September 24, 2023



Rachel Sennott to Star in ‘I Used to Be Funny,’ Acquired by Utopia Distribution (Exclusive)

Rachel Sennott to Star in ‘I Used to Be Funny,’ Acquired by Utopia Distribution (Exclusive)

The film, directed by Ally Pankiw, premiered at the 2022 SXSW festival.

After distributing Rachel Sennott’s breakout film Shiva Baby, Utopia has acquired the U.S. rights to the SXSW feature I Used to Be Funny starring The Idol actress.

The comedy-drama follows aspiring stand-up comedian Sam (Sennott), who struggles with PTSD, as she debates whether to join the search for a missing teenage girl she used to nanny. Jason Jones, Sabrina Jalees, Caleb Hearon, Olga Petsa, and Ennis Esmer round out the cast.

Ally Pankiw, known for The Great and Black Mirror, made her feature directorial debut in the film. It was produced by James Weyman, Jason Aita, and Breann Smordin of Barn 12, with Li-Wei Chu of Partizan, Judy Holm of Markham Street Films, and Paul Barkin of Alcina Pictures serving as executive producers, along with Pankiw.

“It was profoundly gratifying to witness how I Used to Be Funny and its candid portrayal of recovering from trauma connected with audiences at SXSW, and it’s an even greater honor to know we’ll now be able to share this film and its message with more movie lovers,” said Pankiw. “I’m overjoyed to partner with a filmmaker-focused distributor like Utopia to continue telling this nuanced story.”

“With I Used to Be Funny, Ally Pankiw establishes herself as an astute and sophisticated writer-director, bringing humor and intrigue to a woman’s journey through trauma in surprising and impactful ways,” said Utopia’s Danielle DiGiacomo. “We’re thrilled to champion her vision and collaborate again with the magnetic Rachel Sennott, who enthralled viewers in our breakthrough release, Shiva Baby.”

Utopia made major moves at this year’s Cannes market, acquiring Un Certain Regard winner Omen and The Sweet East with Jacob Elordi and Talia Ryder for North America.

WME Independent brokered the deal on behalf of the filmmakers.

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Ralph Calaway