‘The Exiles’: Sundance’s Grand Jury Prize Documentary winner inks VOD deal

Gravitas Ventures on Wednesday announced a deal to retain the Video On Demand distribution rights for “The Exiles,” a documentary feature project from executive producers Chris Columbus and Steven Soderbergh that won the 2022 Sundance Grand Jury Prize Documentary Award. It will debut on January 10, 2023. The doc, co-directed by Violet Columbus (daughter of Chris, making her feature debut) and Ben Klein, focuses on a trio of exiled dissidents who survived the 1989 Tiananmen Square pro-democracy protests and ultimate massacre. It incorporates old footage of the event from documentarian Christine Choy, who was herself nominated for an Oscar in 1989 for her doc “Who Killed Vincent Chin?”

In 1989, Choy started to film the activists of the Tiananmen Square movement before ultimately shelving the project for some three decades. “The Exiles” finds her reuniting with them.

Said Bill Guentzler, Gravitas Ventures’ senior director of acquisitions: “Violet Columbus and Ben Klein intimately capture the passion and strength of Christine Choy and the activists she followed and display how their actions still reverberate to this day.” Add Columbus and Klein: “In light of the recent protests across China, which echo the pro-Democracy Movement of 1989, our film feels especially timely, and we look forward to sharing it with audiences in the U.S. and Canada.”

Prior to its release on VOD, “The Exiles” will have a limited theatrical run in San Francisco at The Roxie theater beginning this Friday. It’s eligible for the Best Documentary Feature shortlist at the 2023 Oscars.

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