By Ray Pride

Start-Up Acquires Errol Morris’ Steve Bannon Chat Film For Release A Year After Preem

[pr] August 7, 2019 – Utopia has acquired U.S. rights to Academy-Award winner (THE FOG OF WAR) Errol Morris’ AMERICAN DHARMA following debuts at Venice, Toronto and New York Film Festivals. Morris’ probing and urgent conversation with Stephen K. Bannon made waves on the festival circuit as a disturbing, intimate look at the man many consider to be the architect of the Trump presidency, as well as the resurgence of nationalism across Europe. AMERICAN DHARMA will be released on November 1, 2019 at the Film Forum in New York, with a national theatrical rollout to follow.
No stranger to sitting down with some of the most controversial figures of our time, including Robert S. McNamara and Donald Rumsfeld, Errol Morris trains his lens on Stephen K. Bannon. In their wide-ranging and contentious conversation spanning over 16 hours, Morris questions Bannon on his background, belief system, worldview, current feelings on President Trump, and how films such as Henry King’s TWELVE O’CLOCK HIGH, John Ford’s THE SEARCHERS, and Orson Welles’ CHIMES AT MIDNIGHT became part of Bannon’s understanding of the world. Frank and unflinching, Morris grapples with Bannon’s ideology and methodology. With AMERICAN DHARMA, Morris proposes that even for those who disagree with Bannon, ignoring him is a dangerous course of action.
Said Morris: “I made this film because I wanted to learn about Stephen K. Bannon, to try to understand him, because he scares me. I thought if making a film could help me, and others, understand any of this then it would be a good thing. I’m delighted AMERICAN DHARMA will be reaching audiences and excited to partner with Utopia.”
Utopia’s David Betesh said, “Part of our mission as distributors is to support filmmakers with urgent voices, to champion important and timely work, no matter how controversial. Errol has created an essential portrait of a man, who like it or not, has had a tremendous impact on global politics. With his unparalleled skill at interviewing, Errol reveals facets of Bannon beyond what we see in the news. This is a film we believe will shake audiences to their cores, no matter what side of the aisle.”
The film was produced by Morris, Marie Savare of Maje Productions, P.J. van Sandwijk of Storyteller Productions, Robert Fernandez of Moxie Pictures, and Steven Hathaway of Fourth Floor Productions. Michael Lesslie of Storyteller Productions served as Executive Producer.
Endeavor Content handled the sale on behalf of the filmmakers with Betesh, Utopia’s Head of Sales and Acquisitions.
“SOARS. Delivers a suspenseful and upsetting showdown between one man confident of his cause and another mortified by it. AMERICAN DHARMA doesn’t just recap a dark chapter in the nation’s history. It sounds the alarm for the rest of the world.”
“Meant to leave its audience shaken, whatever side they’re on. While deceptively placid on the surface, their exchange of views is electrified and contradicted by a nervous deluge of headlines, photos, videos and Twitter feeds that reveal what kind of issues are really at stake behind the friendly façade. Though stylistically quite different from the director’s THE FOG OF WAR: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara, it shows the same ability to engage the viewer in American politics through a strategy of detached passion…leaves the viewer with goose bumps.”
Utopia is a ‘filmmaker-first’ sales and distribution company based out of New York and Los Angeles. The inaugural slate also includes the Cannes and SXSW lauded feature, MICKEY AND THE BEAR from writer-director Annabelle Attanasio set for a November theatrical release and internationally, Lynn Shelton’s SWORD OF TRUST starring Marc Maron.
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