EXCLUSIVE: Vertical has claimed North American, UK, and Ireland rights to The Listener, an indie drama directed by Steve Buscemi and starring Tessa Thompson (Creed trilogy) that world premiered at the 2022 Venice Film Festival before making its way to Tribeca for its North American premiere.
Written by Alessandro Camon (The Messenger), the film is slated for a day-and-date release on March 29.
The Listener tells the story of Beth (Thompson), a home helpline worker who is part of the small army that gets on the phone every night across America, fielding calls from all kinds of people feeling lonely, broken, hopeless. Over the last year, the tide has become a tsunami. As Beth goes through her shift, the stakes rise: is this the night she will lose someone? Save someone? Eventually, Beth’s own story comes to light, revealing why she does it. All along, we remain with her: listening, comforting, connecting —patching the world back together, one call at a time.
Actors voicing those on the other end of the line from Thompson include Rebecca Hall, Logan Marshall-Green, Margaret Cho, Alia Shawkat, Derek Cecil, Ricky Velez, Casey Wilson, Jamie Hector, Blu Del Barrio and Bobby Soto. Wren Arthur, Buscemi, Oren Moverman, Lauren Hantz, and Thompson produced, alongside EPs John Hantz, Julia Lebedev, Eddie Vaisman and Suzanne Warren. Billy Mulligan and Kat Barnette served as co-producers.
In a statement to Deadline, Buscemi shared, “Alessandro Camon’s screenplay for The Listener resonated with me on many levels. I loved the journey our lead character Beth bravely takes each night, assessing and navigating each call, figuring out in real time how she can best be of help to the unknown voices in her ear who are in need of guidance, reassurance, sympathy, or simply to be heard.
The actor-filmmaker added that “Tessa Thompson’s nuanced and powerful performance as Beth is the heart of the film, and I’m grateful to her and our stellar cast of callers who provide the richness and subtleties of everyday people’s desire for connection. For me, the exquisite exchange between caller and listener is nothing short of heroic.”
Vertical Partner Peter Jarowey and SVP of Acquistions Piantedosi negotiated the deal on behalf of the company, with Hantz Motion Pictures and CAA Media Finance repping the production.