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The film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival where Baig received their Changemaker Award

Executive Produced by and Starring Jurnee Smollett

NEW YORK (OCTOBER 4, 2023) –Sony Pictures Classics has landed North American rights to Stage 6 Films, Participant and Symbolic Exchange’s WE GROWN NOW. The film stars Blake Cameron James, Gian Knight Ramirez, S. Epatha Merkerson, Avery Holliday and Ora Jones, with Lil Rel Howery and Jurnee Smollett.

Written, directed, and produced by Minhal Baig, the film received much acclaim upon its world premiere in the Centrepiece and Next Wave Selects sections at the 2023 Toronto International Film Festival, with Baig receiving the festival’s Changemaker Award which explores issues relevant to young people and is focused on themes of social change and youth empowerment.

In 1992 Chicago, as Michael Jordan solidifies himself as a champion, a story of two young legends in their own right begins. As wide-eyed and imaginative best friends Malik and Eric traverse the city, looking to escape the mundaneness of school and the hardships of growing up in public housing, their unbreakable bond is challenged when tragedy shakes their community just as they are learning to fly.

WE GROWN NOW, presented by Stage 6 Films in association with Participant, is a Symbolic Exchange and Participant production. The film is produced by Joe Pirro and Minhal Baig, and executive produced by Jeff Skoll and Anikah McLaren for Participant; James Schamus for Symbolic Exchange; Carrie Holt de Lama; and Jurnee Smollett.

“I could not be more delighted to have found a home for WE GROWN NOW with Sony Pictures Classics. WE GROWN NOW is a film that captures the tender moments of childhood resilience and the power of human connection in the face of adversity,” said Baig. “Sony Pictures Classics and Participant recognize the significance of our story’s themes of community and the importance of bringing such a film to theaters. We are beyond grateful that they have recognized this film as part of their incredible canon.”

“WE GROWN NOW is a poignant film that explores the universality of the challenges of growing up and the meaning of home,” added Participant CEO David Linde. “Sony Pictures Classics is an ideal partner to share this powerful film with viewers, and we cannot wait for audiences to see Minhal’s vision come to life.”

“The We Grown Now team is thrilled to join the Sony Pictures Classics family who have always been a home for visionary filmmakers like Minhal Baig and movies with, like ours, big hearts and soaring filmic ambitions,” said Joe Pirro, Head of Production at Symbolic Exchange.

Sony Pictures Classics is releasing the film in partnership with Stage 6 Films. Sony Pictures Releasing International will release the film internationally.

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.

Michael Barker and Tom Bernard serve as co-presidents of Sony Pictures Classics—an autonomous division of Sony Pictures Entertainment they founded with Marcie Bloom in January 1992—which distributes, produces, and acquires independent films from around the world.  Barker and Bernard have released prestigious films that have won 41 Academy Awards® (37 of those at Sony Pictures Classics) and have garnered 186 Academy Award® nominations (160 at Sony Pictures Classics) including Best Picture nominations for THE FATHER, CALL ME BY YOUR NAME, WHIPLASH, AMOUR, MIDNIGHT IN PARIS, AN EDUCATION, CAPOTE, HOWARDS END, and CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON. 

Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) is a subsidiary of Tokyo-based Sony Corporation. SPE’s global operations encompass motion picture production, acquisition, and distribution; television production, acquisition, and distribution; television networks; digital content creation and distribution; operation of studio facilities; and development of new entertainment products, services. http://www.sonypictures.com/corp/divisions.html. 

Stage 6 Films, a Sony Pictures Entertainment Motion Picture Group production label, acquires and produces independently-developed feature films of all genres and budgets. Stage 6 Films is the theatrical label for Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions and is used in association with other SPE Motion Picture Group labels, including Columbia Pictures, TriStar Pictures, Screen Gems and Sony Pictures Classics. Its recent and upcoming releases include SISU, directed by Jalmari Helander; Tom Hanks in A Man Called Otto, directed by Marc Forster; the next installment in the Searching franchise, Missing; Craig Gillespie’s Dumb Money, which is in release and stars an ensemble including Paul Dano, Seth Rogen, Sebastian Stan, Pete Davidson, Shailene Woodley, America Ferrera, Anthony Ramos, Dane DeHaan, Vincent D’Onofrio, and Myha’la Herrold; and upcoming Sundance Film Festival Audience Award Winner The Persian Version by director Maryam Keshavarz.

Founded in 2004 by Chairman Jeff Skoll and under the leadership of CEO David Linde, Participant (www.participant.com) is the leading global media company dedicated to content that unites art and activism to create positive change. Participant’s films have secured 86 Academy Award® nominations, including All the Beauty and the Bloodshed, a 2023 nominee for Best Documentary Feature, and 21 wins, including Best Picture for Spotlight and Green Book; Best Documentary Feature for An Inconvenient Truth, CITIZENFOUR, The Cove and American Factory; and Best Foreign Language Film for Roma and A Fantastic Woman. Participant also has earned 57 Emmy® Award nominations and 15 wins, including two wins for the groundbreaking When They See Us.

A pioneer of socially conscious storytelling, Participant partners with key nonprofits and NGOs to drive real-world impact and awareness around today’s most vital issues on a global scale, and is the only major US entertainment company whose social and environmental impact has earned a B Corp Certification. Participant believes that diversity is a source of strength, that inclusion is essential to progress, and that equity is an imperative for impact. Follow Participant on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

ABOUT SYMBOLIC EXCHANGE Symbolic Exchange is a New York-based film and television production company, founded by James Schamus. Schamus is an award-winning screenwriter (The Ice Storm), producer (Brokeback Mountain), and former CEO of Focus Features. His feature directorial debut, an adaptation of Philip Roth’s Indignation, stars Logan Lerman, Sarah Gadon, and Tracy Letts; it premiered at Sundance and was distributed by Summit/Roadside Attractions in 2016. The company’s recent projects include Kitty Green’s The Assistant which premiered in Telluride 2019 and was released by Bleecker Street in 2020, Andrew Ahn’s Driveways which premiered at the 2019 Berlin Film Festival, Rhys Ernst’s Adam, and Jean-Stéphane Sauvaire’s A Prayer Before Dawn which premiered in Cannes in 2017 before being released by A24 summer 2018. The company’s first television series, the Spanish-language limited series Somos, was released globally by Netflix in the summer of 2021.    

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