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Film News Roundup: Billie Lourd Joins Olivia Wilde’s High School Drama ‘Booksmart’

In today’s film news roundup, Billie Lourd joins high school drama “Booksmart,” Steve James gets an AFI honor, and the Yosemite climbing documentary “The Dawn Wall” gets distribution.

CASTING

Billie Lourd has been cast opposite Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein in the high school drama “Booksmart,” directed by Olivia Wilde in her feature directorial debut.

The story follows Dever and Feldstein’s characters, who are academic superstars and best friends. The duo realizes that they should have worked less and played more and set out on a mission to cram four years of fun into one night.

Producers are Chelsea Barnard, David Distenfeld, and Megan Ellison for Annapurna and Jessica Elbaum, Will Ferrell, and Adam McKay for Gloria Sanchez. Filming is currently underway in Los Angeles.

Lourd is also returning for the eighth season of “American Horror Story” along with cast members Sarah Paulson, Evan Peters, and Kathy Bates. She recently reprised her role as Lieutenant Connix in “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.” Lourd is repped by CAA. The news was first reported by Deadline.

HONOR

AFI Docs has selected documentarian Steve James as the 2018 Charles Guggenheim Symposium honoree.

He will be honored on June 14 at the National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C., where clips of his works will be shown, including the first episode of his new Starz series “America to Me.”

James has been nominated for Academy Awards for editing “Hoop Dreams” and for best documentary feature for “Abacus: Small Enough to Jail.”

“Steve James is an incredible artist who uses storytelling to shed light on diverse communities that are often in crisis,” said Michael Lumpkin, director of AFI Festivals. “As one of the most admired documentary filmmakers of his generation, we are honored to celebrate him, his history of outstanding documentaries and his latest work.”

Previous Guggenheim Symposium honorees are Charles Guggenheim (2003), Barbara Kopple (2004), Martin Scorsese (2006), Jonathan Demme (2007), Spike Lee (2008), Albert Maysles (2009), Frederick Wiseman (2010), Chris Hegedus and D.A. Pennebaker (2011), Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky (2012), Errol Morris (2013), Alex Gibney (2014), Stanley Nelson (2015), Werner Herzog (2016), and Laura Poitras (2017).

ACQUISITION

The Orchard has acquired U.S. rights to Josh Lowell and Peter Mortimer’s documentary “The Dawn Wall” for a fall theatrical release.

The documentary, produced by Red Bull Media House in association with Sender Films, recounts the 3,000-foot free climb up El Capitan’s Dawn Wall at Yosemite National Park by American rock climbers Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson in 2015.

Caldwell’s background included being taken hostage by rebels in Kyrgyzstan and losing his index finger in an accident. He and Jorgeson spent six years meticulously plotting and practicing their route.

“After seven years of filming and another three years of post-production, we are proud that ’The Dawn Wall’  finally releases in theaters,” Lowell said. “Tommy took us on this wild climbing adventure with his partner Kevin, and their motivation and drive goes deeper than anything we’ve encountered in filmmaking.”

The deal was negotiated by The Orchard’s Danny Grant and CAA Media Finance on behalf of the filmmakers. The news was first reported by Deadline.

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