Rapt Films Boards Queer Sports Drama ‘Riley’ And Will Launch Sales At Cannes Market

EXCLUSIVE: London-based sales outfit Rapt Films International has acquired worldwide sales rights to Benjamin Howard’s debut US film Riley and will launch sales at the upcoming Cannes Market.

The pic charts the life of a talented teenage athlete who begins to unravel when his burgeoning queer identity competes against his idea of what it means to be a man. The film stars Jake Holley (Wake) as the titular Dakota Riley. Supporting roles are filled by Colin McCalla (Tyler Perry’s Ruthless, 9-1-1)), Riley Quinn Scott, Connor Storrie, and Rib Hillis.

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Based on writer-director Howard’s real-life experiences as a high-school American football player struggling to come out, Riley is a feature expansion of Howard’s UCLA graduate short film Rendezvous. Howard’s other short film Deviant won a Student Emmy Award in 2019.

Riley originally world premiered at September’s Calgary International Film Festival. Additional festival selections have seen the young adult drama travel to San Luis Obispo where it won an honorable mention for Best Narrative Feature, BFI Flare in London, and the forthcoming Bentonville Film Fest where it plays in competition. Riley is a Windsor Film Company production in association with Charterhouse Films. Tommy Anderson and Laura Scarano produce alongside Howard.

Riley is exactly the type of project we love to champion here at Rapt, a daring, vivid, and accomplished debut fully deserving of finding a wider audience,” said Russell Webber, CEO of Rapt.

“Benjamin Howard brings moving first-hand experience to the cultural conversation of reconciling queer identities with traditionally “masculine” sports, a topic that continues to find pertinence with there being so few openly LGBTQ+ active professionals. We can’t wait to share this important film with buyers in Cannes.”

Howard adds: “Bringing Rapt on is an exciting step for us, and we’re so thrilled to see where the film takes off from here. We’ve seen Riley resonate deeply with a broad variety of folks on our festival run, and we hope to see the film continue to touch audiences around the world. This is a story about loving yourself, being kinder to yourself, and we’re thrilled to be partnering with the folks at Rapt, who have embraced the film’s mission and see its potential.”

Riley completes a trio of young adult titles for Rapt Films alongside Corey Sherman’s US comedy Big Boys and Gabriel Carrubba’s Australian drama Sunflower.

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