Netflix Acquires Kitty Green's Casting JonBenet
Netflix announced today that it has acquired worldwide rights to Kitty Green’s groundbreaking documentary Casting JonBenet, which will have its world premiere in the US Documentary Competition at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival; the first time a nonfiction work from the company will compete. The film will launch on Netflix and in limited theatrical release in Spring of 2017.
Casting JonBenet is a sly and stylized exploration of the world’s most sensational child-murder case, the still unsolved death of six-year-old American beauty queen, JonBenet Ramsey. After years of media speculation and public fascination, audiences are presented with a documentary hybrid examining the macabre legacy of this tiny starlet. Over 15 months, the filmmakers traveled to the Ramseys’ Colorado hometown to elicit responses, reflections and even performances from the local community. In doing so, Casting JonBenet examines how this crime and its resulting mythologies have shaped the attitudes and behavior of successive generations of parents and children.
Produced by Green (Ukraine is Not a Brothel; and The Face of Ukraine: Casting Oksana Baiul, which premiered at Sundance in 2015 where it was awarded the short film non-fiction jury prize), Scott Macaulay (Raising Victor Vargas; Gummo) and James Schamus (Brokeback Mountain; The Ice Storm), the film was financed by Meridian Entertainment through its production deal with Schamus’s Symbolic Exchange, with additional support from Screen Australia, Film Victoria, the Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program, Cinereach, Rooftop Films and Garbo NYC. Casting JonBenet is a Forensic Films/Matricide Pictures/Symbolic Exchange production.
“For Scott and me, working with Kitty, a visionary filmmaker whose originality is matched by her empathy, has been one of the great privileges of our careers,” said James Schamus. Said Scott Macaulay: “We couldn’t be more excited to now have Netflix on her team, continuing their bold non-fiction roster.”
“Kitty boldly embraces the tradition of innovative risk-taking within the documentary filmmaking mode with her remarkable work on Casting JonBenet,” Netflix VP of Original Documentary Programming Lisa Nishimura added. “Netflix is the ideal home for showcasing Kitty’s sharply-rendered vision of a mythic American tragedy to a global audience, on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the crime.”
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About Forensic Films:
Forensic Films is the New York-based production company of producers Scott Macaulay and Robin O’Hara. Forensic’s credits include many award-winning features, including Peter Sollett’s Raising Victor Vargas; Harmony Korine’s julien donkey-boy; Alice Wu’s Saving Face; Tom Noonan’s Sundance Grand Jury Prize-winning What Happened Was; Jesse Peretz’s The Chateau; and James Ponsoldt’s Off the Black. Forensic Films has also been involved as a co-producer in many European productions, including Olivier Assayas’s Demonlover and Clean.
About Symbolic Exchange
Symbolic Exchange is a New York-based film production company, founded by James Schamus in 2015. Schamus is an award-winning screenwriter, producer, and former CEO of Focus Features. His feature directorial debut, an adaptation of Philip Roth’s Indignation, starring Logan Lerman, Sarah Gadon, and Tracy Letts, premiered at Sundance last year and was distributed by Summit/Roadside Attractions. Symbolic Exchange currently has a first-look and financing deal with Meridian Entertainment. Symbolic Exchange and Meridian’s first two projects together, Casting JonBenet Amman Abbasi’s feature debut Dayveon, which Symbolic is executive producing, will both premiere at Sundance this year. The company is currently in post-production on Jean-Stéphane Sauvaire’s A Prayer Before Dawn.
About Meridian Entertainment
Meridian Entertainment was founded in 2013 by journalism and film industry veteran Jennifer Dong. To date, Meridian has made investments in select Chinese Films, including box office hits Running Man and Mojin: The Lost Legend; and forthcoming English language films such as Jean-Stéphane Sauvaire’s Prayer Before Dawn and Blumhouse’s reboot of Benji. The company has a first look and strategic partnership with James Schamus through his Symbolic Exchange; Meridian also is partnered with FremantleMedia North America and oversees the film business of Random House Studios. Meridian develops and finances television and film projects in various genres and has in-house marketing and distribution teams for both domestic and foreign films in the China market.