By Anthony D'Alessandro
Roadside Attractions has acquired North American distribution rights on the 2021 Sundance Film Festival documentary Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided To Go For It.
A release is planned for June 18. Roadside’s deal excludes the TV license to PBS’ American Masters, which will present the exclusive U.S. broadcast premiere of the docu after it hits theaters.
In addition to Moreno, others featured in the Mariem Pérez Riera-directed doc include George Chakiris, Héctor Elizondo, Gloria Estefan, Tom Fontana, Morgan Freeman, Mitzi Gaynor, Whoopi Goldberg, Norman Lear, Eva Longoria, Justina Machado, Terrence McNally, Lin-Manuel Miranda and Karen Olivo.
The docu covers Moreno’s 70-year-plus career rise and struggles, from her beginnings in poverty on a Puerto Rican farm to becoming a rare EGOT winner. She’s the first Latina actress to win an Oscar (for her role as Anita in 1961’s West Side Story). Despite the win, studios continued to offer Moreno lesser roles as stereotypical ethnic minorities, ignoring her proven talent.
“Roadside Attractions, I’m so pleased for your commitment to my story and especially for making it available to a broader audience. Curtain Up!”, Moreno commented.
“Stars like Rita are few and far between, her showbiz story and personal remembrances resonate for a large, diverse audience, and the heights she continues to achieve are a true crowd pleasing uplift after the year we’ve all had,” said Roadside co-presidents Howard Cohen and Eric d’Arbeloff.
“Rita is an incredible inspiration to so many, hers is a success story for all women who feel alone as they struggle to assert themselves with courage and bravery against heavy odds,” offered director Pérez Riera. “We are so thrilled to bring Rita to theaters for audiences to spend time with a woman who, when speaking about herself, speaks to and for a lot of us.”
“There were only a small group of distributors we hoped would take notice at Sundance. Roadside was at the top of that list,” said pic’s producer, ACT III’s Brent Miller and EP Norman Lear. “We think we’re in great hands with Howard and Eric at the helm and couldn’t be more excited for the world to know the Rita we now know and love.”
American Masters Pictures and Act III Productions in association with Artemis Rising and Maramar Films are producers. EPs are Michael Kantor, Lyn Davis Lear, Norman Lear, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Regina K. Scully. Produced by Brent Miller, p.g.a, and Mariem Pérez Riera.
The deal was negotiated by Matt Burke and Josh Braun of Submarine on behalf of the filmmakers with Roadside’s Howard Cohen and Angel An.