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Film News Roundup: ‘Bridge of Spies’ Writer Matt Charman Producing Survival Novel ‘Ruthless River’

In today’s film news roundup, Matt Charman is developing “Ruthless River,” runaway slave story “Never Caught” is in the works as a movie, Cynthia Addai-Robinson is starring in “Always & Forever,” and “Kedi” gets a one-day release.

DEVELOPMENT

Holly FitzGerald’s Amazon survival novel “Ruthless River” is in development as a movie with “Bridge of Spies” writer Matt Charman.

The story centers on FitzGerald and her husband, setting out on a yearlong honeymoon adventure backpacking around the world. Five months into the trip, their plane crash lands in Peru at a penal colony walled in by jungle, and their blissfully romantic journey turns into a terrifying nonstop labyrinth of escape and survival. They ultimately end up on a four-log raft that separates them from the piranha-and-caiman-infested water until they finally realize that there is no way out but to swim.

Charman, who received an Academy Award nomination for his “Bridge of Spies” screenplay, is also attached to produce the World War II action movie “Liberty Road.” He’s exec producing MGM’s Adolf Eichmann story “Operation Finale,” starring Ben Kingsley and Oscar Isaac.

The deal for “Ruthless River” was made by CAA, on behalf of the Martha Kaplan Agency. CAA also reps Charman.

*****

Development has been launched on a movie about Ona Judge, a runaway slave who escaped from George Washington while he was president.

Lisa Ellis of Provenance Media and Richard Abate of 3 Arts Entertainment have acquired the movie rights to Erica Armstrong Dunbar’s book “Never Caught: The Washingtons’ Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge.” The tome is a 2017 finalist for the National Book Award for Nonfiction.

“Never Caught” details how Washington left his Mount Vernon estate in 1789 to serve in Philadelphia, the temporary seat of the nation’s capital and set up a household with his secretary Tobias Lear and eight slaves, including Ona Judge. Pennsylvania law required enslaved people be set free after six months of residency in the state, but Washington decided to circumvent the law by sending the slaves back south every six months.

Judge, who had glimpsed freedom first-hand in Philadelphia, escaped in 1796 when she was 22 and lived the rest of her life in New Hampshire. Before Washington died in 1799, he used his political and personal contacts to attempt to recapture her.

Abate executive produced “13 Hours.” The deal was made by UTA on behalf of Laura Dail at Laura Dail Literary Agency.

PRODUCTION

Novus Content and Footage Films have launched principal photography in Los Angeles on the legal drama “Always & Forever,” starring Cynthia Addai-Robinson, Robbie Jones, and Wood Harris.

The film is directed by Christopher B. Stokes from a script he co-wrote with fellow producer, Marques Houston, through their Footage Films banner, along with Shondrella Avery, Jerome Jones, and Jarell Houston. Novus Content’s Patrick Johnson Jr., Patrick Johnson Sr., and Robert Johnson will serve as executive producers.

Novus Content is also distributing worldwide. Footage Films and Novus Content teamed on “‘Til Death Do Us Part,” which was released on Sept. 29.

Addai-Robinson portrays a successful criminal prosecutor whose childhood friends begin to die under mysterious circumstances. She becomes convinced their deaths are tied to dark secrets from her past.

Other cast members include Lauren London, Deborah Ayorinde, Rocsi Diaz, Vanessa Curry, Loretta Devine, Joely Fisher, and Erica Tazel.

RELEASE DATE

Oscilloscope Laboratories is re-releasing its feline-friendly documentary “Kedi” on Oct. 29 to celebrate International Cat Day.

The one-day release will take place in all major markets. Ceyda Torun’s “Kedi” was released by Oscilloscope in February and performed well, grossing $2.8 million at the domestic box office with 130 locations at its widest release.

“Kedi” centers on the thousands of street cats living in Istanbul, as they have for centuries, with a focus on seven cats that are cared for by people.

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