IFC Films has acquired U.S. rights to “Catch the Fair One,” a thriller from “Narcos” director Josef Kubota Wladyka that stars real-life professional boxer, Kali “K.O.” Reis. The deal comes after “Catch the Fair One” debuted at the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival, where it received warm reviews and captured the Audience Award and a Special Jury mention for Reis’ performance.
It was a role that Reis helped develop in conjunction with Wladyka, who wrote the screenplay based on a story she created. And it’s also a film that drew on her experiences as the first Indigenous fighter to win the International Boxing Association middleweight crown and the reigning WBA Super lightweight champion.
“Catch the Fair One” follows Kaylee “K.O.” Uppashaw (Reis), a former boxer, as she discovers that her missing sister is possibly alive and circulating in a trafficking network. She plugs herself into this dark and dangerous world to find her, which tests her strength and determination. The film also stars Daniel Henshall, Tiffany Chu, Michael Drayer, Shelito Vincent, Lisa Emery, Kimberly Guerrero, and Kevin Dunn. It is produced by recent Academy Award winner Mollye Asher (“Nomadland”) of The Population, Kimberly Parker (“The Last Black Man in San Francisco”), and Wladyka, with Darren Aronofsky (“The Wrestler”) executive producing alongside Mynette Louie, Derek Nguyen, Ari Handel, Cat Hobbs, James Hausler, Charles Stiefel, Todd Stiefel, Michael D’Alto, Chris Triana, Claude Amadeo, Shaun Sanghani, Sam Bisbee, and Arturo Castro.
IFC Films is planning to release the film in 2022.
“’Catch the Fair One’ plays like a beautifully-crafted thriller while shining much needed light on a sadly prevalent issue in North America – the trafficking of Indigenous women – and we were absolutely floored by Josef Kubota Wladyka’s handling of such emotional subject matter,” said Arianna Bocco, president of IFC Films. “We’re so glad we have the opportunity to usher in a new talent to the IFC family with Wladyka and the raw and brutally powerful performance from newcomer Kali Reis and to continue working with this amazing producing team.”
“All these years living in NYC and walking down 6th Avenue, I’ve dreamt of having a film up on the marquee at the IFC Center,” said Wladyka. “I am so excited to be working with IFC Films for the distribution of ‘Catch the Fair One.’ I’ve always admired the bold and unique films they’ve put out into the world, and we can’t wait for people to see the film.”
The deal was negotiated by Bocco and IFC Director of Acquisitions Aijah Keith with Andrew Herwitz, president of The Film Sales Company, on behalf of the filmmakers.
Variety's Brett Lang contributed to this post.