Sundance: Dogwoof Snaps Up ‘Ailey,’ ‘Captains of Zaatari’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Manori Ravindran
·3-min read

London-based sales agent Dogwoof has snapped up Sundance-bound documentaries “Ailey” and “Captains of Zaatari.”

Directed by Jamila Wignot (“Axios,” “Street Fighting Men”), “Ailey” will world premiere in the U.S. Documentary competition. Dogwoof will handle international rights, while Cinetic will oversee North American sales.

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The outfit has also snapped up the debut feature by Ali El Arabi, “Captains of Zaatari,” which will launch in the World Documentary competition. The film was added to the Sundance doc competition earlier this week.

“Ailey” is billed as an immersive profile of ground-breaking African American choreographer Alvin Ailey, founder of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. The archive-laden “Ailey” captures the enigmatic dancer who, confronted by a world that refused to embrace him, was forced to carve out a new path for himself.

Produced by Lauren DeFilippo, “Ailey” is an Insignia Films production, in association with American Masters Pictures, ITVS, XTR, Impact Partners and Black Public Media. The deal was brokered between Oli Harbottle, head of acquisitions at Dogwoof, and DeFilippo. The film premieres at the virtual Sundance on Jan. 30.

”It’s about time Alvin Ailey and his American Dance Theater get the recognition they so richly deserve, and Jamila has delivered a fantastic portrait of both the man and his mission to appeal to fans of dance worldwide,” said Harbottle.

Wignot added: “Insignia Films and I are thrilled to have Dogwoof on board as the international sales agents for ‘Ailey.’ We are huge fans of their incredible slate of films and look forward to partnering with them to ensure our film reaches Alvin Ailey’s massive and devoted global audiences.”

Elsewhere, “Captains of Zaatari” follows best friends Mahmoud and Fawzi, who live in the Zaatari Refugee Camp in Jordan and dream of becoming professional soccer players. When a world-renowned sports academy visits, they finally get a chance to realize their dream.

“Captains of Zaatari” was directed and produced by El Arabi, and co-produced by Aya Dowara, Am-jad Abu Alala and Michael Henrichs. Consulting producers are Daniel J. Chalfen and Mark Lotfy. Support was provided from the Beirut DC Madar Fund, CineGouna Platform, FinalCut Venice, IEFTA, Malmo Arab Film Festival, Medimed and the Tribeca Film Institute.

Harbottle acquired the film directly from the filmmakers and Daniel J. Chalfen of Naked Edge Films. Pic premieres on Jan. 31.

“Captains of Zaatari is a complete delight: on the surface a refugee story but beyond that, an incredibly tender coming-of-age tale which shows how football can offer opportunities of a better life for so many around the world,” said Harbottle. “Ali is definitely a filmmaker to watch and we can’t wait to introduce his directorial debut to buyers.”

El Arabi added: “ I am thrilled to be collaborating with Dogwoof and could not think of a better partner for this film.”

Dogwoof has four features and two series premiering at Sundance. Previously announced titles include “Sabaya” and “Playing With Sharks,” which compete in the World Documentary section, while “Philly D.A.” competes in the Premieres section and “Seeds of Deceit” debuts in Indie Series.

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