NEW YORK, NY (September 10, 2015) – IFC Films announced today that the company is acquiring North American rights to PELÉ: BIRTH OF A LEGEND. The film, written and directed by Michael and Jeffrey Zimbalist, was produced by Imagine Entertainment and Seine Pictures. The producers are Academy Award-winning Brian Grazer (A BEAUTIFUL MIND, AMERICAN GANGSTER, APOLLO 13) and Kim Roth (INSIDE MAN, THE GOOD LIE) for Imagine Entertainment; Ivan Orlic (MURDER OF A CAT) for Seine Pictures; and Colin Wilson (AVATAR, ZERO DARK THIRTY). The film is executive produced by Pelé himself alongside Paul Kemsley for Legends10, as well as Michael Rosenberg and Alexandre Dauman for Imagine Entertainment, Benjamin Mathes for Seine Pictures, and Alex Walton for Bloom, who are handling international sales for the title. IFC Films will release the film in 2016, when the film will also be released internationally.
PELÉ chronicles the early career of the legendary soccer player – widely regarded as the greatest player in the history of the sport – from his impoverished childhood in a Brazilian favela to his rise to glory in leading Brazil to win its first ever World Cup in Sweden in 1958 at the record-setting age of 17. Pelé’s unorthodox yet authentic style of play and indomitable spirit inspire a country and change the sport, which thereafter became known as “the beautiful game.”
The film was shot entirely on location in Pelé’s home country of Brazil and introduces young local talents Leonardo Carvalho and Kevin de Paula, who were cast to play the rising star at ages 9 and 17 respectively after an extensive international search by the film’s producers and casting directors. Pelé, who visited the set during principal photography commented: “The two young actors who play my younger self will be true stars, as their skills both on screen and on the football pitch proved.”
The cast includes Emmy-nominated Vincent D’Onofrio (MEN IN BLACK, LAW AND ORDER: CRIMINIAL INTENT) and famed Brazilian musician Seu Jorge (CITY OF GOD, THE LIFE AQUATIC WITH STEVEN ZISSOU) as well as Mexican rising star Diego Boneta (ROCK OF AGES, SCREAM QUEENS), Golden Globe-nominated Colm Meaney (THE SNAPPER, THE DAMNED UNITED) and Rodrigo Santoro (300, LOVE ACTUALLY). Additional cast includes local talents such as Mariana Nunes, Milton Gonçalves, Rafael Henrique, Marcus Vinicius, Julio Levy, Thelmo Fernandes, Felipe Simas, Charles Myara, Jerome Franz, and Roger Haag.
The film was written and directed by Jeff and Michael Zimbalist, who previously directed and produced the Emmy- nominated THE TWO ESCOBARS (released by Disney/ESPN Films), an official selection of the 2010 Cannes Film Festival. Jeff Zimbalist additionally directed FAVELA RISING, for which he received the Best Emerging Filmmaker Award at the 2005 Tribeca Film Festival and an Emmy Award nomination in 2006.
The filmmaking team also boasts Academy Award-nominated cinematographer Matthew Libatique (BLACK SWAN, IRON MAN, NOAH), production designer Dominic Watkins (THE BOURNE SUPREMACY, RED DAWN, SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN), and an original score from Academy Award-winner AR Rahman (SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE, 127 HOURS, MILLION DOLLAR ARM).
The deal for the film was negotiated with CAA and WME Global on behalf of Seine Pictures, whose founder, Ivan Orlic, commented: “We could not be more proud to be partners with Pelé in the telling of his legendary and inspiring true story, and are incredibly excited to partner with IFC Films for the film’s North American release and for our film to be in the privileged company of so many of our favorite films that IFC has released throughout the years.”
IFC Films is a sister label to IFC Midnight and Sundance Selects, and is owned and operated by AMC Networks Inc.
The film has also been licensed internationally by Alex Walton’s Bloom, with established global distribution partnerships including in the United Kingdom (Signature), France (Wild Bunch), Greece (Odeon), Italy, (M2), Portugal (Lusomundo), Spain (Flins y Piniculas), Hong Kong (intercontinental), Iceland (Sam Film), Indonesia (PT Amero), Israel (United King), Japan (Asmik Ace), the Middle East (Front Row), the Philippines (PT Parkit), SouthEastern Asia Television (Star/Fox), South Africa (Times Media), Turkey (Italia) and on planes and ships (Jaguar).
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About IFC Films
Established in 2000 and based in New York City, IFC Films is a leading U.S. distributor of quality talent-driven independent film. Previous IFC Films successes include Richard Linklater’s BOYHOOD starring Ellar Coltrane, Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke and Lorelei Linklater, which was nominated for six Academy Awards including Best Picture; and Michael Winterbottom’s THE TRIP TO ITALY starring Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon. Upcoming films include Leslye Headland’s SLEEPING WITH OTHER PEOPLE, starring Jason Sudeikis and Alison Brie; Oren Moverman’s TIME OUT OF MIND, starring Richard Gere and Ben Vereen; Matteo Garrone’s TALE OF TALES starring Salma Hayek, John C. Reilly and Vincent Cassel; and Fernando León de Aranoa’s A PERFECT DAY starring Benicio Del Toro. Some of the company’s notable releases over the years have included Joel Zwick’s MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING, Michael Moore’s FAHRENHEIT 9/11, Lena Dunham’s TINY FURNITURE, Noah Baumbach’s FRANCES HA, and Alfonso Cuaron’s Y TU MAMA TAMBIEN. IFC Films is a sister label to Sundance Selects and IFC Midnight, and is owned and operated by AMC Networks Inc.
About Seine Pictures
Established by Ivan Orlic in 2012 and based in Los Angeles, CA, Seine Pictures is an independent film entertainment company, principally engaged in the financing, acquisition, production, and arranging distribution for high quality theatrical feature films in all media. Seine Pictures previously produced and financed the Tribeca Film Festival official selection MURDER OF A CAT, starring Fran Kranz, Nikki Reed, J.K. Simmons, Blythe Danner and Greg Kinnear, which was released in North America by Gravitas Ventures.