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Film News Roundup: Stock-Car Documentary ‘The Last Race’ Gets Distribution

In today’s film news roundup, stock-car documentary “The Last Race” is getting released, Oprah Winfrey’s former publicist Lisa Halliday joins ID, and Cheryl Boone Isaacs is chairing an Italian film festival.

ACQUISITION

Magnolia Pictures has acquired U.S. rights to the documentary “The Last Race,” Michael Dweck’s feature debut about the stock-car racetrack Riverhead Raceway.

Magnolia is targeting a 2018 release for the film, which recently world-premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.  Dweck produced with Gregory Kershaw. The co-executive producers are Howard Schultz, Sheri Schultz and Cecilia Luppi.

Forty such race tracks used to exist on Long Island alone. Riverhead is the last stock-car track on the island.

“Michael has crafted an incredibly immersive film about grassroots racing,” said Magnolia President Eamonn Bowles. “’The Last Race’ is a beautiful tribute to a world that is disappearing before us.”

The deal was negotiated by Magnolia’s Dori Begley and John Von Thaden, with Submarine on behalf of the filmmakers.

EXECUTIVE APPOINTMENT

Lisa Halliday, former publicist for Oprah Winfrey and Harpo Inc., is joining ID as Chief Communications Officer.

ID, one of the largest PR films in the entertainment and lifestyle space, made the announcement Tuesday.

“Lisa has spent most of her career at the summit of entertainment media relations,” said ID Founder and CEO,Kelly Bush Novak. “She’s at a point in her career where she could go anywhere, and we are beyond thrilled to have her join us at this exciting time in our business. I’ve known Lisa for more than 20 years and beyond her impressive credentials, she is kind, gracious and will fit beautifully within our culture.”

Halliday, head of communications and strategy for Winfrey, left Harpo in 2011 after 12 years to return to Los Angeles to pursue other interests.

ID said Tuesday that Halliday will complement ID’s team in Los Angeles and New York across all facets of the agency’s business. ID also said it had recently promoted several longtime executives to senior VP posts including Allison Elbl, head of ID Music, and Sara Serlen and Harlan Gulko, co-heads of ID Film, TV and Content.

“There’s something very exciting happening at ID and I wanted to be a part of it,” said Halliday. “Kelly and Mara Buxbaum [ID President] have built a unique and powerful business.  The impressive constellation of both established and emerging artists, properties, brands and companies ID represents is certainly a reflection of their strength as visionary media strategists. Their commitment to a work environment that’s built on mentoring and respect ensures the ID team is perpetually the best in the business. And I’m honored to join them.”

During her tenure with Winfrey, Halliday spearheaded the launch of OWN, O Magazine, Harpo Films, Harpo Productions, as well as the careers of Dr. Phil, Dr. Oz and Nate Berkus. She led the communication team for the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa. Prior to Harpo, Halliday held senior positions in PR at Disney, Fox and Columbia Pictures.

FESTIVAL APPOINTMENTS

Cheryl Boone Isaacs, past president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, has been named chairman of the 16th Annual Ischia Global Film & Music Festival in Italy.

Italian filmmaker and executive Andrea Leone will serve as president. Prior festival officials have included production designers Dante Ferretti and Francesca Lo Schiavo; directors Bille August, Steven Zaillian and Michele Placido; producers Marina Cicogna and Paula Wagner and manager Rick Nicita. The festival takes place on an island off the coast of Naples from July 15-22.

“With the film and music industries’ current mandate to improve inclusion, and with the major steps that the Italian film industry has taken to attract and increase production within the country, we are certain that under their aegis the festival will focus on issues pertaining to both issues in a meaningful way,” said honorary president Tony Renis.

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