×

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.

More Film

  • it chapter two, comic con

    Comic-Con: 4500 Gallons of Fake Blood and Everything Else to Know About 'It Chapter Two''

    Comic-Con 2019 kicked off with a stacked presentation from the director and cast of “It Chapter Two” on Wednesday, inspiring a curious amount of joy at San Diego’s Spreckles Theater in spite of the abject terror offered up by the film. The closing chapter to 2017’s record-obliterating “It,” the highest grossing R-rated horror film of [...]

  • 'Between Me and My Mind' Review:

    Film Review: Trey Anastasio in 'Between Me and My Mind'

    Trey Anastasio doesn’t look like a rock star. With his thick rimless glasses and flop of sandy red hair, you might say he resembles John Sebastian, but really, he looks like a mashup of Mike White and Jon Cryer and the filmmaker Chris Smith. He’s an appealingly ordinary shaggy-geek dude, like some guy you might [...]

  • Photo taken July 18, 2019, from

    Multiple Deaths From Arson Attack on Japan's Kyoto Animation

    An arson attack on the Kyoto Animation company on Thursday morning in Japan. has injured several dozen people and killed at least one. Some reports have put the death toll as high as 12. Emergency services in Kyoto City received a call around 10.35 a.m. local time reporting an explosion on the first floor. The [...]

  • sith trooper

    Sith Trooper Revealed From 'Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker'

    “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” revealed a new storm trooper uniform Wednesday at San Diego Comic Con as part of a special exhibit celebrating the evolution of the storm trooper design. Dubbed the Sith trooper, the new uniform sports all-red armor plates with a matching red and black blaster. Also decorating the armor is [...]

  • Dunkirk

    Harry Styles Is the Perfect Prince Eric; Why He'd Rock 'Little Mermaid' Role

    Could Harry Styles be the perfect Prince Eric? One day after the announcement that the One Direction star is “in early negotiations to play the iconic ‘Little Mermaid’ role,” the internet exploded with speculation as to how he would portray the object of Ariel’s affections. “I can see lots of reasons why Harry is perfect,” [...]

  • The Lion King

    Film News Roundup: PETA Sponsors Rescued Lion in Jon Favreau's Name

    In today’s film news roundup, PETA honors Jon Favreau for “The Lion King,” “Tigers Are Not Afraid” gets a theatrical release, a Kirk Franklin biopic is in development and “The Sixth Sense” gets an anniversary showing in Philadelphia. HONOR The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is sponsoring a rescued lion to honor director [...]

  • Tokyo Director-in-Focus-at-Japan-Now

    Nobuhiko Obayashi set as Japanese Director in Focus at Tokyo Film Festival

    Indie director, Nobuhiko Obayashi will be feted as the director in focus at the Japan Now section of this year’s Tokyo International Film Festival. The festival will give a world premiere to his “Labyrinth of Cinema.” Supporting his art by shooting commercials, Obayashi is an indie whose dreamy works have influenced numerous other directors in [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content