REI Co-op Studios reveals new co-prod films for autumn slate

New feature films Canary and Frybread Face & Me elevate stories about climate change and historically underrepresented groups' connection to nature

By Priyanca Rajput 15 Sep 2023

REI Co-op Studios reveals new co-prod films for autumn slate
REI Co-op Studios

REI Co-op Studios, the in-house content arm for specialty outdoor retailer REI, have announced the release and expanded distribution of several original feature films, short films and podcasts.

Among the projects are Canary, a feature climate documentary that will begin its major US theatrical run on September 15, Frybread Face & Me, a narrative film that made its international premiere at Toronto International Film Festival, and Full Circle: The First All Black Everest Ascent, a forthcoming film in partnership with Westbrook Studios.

"The films we're bringing to audiences explore some of the most important and pressing topics at the forefront of the outdoor culture and beyond: climate change and racial equity," said Paolo Mottola, REI Co-op's director of brand and content marketing. "We are working alongside some of the most acclaimed creatives to appeal to REI members and inspire more people to spend time in nature and take action to protect it."

REI Co-op Studios' feature films releasing this autumn:

  • Frybread Face & Me: Written and directed by Billy Luther, this coming-of-age tale chronicles the story of an 11-year-old city boy who is sent to his grandmother's ranch on the Navajo reservation. REI Co-op Studios executive produced and helped finance the film, along with Macro, River Road, and Indion Entertainment. Frybread Face & Me premiered in the U.S. at SXSW and made its international premiere at this month's Toronto International Film Festival.
  • Canary: A documentary that introduces audiences to Lonnie Thompson, a renowned scientist who found himself on the frontlines of climate change—his life's work evolving into a salvage mission to recover these priceless historical records before they disappear. The film will screen in 140 cinemas across 60 U.S. markets, beginning September 15 and with most dates starting September 20 during Climate Week. Danny O'Malley, a producer on Chef's Table, co-directed the film with MIT-trained neuroscientist Alex Rivest, PhD. REI Co-op Studios executive produced the film in partnership Boardwalk Pictures, producers of Chef's Table, Cheer, and Last Chance U.

"REI Co-op Studios is making strategic investments in quality films from some of the most talented film producers and directors and helping them get seen by broader audiences, starting with its member community," said Brian Newman, film consultant and former CEO of Tribeca Film Institute. "You can see the strategy is working as these films are premiering at some of the most important festivals and are being acquired by notable film distribution companies."

REI Co-op Studios is also working with Will and Jada Pinkett Smith's Westbrook Studios on the feature documentary film Full Circle: The First All Black Everest Ascent. Shifting the legacy in a white-dominated sport by facilitating a unique global cultural exchange, Full Circle follows the story of the first Black climbing expedition to Summit Mt. Everest in spring 2022. Set to release in 2024, the documentary is directed by Rolake Bamgbose and Justice A. Whitaker of Shango Light Films and produced by Jannat Gargi, an Emmy and Peabody winning producer and executive producer of the Academy Award winning documentary, Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised).

"We couldn't imagine a better partner for this timely and important film than the team at REI-Co-Op Studios," said Jannat Gargi, SVP, Documentaries at Westbrook Studios in a statement. "They foster a tremendous member community that we hope will build momentum for Full Circle and help us reach bigger audiences everywhere."

REI Co-op Studios is Recreational Equipment Inc.'s in-house content arm. Across films, podcasts and editorial programs, the studio develops and produces stories that entertain, enrich, and explore the power of time spent outside, while serving the co-op's broader climate and racial equity, diversity, and inclusion commitment.

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