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Film News Roundup: Disney Donates $500,000 for Recovery From California Wildfires

In today’s film news roundup, Disney has donated $500,000 for fire recovery efforts, the African American Film Critics Association honors “Crazy Rich Asians,” the Duplass brothers support an independent film and Chance the Rapper boards an MGM musical.

RECOVERY EFFORTS

Walt Disney Company has committed $500,000 to support relief and recovery efforts in response to the wildfires that continue to threaten California.

The donation will provide support to firefighters on the front lines as they work to contain the fires and will assist California residents.

“The firefighters are true heroes, and we honor their tireless commitment as they continue to battle these devastating wildfires,” said Disney Chairman and CEO Bob Iger. “Our hearts go out to the families and communities that have been so severely affected.”

Disney’s donations will go to the California Community Foundation’s Wildfire Relief Fund, which supports intermediate and long-term recovery efforts from major California wildfires as well as preparedness efforts; and to the California Fire Foundation, which provides emotional and financial assistance to firefighters, their families and the communities they protect.

CRITICS AWARDS

The African American Film Critics Association has named the film “Crazy Rich Asians” and four individuals as recipients of its 2019 special achievement awards.

Those honored include Netflix executive Tendo Nagenda; New York Times cultural critic Wesley Morris; Outlier Society executive Alana Mayo and HBO executive Kelly Edwards. The awards will be presented Feb. 2 at the California Yacht Club in Marina del Rey, Calif., four days before the 10th AAFCA Awards Gala at the Taglyan Complex in Hollywood.

“We are exceptionally proud to honor this film and these individuals for helping to move the industry forward,” said AAFCA president Gil Robertson. “From the big screen to the creatives and executives that drive them, each and every single 2019 Special Achievement Awards honoree exemplifies excellence. Collectively their brilliance has challenged our industry to reach its greatest potential while inspiring and welcoming the next generation. AAFCA is privileged to honor and celebrate our 2019 class.”

DUPLASS PROJECT

An independent feature film being written, produced and directed by female filmmakers has received more than $60,000 in funding and a production deal with producers Mark and Jay Duplass.

The film, “Thunderbolt in Mine Eye,” raised more than $15,000 on the Seed & Spark crowdfunding site and will receive an additional $45,000 from Duplass Brothers Productions, Salem Street Entertainment and UnLTD Productions. The film was selected from more than 15 finalists and 40 independent films participating in the Seed & Spark “Hometown Heroes” crowdfunding campaign focused on films centered around filmmakers’ hometowns.

“There is so much untapped talent that unfortunately often gets pushed aside for one reason or another; it is important that as an industry we open ourselves up to everyone and everything in an effort to create an environment of diversity and inclusion,” said Mark Duplass, co-founder of Duplass Brothers Productions. “This film was compelling and had a unique voice and authentic dialogue we felt would resonate with audiences.”

Oregon-based filmmaker Sarah Sherman will write and direct; her brother, actor Zachary Sherman, co-directs; and Oregon independent filmmaker Elise O’Brien is producing. The film stars Quinn Liebling (Netflix’s “Everything Sucks!”) and Anjini Taneja Azhar (“Star Trek: Into Darkness”) and centers around two young neighbors who embark on a first love relationship in which they struggle to remain kids.

MOVIE MUSICAL

Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures has acquired rights to develop the feature musical “Hope” with Chance the Rapper.

Chance is partnered with his manager Pat Corcoran of Haight Films and Tradecraft’s Scott Bernstein, who has a producing credit on “Straight Outta Compton.” Songwriter-producer Nico Segal will oversee the creation of the film’s original music, which will be used to follow a group of Chicago teenagers that band together to turn art into action within their community.

Corcoran said, “From day one, our mission at Haight Films’ has been to apply Haight Brand’s artist-first and Chicago-proud ideology to the film space. We are incredibly excited to be working alongside Chance, MGM and Scott Bernstein to bring this vision to life.”

The deal was brokered by UTA and Eric Sherman at Ziffren. The news was first reported by Deadline Hollywood.

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