Music Box Films Nabs North America for Sundance Prize Winner ‘Leonor’

Music Box Films has acquired the North American rights to writer-director Martika Ramirez Escobar’s genre-bending “Leonor Will Never Die,” which won the Special Jury Prize for Innovative Spirit in Sundance this year after premiering in the festival’s World Cinema Dramatic Competition.

The film tells the story of Leonor Reyes, once a major player in the Filipino film industry during its ragtag action cinema glory days, but now in her golden years and struggling to pay her bills. When she reads an advertisement for a screenplay contest, Leonor begins tinkering with an unfinished script about a young man avenging his brother’s murder at the hand of thugs.

But after a falling television knocks her unconscious and sends her into a coma, Leonor finds herself inside her incomplete movie, re-writing and editing on the fly in a fantastical bid to complete the film while her body lies in limbo.

Variety‘s Amy Nicholson described Escobar’s “playful” debut as “creative and clever,” noting: “Leonor’s adventures in the film within the film — ‘Ang Pagbabalik ng Kwago,’ or ‘The Return of Kwango’ — play like an affectionate sendup of cornball heroics. The punches whiff, the sound effects are clumsy, and the score by Alyana Cabral and Pan De Coco is deadpan hysterical. But Escobar is after something deeper than parody. She wants audiences to question how fictional strongmen have been idealized as real-world saviors.”

“‘Leonor Will Never Die’ is a delightfully imaginative film,” said Brian Andreotti of Music Box Films. “Arthouse audiences and genre fans alike will be cheering for the plucky Leonor as she braves her way through a wholly original combination of pulpy action movie, playful meta cinema, and touching family drama.”

“Since ‘Leonor’s premiere, the reviews and feedback we’ve received have been exceptional. Following its Sundance prize, we are excited for the film to find a North American home with Music Box Films and to see its journey continue and further delight the American audience,” added Cercamon’s Sebastien Chesneau.

“The dream is to screen ‘Leonor Will Never Die’ in a cinema and it looks like that dream is coming true,” said Escobar. “Thank you, Music Box Films, for giving us screens, both big and small. You make us feel that cinemas are awake and smiling.”

The sale of the film was negotiated by Brian Andreotti of Music Box Films and Sebastien Chesneau of Cercamon. Music Box Films will release the film theatrically later this year with a home entertainment plan to follow.

Recent releases from Music Box Films include Sushmit Ghosh and Rintu Thomas’ Oscar-nominated documentary “Writing with Fire,” Pablo Larrain’s “Ema,” and Francois Ozon’s “Summer of ‘85.” Upcoming releases include Kentucker Audley and Albert Birney’s 2021 Sundance fantasy “Strawberry Mansion,” Xavier Giannoli’s Venice-selected period drama “Lost Illusions,” Anita Rocha da Silveira’s Cannes Directors’ Fortnight title “Medusa,” and Mark Cousins’ “The Story of Film: A New Generation.”