10 Producers to Watch

Heather Rae is known for producing “Frozen River,” Courtney Hunt’s 2008 Sundance winner, but she’s now breaking out into more mainstream fare.

Currently heading toward production and with financing coming together is “Ass Backwards,” written by Casey Wilson and June Diane Raphael (“Bride Wars”). Scribes will star along with Kate Hudson, Kristen Wiig, Amy Sedaris and David Cross.

“I call it a bitch-slap to the boy-buddy movie,” she says. “It’s not a big movie, but it’s a big change,” admits Rae, who ran the Sundance Institute’s Native American program for several years. “I’ve been the social realism go-to girl; I’ve made heavy-handed documentaries and dark films like ‘Frozen River.’ It’s a new frontier, but I’m really excited.”

Despite her turn to broader comedy, Rae’s steadfast commitment to her experimental and half-Cherokee roots remains. Five years ago, she moved from Los Angeles back to Idaho, and she continues to cultivate projects for Native American director Randy Redroad.

Former Sundance honcho Geoff Gilmore calls Rae a “groundbreaker.”

“But despite the fact that she’s a risk-taker, she gets things done,” he says. “What’s remarkable about her is she’s creative and capable, passionate and has a rock-solid steadiness.”

Rae recently completed soldier-coming-home drama “The Dry Land” for Maya Entertainment, starring Melissa Leo and America Ferrera. And she has several low-budget pics in development: first-timer Jaffe Zinn’s “Buhl, Idaho”; Daniel Calparsoro’s “The Cold”; a radical Western called “A Thousand Guns,” starring Vera Fermiga; and Redroad’s “Tearjerker.”

“I’m trying to grow and do things in a bigger and better way,” she says. “But I’ll always have a strong commitment to these smaller gems, because I respect that type of filmmaking. I think the most important work is done on this smaller scale, where it’s not encumbered by the budget it’s shouldering or too many cooks in the kitchen.”

P.O.V.

AGE: 42

HOME BASE: Boise, Idaho

INSPIRED BY: Cinema of the ’70s, social realism, Lucrecia Martel, Alexander Payne, Miranda July, Abenaki Nation filmmaker Alanis Obomsawin,¬†Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Robert Altman and Judd Apatow

WEB: appaloosa pictures.org

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