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James Franco: Why ‘In Dubious Battle’ Is an ‘Important’ Story to Tell Right Now

In a moment in time when people feel propelled to fight for change, James Franco‘s film adaptation of John Steinbeck’s 1936 novel “In Dubious Battle” hopes to resonate with the tenor of contemporary America.

During the film’s premiere at the Arclight Hollywood on Wednesday evening, star and director Franco was joined by co-stars Nat WolffAshley Greene, and Ahna O’Reilly, as well as fellow producers Andrea Iervolino and Monika Bacardi to discuss the modern application of Steinbeck’s first novel within what became known as the Dustbowl trilogy.

Set in California apple country, the film tracks a small group of migrant workers who band together to rise up against the landowners, after their wages have been slashed and they are beaten and maltreated.

Franco, a Steinbeck fan since his teenage years, said he wanted to recreate this book into a film because it had been a significant piece that, until now, was never adapted on screen.

“I read it and I realized it’s such an amazing story,” Franco said. “It was also very topical and eternal in its themes — about a labor strike, about the haves and have nots. I thought it was an important story to tell.”

Co-star Greene added that the film’s endorsement of team work over individual battle as fuel for change is an important concept that applies to many present-day social efforts.

“I think it’s resoundingly clear that we’re going through the same thing right now and we’re fighting for equality,” she said. ‘I think it’s going to be something, especially right now, that people are going to easily relate to. It’s going to touch a lot of people’s hearts because we all right now, I think, feel that fire.”

In Dubious Battle” had its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival on Sept. 3, 2016, and will hit theaters in the U.S. on Feb. 17.

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