Nat Geo Buys ‘Sugarcane’ Documentary Out Of Sundance

Feb 22, 2024 6:59 am | entertainment, News

EXCLUSIVE: Sugarcane has become the latest big documentary deal out of the Sundance Film Festival.

Nat Geo has snapped up the doc, an investigation into abuse and missing children at an Indian residential school which ignites a reckoning on the nearby Sugarcane Reserve.

Deadline understands that the Disney-owned factual brand has struck a deal in the low seven-figures. The doc comes from filmmakers Julian Brave NoiseCat and Emily Kassie.

National Geographic Documentary Films will roll out Sugarcane at global festivals throughout the rest of the year and release it in theaters before its streaming debut on Disney+.

It is the latest deal out of Sundance for National Geographic Documentary Films; the company picked up Fire Of Love, which was nominated for Best Documentary Feature at the Oscars, out of the festival in 2022 as well as The Territory, which came from director Alex Pritz.

There were numerous documentary deals out of the Park City fest; Netflix picked up Josh Greenbaum’s Will & Harper, starring Will Ferrell and longtime friend Harper Steele who go on a road trip as the latter comes out as a trans woman, in a deal worth around $13M. The streamer also snapped up Angela Patton and Natalie Rae’s Daughters, Benjamin Ree’s Ibelin and Jeff Zimbalist’s Skywalkers: A Love Story, while Warner Bros. Discovery picked up the rights to Super/Man: The Christopher Reeve Story in a deal worth around $15M.

One source told Deadline that this year was “so much better than last year” in terms of documentary deals.

Drawing on backgrounds in activism and journalism — as well as NoiseCat’s own personal connection to the story and community — Sugarcane explores the lasting intergenerational legacy of trauma from the residential school system including forced family separation, physical and sexual abuse, and the destruction of Native culture and language.

Kassie produces alongside Kellen Quinn. The film was produced by Kassie Films and Hedgehog Films production, in association with Impact Partners and Fit Via Vi.

Executive producers for the film are Bill Way, Elliott Whitton, Jenny Raskin, Geralyn White Dreyfous, Tegan Acton, Emma Pompetti, Grace Lay, Sumalee Montano, Sabrina Merage Naim, Douglas Choi, Adam and Melony Lewis, Meadow Fund, JanaLee Cherneski and Ian Desai, David and Linda Cornfield, Maida Lynn, and Robina Riccitiello.

The co-executive producers are Kelsey Koenig, Lauren Haber, Meryl Metni and Jennifer Pelling. Christopher LaMarca was director of photography, Emily Kassie was cinematographer, it was edited by Nathan Punwar and Maya Daisy Hawke with music by Mali Obomsawin.

The deal was negotiated by Josh Braun, Matt Burke and Ben Schwartz of Submarine on behalf of the filmmakers.

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