Oscar Nominee ‘Please Hold’ Turned the Police State Into a Dystopian Sci-Fi Comedy

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Directorial debut of Mexican-American screenwriter KD Dávila, who co-wrote the short with Levin Menekse, “Please Hold” is a darkly comic dystopian tale set in the not-so-distant future.

It follows young Mateo Torres (played by Erick Lopez) who in a case of mistaken identity, is arrested by a police drone while on his way to work. He finds himself in a fully automated prison cell where he struggles to find a living human being to set things straight as his situation gets even more absurd and frustrating by the nanosecond.

“The idea for the film came to us after I read this article about a Latino man who got arrested and jailed by mistake because he had a common Spanish name,” said Davila. “He was unable to convince anyone that they had the wrong guy. Even his public defender didn’t believe him,” she continued, adding: “It’s not unusual for people of color to fall through cracks in the justice system, and we wanted to look at this all-too-common story through a sci-fi and dark comedy lens.”

“ ‘Please Hold’ explores what it means for people of color when the remaining human element in our justice system slowly gives way to automation and privatization,” she asserted.

“This film exemplifies what WarnerMedia OneFifty is all about: It is a powerful, unique and bold vision from a talented creative team and an innovative filmmaker that perfectly juxtaposes art, science and culture,” said Axel Caballero, head of WarnerMedia OneFifty & vice president, artistic and cultural innovations.

In January, WarnerMedia OneFifty acquired the short films, “Namoo” and “When the Sun Sets” for HBO Max. Both films were shortlisted for the 2022 Academy Awards, with “Namoo” running in the animated short film category and “When the Sun Sets” in the live-action short film category. Neither were nominated, however, making “Please Hold” the first Oscar-nominated short to land at a streaming giant this season.

“Namoo” debuted Jan. 27 on HBO Max while “When the Sun Sets” bowed on Feb. 8. Both films joined WarnerMedia’s growing roster of critically acclaimed films, including the 2021 Oscar-nominated short “White Eye,” the 2022 Spirit Awards-nominee “This Is Not a War Story” and the Sundance Alfred P. Sloan winner “Son of Monarchs” by Alexis Gambis.

Dávila wrote the comedy feature “Emergency” and the eponymous short it inspired. The film opened at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival to rave reviews where Dávila took home the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award, the festival’s top screenwriting prize. The short won the Special Jury Award at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival and Best Narrative Short at SXSW 2018. Both were directed by Carey Williams.

“Please Hold” was produced by Entertainment 360’s Marc Mounier, along with Diego Najera and Menekse in association with Australian VFX firm, Last Pixel.

WME Independent and Management 360 brokered the sale to WarnerMedia OneFifty for HBO Max while Amanda Trokan, director of content acquisitions for HBO Max, finalized the negotiations for HBO Max.

Dávila is represented by Management 360 and WME. Menekse is represented by Lit Entertainment and Verve. Both are represented by attorney Stephen Clark. Joshua Jason Public Relations /JJPR oversees awards publicity for the film.

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