You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Los Cabos: Movie Based on Bestseller ‘Picking Cotton’ Gains Momentum

Jessica Sanders' narrative project selected for Cabo Discovery forum

As the director of Sundance-winning documentary “After Innocence,” filmmaker Jessica Sanders has long been interested in what happens to the unjustly accused. But what happens to those who wrongly accused the innocent person could be equally provocative. That’s the premise behind “Picking Cotton,” a dramatic true story that has been selected for Cabos Discovery, a forum for projects in development.

The movie will tell the story of rape survivor Jennifer Thompson and her accused rapist Ronald Cotton. In April, “Picking Cotton” won the Sloan Filmmaker Fund grant for science-based films from the Tribeca Film Institute, an apt choice since it was one of the first cases to be overturned due to DNA analysis,

Cotton was imprisoned for 11 years before DNA evidence cleared him, but the story didn’t end with the freed man forever hating the woman who put him behind bars. Instead, they became friends and activists for social justice. Their story was told in the 2009 bestseller “Picking Cotton,” written by Cotton and Thompson with Erin Torneo. Though a film was planned after the book appeared, it didn’t get off the ground, and Sanders is now planning it as her first narrative feature.

She seems uniquely qualified to tell the story, since Cotton was featured in “After Innocence.” “I’m close to them and this story,” Sanders explains. “I’ve been with them for years.”

“I’d like to make it very small so I can make the movie I want to make,” she says. With stories like the “Serial” podcast resonating throughout the culture, “I think it’s an incredible time for this,” she says.

But Sanders notes that despite other stories of innocent people gaining attention, “There’s never been a wrongful conviction story that tells the story of both the victim and the person convicted. They’re best friends and totally connected.” Addressing race, class and sexual assault on campus, it film’s themes are extremely topical, Sanders notes.

Sanders, who also made the Oscar-nommed short “Sing!,” will be able to apply her documentary experience and instincts to to the narrative world with this project. “I love storytelling. It’s a different animal but a similar approach.” Interest in the project has been growing since Tribeca, she says, and she’s hoping to further continue those conversations in Cabo.

The Discovery section matches filmmakers with potential financial partners and production collaborators from around the world for discussions during the Los Cabos film festival, which takes place Nov. 11 to Nov. 15 in the Mexican resort town.

More Film

  • Dragon Ball Super: Broly

    Film Review: ‘Dragon Ball Super: Broly’

    Late in “Dragon Ball Super: Broly,” the 20th Japanese anime feature in a 35-year-old franchise that also has spawned scads of TV series, trading cards, video games, mangas, and limited-edition collectibles, a supporting character complains, “I don’t understand a single thing you’ve said the whole time.” If you’re among the heretofore uninitiated drawn to this [...]

  • Loco Films Boards 'Paper Flag' From

    Loco Films Boards 'Paper Flag' From Promising New Director Nathan Ambrosioni (EXCLUSIVE)

    Loco Films has come on board “Paper Flag” (“Les Papiers de drapeaux”), the feature debut of 18-year old French director Nathan Ambrosioni. The film explores the ambivalent relationship between two siblings and the concept of freedom. Guillaume Gouix (“The Returned”) stars as a young adult who has just got out of jail after 12 years [...]

  • 'Who Will Write Our History' Review:

    Film Review: 'Who Will Write Our History'

    The most famous diarist of the Holocaust, Anne Frank, began to write down the drama of her daily life with no ulterior motive (apart from her teenage ambition to write fiction). But in March 1944, the year before she died in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, she heard a radio broadcast by a member of the [...]

  • Spider-Man: Far From Home trailer

    Film News Roundup: 'Spider-Man: Far From Home' Trailer Sets Sony Pictures Record

    In today’s film news roundup, “Spider-Man: Far From Home” sets a studio record, Chris Meledandri and Glenn Close are honored, an art-house streaming service is unveiled, and “Cliffs of Freedom” gets a release. TRAILER STATS The first “Spider-Man: Far From Home” trailer has set a record as the biggest digital launch in Sony Pictures history [...]

  • Frank Grillo Hell on the Border

    Frank Grillo to Star in the Thriller 'Hell on the Border'

    Frank Grillo is set to star in the action-thriller “Hell on the Border” with Wes Miller directing. Miller also penned the script with Curtis Nichouls, Henry Penzi, and Sasha Yelaun producing. Ron Perlman is also on board to co-star. Plot details are unknown at this time. Production is currently underway in Birmingham, Ala. Related Mexican [...]

  • Lee Unkrich Variety Oscars Nominees Lunch

    'Toy Story 3,' 'Coco' Director Lee Unkrich to Exit Pixar After 25 Years

    Lee Unkrich, who won Academy Awards for “Toy Story 3” and “Coco,” is departing Pixar Animation Studios after 25 years to spend more time with his family. Unkrich joined Pixar in 1994 after working as an assistant editor in television on “Silk Stalkings” and “Renegade.” He served as editor on Pixar’s first feature, 1995’s “Toy [...]

  • Velvet Buzzsaw trailer

    Netflix Original Movies: What to Look Forward To in 2019

    Following the biggest fourth-quarter worldwide subscriber gain ever and some controversy around increased prices in the U.S., Netflix looks to keep its momentum going into 2019. From Jan. 18 through March, the streaming site will release 10 original films, including action-packed thrillers, a post-apocalyptic sci-fi, quirky comedies, inspirational dramas, an artistic horror movie and a viral [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content