'War/Dance' on ThinkFilm's list


New York-based indie ThinkFilm has acquired worldwide rights to "War/Dance," which will have its world premiere in competition at Sundance.

Directed by husband and wife Sean Fine and Andrea Nix Fine, the film revolves around a group of African children who overcome the brutal realities of war by participating in a national musical competition. The idea for "War/Dance" was originated by producer Albie Hecht and his wife, Susan MacLaury, and produced through their new nonprofit production company, Shine Global, in conjunction with Fine Films.

ThinkFilm will release the documentary in the fourth quarter.

Set in Northern Uganda, "War/Dance" tells the story of three children whose families have been torn apart, their homes destroyed and who reside in a displaced-persons camp in Patongo. When they are invited to compete in an annual music and dance festival, their historic journey to their nation's capital also is an opportunity to regain a part of their childhood and to taste victory for the first time.

"The emotional power of 'War/Dance' is more than matched by the beauty of its imagery and the eloquence of its storytelling," ThinkFilm head of theatrical Mark Urman said. "Though we are still in the midst of this year's awards season, I am already confident that 'War/ Dance' will figure prominently in next year's race."

ThinkFilm came on board "War/Dance" early in the process after Urman saw several minutes of footage at a Shine Global fundraiser, a nonprofit subsidiary of Hecht's Worldwide Biggies Inc. dedicated to ending the abuse and exploitation of children through the production of documentary films. ThinkFilm worked with the filmmakers to finalize the documentary and prepare it for its Sundance debut this month — in a fashion similar to the company's work with the 2005 Sundance sensation "Murderball."

"After spending over 14 weeks living with these children in a war zone, we felt we had to get their story out to the rest of the world in their own words," Sean and Andrea Fine said.

The deal was negotiated by Richard Rapkowski, vp business and legal affairs at ThinkFilm, and Daniel Katz, vp acquisitions at ThinkFilm, as well as Andrew Herwitz from the Film Sales Co. on behalf of the filmmakers.