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Film News Roundup: ‘Downton Abbey’ Star Allen Leech Joins ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’

In today’s film news roundup, “Bohemian Rhapsody” rounds out its cast with “Downtown Abbey” actor Allen Leech, Kenny Leu and Ciara Renee will star in a police drama, and the AFI Latin American Film Festival rolls out its lineup.

CASTINGS

Fox has rounded out the cast of the Queen biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody” with Allen Leech cast as Freddie Mercury’s personal manager, Paul Prenter.

Rami Malek is starring as the frontman, with Ben Hardy, Gwilym Lee, and Joe Mazzello as members of Queen. Production on the film will begin this fall, with Bryan Singer directing from Justin Haythe’s script. New Regency and Graham King’s GK Films are the production companies.

Prenter was fired by Mercury for disclosing inside information about the singer after working with him for nine years, from 1977 to 1986.

Leech’s credits include “Bellevue” opposite Anna Paquin, “Downton Abbey,” and “The Imitation Game” opposite Benedict Cumberbatch. He’s repped by UTA, Untitled Entertainment, and Troika. The news was first reported by Deadline Hollywood.

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Kenny Leu and Ciara Renee are starring in an untitled New York-set police drama, directed by Aimee Long from her own script, Variety has learned exclusively.

The movie, which marks Long’s feature film debut, has launched production in New York City. The film co-stars Fiona Fu, Tzi Ma, Lynn Chen, Clifton Davis, Derek Goh, Dan Lauria, Kelly AuCoin (“Billions”), and Kathryn Erbe (“Law & Order: Criminal Intent”). The project is being produced by Long and Daniel Langa for Kings Road Pictures.

Leu portrays a Chinese-American police officer who has accidentally killed a young African-American while in the line of duty. The very public impact and outcry over the death cannot be ignored or overcome, requiring him to confront his actions as he navigates between his loving but worried family, his fiancée (Renée), his concerned therapist (Erbe), and the increasingly distant police forces. Lauria will portray the union representative and AuCoin will play his lawyer.

Leu has credits include “The Long Road Home” and “Independence Day: Resurgence.” Renee starred as Kendra Saunders/Hawkgirl in “Legends of Tomorrow.”

Leu is represented by BRS/Gage Talent Agency and Echelon Talent Management. Renée is represented by Stone Manners Salners Agency and Authentic Talent and Literary Management.

FILM FESTIVALS

The American Film Institute has unveiled the lineup for the 2017 AFI Latin American Film Festival, which will take place Sept. 14 through Oct. 4 at the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center in Silver Spring, Md.

The opening night film is Ecuador’s Oscar selection, the thriller “Such a Life in the Tropics.” Sebastián Cordero directed the movie about a land dispute that pits vastly disparate Guayaquil communities against one another. The screening will be followed by a Q&A with lead actor Daniel Adum Gilbert.

The closing night film is crime thriller “Woodpeckers,” the Dominican Republic’s 2018 Academy Awards foreign-language film entry. José María Cabral directed the prison-set romance. The screening will be followed by a Q&A with Dominican-Haitian actor and filmmaker Jean Jean.

The festival will include the U.S. premieres of two films set in colonial-era Brazil: Marcelo Gomes’ “Joaquim,” an unconventional ode to Brazilian national hero Joaquim José da Silva Xavier; and Daniela Thomas’ “Vazante.”

RELEASE DATES

BBC Earth Films has set an Oct. 6 release date for its documentary “Earth: One Amazing Day,” narrated by Robert Redford.

The movie is a sequel to BBC’s 2007 documentary “Earth” and features a baby zebra desperate to cross a swollen river, a penguin who undertakes a death-defying daily commute to feed his family, a family of sperm whales who like to snooze vertically, and a sloth on the hunt for love.

“As a storyteller and filmmaker. I often look to nature for sources of inspiration,” Redford said. “In ‘Earth: One Amazing Day,’ BBC Earth Films captured the natural world and its inhabitants using the perfect combination of storytelling and cutting-edge technology. The scenes and images are as inspirational as they are beautiful, and I was honored to be a part of the film.”

“Earth: One Amazing Day” is directed by Richard Dale (“The Human Body”) and Peter Webber (“Girl With a Pearl Earring”). The film is produced by Stephen McDonogh (“Walking With Dinosaurs 3D”) and executive produced by Neil Nightingale. Atlas Distribution Company is handling the release.

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First Look Media is teaming with BuzzFeed News to bring the documentary “Death in the Terminal” to a wide consumer audience.

The film, which recaps a 2015 terrorist attack in Israel, will be released on Topic.com and BuzzFeed.com on Sept. 6, when the doc will be streamed for free on both platforms.

The movie won prizes at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam and Israel’s Academy Awards. It’s executive produced by Megan Ellison (“Detroit”) and Mark Boal through his Page 1 film and television production company.

Death in the Terminal” recaps the events of Oct. 18, 2015, when a terrorist armed with a gun and a knife entered a bus terminal in the Southern Israeli city of Beersheba. Using surveillance footage and cellphone cameras, the film presents a minute-by-minute Rashomon-style account of the series of tragic events that unfolded over the ensuing 18 minutes. Three people were killed — the perpetrator, a soldier, and a bystander mistaken for a terrorist.

“We are proud to partner with BuzzFeed News to premiere an important film like ‘Death in the Terminal’ to a highly-engaged audience for free,” said Adam Pincus, exec VP of programming and content for First Look Media. “This unique collaboration allows Topic.com and Buzzfeed News audiences special access to watch a film that really challenges viewers to re-think how we look at the world, especially during times of crisis.”

EXECUTIVE APPOINTMENT

Veteran executive John Berkley has been named president at Cast & Crew, which specializes in payroll, accounting and production management.

Berkley will take on the post on Sept. 5. He has been operating executive at Silver Lake, Cast & Crew’s lead investor, and has coordinated the company’s go-to-market strategies for its digital products. He will report to CEO Eric Belcher and be in charge of growth strategy and products.

“We are thrilled to have John join our team and I look forward to partnering with him as we further advance our company and our strategy,” Belcher said. “I’ve known John for several years, and worked closely with him at Cast & Crew this year, so I know he will be a terrific addition to our executive team.”

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