Film News Roundup: Ava DuVernay Launches $250,000 Grant Program

By Dave McNary

In today’s film news roundup, Ava DuVernay starts a grant program, “Valley Girl” gets a digital release, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau’s “The Silencing” gets a U.S. release and Edward James Olmos announces a retrospective. 

ARRAY GRANTS 

Ava DuVernay’s non-profit foundation Array Alliance has launched a $250,000 funding initiative for organizations and individuals dedicated to narrative change by women people of color.

The grants recognize regional film festivals, screening series, arts advocates, filmmakers, creators and journalists. The goal is to provide vital financial support to grassroots entities that serve as a cultural catalyst for furthering storytelling.

Unrestricted grants of $10,000 have been awarded to 14 inaugural honorees that serve African American, Latinx, Asian American, Native American, multiethnic and women-centric film communities: BronzeLens Film Festival, Cine Latino Film Festival, IllumiNative, Sankofa Film Society, Gary International Black Film Festival, UrbanWorld Festival, Cinema Sala, Lumbee Film Festival, Indigenous Film Festival, Black Femme Supremacy Film Festival, Visual Communications, ImageNation, Cinema Detroit and the Houston Museum of African American Culture. Grants were also presented to The Sarah Jones Film Foundation and to Wilson Morales of BlackFilm.com.

DuVernay’s credits include “Selma,” “A Wrinkle in Time,” the documentary “13th,” which received an Oscar nomination, and the limited series “When They See Us.” She founded Array as a multi-platform media company and arts collective in 2012.

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RELEASE PLANS

Metro Goldwyn Mayer is releasing its 1983 teen comedy “Valley Girl” across all digital platforms for the first time ever.

“Valley Girl” was directed by Martha Coolidge and starred Nicolas Cage, Deborah Foreman, Michelle Meyrink, Elizabeth Daily, Cameron Dye and Michael Bowen. The film revolves around the aftermath of Foreman dumping her preppy boyfriend and falling for a Hollywood punk rocker (Cage) amid the disapproval of her friends.

The film, which was made for $350,000, is based loosely on William Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet.”

Saban Films will release the crime thriller “The Silencing,” starring Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Annabelle Wallis and Hero Fiennes Tiffin, in the U.S.

The movie was an official selection of the SXSW Film Festival slated for the Midnighters program. Micah Ranum directed in his feature film debut with Anova Pictures’ Cybill Lui Eppich producing. Saban Films, which partnered with XYZ Films on the project since script stage, executive produced along with XYZ Films’ Aram Tertzakian and Maxime Cottray.

“The Silencing” follows a reformed hunter living in isolation on a wildlife sanctuary who becomes involved in a deadly game of cat and mouse when he and the local sheriff set out to track a vicious killer who may have kidnapped his daughter years ago.

FILM FESTIVAL

Edward James Olmos, founder of the Latino Film Institute, has announced today that the Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival will host a virtual retrospective program of its 2019 edition from April 14 to May 4, 2020.

The event will include feature films, short films, episodics, masterclasses and musical performances through LALIFF’s website for free.

“We are living in unprecedented times and we must find unprecedented solutions to continue to support our Latino filmmakers and provide them with a platform to showcase their work,” said Olmos. “Working together with our filmmakers, musicians, partners and sponsors we will be able to celebrate our festival virtually to continue to showcase some of the most inspiring and thought-provoking Latino films of 2020 and share with cinephiles everywhere, from the safety of their homes.”

The program will include the feature film “The Last Rafter,” which follows the journey of a Cuban man who risks his life in the Florida Straits on a raft to search for his long-absent father in Miami.