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Gabrielle Union has joined Alec Baldwin, Taylor Schilling, Jena Malone, Emilio Estevez and Che “Rhymefest” Smith in the ensemble dramedy “The Public,” Variety has learned exclusively. Estevez is directing the film from his own script.

Principal photography on the indie production will commence in mid-January in Cincinnati, Ohio. “The Public” centers around a standoff with police and library officials when library patrons — many of whom are homeless and mentally ill — stage a sit-in, turning the Cincinnati Public Library into an impromptu homeless shelter for one night during a cold snap.

Estevez says the story asks the question, “Who will care for those individuals who are unable to care for themselves?”

Union will play an ambitious television news reporter who uses the event as a way to bolster ratings for the network as well her own personal profile. The actress is known for her roles in “Top Five,” “Almost Christmas,” “Being Mary Jane,” “Birth of a Nation” and the upcoming “Sleepless” co-starring Jamie Foxx.

Lisa Niedenthal, Alex Lebovici and Steve Ponce of Oriah Entertainment are producing the film. Michael Bien of Cedarvale Pictures will serve as executive producer.

Estevez directed and wrote the drama “Bobby” — set on the night of Bobby Kennedy’s assassination in 1968 — and indie drama “The Way.”

Union is represented by CAA and Primary Wave Entertainment