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Acquisitions – Documentary Films

Rich Hill Double Bill; The Orchard & PBS Mine For Sundance Grand Jury Prize Winner

Deadline reports that 2014 Sundance’s Grand Jury Prize Documentary winner has found a double down of a deal: a theatrical distrib home with the folks at The Orchard and a television preem via with PBS’ Independent Lens. Marking a second affiliation between the PBS and the filmmakers, Tracy Droz Tragos and Andrew Droz’s Rich Hill will likely continue on the fest circuit with screening after Dallas and Hot Docs before breaking into a proposed 18 markets.

Gist: Rich Hill, Missouri. Seventy miles south of Kansas City, fifteen miles east of the Kansas border. Once a thriving mining town, shortly after World War II, the coal was gone – mined out. Stores closed, people moved away, farms were sold. It’s a story that could be told in hundreds of towns across America. But people still live here: 1,393 of them at last count. Deep potholes line the gravel roads, and property tax is almost nonexistent. The town center is littered with piles of bricks, and crumbling buildings are all that remain of the original bank, the corner pharmacy, a cafe. Yet there is still the dream of transformation on the horizon: if only the citizens could attract more business or Rich Hill could be home to an industry once again.

Worth Noting: Tragos and Droz both placed on our Sundance Best of Fest: New Voices list.

Do We Care?: Such as the Grand Jury Prize Documentary winner (Blood Brother) before it, you can believe the hype. Our Jordan M. Smith (review) considers this to be docu truth serum “a radiant observational piece in the midst of Sundance’s politically swamped docu line-up, it’s clear that Rich Hill’s intention was to call attention to the modest under served communities like the titled town and countless comparables, but this all too brief encounter leaves us with little hope and less insight on the future of these three teens battling more with poverty than puberty.”

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Eric Lavallée is the founder, CEO, editor-in-chief, film journalist, and critic at, established in 2000. A regular at Sundance, Cannes, and Venice, Eric holds a BFA in film studies from the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema. In 2013, he served on the narrative competition jury at the SXSW Film Festival. He was an associate producer on Mark Jackson’s "This Teacher" (2018 LA Film Festival, 2018 BFI London). In 2022, he was a New Flesh Juror for Best First Feature at the Fantasia International Film Festival. Current top films for 2023 include The Zone of Interest (Glazer), Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell (Pham Thien An), Totem (Lila Avilés), La Chimera (Alice Rohrwacher), All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt (Raven Jackson).

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