LevelK Sells Queer British Sundance Title 'Sebastian' to Kino Lorber for the US

By Kino Lorber | February 28, 2024
LevelK Sells Queer British Sundance Title 'Sebastian' to Kino Lorber for the US
LevelK’s queer drama Sebastian, which made its world premiere in the World Cinema Dramatic Competition at Sundance Film Festival 2024, has generated excitement among buyers at this year’s EFM, resulting in sales to numerous territories. Kino Lorber has acquired US distribution rights to the film, and is planning a theatrical, home video, and digital release on all major platforms later in 2024. 
In addition to Kino Lorber, the film has also sold in Germany (Salzgeber & Co.), France (Optimale Sarl), Brazil (Imovision), Spain, Portugal, and Mexico (Filmin Spain) and Poland (Tongariro Releasing) with more deals still being negotiated.

Kino Lorber SVP Wendy Lidell said of the acquisition, “Mikko Mäkelä’s sensual, sophisticated debut offers an engrossing and provocative look at the intersection of sex work, art, identity, and authenticity. Sebastian hardly shies away from frank depictions of sex on screen, but what impressed me most about it at Sundance was that the carnal acts on display were never gratuitous, but rather suffused with intellectual and artistic purpose.”
While Cyril Rota of Optimale Sarl stated: “Sebastian reveals the next sensation from the UK. Ruaridh Mollica, reminiscent of a Tom Holland-type, explores the highly secretive world of male escorting from a unique angle never seen before. This debut feature from a promising young Finnish-British director adeptly navigates a highly sensitive subject, portraying the nuances of sexuality in a time when everything seems polarized."
In this queer drama, we follow Max, a 25-year-old freelance writer and aspiring novelist who seems well on his way to success in London’s cultural spheres. Yet by night, he finds a different kind of exhilaration as a sex worker with the pseudonym Sebastian, meeting men via an escorting platform. Max uses his experiences as Sebastian to fuel his stories and the worthy debut novel that he has been longing to write, finally seems within reach. As Max increasingly struggles to remain in control of a delicately balanced double-life, he must reckon with whether Sebastian is merely a writer’s tool in their quest for the ultimate sense of first-hand authenticity –or whether something more is at stake.
Beside Ruaridh Mollica (TooRough), the film stars among others Hiftu Quasem (The Witcher: Blood OriginKilling Eve) and Jonathan Hyde (TitanicThe MummyJumanji).
Sebastian is directed by Finnish/British writer/director Mikko Mäkelä, named by IndieWire as one of 25 LGBTQ+ filmmakers on the rise in 2019. Sebastian is his second feature after his feature directorial debut A Moment in The Reeds, screened at over 80 festivals worldwide. Mäkelä is an alumnus of Berlinale Talents (2019) as well as the inaugural BIFA Springboard Programme supported by Netflix (2020).
The film is written and directed by Mikko Mäkelä, produced by James Watson for Bêtes Sauvages, co-produced by Aleksi Bardy, Severi Koivusalo, Ciara Barry, Rosie Crerar, Erik Glijnis, Leontine Petit and Dries Phlypo. The film received production support from the BFI and Screen Scotland awarding National Lottery Funding, the Finnish Film Foundation, Finnish Impact Film Fund, Great Point Media, BNP Film Finance and the Belgian Tax Shelter. Mike Goodridge, former CEO of Protagonist Pictures and producer of Triangle of Sadness, serves as Executive Producer alongside BFI Veteran Lizzie Francke.