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Film News Roundup: Anna Akana to Headline ‘Go Back to China’ Movie (EXCLUSIVE)

In today’s film news roundup, YouTube star Anna Akana signs up for “Go Back to China,” a biopic about Anne Frank’s friend Rebecca Siegel is in the works, and “72 Hours: A Brooklyn Love Story” gets a release.

CASTINGS

Anna Akana is set to headline the indie feature film “Go Back to China,” director Emily Ting’s follow-up to her 2015 movie, “Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong.”

Akana will portray a party girl who blows through most of her trust fund and is forced by her father to go to China and work for the family toy business. Through her journey, she gets a much needed dose of reality check and comes to terms with her estranged family.

Richard Ng plays Akana’s character’s estranged father and Lynn Chen portrays her half sister. Kelly Hu (“Arrow”) rounds out the cast as her mother.

“This is a very personal story about my family in China that I’ve been wanting to tell for a long time,” Ting said. “I couldn’t be more thrilled to be working with this group of talented Asian actors to bring this story to life. At a time when Asian American representation is still so lacking in Hollywood, it’s such an uphill battle to get films like this made, and I am just so grateful for the opportunity to tell my story.”

Ting’s Unbound Feet Productions will be producing along with Sophia Shek and Frederick Thornton. Lowell Shapiro and Mike Dill of Black Box Management are executive producing. Principal photography is slated to begin on location in Hong Kong and Shenzhen, China in the spring.

Akana is best known for her YouTube Channel, which has almost 2 million subscribers and has generated over 200 million video views. Hu will next be seen in the upcoming AMC series “Dietland.”

Ting is repped by Gersh and Black Box Management. Akana is repped by UTA and the Coronel Group. Chen is repped by Sovereign Talent Group and Authentic. Hu is repped by Buchwald and Mainstay Entertainment.

ACQUISITIONS

Matthew Brady of MRB Productions has acquired the life rights of Rebecca Siegel, a Holocaust survivor and friend of Anne Frank. The production company plans to bring Siegel’s story to the screen, Variety has learned exclusively.

Siegel is the author of the 2016 autobiography, “Fragments Under Glass,” and one of the only living survivors in the world who was a friend and classmate with Anne Frank. The biopic will chronicle Siegel’s years attending school with Frank, her horrific years as a prisoner in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp along with Frank, and her subsequent rescue by the man who would end up becoming her in-law years later.

The story, published by Rogue Phoenix Press, was brought to MRB by Matt Solomon, who will executive produce the movie.

Brady and MRB produced “Back to Life,” the documentary about Olympic freestyle skiing prodigy Torin Yater-Wallace, which premiered on ABC last month. Brady is also the producer of Sharon Stone’s romantic comedy, “All I Wish.”

“This is an extremely sensitive subject but there are too many stories that still need to be preserved for future generations,” Brady said. “Rebecca is a hero and we are honored to be able to share her story with the world.”

*****

Freestyle Digital Media has acquired the North American rights to the urban romantic drama “72 Hours: A Brooklyn Love Story,” Variety has learned exclusively.

The film will be available to rent and own on digital HD across cable, internet, and satellite platforms through Freestyle Digital Media on Feb. 13.

“72 Hours” centers on an ambitious 18 year-old and the 72 hours before he leaves for a prestigious university as his confidence shatters. It was written and directed by Raafi Rivero and produced by Vincent Harris and Stephanie Williams. The cast includes Melvin Mogoli, Andrea Rachel, Erinn Westbrook, and Bilal N’dongo.

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