By MCN Editor

Variance Films slam dunks announcement for acquisition of theatrical rights to ELEVATE

No lockout at movie theaters as basketball doc directed by Anne Buford to open next month

New York, September 23, 2011 – Variance Films has acquired US theatrical rights to the basketball documentary ELEVATE, it was announced today by founder Dylan Marchetti. Directed by Anne Buford, the film follows four teenagers from Senegal as they embark on a journey to fulfill their dreams of playing in the NBA. ELEVATE will open theatrically on October 21st in New York at the AMC Empire 25 in Times Square, and November 4th in Los Angeles at Laemmle’s Sunset 5 before a national rollout.

“I’m a basketball fanatic, and, naturally, I love a great documentary that’s inspirational and fun without getting preachy. ELEVATE is a swish on both of these levels, and I think audiences are going to fall in love with the four amazing kids in this truly heartwarming film,” said Variance Films’ Founder, Dylan Marchetti. “When you go looking for basketball in October, there may or may not be an NBA season, but I can promise you there’s not going to be a lockout at the movie theater, so bring the family and come on out!”

From a basketball academy in West Africa to the high-pressure world of American prep schools, ELEVATE documents the extraordinary personal journeys of four particularly tall West African teenagers with big hearts, open minds, and NBA dreams.

The SEEDS Academy in Dakar, Senegal, sits on a small plot of land leased from the government. There, the best young basketball players from across West Africa gather to take part in a strenuous program of academics and athletic training. For those who stand out, the potential reward is huge: full scholarships to the top prep schools in the United States, where the right combination of skill and dedication will earn them a great education, pave the way to college, and open the door to basketball at the NCAA level… and maybe even a shot at the NBA.

ELEVATE follows four young men who make the cut, receive scholarships, and head off to the USA. Filmed over four years and across two continents, ELEVATE documents the daunting challenges they face, from the alienation that comes with being a seven foot tall Muslim at a Christian prep school (in an American culture rife with African stereotypes) to mastering English, adapting to aggressive American-style basketball… and navigating the vagaries of high school, girls, and drivers ed.

ELEVATE will also play theaters in Dallas and San Antonio on November 4th, in Chicago, Houston, Washington DC and Oklahoma City on November 11th, and in Seattle and Phoenix on November 18th, with additional markets to follow.

ELEVATE was directed by Anne Buford, produced by Buford, Chiemi Karasawa, Mark Becker, and Victoria Yoffie, edited by Mark Becker, Chris White, and Richard Hankin A.C.E., and features music by Shawn Lee. For more information, visit


Variance Films is a New York City based theatrical distribution company whose mission is to bring the best of independent cinema to audiences across the US and Canada via theatrical releasing, while allowing filmmakers to retain all rights to their work. Founded in 2008 by Dylan Marchetti, Variance distributes films using innovative release strategies that focus on collaborative grassroots marketing and outreach to drive audiences to theaters. Recent Variance Films releases include AMERICAN: THE BILL HICKS STORY, STRANGE POWERS: STEPHIN MERRITT AND THE MAGNETIC FIELDS, IP MAN 2: LEGEND OF THE GRANDMASTER, John Sayles’ AMIGO, SHAOLIN, LITTLEROCK, GENERAL ORDERS NO. 9, and THE WEIRD WORLD OF

BLOWFLY. Upcoming releases include Jackie Chan’s 100th film, 1911, on October 7th, HIT SO HARD, an intimate look at the Seattle grunge scene of the mid 90s from the perspective of Patty Schemel, the drummer from HOLE, in spring 2012, and the highest-grossing film in China’s history, LET THE BULLETS FLY, in March 2012. In addition, Variance has consulted on distribution and marketing strategies for films such as Kino Lorber’s WINNEBAGO MAN and Arthouse Films’ HERB & DOROTHY, among others. For more information, please visit


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