As scary as a cabin in the woods can be, one of the most disturbing backdrops for a film can be the college culture, where horrors that are all too real sometimes take place. Such is the case in Natalie Leite’s M.F.A., which made its world premiere at the SXSW Film Festival (read Heather's review here) and has now been acquired for US distribution by Dark Sky Films.

Press Release: New York, NY (June 8, 2017) - MPI Media Group announced today that it has acquired all rights in the U.S. to M.F.A., a critically acclaimed powerful thriller starring Francesca Eastwood in a stand out role. The film, from female director and female screenwriter, takes on the searing current issue of sexual violence on campus. M.F.A will be released domestically this fall under the company's Dark Sky Films banner.

The distribution agreement was negotiated by Nicola Goelzhaeuser, MPI's VP of Digital and International Sales, and Ryan Kampe, President of New York-based worldwide film sales company Visit Films. The deal covers U.S. theatrical and digital rights.

Greg Newman, Executive Vice President of Dark Sky Films, said, "M.F.A. is a bold new film in which Francesca Eastwood gives an absolute break-out performance. We're happy to continue our support of the growing body of work by visionary female filmmakers by bringing M.F.A. to US audiences."

M.F.A., which was nominated for the Grand Jury Award at the 2017 SXSW festival, tells a gripping story of a young woman forced to take action to protect herself in "perhaps the bravest, rawest rape-revenge thriller yet" (No Film School). Noelle (Francesca Eastwood, Final Girl, Outlaws and Angels), an art student struggling to find her voice, is sexually assaulted by a fellow classmate. Attempting to cope with her trauma, she impulsively confronts her attacker, leading to a violent altercation that culminates in his accidental death.

Noelle tries to return to normalcy, but when she discovers she is only one of many silenced sexual assault survivors on campus, she takes justice into her own hands. A vigilante is born - retribution is the inspiration she's been waiting for.

M.F.A. was directed by Natalia Leite (Bare) from a debut screenplay by actress Leah McKendrick (Bad Moms). McKendrick also co-stars in the film along with Clifton Collins Jr. (Westworld, Knight of Cups).

Francesca Eastwood has been singled out for extraordinary praise. Kate Erbland of IndieWire said, "Eastwood harnesses the kind of tenacity she's previously displayed ... adding rich emotional layers to a demanding role." "Francesca Eastwood gives a stirring, sterling performance, transforming from a wallflower into a dynamic powerhouse," wrote Peter Martin at Screen Anarchy. "Eastwood's performance is something out of this world," said Dread Central's Jonathan Barkan.

The film received glowing reviews upon its world premiere at SXSW. Variety's Andrew Barker said, "An unapologetically feminist, female-centric take on the oft-problematic (and oft-male-gaze-dominated) rape-revenge thriller genre ... Leite directs with a bracing, assertive style." Brad Miska of Bloody Disgusting called it "intensely engaging, thought-provoking, and also mesmerizing." "Spectacular, risky and wonderfully realized by Natalia Leite," said We Live Entertainment's Nick Casaletto.

MPI Media Group is a leading producer and distributor of films, television, and more. MPI works with top filmmakers and partners to produce original, director-driven films that enjoy strong festival play and critical acclaim as well as commercial appeal. Recent original productions and co-financing projects include TIFF world premiere Catfight, Sundance Film Festival selection Tickled, anthology horror Southbound, and Sundance documentary
Call Me Lucky. MPI has co-produced films in the Netherlands, Ireland, Mexico and across the United States with partners including Syfy and the New Zealand Film Commission.

Dark Sky Films is MPI's genre division dedicated to the production and distribution of new and innovative horror and elevated genre films from filmmakers around the world. Representing films from some of the most talented directors working today, such as Ti West's The House of the Devil and The Innkeepers, and Jim Mickle's Stake Land, Dark Sky continues to identify original talent and projects to bring a vibrant slate of titles to the world market. Dark Sky's most recent, highly successful releases include Catfight, Emelie, We Are Still Here, and Deathgasm.

MPI International is part of established US independent producer and distributor MPI Media Group, parent company to the popular genre label Dark Sky Films. MPI's international division is active in sales, financing and co-productions.

Founded in 2003, Los Angeles-based MarVista Entertainment is a leading independent entertainment studio that produces, acquires and distributes premium film and television content worldwide. With a library showcasing nearly 2,500 hours of content, and with approximately 40 new movies per year added to the company's distribution pipeline, MarVista has become one of the largest suppliers of movies to the worldwide marketplace. MarVista has an expansive distribution footprint spanning more than 125 global territories, and has grown to become a pre-eminent supplier of programming to major cable networks in the U.S., including Disney Channel/Disney XD, Lifetime, Hallmark Channel, NBC Universal, Nickelodeon and MTV Networks, as well as key international broadcasters, cable networks and digital platforms. MarVista's recent projects include Bitch, the first film in their partnership with Elijah Wood's Company X/Spectrevision that premiered at this year's Sundance Film Festival; and Rebel, the dramatic series from executive producer John Singleton currently airing on BET.

Company was formed by partners Elijah Wood, Daniel Noah, Josh C. Waller and Lisa Whalen to apply the high ideals associated with independent films to larger, more commercial fare. Their first title, Bitch, premiered at Sundance 2017 to great acclaim. Company X's genre label, SpectreVision produced A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night, Cooties, Open Windows, The Boy and the cult hit, The Greasy Strangler, earning them spots at the most prestigious festivals in the world, as well as numerous awards and nominations. Upcoming Company X productions include Joe Dante's Roger Corman biopic, The Man With Kaleidoscope Eyes, and a supernatural thriller shot and set on the historic Queen Mary. Outside of the feature arena, they have series in development at Sony and Cartoon Network, a partnership with Ubisoft to create virtual reality content, and a text-based mobile game called "Dispatch" releasing summer 2017.

  • Derek Anderson
    About the Author - Derek Anderson

    Raised on a steady diet of R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps books and Are You Afraid of the Dark?, Derek has been fascinated with fear since he first saw ForeverWare being used on an episode of Eerie, Indiana.

    When he’s not writing about horror as the Senior News Reporter for Daily Dead, Derek can be found daydreaming about the Santa Carla Boardwalk from The Lost Boys or reading Stephen King and Brian Keene novels.