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David Oyelowo’s Directorial Debut ‘The Water Man’ Picked Up by RLJE Films

Netflix will release the film internationally later this year

RLJE Films has acquired David Oyelowo’s “The Water Man” and will release the family adventure film domestically day-and-date in theaters and PVOD on May 7, the company announced Tuesday. Netflix will release the film internationally later this year.

“The Water Man” is Oyelowo’s directorial debut. The acclaimed “Selma” actor also stars in the drama, which is produced by Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Films, ShivHans Pictures and Yoruba Saxon. The film had its world premiere at the 2020 Toronto International Film Festival and also opened this year’s Urbanworld Film Festival.

“While in some ways this film is a father and son story, at its core it’s also a love letter to mothers everywhere and is dedicated to my own,” Oyelowo said in a statement to TheWrap. “To be able to share my directorial debut, ‘The Water Man,’ with the world through the hands of RLJE Films and Netflix is a dream come true for me.”

In his review of the film, TheWrap’s Alonso Duralde wrote, “‘The Water Man’ affirms the strength of families, be they biological or chosen, and it’s a grand outdoor adventure aimed at kids who are probably spending too much time staring at a small screen in the palms of their hands. It also affirms Oyelowo as a filmmaker who understands the various pieces that go into the craft — it’s a well-acted, great-looking movie, paced well by editor Blu Murray.”

“The Water Man,” a Black List script written by Emma Needell, also stars Rosario Dawson, Lonnie Chavis, Amiah Miller, Alfred Molina and Maria Bello.

In “The Water Man,” Gunner (Chavis) sets out on a quest to save his ill mother (Dawson) by searching for a mythic figure who possesses the secret to immortality, the Water Man. After enlisting the help of a mysterious local girl, Jo (Miller), they journey together into the remote Wild Horse forest — but the deeper they venture, the stranger and more dangerous the forest becomes. Their only hope for rescue is Gunner’s father (Oyelowo), who will stop at nothing to find them and in the process will discover who his son really is.

“The Water Man” is produced by Oyelowo, Carla Gardini, Shivani Rawat and Monica Levinson, and executive produced by Oprah Winfrey, Darren M. Demetre, Connor Flanagan and Emma Needell.