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Film News Roundup: Fire Survival Movie ‘Paradise’ in Development at Focus

In today’s film news roundup, a movie about the deadly Camp Fire is in the works, “The Infiltrators” will open the Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival and former Rogers and Cowan topper Tom Tardio will run the Napa Valley Film Festival.

PROJECT LAUNCH

Focus Features is producing the survival story movie “Paradise,” based on events during the deadly 2018 Camp Fire.

The fire caused 85 fatalities and destroyed the small town of Paradise, Calif. Matthew Heineman, who was Oscar-nominated for “Cartel Land,” is set to direct and write the script. Temple Hill will produce along with Heineman.

The story will centers on Heather Roebuck, who gave birth via C-section minutes before the local hospital became engulfed by flames. Focus has optioned life rights for Roebuck, her fiancé and their children along with Butte County emergency medical workers Sean Abrams, Mike Castro, Shannon Molarius and Robin Cranston – who ended up becoming impromptu firefighters as the group became trapped by the fire.

“For me, the film examines the human connections ordinary people make in extraordinary circumstances,” Heineman said. “Heather’s journey of inner strength in the face of unparalleled and unexpected adversity is one of the most exciting and visceral stories that I’ve ever encountered.”

Popular on Variety

Heineman is represented by CAA, Cinetic Media, and Sloss Eckhouse Law.

FILM FESTIVALS

The Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival has set “The Infiltrators” as its opening night night film on July 31 at the TCL Chinese Theatres in Hollywood.

Directed and produced by Alex Rivera and Cristina Ibarra, “The Infiltrators” centers on a small group of young undocumented immigrants who embark on a high-risk mission inside America’s for-profit detention system in order to set people free. The film the won the Audience Award for the Next section and the Next Innovator Prize at Sundance earlier this year.

“’The Infiltrators’ represents everything LALIFF aspires to be — a film for our U.S. community by our U.S. community with international ramifications,” said LALIFF co-founder Edward James Olmos. “The film was made by a Latinx duo and focuses on the real-life story of undocumented youth that sacrificed everything to help others like them being held inside migrant detention centers. Nothing can be more timely.”

The festival program is comprised of 15 feature films with ten titles helmed by women including “Building the American Dream,” “Carlos Almaraz: Playing with Fire,” “Councilwoman,” “De Lo Mio,” “Pahokee,” “Sick Sick Sick,” “Siqueiros: Walls of Passion” and “The Sharks.” The event runs through Aug. 4.

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The Napa Valley Film Festival has hired former Rogers and Cowan CEO Tom Tardio as its new chief executive officer.

Tardio assumes the role immediately and is responsible for overseeing all aspects of the annual film festival including managing the current staff, fundraising, and developing new and existing programming. Tardio left Rogers and Cowan in 2015 and was recently CEO of Socialtext, a communication software provider.

Cinema Napa Valley, the non-profit organization that oversees the festival, announced four new members joining the board of directors — educator and producer Robert Bassett, marketing executive Zoë Fairbourn, producer and manager Geyer Kosinski, and venture capital and technology executive Daniel Schryer.

The 9th annual Napa Valley Film Festival takes opens Nov. 13 and runs for five days.

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