFilm, Sweden, and Mer Film, Norway. ARTE France and Vpro, Nederland. The film is supported and produced in association with VICE Studios and RYOT Films and Ahmed’s Left Handed Films.
“So excited to partner up with NEON for the North America distribution, being such an innovative and bold company we feel they can secure a broad distribution across the US.” Monica Hellström & Signe Byrge Sørensen, Final Cut for Real
“Very excited to work with groundbreaking distributors NEON on getting FLEE out. Their roster of titles include a vast amount of my favourite films from the last couple of years and I’m extremely proud to now include my own work on that list.” Jonas Poher Rasmussen
Executive Producer Riz Ahmed said “I was floored by the emotional impact of Flee. This is a unique project that pushes forward our ideas of what documentary, animation, and refugee-centred narratives can be. I’m proud to help bring this project to life for English speaking audiences,”
Exec Producer Coster-Waldau also remarked, “When I watched FLEE I was blown away by the power of a story told in a simple way. FLEE is a story of extreme perseverance and hope where all hope seems lost. By using animation director Jonas Poher Rasmussen captures the intensity of one refugee’s unbelievable journey from the streets of Kabul to the Danish suburbia. Because Amin is able to tell his story hidden behind his animated avatar it feels so much more revealing and honest than had it been a standard filmed interview. I am incredibly proud to be a part of FLEE and will encourage everyone to experience this gem of a film.”
FLEE is directed by Jonas Poher Rasmussen, written by Jonas Poher Rasmussen and Amin Nawabi. It is edited by Janus Billeskov Jansen whose notable works include the Oscar®-nominated The Hunt (2013), Joshua Oppenheimer’s Oscar®-nominated The Act of Killing (2012), Yance Ford’s Oscar®-nominated Strong Island (2017), and Thomas Vinterberg’s Another Round (2020) the Danish entry for the 93rd Academy Awards®.
The film is produced by Monica Hellström (The Distant Barking of Dogs) and two-time Oscar® nominee Signe Byrge Sørensen (The Act of Killing, The Look of Silence), for Final Cut for Real (Denmark). Art Director Jess Nicholls, Animation Director Kenneth Ladekjær and Animation producer Charlotte De La Gournerie for Sun Creature Studio. Co-Produced by Jean-François Le Corre, Mathieu Courtois for Vivement Lundi !, France, Charlotte Most for MostFilm, Sweden & Maria Ekerhovd for Mer Film, Norway. Natalie Farrey, Jannat Gargi, and Danny Gabai executive produce for VICE Studios. Philippa Kowarsky is Executive Producer for Cinephil. While Hayley Pappas and Matt Ippolito executive produce for RYOT Films.
In an overnight bidding war on the opening night of the Sundance Film Festival the film sold for an undisclosed 7 figure sum. Jeff Deutchman negotiated the deal for NEON with 30WEST and Philippa Kowarsky of Cinephil on behalf of the filmmakers. International sales are being handled by Cinephil.
Jonas Poher Ramussenis a Danish/French film director born in 1981. He debuted in 2006 with the acclaimed TV documentary Something About Halfdan, followed by a series of radio documentaries from around the world. He graduated from the Danish film school Super16 in 2010. His feature film debut Searching for Bill, a mix of documentary and fiction, won him the Nordic Dox award at CPH:DOX, and the international competition prize at DocAviv.n In November 2015 he premiered his latest documentary What He Did, which won the prestigious Fipresci (Int. Federation of Film Critics) at Thessaloniki Film Fest. 2016.
In just over three years, NEON has garnered 12 Academy Award® nominations, 5 wins, including Best Picture, and has grossed over $150M at the box office. The company continues to push boundaries and take creative risks on bold cinema such as Bong Joon Ho’s Parasite, which made history winning four Academy Awards®, becoming the first non-English-language film to claim Best Picture. The film, which also unanimously won the Palme d’Or at Cannes, has amassed over $53M at the domestic box office and broke multiple records including highest per screen average of the year and highest per screen average for a foreign language film of all time. NEON has amassed a library of over 50 films with noteworthy releases including: Tamara Kotevska and Ljubo Stefanov’s award-winning and record-breaking Honeyland, which is the first non-fiction feature to land Academy Award® nominations for Best Documentary and Best International Feature Film in the same year; Todd Douglas Miller’s Apollo 11, 2019’s highest grossing documentary with a worldwide gross of $16M; Tim Wardle’s Three Identical Strangers, winner of the Sundance Special Jury Award for Storytelling which surpassed $13M at the box office; and Craig Gillespie’s I, Tonya, which garnered multiple Academy Award® nominations, one win for Allison Janney and amassed over $30M in domestic box office.
The company has several projects in various stages of development and production, including Pablo Larraín’s Spencer starring Kristen Stewart; Ben Wheatley’s Horror Film In The Earth which will make its World Premiere at the upcoming Sundance Film Festival; and The Painter and the Thief narrative remake. NEON continues to be an impressive force, with recent acquisitions such as: Andrei Konchalovsky’s Dear Comrades!, Russia’s Academy Award Submission; Venice’s Grand Jury Prize Winner Michel Franco’s New Order; Night of Kings, Philippe Lacôte’s Ivory Coast Oscar Submission; Pig, starring Nicolas Cage; Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Memoria withTilda Swinton; the upcoming documentary Gunda directed by Victor Kossakovsky and executive produced by Joaquin Phoenix; and Robert Machoian’s powerful thriller The Killing of Two Lovers. Recent releases include: Francis Lee’s romantic drama Ammonite starring Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan; Alex’s Gibney’s documentary Totally Under Control; Brandon Cronenberg’s Possessor; Justin Simien’s Bad Hair; Max Barbakow’s sought after Palm Springs starring Andy Samberg, which NEON acquired with Hulu; Amy Seimtz’s SXSW critical sensation She Dies Tomorrow; Josephine Decker’s Shirley starring Elisabeth Moss; Matt Wolf’s highly acclaimed Sundance documentary Spaceship Earth; The Painter and the Thief directed by Benjamin Ree; and the critically acclaimed Cannes hit Portrait of a Lady on Fire, which was nominated for Best Foreign Film at the Golden Globes® and Independent Spirit Awards.
After their successful collaboration on I, Tonya in January 2018, 30WEST (Dan Friedkin’s and Micah Green’s strategic venture) partnered with NEON’s Tom Quinn (Founder & CEO) and Tim League (Co-Founder) to become majority investors in the company.
Final Cut For Real is a two-time Oscar®-Nominated and a three-time Sundance winning production company based in Denmark dedicated to producing high-end, creative documentaries and fiction films for the international market. Founded in 2009 and consists of the producers Signe Byrge Sørensen, Anne Köhncke, Monica Hellström and Heidi Elise Christensen, and post producer Maria Kristensen. Together they cover a wide range of development and production expertise and work with younger talent as well as established filmmakers to create a productive mixture of experience and new approaches to filmmaking. Recent productions include The Look of Silence (Joshua Oppenheimer, 2014), The Act of Killing (Joshua Oppenheimer, 2012), The Distant Barking of Dogs (Simon Lereng Wilmont 2013). Co-produced: The Nile Hilton Incident, Tarik Saleh, 2017 (Winner World Cinema Grand Jury Prize, Sundance) Strong Island, (Winner American Documentary Film Grand Jury Prize, Sundance), 2014 – Concerning Violence, By Göran Olsson (Selected for Sundance Film Festival 2014 (World Premiere) CINEMA FAIRBINDET PRIZE at Berlinale 2014)
Sun Creature is an international production company and creative animation studio based out of Copenhagen, Denmark and Bordeaux, France.
The creative studio was established out of a shared love for the traditional artistry of hand-drawn animation, and to this day remains dedicated to delivering high quality work from concept to completion. Sun Creature is made up of a talented group of artists, directors and producers who firmly believe in the wonders of animation and storytelling to convey immersive narratives and meaningful entertainment. With a unique understanding of animation and its capabilities, Sun Creature develops and creates rich, compelling, out of this world narratives and cinematic experiences that have aesthetic appeal and a strict attention to detail. The studio’s fresh perspective combined with their collective expertise, has already earned Sun Creature international recognition and attention from heavy-weight entertainment and commercial brands like Cartoon Network, Netflix, Riot Games and Travel Oregon. Sun Creature has received awards, nominations and honorable mentions from some of the world’s most renowned festivals and shows, including the Cannes film festival, Annecy Film Festival, Annie Awards, BAFTA Awards and Emile Awards.
Vivement Lundi ! is an Oscar®-Nominated animation and documentary studio based in Rennes, France. Est. in 1997. Animated productions of the company won more than 350 awards. Since 2009, the animation department is co-directed by Jean-François Le Corre and Mathieu Courtois who produce and coproduce original works in 2D animation and in stop motion. In 2011, the company produced Pok&Mok, an animated series (78 x 7’) and won a prestigious French award: the Procirep Prize for the best TV producer, Animation category. Regularly involved in European co-productions, Vivement Lundi ! coproduced the Belgian animated short Oh Willy… awarded with the Cartoon d’Or 2012 and as Best short at SXSW Austin. In 2014, Vivement Lundi ! produced the stopmotion series “Dimitri” (1 x 26’ + 26 x 5’) which has been sold to 20 countries and awarded at OAIF Ottawa and Anima Brussels. 2015, Storm hits jacket by Paul Cabon won the jury’s prize for the Best animated short at Sundance Film Festival and Vivement Lundi ! won the Cartoon Tribute for the Best European animation Producer of the year.
Mostfilm is a Stockholm based production company focusing on sustainable, high-end, creative features, documentaries and commercials for the national and international markets. Charlotte Most, founder and producer, works with a selection of preferred partners in Sweden and Europe and has recently been involved in the Sundance winning The Nile Hilton Incident and Måns Månsson’s The Yard (3 National Swedish Film Awards). Most film’s commercial assignements involve clients like IKEA, Oriflame and Volvo. Most joined forces with producer Maria Guerpillon in 2019 and created the production company MostAlice Film. Mostfilm has had films screened at various festivals throughout the world, such as Cannes, Sundance, CPH:DOX, Shanghai, the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival. Her productions have been acquired by Swedish National Television (SVT). She works and lives in Stockholm, Sweden.
Mer Film is an independent production and distribution company that was founded by producer Maria Ekerhovd in 2011. Mer Film’s ambition is to develop, produce and distribute visionary and relevant films that engage the audience. The company works with some of Norway’s finest directors, such as Eskil Vogt, Iram Haq, Ole Giæver, Jorunn Myklebust Syversen, Gunnar Vikene, Itonje Søimer Guttormsen. Mer Film produced multiple-awarded features like What Will People Say (TIFF 2017) by Iram Haq ; From The Balcony (Berlinale 2017) and Out of Nature (TIFF /Berlinale 2015) by Ole Giæver ; Disco (TIFF/ San Sebastian 2019) by Jorunn Myklebust Syversen. Upcoming titles for release in 2021 are The Innocents by Eskil Vogt and GRITT by Itonje Søimer Guttormsen. Most recent international co-productions include Our Time (Venice 2018, by Carlos Reygadas) and Divine Love (Sundance/Berlinale Panorama 2019, by Gabriel Mascaro).
VICE Studios is a global production and distribution division within VICE Media Group delivering premium original programming across documentary, scripted and film. With development and production teams in the USA, Canada, UK, Europe, Asia-Pacific and Latin America, VICE Studios cuts through culture, delivering stories that are popular, human and spotlight the unexpected for audiences around the world.
VICE Studios also houses VICE’s new licensing and distribution group, with a catalogue of over 900 hours of programming created across the VICE Media Group, across a range of genres from documentary to lifestyle to Vice News. VICE Studios upcoming original productions include a six-part documentary series, Pride for FX, Moments Like This Never Last premiered at DOCNYC 2020, and Last Looks and Big Rad Wolf for Quibi. Launched in 2017, VICE Studios productions include Chris Smith’s Emmy-nominated Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond and Fyre: The Greatest Party that Never Happened (Netflix); feature film The Report starring Adam Driver and Annette Bening (Amazon); Diego Osorno’s 1994 (Netflix), Dark Side of the Ring (VICE TV), AKA Jane Roe (FX), and Satanic Verses (BBC).
Left Handed Films
Left Handed is the production company started by Riz Ahmed, focused on stretching culture through telling fresh stories in bold ways. In Jan 2021, it was announced that Left Handed inked a first-look television deal with Amazon Studios and hired former AMC exec Allie Moore to oversee production and development.
Left Handed has several projects on the horizon including Mogul Mowgli, a genre-busting, culturally hybrid, and award-winning debut feature from an exciting new voice in Bassam Tariq. The film is co-written, starring and produced by Ahmed and premiered at the Berlin Film Festival where it won the Fipresci International Critics’ Prize. It is currently nominated for six BIFA Awards including best screenplay, best actor, best music, best debut screenwriter, best cinematography and best sound. Strand will release the drama in the U.S. this year.
WORLD SALES – Cinephil is an international sales and advisory firm, with a strong reputation for securing international distribution, broadcasting and financing deals for documentaries from around the world on behalf of producers and directors. With a history of selling unique and award-winning films, Cinephil also acts as a strategic advisor and co-producer.
Cinephil has facilitated the sale and financing of well over a hundred films. Cinephil represented (and produced) the 2013 Academy Award nominee, The Gatekeepers; 2014 Academy Award nominee, The Act of Killing, executive produced by Werner Herzog and Errol Morris; Cathedrals of Culture, a 3D project executive produced by Wim Wenders and including films by Wim Wenders and Robert Redford, and Martin Scorsese’s documentary, The 50 Year Argument.
Managing director, Philippa Kowarsky, has co-produced many films, including 2014 Academy Award nominee, Dror Moreh’s, The Gatekeepers, Dror Shaul’s Sweet Mud, which won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance and the Crystal Bear at the Berlin Film Festival. Recent titles include Advocate by Rachel Leah Jones and Philippe Bellaïche, Collective by Alexander Nanau, Gunda by Victor Kossakovsky and The Ross Brother’s Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets.