EXCLUSIVE: Ava DuVernay’s ARRAY Releasing has acquired Ivan Herrera’s drama Bantú Mama for distribution in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand. The company will be presenting the film — which has been named as the Dominican Republic’s 2023 entry for the Best International Feature Film Oscar — on select screens and on Netflix beginning November 17.
Bantú Mama follows a French woman of African descent who manages to escape after being arrested in the Dominican Republic. She finds shelter in the most dangerous district of Santo Domingo, where she is taken in by a group of children. By becoming their protégée and maternal figure, she then experiences an unimaginable change in her destiny.
“We are honored to distribute the Dominican Republic’s official Oscar submission,” said ARRAY President Tilane Jones. “This deeply moving and vividly drawn drama, beautifully directed by Ivan Herrera and co-written with producer Clarisse Albrecht, is a bold vision that we’re thrilled to share with audiences.”
The film world premiered at the 2021 SXSW Film Festival, before going on to screen at fests including BFI London Film Festival and Urbanworld. Herrera, Albrecht, Franmiris Lombert & Nicolas LaMadrid produced the pic, which has picked up awards from the Durban Film Festival, Latino and Iberian Film Festival at Yale, 47/Festival de Huelva, Festival de Cine Fine Arts, Nova Frontier Film Festival and Quibdó África Film Festival.
DuVernay founded the Peabody-winning ARRAY in 2011. Past releases from the company include DuVernay’s Sundance-winning Middle of Nowhere and This Is the Life; Haile Gerima’s Sankofa and Ashes and Embers; Deepa Mehta’s Funny Boy; Sterlin Harjo’s Love and Fury; Isabel Sandoval’s Lingua Franca; Sujata Day’s Definition Please; Agam Darshi’s Donkeyhead; Blitz Bazawule’s The Burial of Kojo; Merawi Gerima’s Residue; Takeshi Fukunaga’s Ainu Mosir; Shantrelle P. Lewis’ In Our Mothers’ Gardens; Ainsley Gardiner and Briar Grace-Smith’s Cousins; Shaz Bennett’s Alaska Is a Drag; Stephanie Turner’s Justine; Simon Frederick’s They’ve Gotta Have Us; Numa Perrier’s Jezebel; Phillip Youmans’ Burning Cane; and Andrew Dosonmu’s Restless City, among other titles.
Filmmakers Albrecht and Herrera negotiated the deal for Bantú Mama with Gordon Bobb of Del, Shaw, Moonves, who repped ARRAY.