Shout! Studios has acquired North American rights to the platonic love story “Language Lessons” from Duplass Brothers Productions, following a competitive bidding situation. The news comes on the heels of the movie’s world premiere at the Berlin Film Festival and its Audience Award win at the SXSW Film Festival.
“Language Lessons” marks the feature directorial debut of Natalie Morales (“Dead to Me,” “Plan B”). It stars and was written by Mark Duplass (“The Morning Show,” “Room 104”) and Morales, and was produced by Mel Eslyn.
The film follows Adam (Duplass), whose husband surprises him with a gift of a year’s worth of weekly Spanish lessons. But when tragedy strikes, his teacher, Cariño (Morales), becomes a lifeline he didn’t know he needed and the two develop an unexpected and complicated emotional bond.
Shot in secret during the pandemic with a skeleton crew in Los Angeles and Costa Rica, “Language Lessons’ ” exploration of long-distance connection is both of its time and timeless.
The film received critical acclaim out of Berlin and SXSW, with Variety’s Guy Lodge praising it as “a rare and perceptive film about the formation of a friendship with the push-pull dynamics of a romantic comedy.”
Shout! Studios plans a strategic launch of this movie across all major platforms in North America, beginning with a theatrical launch later this year.
The deal was negotiated by Jessica Lacy at ICM Partners for Duplass Brothers Productions and Shout’s Jordan Fields, vice president of acquisitions, Julie Dansker, head of new content sales, and Steven Katz, vice president of business affairs for Shout! Studios.
“Shout! has held a special place in my heart, way back since their release of my first show, ‘The Middleman.’ What can I say? They’ve always had a good eye, and they’ve always been supportive of the little guy. I’m thrilled that they’re the ones who will bring this movie about connection to larger audiences in a time where I think we could all use it,” Morales stated.
“We’ve been so humbled by the response to our little film, but it was Shout!’s unwavering passion and innovative strategy that won us over in the end,” Mark Duplass said.
“I am thrilled to partner once again with Mark and Mel, iconic storytellers and filmmakers, on this award-winning and very special film,” Julie Dansker, Shout’s head of new content sales, said. “The performances from Mark and Natalie are amazing and we are so excited to share Natalie’s incredibly impressive and refreshing directorial debut with audiences.”
Jordan Fields, vice president of acquisitions at Shout! Studios, commented: “ ‘Language Lessons’ is a masterfully acted, sharply crafted, and profoundly entertaining portrait of friendship by Natalie and Mark. It leaves you hopeful that real human connection can blossom in the uncongenial world of screens.”
The film was executive produced by Morales, Mark Duplass, and Jay Duplass. It features original music by Gaby Moreno.