Netflix was a busy shopper at Sundance this year, picking up at least two popular titles from annual film festival. The streaming company bought the worldwide rights to Jeff Orlowski’s “Chasing Coral,” with a release planned for later this year.
This was the second film from Orlowski, following his 2012 documentary “ChasingIce”. This new film was produced by Orlowski and Larissa Rhodes, and was an Exposure Labs production. The film made its world premiere at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. According to Netflix the film, “taps into the collective will and wisdom of an ad man, a self-proclaimed coral nerd, top-notch camera designers, and renowned marine biologists” as they all try to capture and record coral bleaching in real-time. The project shows the technical difficulties that the team faced, along with with documenting the horrific effect that coral-bleaching has on marine life.
“Chasing Coral is a stunning cinematic achievement,” said Lisa Nishimura, Netflix’s VP of Original Documentaries. “Jeff has captured a beautiful view under the ocean seldom seen, giving viewers a first-hand tour through a dynamic and urgent issue. We are proud to have the film join our growing roster of films and series that aim to speak to a wide global audience and engage people simultaneously across borders.”
Director Orlowski said, “This project has been a labor of love for so many years. We wanted to make sure that our film found the right home, especially given the global scale of this story. In partnering with Netflix, we’re excited about working together to make a huge impact around the world.”
“It took a village to make this film,” Rhodes said. “We shot over three years, spent 650+ hours underwater including footage from over 30 countries with the support of hundreds of people around the world. We’re thrilled that with Netflix, we’ll be able to bring this story about corals to the surface.”
Chasing Coral was produced in association with Argent Pictures and The Kendeda Fund and in partnership with The Ocean Agency and View Into the Blue. It was executive produced by David J. Cornfield, Linda A. Cornfield, Ryan W. Ahrens, and Jill K. Ahrens.
The second project that Netflix acquired the worldwide rights to was Joe Piscatella’s “Joshua: Teenager vs. Superpower,” which also made its world premiere at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. The film, which is a June Pictures production, will launch globally later this year.
Netflix described the film saying, “When the Chinese Communist Party threatens its promise of autonomy to Hong Kong, teenager Joshua Wong decides to save his homeland. Rallying thousands of kids to skip school and occupy the streets, Joshua becomes an unlikely leader in Hong Kong and one of China’s most notorious dissidents.” The company went on to say, “A remarkable portrait of courage, resilience and youthful idealism, Joshua: Teenager vs. Superpower demonstrates how one young man mortgages his own future to try and save his city.”
“Joshua: Teenager vs. Superpower is a filmmaking triumph,” says Lisa Nishimura, Netflix VP of Original Documentaries. “Piscatella has woven together the complex and inspirational story of an unlikely activist, whose acts of bravery and conviction need to be seen around the world. In an era where we are witnessing heightened civic participation and freedom of expression, we are pleased to offer a global platform for audiences to engage on these issues.”
“We could not be more thrilled to be in business with Netflix,” says Andrew Duncan, the film’s producer and Founder of June Pictures. “Their global platform will allow us to share Joshua’s message about the importance of due process of law and freedom of speech with a worldwide audience.”
“The Netflix partnership will also allow us to reach millions of young people who will find inspiration in Joshua’s story,” adds director Joe Piscatella.
Joshua: Teenager vs. Superpower is written and directed by Joe Piscatella (#chicagoGirl: The Social Network Takes on a Dictator). The film is executive produced by Alex Saks and produced by Andrew Duncan, Matthew Torne and Mark Rinehart.