IFC Films announced that it is acquiring North American rights to EMBATTLED, an unflinching drama about fathers and sons, toplined by a raw, dynamic performance from veteran actor Stephen Dorff (BladeI Shot Andy WarholTrue DetectiveSomewhere). IFC Films will release the film in November 2020.

The Blitz Films production marks Georgian-born director Nick Sarkisov’s (2016’s Krasny) English-language debut. From a screenplay by David McKenna (American History X), EMBATTLED is set within the world of Mixed Martial Arts. Dorff plays Cash, a man who channels his aggression into becoming a major champion in the cage-fighting sport. He’s achieved wealth and fame, but when his second son is born with Williams Syndrome, an incurable developmental disorder, he runs away from his family. Writer McKenna’s own 15-year-old son Colin, who was born with Williams Syndrome, portrays the boy.

Years later, Cash’s elder son, Jett (Darren Mann, Giant Little Ones, Wayward Pines) decides to follow his father’s footsteps into the fight game, facing his past – and his father – head on, when a media firestorm inevitably pits the two generations of men against one another in a battle that neither can truly win.

The cast also features Karrueche Tran (Claws), Elizabeth Reaser (The Haunting of Hill House), Donald Faison (Scrubs), Drew Starkey (Outer Banks), Ava Capri (Blast Beat), Saïd Taghmaoui (Wonder Woman), in addition to real life UFC fighters Tyron Woodley, Cowboy Cerrone, Eryk Anders, and former UFC fighter Kenny Florian. The intense, technically precise MMA scenes in the film were choreographed by actor-stuntman Fernando Chien (Fast FiveThe Last Ship).

EMBATTLED was produced by Eryl Cochran, Scott LaStaiti and Sergey Sarkisov and executive produced by Nick Sarkisov, Stephen Dorff, Frank Ragen, Colleen Camp, and Rhys Coiro.

Arianna Bocco, EVP of Acquisitions and Productions of IFC Films said, “Director Nick Sarkisov and writer David McKenna have made an ambitious and tender film about the pain that can be passed across generations. EMBATTLED is a potent piece of work, fueled by powerful performances from Stephen Dorff and Darren Mann, and just the type of rich and textured filmmaking that we support.”

Director Nick Sarkisov added, “EMBATTLED was truly a labor of love for us, and IFC Films is the perfect partner to take it to audiences nationwide. This is an authentic, moving story about family and the complicated relationship that can exist between fathers and sons. It struck a chord with me, and is sure to do the same with everyone who sees our film.”

The deal for the film was negotiated by IFC Films’ EVP of Acquisitions and Productions Arianna Bocco and Director of Acquisitions Aijah Keith with CAA Media Finance on behalf of the filmmakers.

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