As the Sundance Film Festival kicked off today [21] Paramount announced it had acquired worldwide rights to Participant Media’s documentary Waiting For Superman ahead of the world premiere on Friday.

The deal is the first to be unveiled since the festival kicked off, however the studio acquired the rights prior to the launch after Paramount executives saw an unfinished cut.

The studio had been tracking the project and will release it in the US in autumn through Paramount Vantage, who distributed director Davis Guggenheim’s environmental warning An Inconvenient Truth in 2006.

Waiting For Superman screens in the US Documentary Competition and examines the stricken US public education system and explores innovative alternatives.

Bill Gates is featured and is understood to have been a factor in the film coming to Paramount, although to what extent remains unclear. Gates and Guggenheim met on the Paramount lot last September when the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Viacom launched the Get Schooled public education reform initiative.

The acquisition demonstrates Paramount’s healthy appetite for documentaries of late. in December Josh Braun’s Submarine, which is in Sundance handling sales on the Participant Media documentaries Cane Toads: The Conquest and Countdown To Zero, among other films, sold the cyber thriller talhotblond to Paramount Digital Entertainment.

Lesley Chilcott produced Waiting For Superman and Participant founder Jeff Skoll served as executive producer.