Rodrigo Reyes’ Documentary ‘499’ Acquired by Cinema Guild For U.S. (EXCLUSIVE)

Rodrigo Reyes’ Tribeca prize-winning documentary feature “499” has been acquired by Cinema Guild for U.S. distribution, Variety has learned exclusively.

The film was selected for the 2020 Tribeca Film Festival where it won the best cinematography award in the documentary competition. The doc also won the special jury prizes at both the Hot Docs and EIDF Korea, and it had its European Premiere at IDFA in the fall.

Upon the 500-year anniversary of the Spanish Conquest, the documentary follows a 16th-century conquistador (Eduardo San Juan) who begins a journey in modern-day Mexico, remembering events from his past while encountering the testimonies of survivors of contemporary violence.

“Rodrigo has given the world a daring film that so beautifully illustrates the absurdity of colonialism,” said Cinema Guild president Peter Kelly. “We can’t wait to share his unique brand of storytelling with
U.S. audiences.” Cinema Guild will release the film theatrically in 2021.

“Anniversaries are incredibly powerful opportunities to bring history to life, to re-imagine ourselves and our universe,” Reyes said. “Many countries with a colonial past, including the U.S., are in desperate need of confronting their own histories of exploitation — not because this past is gone and resolved, but precisely because it is alive and well.”

The deal was negotiated by Peter Kelly of Cinema Guild with Lucas Verga of The Film Sales Company. Reyes’ work has received the support of The Mexican Film Institute (IMCINE), as well as the Sundance and Tribeca Institutes, among others.

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