×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Roger Donaldson to Direct Racial Drama ‘Jena Six’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Roger Donaldson is directing the independent drama “Jena Six,” with production set to start in April in New Orleans, Variety has learned exclusively.

Donaldson, whose recent credits include “November Man” and “The Bank Job,” is directing from a screenplay by Jonathan Amaret. Producers are Amaret and Dawn Krantz (“Man Down”).

The “Jena Six” were six black high school students in a small Louisiana town who were initially charged with attempted murder in a 2006 attack on a white student. The attack took place several months after a series of racial incidents at the school, including three nooses hanging from a tree at the high school a day after a black student asked the principal if black students could sit under the tree.

The victim of the attacks was treated at an emergency room for several hours and attended a high school dance that evening. The six teenagers were arrested and Mychal Bell, a teenager, was convicted by an all-white jury of aggravated second-degree battery and conspiracy to commit aggravated second-degree battery — meaning that he faced a sentence of up to 22 years.

News of the conviction sparked outrage and allegations that the prosecution was racially motivated and disproportionate to the crime. A civil rights demonstration drew more than 15,000 protesters to Jena and was attended by Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and Martin Luther King III.

An appeals court found that Bell should not have been tried as an adult. Before his trial as a juvenile began, he agreed to plead guilty to a reduced charge of battery and was sentenced to 18 months with credit for time served. The other five defendants agreed to plead guilty in 2009 to a charge of simple battery and were fined $500 each.

Donaldson’s directing credits include “No Way Out,” “Dante’s Peak,” “Cocktail,” “Species” and “Thirteen Days.”

More Film

  • Valerian

    EuropaCorp in Advanced Talks to Sell Off Its Post-Production Facility (EXCLUSIVE)

    Luc Besson’s EuropaCorp is in advanced discussions to sell its vast post-production facility, Digital Factory, to Chinese research and engineering studio Southbay, Variety has learned. Southbay specializes in 3D conversion, VFX and post-production for film and TV, and has offices in Los Angeles and in Hangzhou and Shaoxing in China. EuropaCorp is one of Southbay’s clients, along [...]

  • 'Self-Portrait With Boy' in Development at

    'Self-Portrait With Boy' in Development at Topic Studios

    Topic Studios (“Leave No Trace”) has bought rights to Rachel Lyon’s debut novel “Self-Portrait With Boy” and plans to develop the project as a feature film. Lyon will adapt her own novel. John Lyons (“Boogie Nights”), who recently signed a first-look deal with Topic Studios, has come on board to produce. The story is set [...]

  • Ventana Sur Animation Panel Focuses On

    Ricardo Cortes Vera Talks Audience-Driven Content at Ventana Sur

    BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — Ricardo Cortes Vera, commissioning editor for Señal Colombia, introduced the audience-driven children’s content his company is renowned for in hopes of encouraging a crowd of animators into submitting their own work to the channel. He did so in a keynote address given Tuesday afternoon in Buenos Aires, at the Animation! strand [...]

  • Films by Francois Ozon, Fatih Akin

    Berlin Film Festival: New Films by Francois Ozon, Fatih Akin, Denis Cote in Competition

    New films by Francois Ozon, Fatih Akin and Denis Cote are among the titles that will compete for the Golden Bear at the upcoming Berlin Film Festival. German director Akin’s “Der Goldene Handschuh” (“The Golden Glove”) and French helmer Ozon’s “Grâce à dieu” (“By the Grace of God”) were announced by the Berlinale in its [...]

  • Picture Tree Sells Berlin Competition Film

    Picture Tree Sells Berlin Competition Title 'The Ground Beneath My Feet'

    Picture Tree Intl. is on board as the sales agent for “The Ground Beneath My Feet” (Der Boden Unter Den Füssen), which the Berlin Film Festival revealed Thursday will be in its main competition section. The Austrian drama, directed by Marie Kreutzer, stars Valerie Pachner, Mavie Hörbiger and Pia Hierzegger. The film centers on high-powered [...]

  • Katherine Jerkovic on FiGa Films-Sold Debut

    Ventana Sur: Katherine Jerkovic On Personal References, Icebergs, and Whispered Truths

    Canada-born with roots in Uruguay, Croatia and Argentina, Katherine Jerkovic split her childhood between Belgium and Uruguay. At 18, she settled in Montreal and studied film at Concordia University. After a few shorts (“The Winter’s Keeper”) and some video-installations, she has finished her first feature, “Roads in February.” The film is a co-production between Nicolas [...]

  • 1844 Ent, Distrib Films To Release

    1844 Ent. Acquires North America on Alejandro Fadel’s ‘Murder Me, Monster’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    BUENOS AIRES — 1844 Entertainment, an emerging player on the U.S. distribution scene, has acquired North American rights to Argentine writer-director Alejandro Fadel’s “Muere monstruo muere” (“Murder Me, Monster”), sold by The Match Factory.      The deal was negotiated by 1844 Entertainment’s Tommaso Cerqueglini, The Match Factory’s Michael Weber and Thania Dimitrakopoulou.   As [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content