MTV Documentary Films has acquired worldwide rights to the deeply powerful and terrifying feature PAY OR DIE. The film received rave reviews at SXSW in March and is directed and produced by award-winning directors Scott Alexander Ruderman and Rachael Dyer.
Today, nearly two-million Americans living with diabetes are being held hostage by the pharmaceutical industry, as many cannot afford insulin. Without this life-sustaining drug, they will be dead in days. Access to this drug has become increasingly more difficult, as the cost to patients in America soars. PAY OR DIE follows families struggling to afford their medications and reveals the harrowing reality of living with a chronic illness in the richest country in the world. From a mother-and-daughter struggling to rebuild their lives after spending their rent money on insulin, to a young adult diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes during the COVID-19 pandemic, to a Minnesota family thrust into the national spotlight when their 26-year-old son dies from rationing his insulin, PAY OR DIE highlights this devastating struggle to survive while living with diabetes.
“This film, in the tradition of documentaries that nudge the world, exposes the astronomical and unconscionable costs of life saving drugs. The big business of Pharma rules over whether the afflicted will live or die,” said executive producer, Sheila Nevins.
“Pay or Die plays like a horror film that’s both urgent and harrowing; a must see that will leave viewers on the edge of their seats in utter disbelief” said in a press statement Nina L. Diaz and Liza Burnett Fefferman, Co-Heads of MTV Documentary Films.
“Knowing that Americans are dying trying to afford the same lifesaving medication that keeps me alive left Rachael and me enraged,” said filmmakers Scott Alexander Ruderman and Rachael Dyer. “As filmmakers, we knew we had to highlight this social injustice. Our film, Pay or Die will serve as a cautionary tale for the whole world to understand what happens when healthcare is treated too much like a business and not a public service. We are honored to join forces with MTV Documentary Films to strengthen the voices that need to be heard so change can be made.”
The sale was negotiated by Lance McPherson on behalf of MTV Documentary Films. Paul Szynol of Film Law Group was the legal representative on behalf of the filmmakers, and Travis Tammero of UTA represented the filmmakers as their sales agent.
PAY OR DIE will serve as the closing night event at the upcoming Human Rights Watch Film Festival in New York City on June 8th. MTV Documentary Films is planning a theatrical release and robust awards campaign later this year before its streaming premiere launch on Paramount +.
PAY OR DIE is executive produced by Sheila Nevins, Trish Adlesic, Sarah Silverman, Amy Zvi, Regina K. Scully, Lauran Bromley, Douglas Choi, Dawn Bonder, Marci Wiseman, Russell Long, Sarah Lucas and Zak Kilberg. The film is produced by Rachael Dyer, Scott Alexander Ruderman, and Yael Melamede, and directed by Dyer and Ruderman. Ruderman is the cinematographer; Will Rogers is the editor and Toby Shimin is the supervising editor. Music is by T. Griffin.