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Film News Roundup: Sun Valley, Montclair Film Festivals Canceled

Atmosphere during the 2019 Sun Valley
Merritt/Radarpics for SVFF/Shutt

In today’s film news roundup, film festivals in New Jersey and Idaho are being postponed, Oscar-nominated Jason Hall will direct wrestling drama “Unstoppable” and the StoryPlace Studios database of story content is unveiled.

FILM FESTIVALS

Amid cancellations of major film festivals such as Tribeca, events in New Jersey, Idaho and Beverly Hills have opted to postpone their festivals due to the coronavirus epidemic.

The Sun Valley Film Festival said it was scrubbing its 10th annual event until next year. The Idaho festival had been set for March 18-22.

“With over $5 million dollars of economic impact to the community, this was not a decision that was made lightly, but ultimately the protection of the public health and safety of the community is paramount,” the festival said.

The Montclair Film Festival in New Jersey will postpone all currently scheduled public programs, including classes, screenings, special events, and the ninth annual Montclair Film Festival, originally scheduled for May 1-10.

“For the safety of patrons and students, all events and classes scheduled for March and April will be rescheduled for a future date once public health officials determine it is prudent to proceed,” the festival said.

The 14th Method Fest Independent Film Festival has decided to postpone the festival, which had been set for March 20-26 in Beverly Hills. “We have never been faced with such a severe situation, but we are taking this matter seriously and our top priority is 100% based on the safety of all filmmakers, actors, directors, and the public,” said Festival Executive Director, Don Franken. “We are looking into a spring date, and will be selecting a date once it is deemed safe from public health officials to proceed with our event.”

DIRECTOR ATTACHMENT

Oscar-nominated Jason Hall will write and direct “Unstoppable,” based on the life of wrestler Anthony Robles.

101 Studios and Seven Bucks Productions unveiled the project in November with Dwayne Johnson, Dany Garcia and Hiram Garcia producing for Seven Bucks Productions, Andy Fraser for A Really Good Home Pictures, David Crockett for Coonskin Cap Productions, and Gary Lewis.

The drama follows Robles, who was born with only one leg to a young mother of 16. They overcame poverty and personal obstacles to see Robles become a three-time All-American, 2011 NCAA National Champion, and a National Wrestling Hall of Fame inductee.  Hall wrote the Oacar-nominated screenplay for Bradley Cooper’s “American Sniper” and directed “Thank You for Your Service” from his own script.

“I grew up wrestling, and I remember tuning into the 2011 NCAA wrestling finals and getting goosebumps as I watched this kid vault out of the tunnel on crutches, toss them down, take the mat and dismantle the reigning national champ,” said Hall. “As miraculous an achievement as that was, the personal obstacles he faced off-the-mat were even more challenging. This is a tale of determination, perseverance and sacrifice and I’m honored to be telling the Robles’ story at a time when the world is so desperately in need of real heroes.”

The latest draft of the script was written by John Hindman, based on Robles’ memoir “Unstoppable: From Underdog to Undefeated: How I Became a Champion,” published in 2012 by Penguin imprint Gotham Books.

STORYPLACE EXPANDS

StoryPlace Social has expanded with StoryPlace Studios, touted as the first-ever database of story content specifically intended for content creation.

The subscription-based web platform is aimed at democratizing the story development process of the entertainment industry by connecting media content creators with a database of untold stories from people all around the world, allowing for the discovery of new, authentic, relatable content that today’s global audience demands. 

 “Currently, our search for the next best story is limited to the current pool of screenwriters or famous personalities. StoryPlace is committed to nurturing and supporting a diverse community of stories and storytellers from the simple act of sharing a story on our app, to producing film and television that can reach a global audience,” said Ivana de Maria, Founder and CEO of StoryPlace. “Rather than lamenting the underrepresentation of our communities in film and television, we want to provide platforms, support and tools to get underrepresented voices and their stories out into the world.”
 
StoryPlace Studios has public support from Los Angeles Mayor, Eric Garcetti, through the LA Collab Initiative which aims to connect Latinx talent, executives, and creators to opportunities in the entertainment industry with the goal of doubling Latino representation in Hollywood by 2030.