You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

‘Last Days in Vietnam’s’ Rory Kennedy to Direct AR Content’s Refugee Documentary (EXCLUSIVE)

Alexander Rodnyansky’s AR Content – in partnership with Kevin Macdonald, an Oscar winner with “One Day in September,” and Rosanne Korenberg – has tapped Academy Award-nominated and Emmy-winning director Rory Kennedy, best known for “Last Days in Vietnam,” to direct its untitled documentary centering on a little-known refugee crisis immediately preceding World War II.

The film will center on the voyage of the transatlantic liner St. Louis in 1939, which was carrying Jews fleeing Nazi but was turned away by Cuba and the U.S. and forced to return to Europe. Later, 254 of its passengers died in the Holocaust. The film will compare that episode with today’s global refugee crisis.

Alongside Rodnyansky – who was Oscar-nominated for “Leviathan” and “Loveless” – Macdonald and Korenberg, Kennedy and the documentary’s writer Mark Bailey, a WGA nominee for “Last Days in Vietnam” and a three-time Emmy nominee, will produce the film under their production banner Moxie Films.

Rodnyansky first announced the doc late last year when AR Content partnered with Macdonald and Korenberg to help bring the story to light. It was, in part, the international community’s unwillingness to accept Jewish refugees that emboldened Hitler to enact his “Final Solution.” After the atrocities of the Holocaust, several measures were put in place to protect those escaping persecution. “Despite this, history seems to be repeating itself, with current vulnerable groups fleeing war-torn regions only to find a hostile, indifferent, and xenophobic Western world,” according to a statement from AR Content.

Kennedy’s “Last Days in Vietnam” (2014), which told the story of the Vietnam War’s final weeks, received an Oscar nomination for best documentary feature. Kennedy won the Emmy for Outstanding Nonfiction Special with her film “Ghosts of Abu Ghraib” (2007), which chronicled the American abuse of detainees in Abu Ghraib prison, in Iraq, in 2003. Bailey co-wrote both features, and has begun writing the currently untitled refugee doc.

“Ten years ago I made ‘The Fence,’ a film about the wall going up along the U.S.-Mexico border,” said Kennedy. “Since then I have watched in dismay as anti-immigrant and anti-refugee rhetoric has accelerated, while resettlement quotas have been slashed and barriers have risen up across the globe. Every day the refugee crisis grows more dire. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to make what I feel is a very important and timely film.”

Macdonald and Korenberg have been leading a director search since the project’s announcement. “With the talented team of Rory and Mark on board, we will be able to explore and empathize as well as show possible solutions to the ever-growing number of refugees worldwide,” said Korenberg.

“Of course I knew Rory’s films and reputation as a director,” added Rodnyansky. “But when we sat down to discuss her vision, I was sure that Rory and Mark were the right team. Like my own initial ideas about the film, they wanted to craft something very opinionated and sharp, something that would hold the Western world accountable for its inaction and ask the important questions about how best to move forward. Refugees and mass migration will continue to be one of the 21st century’s most defining developments, and how we respond will be important, and remembered.”

AR Content is a Los Angeles-based script development company. The firm’s slate of in-development projects includes “Debriefing the President,” based on the book about the first CIA agent to identify and interrogate Saddam Hussein, to be directed by Ziad Doueiri (“The Insult,” “The Attack”), currently being written by Daniel Stiepleman (“On the Basis of Sex”). AR Content’s TV projects include the Kornel Mundruczo series “Everybody’s Woman,” about the evolution of the European porn industry at the dawn of social media; a political assassination anthology series; and a to-be-announced drama series about animal poaching.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Jack Ryan

    Richard Rutkowski on ‘Jack Ryan,’ Costa-Gavras and Being Nice Abroad

    TORUN, Poland – Speaking at the EnergaCamerimage Intl. Film Festival on Monday, Richard Rutkowski praised the work of Costa-Gavras, offered sage advice for filmmakers working internationally, and offered a glimpse of the fast-paced work faced by cinematographers on high-profile TV series. Rutkowski, whose credits include “Jack Ryan,” “Castle Rock” and “The Americans,” discussed the methods, [...]

  • 'Honeyland' DP on Low-Fi Shooting With

    'Honeyland' DP on Low-Fi Shooting With High-Powered Storytelling

    Filming the Sundance-awarded “Honeyland” in a remote North Macedonia locale without roads or electricity, it was easy to get lost, confesses cinematographer Fejmi Daut. “It was too hard to decide what would be the storyline in the beginning,” said the debut DP, speaking at the 27th EnergaCamerimage cinematography festival in Torun, Poland. The editing process [...]

  • Q A_Joker_Lawrence-Sher_CKK-Jordanki_fot-Maria-Kowalska_11

    'Joker’ Cinematographer on Joaquin Phoenix’s Transformative Performance

    TORUN, Poland – “Joker” cinematographer Lawrence Sher received a rockstar welcome at the EnergaCamerimage Intl. Film Festival on Monday as attendees struggled to squeeze into a standing-room only conference room for a lively and in-depth Q&A session on the making of the box office sensation. Sher appeared equally excited to be at the event. “Obviously [...]

  • Igor Drljaca, Agata Smoluch Del Sorbo

    Verve Signs 'Disappearance at Clifton Hill' Director Albert Shin (EXCLUSIVE)

    Verve has signed Albert Shin, the director of the buzzy new thriller “Disappearance at Clifton Hill,” Variety has learned. Distribution rights for the film were recently acquired by IFC Midnight and the movie is expected to open in February. “Disappearance at Clifton Hill” debuted at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival. It centers on a [...]

  • John Bailey

    John Bailey Urges Cinematographers to Embrace Story Over Technology

    It’s safe to say John Bailey does not miss the trappings of the president’s office at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Speaking at a retrospective celebrating his five decades of cinematography work at Poland’s EnergaCamerimage festival, where Bailey will be honored with a lifetime achievement award this week, he told an audience [...]

  • Justin Bieber Cupid Movie

    Justin Bieber Debuts First Look at 'Cupid' Movie

    Beware of cupid’s arrow. Justin Bieber unveiled a first-look photo for “Cupid,” his upcoming animated movie from Mythos Studios. The image sees a cartooned Bieber, who will voice the god of love, on the side of a cliff with the sun setting in the background. “Cupid” will tell the story of the eponymous mythical being [...]

  • Robert De Niro

    Robert De Niro to Receive SAG Life Achievement Award

    Robert De Niro will be honored with a SAG life achievement award. The legendary actor, who currently stars in Netflix’s “The Irishman” and Warner Bros.’ “Joker,” will receive the performers’ union’s top accolade at the 26th annual SAG Awards on Jan. 19 at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. The award is given annually to [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content