Queen Bee Ho in "Mala Mala"Strand Releasing (distributor of  a wide array of LGBT films from around the world, including Gregg Araki’s "Mysterious Skin," Hong Khaou’s "Lilting" and several others) has acquired North American rights to Antonio Santini and Dan Sickles’ critically acclaimed documentary "Mala Mala," a film that celebrates the trans and drag communities in Puerto Rico, which made its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival and will debut in theaters on July 1st at the IFC Center.

Executive produced by Killer Films’ Christine Vachon and Pamela Koffler, and produced by Santini and Sickles’ El Peligro Productions, "Mala Mala" is described as "a unique exploration of self-discovery and activism, featuring a diverse collection of subjects that include LGBTQ activists, business owners, sex workers, and a boisterous group of drag performers who call themselves The Doll House," in an effort to present "a fight for personal and community acceptance paved with triumphant highs and devastating lows."

Shot over the course of 3 years, exec producer Christine Vachon says of the film’s acquisition, "We are very proud of ‘Mala Mala’ and excited to get it out into the world with longtime friends and collaborators at Strand. The IFC Center is the clear choice for New Yorkers to see this important and necessary film."

"We’re thrilled to be working with Dan and Antonio,” say Strand Releasing’s Jon Gerrans and Marcus Hu jointly. “They have the spirit, vitality and energy and a keen eye, something that is so rare these days and obviously their partnership with Killer Films on this project means a lot.”

Santini adds, “We hope this Puerto Rican trans fairytale adds force to the new transliberation movement and finally sparks the conversation about the United States’ complex relationship with its colony, Puerto Rico. Young Latinos are in need of more stories that help them understand and appreciate their culture and roots. Why not aspire to be like the nine trans people in the film? I do." 

Coming off its world premiere at Tribeca, ‘Mala Mala’ was universally praised by critics, with Grantland’s Wesley Morris calling the film “one of the richest, most emotionally complicated portraits of identity” he’s ever seen. Indiewire wrote that the film is a “landmark LGBT documentary” and The Village Voice lauded the film as “mesmerizing.”

The deal for the film was negotiated by Jon Gerrans on behalf of Strand Releasing.

Early trailer below: