‘Kneecap’ Biopic Acquired by Sony Pictures Classics in First Major Sundance Sale (EXCLUSIVE)

The 2024 Sundance Film Festival has its first major sale, and for arguably the wildest feature in the lineup.

“Kneecap,” the raucous comedy biopic about the Irish rap group and co-starring Michael Fassbender, has been picked up Sony Pictures Classics, which has acquired all rights to the title for North America, Latin America, Eastern Europe, Turkey and the Middle East.

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The film, the debut feature of director Rich Peppiatt and the first Irish-language feature to play Sundance, premiered on Thursday night at the Prospector Square Theater to critical acclaim, after which the band played a set at the after-party at The Cabin on Main Street. The three-piece also brought along an armoured Northern Irish police van for a stunt ahead of the first screening (in 2022, they unveiled a controversial mural of a similar van on fire in Ireland).

“Kneecap” follows the emergence of the riotous rap trio in post-Troubles Belfast, setting the stage for the Irish language’s resurgence against the establishment. Self-proclaimed “low life scum” Liam Óg and Naoise, along with school teacher JJ, become a political symbol and the defiant voice of Ireland’s restless youth. As they struggle to make their mark on the world and family and relationship pressures threaten to pull the plug on their dreams, the trio weave a narrative that transcends music. The film is described as “a true-life fable about man’s intrinsic urge for identity, the allure of drugs and a passion for life” and a “thrilling ride pulsating with hip-hop beats.”

Naoise Ó Cairealláin aka Móglaí Bap, Liam Óg Ó Hannaidh aka Mo Chara and JJ Ó Dochartaigh aka Dj Provaí all playing themselves in the film, alongside co-stars Fassbender, Josie Walker, Fionnuala Flaherty, Jessica Reynolds, Adam Best and Simone Kirby.

“Kneecap” was written and directed by Peppiatt from a story by Peppiatt, Ó Cairealláin, Óg Ó Hannaidh and Ó Dochartaigh. It was produced by Trevor Birney and Jack Tarling.

The film was financed by the BFI, awarding National Lottery funding; Fís Éireann/Screen Ireland; Coimisiún na Meán; TG4 and Northern Ireland Screen’s Irish Language Broadcast Fund and Screen Fund. It is presented in association with Great Point Media, Naughty Step, DMC Film and is a Fine Point Films, Mother Tongues Films and Curzon production in in co-production with Wildcard.

AC Independent and Charades handled the sale on behalf of the filmmakers. U.K./Ireland rights have already been sold to Curzon and Wildcard.

Sony Pictures Classics, which bought “Kneecap” just prior to its premiere, took a similar approach at Sundance in 2012 when it swooped on the Oscar-winning documentary “Searching for Sugarman.”

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