EXCLUSIVE: Greenwich Entertainment acquired the domestic theatrical rights to the contestant’s civil rights documentary Lowndes County and the Road to Black Power.
Greenwich plans to release the Sam Pollard and Geeta Gandbhir film, which earlier this week received a nomination for the Critics’ Choice Documentary Award for Best Historical Documentary, on December 2nd. As Deadline previously reported, Peacock acquired the US streaming rights to the film in June.
Vienna-based Autlook Filmsales will handle international film sales for the title at next month’s IDFA (International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam) and upcoming markets and festivals. Lowndes County premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in June and screened at the Camden International Film Festival in Maine last month.
“The passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was not the culmination of the civil rights movement, but the beginning of a new, pivotal chapter,” reads a description of the film. “Nowhere was this next battle better embodied than in Lowndes County, Alabama, a rural, impoverished county with a vicious history of racist terrorism.”
The abstract continues: “In a county that was 80 percent black but had zero black voters, laws were paper with no power. This is not a story of hope but of action. Through ego accounts and searing archive footage, Lowndes County and the Road to Black Power tells the story of the local movement and organizers of the Young Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) who fought not only for the right to vote but also for black power in Lowndes County.”
Tribeca First Look: ‘Lownes County and the Road to Black Power’ uncovers ‘crucial chapter’ in civil rights movement
Although historical in nature, the film speaks directly to the present. The GOP, stunned by Joe Biden’s victory in historically red Georgia and Arizona in the 2020 presidential election, has redoubled efforts to quash turnout among minorities who are likely to favor Democrats in November’s midterm elections.
“Heroism and villainy abound in this evocative, insightful, and highly detailed account of what state-sanctioned, systematic, racist voter repression was like at the time, and the courage and discipline it took to challenge and ultimately defeat it,” Edward said Arentz, Greenwich Co-President in a statement. “Geeta and Sam’s dramatic recreation of that era is an implicit call to action to recognize and resist the wickedness of today’s disenfranchisers.”
David Linde, CEO of Participant, commented: “This incredibly impactful work of art, history and civil rights are more relevant today than ever in the face of ongoing attacks on voting rights. Recreating and preserving narrative has never been more important and we are thrilled to partner with Peacock, Greenwich and Autlook to bring this story, brought to life by such extraordinary filmmakers, to a deservedly wide audience on the big screen will bring.”
In a statement, Gandbhir and Pollard said: “We are delighted to be working with Greenwich Entertainment and Autlook. Both companies have a history of making unique, groundbreaking and award-winning documentaries, making them a perfect fit Lowndes County and the Road to Black Power. We are excited about all the possibilities these partnerships will create for our film.”
Participant represented the sale of the documentary to Greenwich Entertainment and Autlook with Liesl Copland, Participant’s EVP Content Strategy & Sales, Adam Macy, Senior Counsel, Business & Legal Affairs, and Rob Williams, SVP, Content Strategy & Sales leading the negotiations. Greenwich’s Arentz represented the distributor and Salma Abdalla acted on behalf of Autlook.
Lowndes County and the Road to Black Power is presented by Participant and is a Multitude Films Production in association with The Atlantic. The documentary is directed by Sam Pollard and Geeta Gandbhir and produced by Anya Rous and Jessica Devaney via the Multitude Films banner and Dema Paxton Fofang. Executive producers are Jeff Skoll and the late Diane Weyermann on behalf of the contestant; Fred Grinstein; and Linzee Troubh for The Atlantic. The film was inspired by Vann R. Newkirk II’s research and writing published in The Atlantic. He also served as the film’s consulting producer.
Pollard’s directing credits include MLK/FBI, Mr Soul! (Co-directed by Melissa Haizlip), Citizen Ashe (co-directed with Rex Miller) and the upcoming one Bill Russell: Legend, great about the late NBA. He was nominated for an Academy Award for Producer in 1998 4 little girlsdirected by Spike Lee.
Gandbhir’s directorial credits include call center blues, i am proof (co-directed with Trish Adlesic) and Artist Remembered: Robert De Niro, Sr. (Co-directed with Perri Peltz). She and Pollard have won two Primetime Emmys for editing the documentaries By the People: The Election of Barack Obama (co-edited with Arielle Amsalem) and When the Dikes Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts (co-edited with Nancy Novack).
Upcoming feature releases from participants include: descendantwhich premieres on Netflix today; All the beauty and the bloodshed (NEON, HBO Documentary Films), winner of the Venice Golden Lion for Best Picture; Shirley (Netflix); BLACK (A24); Inconceivably (Disney+) and White Bird: A Miracle Story (Lion’s Gate). Recent releases include Costa Brava, Lebanon; The first waveand the storied three-time Oscar nominee Escape.
Recent releases from Greenwich Entertainment include ¡Viva Maestro!the portrait of superstar conductor Gustavo Dudamel by Ted Brown; Clio Barnards BAFTA nominee Ali & Avaand the award-winning Sundance documentary president. Greenwich published The rescue and hockey country in 2021 and the Oscar-winning megahit Free Solo in 2018.
Autlook Filmsales is one of the leading distributors of documentaries, hybrids and docu-series. Your current list includes innocence by Oscar nominee Guy Davidi; Three minutes – an overtime by Bianca Stigter; Belushi by RJ Cutler; the Oscar 2022 nominated documentary Write with fire by Rintu Thomas and Sushmit Ghosh, and 2020 Oscar-nominated documentary For Sama by Waad Al-Kataeb and Edward Watts.