MTV Documentary Films has acquired the rights to the documentary features “Beautiful Something Left Behind” and “Finding Yingying,” both of which won prizes at this year’s canceled South by Southwest Film Festival, MTV Studios announced Thursday.
MTV will give both films a full awards campaign and will qualify them for the Academy Awards this season after nabbing an Oscar nomination for its short film “St. Louis Superman” and winning acclaim and prizes for the film “Gay Chorus Deep South.”
MTV Documentary Films also acquired tw0 short films, including the Tribeca Documentary Short winner “My Father The Mover” and “A Life Too Short.”
All four films round out the MTV Documentary Films lineup focused on social, political and cultural topics affecting young people today. The label re-launched last year under the direction of executive producer Sheila Nevins.
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“Beautiful Something Left Behind,” formerly titled “An Elephant in the Room,” won the SXSW Grand Jury Documentary prize at this year’s SXSW. It’s directed by Katrine Philp and goes inside an organization called Good Grief, which allows a space for children who are grieving after the loss of a parent or sibling to play and let out their emotions on the road to recovery. The film closely follows six children who have all lost someone special and sees them acting with puppets, unleashing their emotions in the “volcano room” or saying goodbye to teddy bear patients in a hospital bed.
“Finding Yingying” won the SXSW Special Jury Prize for Breakthrough Voice, as well as Best Documentary Feature at the Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival, and follows a Chinese family unraveling the mystery of their daughter’s disappearance from a college in America. The film’s director, Jiayan Shi, was just chosen as one of Sundance Institute’s Women at Sundance and Adobe Fellowship recipients, which supports women artists creating bold new work in film and media.
“My Father The Mover” is directed by Julia Jansch and looks at how the South African electronic music genre Gqom has helped the township of Khayelitsha to motivate its youth through hardship. The film won Best Documentary Short Film at the postponed Tribeca Film Festival this year.
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Finally, “A Life Too Short” is directed by Safyah Usmani and Saad Zuberi and is the story of an honor killing of activist Qandeel Baloch, who died at 26 years old when her brother smothered her to death for her open exclamations of women’s equality and sexuality through her sensational social media presence. The film is produced by Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, a two-time Oscar winner and three-time Emmy winner.
“Culling the magnificent film festivals with their extraordinary choices of documentary offerings, it is a gift to acquire films with heart and soul, insight and vision,” Nevins said in a statement.
Sales were negotiated by Submarine Entertainment on behalf of “Beautiful Something Left Behind,” and Submarine Entertainment and CAA Media Finance on behalf of “Finding Yingying.” Attorney Kenneth Weinrib negotiated sales on behalf of “My Father The Mover” and Obaid-Chinoy negotiated directly on behalf of her short.
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