EXCLUSIVE: Discovery + continues to develop its documentary slate. The fast-growing streamer acquired the rights to Rebellious heart, the documentary directed by Pedro Kos which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival this year. It will now get a theatrical release as well as a World Arc on the streamer later this year.
Rebel hearts focuses on a pioneer group of nuns in the 1960s in Los Angeles who resisted the patriarchy of the Catholic Church. The sisters who ran Immaculate Heart College in Los Angeles fought for equality (they marched in Selma), their livelihood and their own freedom against an all-powerful cardinal who opposed their actions. Their acts of faith, challenge and activism have shaken the Church. The photo uses archival footage, animation and two decades of never-before-seen interviews assembled by film producer Shawnee Isaac-Smith to tell the story at the center of the film, a co-production between Merman and Anchor Entertainment in association with Level Avant and calm.
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Kira Carstensen, Isaac-Smith and Judy Korin are producers. Ethan Goldman, Kos, Abigail E. Disney, Adrienne Becker, Christy Spitzer Thornton, Quiet and Meadow Fund are executive producers with Nancy Stephens & Rick Rosenthal of Whitewater Films and Tony Hsieh of XTR.
“We are more than excited to partner with Discovery + to bring the forgotten story of the Immaculate Heart Sisters’ joyous rebellion to a global audience,” said Kos, an Emmy-winning editor directing his second feature documentary after 2017 Bend the bow. “Although Rebel hearts mostly set in the 1960s, we’ve always felt that this David vs. Goliath story will resonate a lot today. We are delighted that the world is meeting these inspiring women and experiencing the awakening where they found their voice and became unlikely vanguards of change.
The deal is the latest in the original slate rise of the Discovery streaming platform. After Discovery + launched on January 4, it made a splash in Evgeny Afineevsky’s documentary Francesco, an exploration of the pope’s ministry and leadership. This will bow on March 28, the start of Holy Week, which leads to Easter on April 4. Also on the Discovery + doc slate is My beautiful stutter and Miracle fishing: kidnapped abroad.
“Rebel hearts This year we really stood out at the busy Sundance Film Festival, ”said Igal Svet, vice president of documentaries at Discovery +. “From first frame to last, Pedro Kos’s elegant approach grabs audiences with masterful storytelling showcasing the avant-garde voices of the Immaculate Heart Sisters. These women are game-changing, challenging the status quo around patriarchy, gender politics and social justice while always striving to improve themselves and those around them. It’s the perfect fit for Discovery + where we aspire to spotlight inspiring stories that promote diversity, inclusion and the empowerment of women. “
Josh Braun of Submarine negotiated the deal with Matt Burke on behalf of the filmmakers.