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Film News Roundup: Michael Moore’s Traverse City Festival Drawing Kathy Griffin, Lily Tomlin

In today’s film news roundup, Michael Moore’s film festival will include appearances by Kathy Griffin and Lily Tomlin, a gerrymandering documentary gets sold and pop singer Meredith O’Connor gets cast.

FILM FESTIVAL

Kathy Griffin and Lily Tomlin have signed on to appear at Michael Moore’s Traverse City Film Festival, now in its 15th year.

Griffin will appear at a screening of “Kathy Griffin: A Hell of a Story,” which explores how a photograph of the comedian holding a fake severed head of Donald Trump led to an FBI investigation. Tomlin, who co-stars in “Grace & Frankie” with Jane Fonda and is a Detroit native, will receive a lifetime achievement award.

The festival runs from July 30 to Aug. 4 with the theme “cinema saves the world.” More than 200 movies will be screened. “When the world spins madly out of control, leave it to the artists to respond, to inspire, to operate with this crazy belief that one great movie can change the planet,” Moore said.

“Brittany Runs A Marathon” is the opening night film. Jillian Bell portrays a woman who decided to change her life by training to run the New York City Marathon. The film won the Audience Award at Sundance Film Festival.

Popular on Variety

ACQUISITION

Magnolia Pictures has bought North American rights to the documentary “Slay the Dragon,” which focuses on the issue of gerrymandering, from Participant Media.

The deal was announced Friday, a day after the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to reject placing limits on partisan gerrymandering. Directed by Barak Goodman and Chris Durrance, the film world-premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival. Magnolia is eyeing a spring 2020 theatrical release.

Participant and Magnolia partnered on “RBG,” which grossed more than $15 million worldwide and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.

Magnolia President Eamonn Bowles said, “Gerrymandering is one of the biggest threats to our democracy and ‘Slay the Dragon’ is a fantastic primer to what’s at stake, in addition to an incredibly cinematic, emotional film. Barak Goodman and Chris Durrance have done a marvelous job telling this story.”

The news was first reported by Deadline.

CASTING

Pop singer Meredith O’Connor has joined the independent film “Crushed It!,” currently filming in Los Angeles, Variety has learned exclusively.

The film centers on a skateboarder played by Nikita Orlov who moves out to Los Angeles to live with his older brother, portrayed by Tip Scarry. He dreams of becoming a professional skater and gets sidetracked when he meets a young woman played by newcomer Mara Michelle. O’Conner will be playing a friend of Michelle’s character in the film, which also stars Cole Carter, Brandon Hollman, Kamilla Alnes and Ellie Patrikios.

Alexander Garcia is directing from his own screenplay and is producing under his Multi-Valence productions banner alongside producing partner Anne Stimac, Chad Fernandez, Eric Sandoval, Ellie Patrikios and Michael Abrams.

O’Conner will also be performing on the soundtrack for the song “Keep Pushing” co-written by Alexander Garcia and Brian Vodinh.

 

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