Specialized distributor Ariztical Entertainment has acquired the North American rights to the wholesome gay love story set in New Zealandmysterious shapes.’ Ariztical plans a multi-platform digital launch in 2024.
Written and directed by New Zealander Paul Oremland, the film follows a media storm that threatens the marriage between a vicar, played by Richard Corto (“The Tragedy of Macbeth”) and her Samoan groom, played by Nick Afoa (“The Lion King”), after announcing their intentions to have a traditional church wedding.
The film also marks one of the first on-screen depictions of what is known in the Samoan community as fa’afafine. The character of Billy is played by relative newcomer Joe Malu Folau. An integral part of Samoan culture, fa’afafine are assigned a male identity at birth, but explicitly embody both male and female gender traits in a way unique to Polynesia.
The film was produced in New Zealand by Short, as well as Kiwis Brian Holland and Ngaire Fuata. It debuted in New Zealand through a critically acclaimed limited theatrical run and caught the attention of veteran distributors Michael Jack Shoel and Ariztical’s Dre Sleipnes in the US.
Ariztical is known for its queer content, including the films “Eating Out,” “Eating Out: Sloppy Seconds,” “Goodbye Seventies,” and “From Zero to I Love You.” He is building his 2024 show around “Mysterious Ways,” which he sees as an elevated LGBTQIA title he can bring to the mainstream.
“This title fits us perfectly. Although the family values sensibility of this film contrasts starkly with our popular in-house produced gritty college comedy film franchise ‘Eating Out,’ it rings true to our mission of building bridges and breaking down gender and cultural barriers,” Shoel said. “’Mysterious Ways’ offers us the opportunity to promote strong entertainment with LGBTQ themes in a genre that contrasts our previous success. “This film has a moving message about gays and God and touches on broader themes that speak to our core audience and beyond.”
The film was acquired after negotiations at the recent American Film Market in Santa Monica. “You don’t see a movie like this every day,” Shoel said. “After seeing it and talking to the team behind it, we knew we had something extraordinary on our hands that audiences, both gay and straight, love.”