Megan Ellison-Mark Boal Israeli Terrorism Doc 'Death in the Terminal' Lands at Topic

Phillip Faraone/Getty Images; Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic
Mark Boal, Megan Ellison

The studio arm of First Look Media ('Spotlight,' 'Missing Richard Simmons') will likely release the film digitally.

Topic, First Look Media’s newly branded entertainment studio, has acquired U.S. rights to directors’ Tali Shemesh's and Asaf Sudry’s Death in the Terminal.

Executive produced by Megan Ellison and Mark Boal, who previously teamed on Zero Dark Thirty, the documentary follows an event that took place Oct. 18, 2015, when a terrorist armed with a gun and a knife entered a bus terminal in the Southern Israeli city of Beersheba. Using surveillance footage and cellphone cameras, the film presents a minute-by-minute Rashomon-style account of the series of tragic events that unfolded over the ensuing 18 minutes. Integrated with eyewitness and participant testimonies, the film exposes a surprising and complex picture that dismantles our preconceptions and challenges our ability to judge these events as they’re revealed in real time.

Alma Har’el (LoveTrue, Bombay Beach), who shepherded the project after discovering it at the Doc Aviv Film Festival, produced Death in the Terminal in partnership with YesDocu. Death in the Terminal nabbed top prizes at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam and Israel’s Academy Awards. The film also recently won the Audience Award and best mid-length documentary award at HotDocs in Toronto this past weekend.

In March, First Look, the company behind Oscar best picture winner Spotlight and hit podcast Missing Richard Simmons, launched Topic and announced such new projects as Dan Powell's Brotherhood of the Bomb. At the time, Adam Pincus and First Look president Michael Bloom indicated that they'd start experimenting directly with consumers, particularly in the digital space. Death in the Terminal would likely eschew a theatrical release and instead go out digitally through Topic.

“This film is a powerful portrayal of how storytelling shifts our perception of people, events and even our own preconceptions,” said Pincus, First Look Media’s executive vp programming and content. “Death in the Terminal is a perfect example of what we look for — it’s provocative, artful filmmaking that challenges us to rethink how we look at the world.”

Boal is executive producing via his Page 1 film and TV production company.

“This is a powerful film that bears witness to the fear and paranoia of ‘the other’ that has gripped societies worldwide," said Page 1 president Hugo Lindgren. "These brave and talented filmmakers have made an important film, and Page 1 is proud to present it.”

Added Har’el: “Tali Shemesh and Asaf Sudri masterfully question political and social climates that challenge our humanity and turn us against each other. This film is important to any citizen of the world today.”

Ryan Heller negotiated the deal for First Look, while CAA repped the filmmakers.