Language Lessons, the directorial debut movie from Natalie Morales that was a hit at this year’s South by Southwest (SXSW), has picked up distribution in the United States. After having its world premiere at this year’s Berlin Film Festival, the movie screened at SXSW last month where it won an audience award.
Noticing the success of Language Lessons, Shout! Studios picked up the North American rights to the movie. The plan now is to release the movie in additional theaters and other platforms later this year through the deal that also includes digital, VOD, broadcast, and home entertainment rights. It’s not yet clear when the company will be rolling out the distribution plans for the feature.
“Shout! has held a special place in my heart, way back since their release of my first show, The Middleman. What can I say? They’ve always had a good eye, and they’ve always been supportive of the little guy,” Morales said in a statement. “I’m thrilled that they’re the ones who will bring this movie about connection to larger audiences in a time where I think we could all use it.”
Added Jordan Fields, VP Acquisitions at Shout! Studios: “Language Lessons is a masterfully acted, sharply crafted, and profoundly entertaining portrait of friendship by Natalie and Mark. It leaves you hopeful that real human connection can blossom in the uncongenial world of screens.”
Language Lessons follows Adam (Mark Duplass), whose husband surprises him with a gift of a year’s worth of weekly Spanish lessons. But when tragedy strikes, his teacher, Cari&ño (Natalie Morales), becomes a lifeline he didn’t know he needed and the two develop an unexpected and complicated emotional bond. Along with directing and starring, Morales executive produced alongside Duplass and Jay Duplass. Mel Eslyn produced.
“We’ve been so humbled by the response to our little film, but it was Shout!’s unwavering passion and innovative strategy that won us over in the end,” Mark Duplass said in a statement. In a follow-up tweet, he added: “Now you can all see LANGUAGE LESSONS later this year!”
“I am thrilled to partner once again with Mark and Mel, iconic storytellers and filmmakers, on this award-winning and very special film,” Julie Dansker, Shout’s head of new content sales, also said. “The performances from Mark and Natalie are amazing and we are so excited to share Natalie’s incredibly impressive and refreshing directorial debut with audiences.”
Language Lessons is the directorial debut of Morales, who has appeared in shows like Dead to Me and Plan B. Duplass, known for The Morning Show and Room 104, wrote the screenplay. The feature includes original music by Gaby Moreno. Shot in secret during the pandemic, the movie was developed using a small skeleton crew in Los Angeles and Costa Rica.
There are always fantastic movies coming out of SXSW every year, and the tradition has continued with 2021’s online event. Be sure to watch out for the release of Language Lessons to see what had the people in attendance at the virtual SXSW so satisfied. This news comes to us from Variety.