Sony Pictures Classics has secured the North American rights to “We Grown Now,” a compelling film that made its world premiere at this year’s TIFF in the Centerpiece and Next Wave Selects section. The movie, written, directed, and produced by Minhal Baig, received the prestigious TIFF Changemaker Award, underscoring its focus on issues relevant to young people, social change, and youth empowerment.
Set against the backdrop of 1992 Chicago, “We Grown Now” unfolds during Michael Jordan’s championship reign, intertwining the stories of two young legends, Malik and Eric. Best friends with boundless imagination, they navigate the city’s challenges while seeking an escape from the monotony of school and the struggles of growing up in public housing. Their unbreakable bond faces a severe test when tragedy strikes their community during a pivotal moment of self-discovery.
The film boasts a stellar cast, including Jurnee Smollett, S. Epatha Merkerson, Blake Cameron James, Lil Rel Howery, and Gian Knight Ramirez.
Taking place over several decades, Chicago’s Cabrini-Green public housing complex embodied prevailing thoughts on urban development. However, by 1992, the community and the world had evolved significantly. Malik and Eric, along with their families, have deep roots in this community. They know every corner and rooftop, where they embark on their adventurous escapades. But their idyllic childhood is disrupted by the intrusion of drugs and crime into their neighborhood. A sudden tragic event further shakes their families, leaving the children’s future uncertain. As Malik’s mother, Dolores (Jurnee Smollett), contemplates a job offer in the unfamiliar suburbs, Malik and Eric grapple with the possibility of being separated.
Minhal Baig, the film’s creator, expressed her delight in finding a home for “We Grown Now” with Sony Pictures Classics and Participant. She described the film as a touching exploration of childhood resilience and the power of human connection in the face of adversity, and she commended Sony Pictures Classics and Participant for recognizing the film’s themes of community and the importance of bringing it to theaters.
David Linde, CEO of Participant, emphasized the film’s poignant exploration of the universal challenges of growing up and the concept of home. He praised Sony Pictures Classics as an ideal partner to share this powerful film with audiences.
Joe Pirro, Head of Production at Symbolic Exchange, expressed the team’s excitement in joining the Sony Pictures Classics family and lauded the company’s history of supporting visionary filmmakers and films with big hearts and ambitious storytelling.
“We Grown Now” is presented by Stage 6 Films in association with Participant and is a Symbolic Exchange and Participant production. The film is produced by Joe Pirro and Minhal Baig, with executive producers including Jeff Skoll, Anikah McLaren, James Schamus, Carrie Holt de Lama, and Jurnee Smollett.
Sony Pictures Classics will handle the movie’s release in North America, with Sony Pictures Releasing International managing international distribution.
The deal was negotiated by SPC, Liesl Copland, EVP, Content and Platform Strategy, Stacey Fong, SVP, Business and Legal Affairs, and Adam Macy, Senior Counsel, Business and Legal Affairs, for Participant, and Virginia Longmuir, EVP, Business Affairs for Stage 6 Films.
Minhal Baig, known for her breakout film “Hala” in 2019, returns with “We Grown Now,” featured as the TIFF Centerpiece. The film explores the transformative year of 1992 in Chicago, juxtaposed with the journey of two young friends, Malik and Eric, as they navigate life’s challenges.
Minhal Baig’s impressive portfolio includes directing shorts like “After Sophie” and “Pretext” and the feature film “Hala.” She also contributed to popular TV series like Hulu’s “Ramy” and Netflix’s “Bojack Horseman.”
Baig embarked on the “We Grown Now” project after completing post-production work on “Hala.” The film beautifully captures the essence of community and the meaning of home, making it a must-see for audiences.
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