Sebastián Silva’s Queer Dark Comedy ‘Rotting in the Sun’ Acquired by MUBI After Sundance Premiere (Exclusive)

Sebastián Silva’s Mexico-set meta-comedy “Rotting in the Sun” has finally found a home in the U.S. and elsewhere after premiering at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2023.

IndieWire exclusively shares that MUBI has acquired the rights to the latest button-pushing work from the filmmaker behind “The Maid,” “Nasty Baby,” and “Crystal Fairy.” The Park City premiere stars Silva as a version of himself, here a filmmaker staring down an existential crisis while adrift over his busted latest project, and comedian and social media sensation Jordan Firstman also as a version of himself, an outspokenly gay influencer who blows up the fictional Silva’s life.

This raunchy, sexually explicit satire of gay millennial life amused and provoked Sundance audiences with its graphic content, unapologetic drug use, and a narrative hairpin turn typical of Silva’s low-budget, genre-mixing indies. In a quote shared by MUBI, Bret Easton Ellis said the film is “like if Alfonso Cuarón’s ‘Roma’ were made by ‘Female Trouble’-era John Waters.”

The Chilean filmmaker based “Rotting in the Sun” on his own experience vacating Brooklyn for Mexico City, where he lived in an architectural studio hoping to restart his career as a painter. “I just wanted to paint and chill,” Silva told IndieWire in an interview out of Sundance. “But I can’t escape the movies. Wherever I go, I see things that are cinematic.”

It was there he met social media star Jordan Firstman at the Plaza Rio de Janeiro, where Firstman told him he’d just rewatched “Crystal Fairy” the night before. The encounter makes it into “Rotting in the Sun,” though reset on a nude beach and after Silva’s character tries to drown himself. In the film, the pair start up a collaboration, only for Silva to go missing, setting Firstman on a quasi-detective journey to find him. Meanwhile, Silva’s housekeeper (“The Maid” star Catalina Saavedra) may have something to do with his disappearance — though “Rotting” has plenty more Ketamine-addled tricks in its arsenal.

“I found him hilarious and exhausting,” Silva said of meeting Firstman, who’s had roles in series including “Search Party” and “Ms. Marvel” and also works as a TV writer. “It was very much something I wanted to make fun of.”

MUBI acquired rights for “Rotting in the Sun” in North America, Latin America, UK/Ireland, Germany/Austria, France, Benelux, Italy, and Spain. The film will open theatrically in the U.S. on September 8 and stream on MUBI globally September 15.

“Rotting in the Sun,” produced by Jacob Wasserman, Hidden Content, and The Lift, in association with Robert Pattinson’s production company Icki Eneo Arlo, Spacemaker Productions and Caffeine Post, marked Silva’s fifth time back at Sundance, where he’s previously won the World Cinema Grand Jury Prize and Directing Award.

Check out an exclusive clip from the film below.

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