* Mariem Pérez Riera’s crowdpleaser documentary premiered at Sundance 2021; Norman Lear and Lin-Manuel Miranda among producers*
(LOS ANGELES – March 29, 2021) – Following its world premiere at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival, Roadside Attractions has acquired the critically-hailed (100% on Rottentomatoes/35 reviews) documentary RITA MORENO: JUST A GIRL WHO DECIDED TO GO FOR IT, and is planning a robust theatrical release on June 18, 2021, only in theaters. Roadside took North American rights excluding the TV license to PBS’ American Masters, which will present the exclusive U.S. broadcast premiere of the doc after a broad theatrical release. The deal was negotiated by Matt Burke and Josh Braun of Submarine on behalf of the filmmakers with Roadside’s Howard Cohen and Angel An.
Over a 70+ year career, Rita Moreno defied both her humble upbringing and relentless racism to become a celebrated and beloved actor, one of the rare EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony) Award Winners of our time. Born into poverty on a Puerto Rican farm, Moreno and her seamstress mother immigrated to New York City when Moreno was five years old. After studying dance and performing on Broadway, Moreno was cast as any ethnic minority the Hollywood studios needed filled, be it Polynesian, Native American or Egyptian. Despite becoming the first Latina actress to win an Academy Award for her role as Anita in “West Side Story” (1961), the studios continued to offer Moreno lesser roles as stereotypical ethnic minorities, ignoring her proven talent. RITA MORENO: JUST A GIRL WHO DECIDED TO GO FOR IT illuminates the humor and the grace of Moreno, as well as lesser-known struggles faced on her path to stardom, including pernicious Hollywood sexism and abuse, a toxic relationship with Marlon Brando, and serious depression a year before she emerged an Oscar winner. Moreno’s talent and resilience triumphed over adversity, as she broke barriers, fought for LatinX representation and forged the path for new generations of artists.
In addition to Moreno, others featured in the Mariem Pérez Riera-directed doc include George Chakiris, Héctor Elizondo, Gloria Estefan, Tom Fontana, Morgan Freeman, Mitzi Gaynor, Whoopi Goldberg, Norman Lear, Eva Longoria, Justina Machado, Terrence McNally, Lin-Manuel Miranda and Karen Olivo
American Masters Pictures and Act III Productions in association with Artemis Rising and Maramar Films Present RITA MORENO: JUST A GIRL WHO DECIDED TO GO FOR IT, directed by Mariem Pérez Riera. Executive producers are Michael Kantor, Lyn Davis Lear, Norman Lear, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Regina K. Scully. Produced by Brent Miller, p.g.a, and Mariem Pérez Riera. Cinematography by P.J. López; Music by Kathryn Bostic; Edited by Kevin Klauber and Mariem Pérez Riera. Co-Produced by Ilia J. Vélez-Dávila.
“Roadside Attractions, I’m so pleased for your commitment to my story and especially for making it available to a broader audience. Curtain Up!”, Moreno commented.
“Stars like Rita are few and far between, her showbiz story and personal remembrances resonate for a large, diverse audience, and the heights she continues to achieve are a true crowdpleasing uplift after the year we’ve all had,” said Roadside co-presidents Howard Cohen and Eric d’Arbeloff.
“Rita is an incredible inspiration to so many, hers is a success story for all women who feel alone as they struggle to assert themselves with courage and bravery against heavy odds,” offered director Pérez Riera. “We are so thrilled to bring Rita to theaters for audiences to spend time with a woman who, when speaking about herself, speaks to and for a lot of us.”
“There were only a small group of distributors we hoped would take notice at Sundance. Roadside was at the top of that list,” said ACT III’s Brent Miller and Norman Lear. “We think we’re in great hands with Howard and Eric at the helm and couldn’t be more excited for the world to know the Rita we now know and love.”
ABOUT ROADSIDE ATTRACTIONS
Since its founding in 2003, Roadside Attractions’ films have grossed over $300 million and garnered 23 Academy Award® nominations. Roadside Attractions’ recent releases include the Oscar®-winning Judy, starring Renee Zellweger, and the No. 1 independent film of summer 2019, The Peanut Butter Falcon. Their faith-based I Can Only Imagine was the No. 1 independent film of 2018 with a gross of $83.5 million. The company has released such critical and commercial hits as Manchester by the Sea, Ben Is Back, Beatriz at Dinner, Whitney, Stronger, Love & Friendship, Hello, My Name Is Doris, Mr. Holmes, Love & Mercy, A Most Wanted Man, Dear White People, The Skeleton Twins, All Is Lost, Mud, Winter’s Bone, The Cove, Arbitrage, Margin Call and Super Size Me.
ABOUT MARAMARA FILMS
Maramara Films is a production company dedicated to creating independent films, documentaries, and digital content with a focus on marginalized groups, specifically women, and the Latinx community. Maramara has generated a variety of projects such as award winning documentaries, “Cuando Lo Pequeño Se Hace Grande”, “De Puerto Rico Para El Mundo”, “Diez En La Música”, PSA “Voices For Puerto Rico” and the web series “Chamacas”. Maramara Films (a nickname given to Mariem Pérez Riera by her family) is committed to the development of high artistic quality projects that provoke conversations and awareness on overlooked Latinx topics.
ABOUT AMERICAN MASTERS PICTURES
Founded in 2016 by executive producer Michael Kantor, American Masters Pictures is WNET’s theatrical imprint for documentaries. Films include Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool, Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am, and Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story. Since 1986, American Masters has set the standard for documentary film profiles, accruing widespread critical acclaim: 28 Emmy Awards — including 10 for Outstanding Non-Fiction Series and five for Outstanding Non-Fiction Special — 14 Peabodys, an Oscar, three Grammys, two Producers Guild Awards and many other honors. The series is a production of THIRTEEN PRODUCTIONS LLC for WNET.
ABOUT ACT III PRODUCTIONS
Founded in 1985, ACT III Productions is a media company dedicated to creating and producing content that both entertains and generates conversation. Under the leadership of CEO, Norman Lear, and his producing partner, Brent Miller, ACT III joined the Sony Pictures Entertainment family in 2018 with a first look deal. Known for programs like the critically acclaimed reimagining of One Day at A Time (Netflix / POP), docuseries America Divided (Epix), and the Jimmy Kimmel co-production Live In Front of a Studio Audience…(ABC), ACT III remains committed to illuminating our social and political realities while diversifying the media landscape.
ABOUT ARTEMIS RISING
Artemis Rising Foundation is dedicated to supporting media projects that transform our culture and challenge the status quo. Led by our founder and CEO, Regina K. Scully, the foundation champions powerful stories about some of the most challenging social justice issues of our time — including gender-bias, healing, trauma, mental health, addiction and women’s empowerment. With its focus on human rights, Artemis Rising Foundation has helped produce some of the most impactful documentary films of the past decade, inspiring meaningful policy change to legislation, education, corporate protocol and cultural norms.