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Film News Roundup: Megan Griffiths Sets Independent Release for SXSW Teen Drama ‘Sadie’ (EXCLUSIVE)

In today’s film news roundup, teen drama “Sadie” gets a release, “Younger” star Molly Bernard and a comedy about Chuck Taylor sneakers is in the works.

RELEASE DATE

Filmmaker Megan Griffiths and producers Lacey Leavitt and Jennessa West will independently release their drama “Sadie” starting with openings on Oct. 12 in Los Angeles and New York.

“Sadie,” which debuted at SXSW and won the Gryphon Jury Award at the 2018 Giffoni Film Festival, centers on a 13-year-old girl, played by Sophia Mitri Schloss, whose behavior worsens due to a fierce affection for her faraway father, a solider she hasn’t seen during the several years he has pulled multiple tours of duty in Afghanistan.

Joe Leydon said in his SXSW review for Variety, “Equal parts coming-of-age story and slow-burn thriller, writer-director Megan Griffiths’ quietly absorbing and methodically disquieting drama is a genuine rarity.”

Melanie Lynskey stars as the mother along with John Gallagher Jr., Tony Hale, Danielle Books and Keith L. Williams. The film features a score by Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready.

Griffiths said she and the producers chose to pursue their own creative distribution model to ensure that “Sadie” would be released with specificity and care in efforts to connect with communities and reach an audience. They are working with distribution strategist Mia Bruno to build a theatrical and TVOD release to lead into their Amazon SVOD release, which they opted into as part of the Amazon Festival Stars program.

In an attempt to benefit other filmmakers by de-mystifying independent film distribution, the filmmaking team plans to be “fully transparent” about their experiences, including an ongoing blog on the subject hosted on the film’s official site SadieFilm.com.

“This film is incredibly meaningful to me, and it’s been so empowering to create a strategy that will allow us to connect more directly with our audience and engage on the film’s themes around youth and violence,” said Griffiths. “Sadie was made to start a conversation, and the larger the audience, the more powerful that conversation can be.”

Griffiths’ credits include “Lucky Them,” starring Toni Collette and Johnny Depp, “Eden” (winner of the 2012 SXSW Audience Award), and “The Off Hours.” Griffiths has also directed episodes of “Animal Kingdom,” “Graves,” and “Room 104” (for which she was nominated for a GLAAD Award). She is currently in development on a project with Philip Fleishman and Steven Soderbergh.

“Sadie” was co-produced by Jonathan Caso and executive produced by Eliza Shelden. The project was supported by the Sundance Institute (Creative Producing Lab) and IFP (No Borders/IFP Week).

CASTING

“Younger” star Molly Bernard has been cast as the lead in the upcoming independent feature film “Milkwater,” Variety has learned exclusively.

The film follows Bernard’s character as she rashly decides to become a surrogate and egg donor for an older gay man she meets in a bar. However, as she becomes increasingly attached to him, she starts leveraging the pregnancy as a means of staying embedded in his life.

“Milkwater” is written and directed by Morgan Ingari. Candice Kuwahara is the producer. Executive producers are Ash Christian, Joe Alvarado and Margaret Sullivan. Production is set to begin in the fall.

Bernard will recur on NBC’s “Chicago Med” this fall. She recently wrapped production on the indie film “Otherhood,” directed by Cindy Chupak. She is repped by Innovative and D2 Management.

PROJECT ANNOUNCEMENT

Writer Alec Sokolow and producers Marc Gold, Ricky Brava, Sam Sokolow, Hassan Wharton-Ali, Daryl Spivey and Rudy Vegliante are moving forward with independent comedy feature film “The All Stars.”

The project will explore the legend and the legacy of Chuck Taylor, who sold and designed basketball sneakers starting in 1929. “The All Stars” will follow a mid-20’s ex-con and a mid-70’s cop as they race against time and obsessive sneakerhead collectors to obtain the very first pair of 1929 Chuck Taylor Converse All-Stars.

Sokolow was an Oscar nominee for the script for “Toy Story.” “The All Stars” is tentatively set to film in New Jersey in 2019.

“We already have significant interest from several major sports and entertainment personalities and their companies that want to be a part of this iconic project,” Gold said.

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