Shudder Acquires Jayro Bustamante’s Orphanage Fable ‘Rita’ Ahead Of Fantasia Film Festival Debut

EXCLUSIVE: AMC Networks’ genre streamer Shudder has acquired the fantasy pic Rita from Jayro Bustamante, the writer-director behind its Golden Globe-nominated La Llorona, ahead of the film’s Fantasia Film Festival world premiere. Starring Giuliana Santa Cruz, Bustamante’s fourth feature will release on the platform on November 22.

Rita follows a 13-year-old of the same name, who while fleeing a neglectful household, is placed in an oppressive state-run orphanage. Rita’s arrival provides a glimmer of hope to the girls inside, who share a prophecy that an angel will appear to release them. Encouraged by one another, the girls plan an escape to claim their freedom and expose the orphanage’s abuses of power. Based on the true story behind one of Guatemala’s most harrowing tragedies — the orphanage fire of 2017, which took the lives of 41 girls — Rita shines a light on the brave orphans whose fight for survival inspired a nationwide outcry for justice and reform.

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No stranger to films with sociopolitical resonance, Bustamante’s La Llorona examined the genocide against the indigenous Maya population amid the Guatemalan Civil War through the prism of supernatural horror.

Also starring Alejandra Vasquez, Ángela Quevedo, Isabel Aldana, Sabrina De La Hoz, Margarita Kénefic and Maria Telón, the fim’s cast of child actors is composed of Guatemalan first-time performers who were selected to join the production following a national casting call that resulted in over 5,000 applications. The select few who appear worked collectively alongside Bustamante to build their characters’ backgrounds and advised on elements of the film’s use of magical realism.

Producers of the film are Bustamante, Jonathan King for Concordia Studio, and Gustavo Matheu.

“Working with Shudder from the beginning felt like the right connection, as I found a distributor that shares the belief that cinema is more than just entertainment or a commercial product,” Bustamante told Deadline. “Since we launched LA LLORONA, Shudder has shown a great ability to handle my films, making them available to viewers through various channels, recognizing that the genre in cinema can be used to generate a powerful, positive, and thought-provoking social impact.”

Stated Shudder’s SVP of Acquisitions and Production Emily Gotto, “We are so proud to continue our work with Jayro, who has proven time and again to be a fearless filmmaker whose dedication to his homeland has put a spotlight on the rich talent and complicated history of Guatemala. RITA again demonstrates Jayro’s deft handling of the horror genre as a catalyst for powerful storytelling, and we can’t wait for the film to leave an impact on audiences.”

Gotto repped Shudder in the deal, with Jonathan Kier from Upgrade Productions negotiating on behalf of the filmmakers.

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