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Documentary ‘Spettacolo’ Lands at Grasshopper Film for U.S. Release (EXCLUSIVE)

Variety logo Variety 4/27/2017 Dave McNary
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Grasshopper Film has bought the U.S. distribution rights to the documentary “Spettacolo,” a month after its world premiere at the SXSW film festival.

Jeff Malmberg and Chris Shellen, who teamed on the acclaimed 2010 documentary “Marwencol,” directed and produced “Spettacolo.” The movie centers on Monticchiello, a tiny hill town in Tuscany which has turned the lives of its residents into a play about itself for the past 50 years. Grasshopper plans to open the film theatrically this fall, followed by a VOD and home video release.

The film examines Monticchiello’s annual tradition, which has attracted worldwide attention, at a time when its population is aging and the younger generation is more interested in Facebook than farming. It interweaves episodes from its past with its modern-day process, as the villagers turn a series of blows into a new play about the end of their world.

Dennis Harvey wrote in his SXSW review for Variety, “Though at its core the film is about a dying way of life, the location and photography here are so beguiling that they semi-perversely encourage just the kind of foreign tourism that factors into that slow death.”

“‘Spettacolo’ is a wonder,” said Grasshopper Film President Ryan Krivoshey. “The story of a tiny Italian village that for the past half-century has created an alternate world to deal with their own. Seven years after first watching a documentary about an amazing 1/6th scale World War II-era town, I couldn’t be more thrilled to be working with Jeff and Chris on their beautiful new film.”

“Spettacolo” will screen this weekend at the Hot Docs festival Toronto. Grasshopper’s upcoming releases include Sundance Grand Jury winner “Last Men in Aleppo,” Bertrand Bonello’s “Nocturama,” Andrew Rossi’s “Bronx Gothic” and Michael Almereyda’s “Escapes.”

The deal for “Spettacolo” was negotiated by Krivoshey with Andrew Herwitz of the Film Sales Company.

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