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In today’s film news roundup, four film festivals have opted to pull the plug, the horror film “Infection” finds a home, Heidi Honeycutt gets hired and “Where the Crawdads Sing” gets a writer.

CANCELLATIONS

A quartet of mid-size film festivals announced Wednesday that they are calling off their events due to concerns over the coronavirus pandemic.

The Beverly Hills Film Festival, the Cleveland Film Festival, the Full Frame Festival at Duke University and the New York Children’s Film Festival all decided to scrub their events.

The Beverly Hills event, which was scheduled to occur on April 1-5, was postponed until further notice. “Due to the fact that the Beverly Hills Film Festival will bring together thousands of attendees locally and globally, it is our ethical and moral responsibility to not participate in the possible outbreak of COVID-19,” organizers said in a statement.

The Cleveland Film Festival said it would hold next year’s event on April 7-18, 2021, adding, “This is a difficult situation for all involved. We are grateful for your understanding, loyalty, and continued support during this challenging time.”

ACQUISITIONS

U.K. sales company Jinga Films has sold Flavio Pedota’s virus horror film “Infection” to Dark Sky Films, which has scheduled an April 14 VOD and DVD release for the United States.

The story centers on a new strand of the rabies virus turning the population of Venezuela into bloodthirsty cannibals. A young doctor finds himself separated from his son and must use every resource to find his only child and hopefully unlock the secret to a cure for the deadly disease.

“Infection” received its world premiere at the Guadalajara Film Festival and has since screened at Sitges (Spain), Fantasporto (Portugal), Utopiales (France), Popcorn Frights (U.S.), Fantaspoa (Brasil), Morbido (Mexico), Raindance (U.K.) and Festival of Fear in Canada, where it won best film. It’s been acquired for distribution by Tema (Spain), Cinema Novo (Portugal), New Select (Japan), MovieCloud (Taiwan) and First Wave (Vietnam).

EXECUTIVE HIRE 

Veteran programmer and acquisition executive Heidi Honeycutt has joined Shaked Berenson’s Entertainment Squad as vice president of episodic and short-form content.

Honeycutt was the head of the Nightfall section of the Los Angeles Film Festival before joining Fiction Riot as VP of content acquisitions in 2017. She is also a co-founder and director of programming of Etheria, the American Cinematheque’s annual genre showcase of films made by emerging women directors.

“Heidi has a great eye for talent and is known to champion diverse and fresh voices,” said Berenson. “We are glad to support her vision of creating a space for emerging artists to find audience in alternative storytelling formats.”

The company recently released the authorized Quentin Tarantino documentary “QT8: The First Eight.”

PROJECT ADVANCEMENT

Academy Award-nominated writer Lucy Alibar has signed on to write the screenplay for the movie version of Delia Owens’ bestselling novel “Where the Crawdads Sing.”

Reese Witherspoon and Lauren Neustadter will produce for Hello Sunshine. Elizabeth Gabler and Erin Siminoff will oversee for Gabler’s newly launched Sony Pictures label, 3000 Pictures.

Alibar, who received an Academy Award nomination for best adapted screenplay for co-writing “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” most recently adapted her original play “Christmas and Jubilee Behold the Meteor Shower” for film as “Troop Zero,” which stars Viola Davis, Jim Gaffigan, Allison Janney and McKenna Grace.

Set against the backdrop of the mid-20th Century South, “Where the Crawdads Sing” centers on a young woman who raises herself all alone in the marshes outside of her small town. When her former boyfriend is found dead, she is thrust into the spotlight, instantly branded by the local townspeople and law enforcement as the prime suspect for his murder. G.P. Putnam’s Sons published the book in 2018. The news was first reported by Deadline Hollywood.