James Franco, Elysium Bandini Studios and UCLA are developing “Mississippi Requiem” — a single movie consisting of four black and white shorts — Variety has learned exclusively. Franco will star in the adaptation of William Faulkner’s stories, along with Topher Grace, Amy Smart and Alicia Witt.
The pic deals with issues of race, gender and class set in the American South during the early 20th Century. Beth Grant, Marianna Palka, Elayn Taylor, Sky Van Vliet and Zackary Arthur also star, along with musician George Lewis Jr., known as Twin Shadow.
The four Faulkner stories adapted include “A Dry September,” “That Evening Sun,” “Elly” and “A Rose for Emily.”
Elysium Bandini is partnered with UCLA’s School of Theater, Film and Television; Lee Caplin of Picture Entertainment; and Sabrina Coryell of Engaging the Senses Foundation.
This production is the second film collaboration this year under Elysium Bandini, the newly formed philanthropic studio model between Franco and Vince Jolivette’s Rabbit Bandini Productions, and Jennifer Howell’s The Art of Elysium.
Elysium Bandini’s existing film slate includes “Forever,” “Yosemite,” “Memoria” and the recently announced project at USC, “The Mad Whale.” All of the movies’ proceeds benefit programs for the nonprofit The Art of Elysium, a favorite charity of Kirsten Dunst, Eva Mendes, Amber Heard and Johnny Depp.
Franco directed two previous Faulker adaptations — “As I Lay Dying” in 2013 and “The Sound and the Fury,” which premiered at the 2014 Toronto Film Festival.
Student filmmaking teams on the four short films comprising “Mississippi Requiem” are led by Arkesh Ajay, Jerell Rosales, Kelly Pike and Marta Savina, as well as UCLA producing students Juanita Cepero, Matt Russak, Aaron Edmonds, Safiya Farquharson, Zachary Hamby, Cecilia Albertini and Ariane Ackerberg.
Executive producers are Franco, Jolivette and Howell of Elysium Bandini; Coryell of Engaging the Senses Foundation; and Lee Caplin of Picture Entertainment, who also represents Faulkner’s estate.