NEON Acquires Jamila Wignot’s Documentary ‘Ailey’ – Sundance

NEON has made its second acquisition of the Sundance Film Festival with Jamila Wignot’s Ailey, about dance legend Alvin Ailey.

The film debuted at the festival yesterday in the U.S. Documentary Competition section. The documentary explores Ailey’s life and his connection to the present dance company that bears his name with never-before-heard audio interviews recorded in the last year of his life and rare dance performances by the Ailey Company. Ailey found salvation through dance and he pioneered choreography centering on African American experiences. He endured racism and homophobia; addiction and mental illness.

Darcy Heusel, NEON’s Head of Impact and Audience Engagement, remarked “Ailey is a searing and inspirational account of a visionary artistic genius who used his gift of dance and movement to express the Black American experience. Jamila Wignot has created an indelible portrait of both the artist and his work and NEON is thrilled to be part of continuing his legacy by bringing this remarkable film to theaters across the country.”

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“On behalf of Insignia Films and the entire creative team behind AILEY, we couldn’t be happier to be partnering with NEON,” said producer Lauren DeFilippo of Insignia Films. “NEON has such an incredible slate of films that we’re proud to become a part of, and we look forward to working with them to bring Jamila Wignot’s beautiful rendering of Alvin Ailey’s inspiring and necessary story to audiences nationwide.”

Ailey is directed by Wignot, produced by Lauren DeFilippo and edited by Annukka Lilja. Rebecca Kent served as archival producer while Naiti Gámez was director of photography and Al Malonga was production designer. Daniel Bernard Roumain composed the music.

The doc is produced by Insignia Films in association with American Masters Pictures, the Ford Foundation’s JustFilms, ITVS, XTR, Impact Partners, and Black Public Media. Stephen Ives, Amanda Pollak, Michael Kantor, Emily Blavatnik, Judy Kinberg, Sally Jo Fifer, Tony Hsieh, Roberto Grande, Mimi Pham, Bryn Mooser, Kathryn Everett, Jenny Raskin, Geralyn White Dreyfous and Regina K. Scully executive produced.

The deal was negotiated by Ayo Kepher-Maat and Jeff Deutchman for NEON and Jason Ishikawa and Shane Riley of Cinetic on behalf of the filmmakers. Dogwoof is handling foreign sales.

Wignot’s directing work includes the series The African-Americans: Many Rivers to Cross, which won the Peabody Award, the Emmy Award, and the NAACP Image Award; Town Hall, a documentary portrait of Tea Party activists; Peabody Award–winning Triangle Fire; and Emmy-nominated Walt Whitman. Wignot’s producing credits include W. Kamau Bell’s Bring The Pain; Musa Syeed’s A Stray; and WNET’s The Supreme Court: the Rehnquist Revolution, an IDA Best Limited Series winner.

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