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IFC Nabs Melissa Leo, Tessa Thompson Comedy ‘Furlough’ (EXCLUSIVE)

IFC has nabbed U.S. and Canadian distribution rights to “Furlough,” a new comedy with Tessa Thompson, Whoopi Goldberg, and Melissa Leo, Variety has learned.

“Furlough” centers on a woman (Thompson) who lives with and cares for her aging mother (Goldberg), while working part-time at a jail. At work, she is given a chance to show off her abilities when she is assigned to accompany an unruly prisoner (Leo) on an emergency furlough to visit her dying mother. The trip does not go as planned.

“Furlough” was written by Barry Strugatz and directed by Laurie Collyer, who previously worked with IFC on “Sherrybaby,” a critical hit that starred Maggie Gyllenhaal. Leo, an Oscar-winner for “The Fighter,” is back in the awards race again with this year’s “Novitiate.” Goldberg won an Oscar for “Ghost” and currently co-hosts “The View.” Thompson recently appeared as Valkyrie in “Thor: Ragnarok.” Her credits include “Westworld,” “Creed,” and “Dear White People.”

The supporting cast includes Anna Paquin (“The Piano”), Edgar Ramirez (“Joy”), and La La Anthony (“Think Like a Man”). Bankside Films is handling international sales. Meridian Entertainment and EFC Films are financing the film which is being produced by Jen Gatien of DeerJen along with Leo. Meridian is financing the film through its production deal with Symbolic Exchange. Serving as executive producers are EFC Films’ Carole Meiselman, Meridian’s Jennifer Dong and Figo Li, and Symbolic Exchange’s James Schamus and Joe Pirro.

In a statement, Collyer said: “I am thrilled to partner with Bankside and again with IFC Films, a company with such an important and influential track record.  I am also excited to bring a new genre to them with Furlough, so we can share lots of laughs in the theater, as well as a few tears.”

The North American sale was negotiated by CAA with Arianna Bocco representing IFC Films. Avy Eschenasy handled the deal with Bankside.

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