After winning the 2014 Sundance Film Festival’s “Special Jury Award for Breakthrough Talent,” Minnesota-produced film Dear White People has landed a distribution deal with Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions, which jointly acquired rights in the United States and Canada.
The deal means the movie will be released theatrically in 15 of 25 major markets that typically screen new films, sources tell Twin Cities Business. Lionsgate and Roadside will also pay for printing and advertising support for those showings and will handle post post-theatrical distribution via DVD, cable, and Internet.
Dear White People was filmed in the Twin Cities last summer and features locations on the University of Minnesota’s campus, as well as St. Paul’s Summit Avenue. Supporting actress Naomi Ko is also a Twin Cities local. She graduated from the U of M and currently writes and performs locally.
The satirical film follows African-American students in a mostly white East Coast Ivy League college as they navigate the politics and prejudices that are omnipresent on campus.
The Minnesota Film and TV Board’s Snowbate tax incentive program benefitted the local production. The Snowbate program reimburses up to 25 percent of Minnesota production costs for qualified feature films, documentaries, commercials, and music videos, among other video genres. Last year, the state pledged a $10 million investment in the program, although opponents have recently called for an audit as show business in Minnesota has yet to reach the once-heady heights of the 1990s, the Star Tribune reported.
Though the national theatrical release date has yet to be announced, Minneapolis' Walker Art Center will screen the film on May 2 as part of its Sundance films showcase. The event will feature appearances by writer and director Justin Simien, producer Effie Brown, and Sundance director John Cooper.