April 13, 2024

EXCLUSIVE: Roadside Attractions and Vertical have acquired U.S. to the Zoe Saldaña thriller The Absence of Eden from first-time feature filmmaker Marco Perego. An April 12 theatrical release has been set.

Pic follows an undocumented immigrant who finds herself working with a morally conflicted ICE agent to try to save the life of an innocent young girl. Garrett Hedlund (Tron, Mudbound) and Adria Arjona (Morbius, Father of the Bride, Hitman) co-star. Perego and Rick Rapoza wrote the script. 

The Absence of Eden takes place at the border between the United States and Mexico – a hellish landscape inhabited by coyotes, armed officers, desperate immigrants, and refugees. When Esmee (Saldana), a young woman working as a private dancer in Mexico, is forced to commit a violent act of self-defense that results in the death of a cartel member, she flees her homeland for sanctuary in the United States.  Guided by a ruthless Coyote and a group of undocumented immigrants, she befriends a young mother and her daughter along the way. Before crossing the border, the mother is taken from the group, and Esmee promises to protect her daughter and help them reunite again in America, touching off an interlocking story about people struggling to survive on America’s border with Mexico.

Based on years of research by the writers, The Absence of Eden goes behind the headlines to show how easily vulnerable migrant groups, most especially children, are abused and exploited. 

Producers are Oscar nominee Julie Yorn, Perego, Robert Kravis, and Karl Herrmann under their banner of Pioneer Pictures, and Academy Award nominee Alexandra Milchan.  Academy Award winner Martin Scorsese and Rick Yorn serve as EPs, alongside Cisely, Mariel & Zoe Saldana’s Cinestar Pictures, Ingenious Media, Ashland Hill Media Finance, Sycuan Tribal as well as Ruben Islas, Jolene Rodriguez, and Stanley Preschutti.

“We are at an existential and spiritual crisis in all the borders,” said Perego.  “The film reflects the personal stories which represent the fragility and corruption which pervades this issue and the deeper question about humanity.”

Roadside Attractions Co-Presidents Howard Cohen and Eric d’Arbeloff exclaimed: “Zoe Saldaña is of the world’s most successful and accomplished actors. This may be her greatest role, and it’s an honor to be releasing this film.” 

Vertical Partner Peter Jarowey added, “The film is on the pulse of national debate and a gripping exploration of the human experience on both sides of the border. Audiences will be drawn to the captivating story and mesmerizing performance from start to finish.”  

Perego, previously produced the short film Me + Her; he also wrote and directed the short film Burn to Shine alongside his career as an artist. Additionally, Perego has been selected to participate in the upcoming Venice Biennale 2024.

Vertical’s Jarowey and SVP of Acquisitions Tony Piantedosi negotiated the deal on behalf of Vertical, Cohen and VP of Acquisitions Angel and negotiated on behalf of Roadside Attractions and CAA Media Finance on behalf of the filmmakers.

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