Patricia Clarkson, Trace Lysette Sign for ‘Monica

Patricia Clarkson, Trace Lysette, Anna Paquin and Adriana Barraza are starring in the drama “Monica,” directed by Andrea Pallaoro from a script he co-wrote with Orlando Tirado.

The film centers on a transgender woman, portrayed by Lysette, who returns home to the Midwest to care for her dying mother, played by Clarkson. The story explores universal themes of abandonment, aging, acceptance, and redemption.

Producers are Christina Dow, Eleonora Granata, Marina Marzotto, Gina Resnick, Christina Sibul and Karen Tenkhoff. Production is scheduled for the end of the year. The Exchange is introducing the title to buyers during the 2020 virtual Toronto Intl. Film Festival market. The news was first reported by Deadline Hollywood.

Saban Films Buys Olivia Cooke’s ‘Pixie’

Saban Films has bought North American distribution rights to the comedy thriller “Pixie,” starring Olivia Cooke, Alec Baldwin, Ben Hardy, and Colm Meaney.
Barnaby Thompson directed and produced from a script by Preston Thompson. James Clayton also produced with Ingenious Media’s Peter Touche and Samantha Allwinton as executive producers.

The film centers on the Cooke’s Pixie, who wants to avenge her mother’s death by masterminding a heist. Her plans go awry and she finds herself on the run across the wild Irish countryside with two young men who are way out of their depth and being chased by a psychotic hitman and a gang of gun-toting priests.

‘American Woman’ Slated for Release

The 1970s-set drama “American Woman” will hit art houses in limited release from Elevation Pictures on Sept. 15, and become  available for VOD purchase at the same time through the The Labz.

Level Forward and the Center for Asian American Media have teamed to create an immersive experience to accompany the digital screenings. On Sept. 17 the screening will include a session on literature and history with Susan Choi, author of the novel that inspired the movie.

Written and directed by Semi Chellas, “American Woman” revolves around two woman, an Asian American activist and an heiress-turned-radical, on the run from the law in 1974. Hong Chau and Sarah Gadon star.

‘2 Hearts’ Scheduled for ‘Candyman’ Slot

Freestyle Releasing has picked up the romantic independent feature “2 Hearts,” starring Jacob Elordi, Tiera Skovbye, Adan Canto and Radha Mitchell, for release on Oct. 16.

Freestyle announced the move Friday on the heels of Universal and MGM opting to delay the Oct. 16 release of “Candyman” until next year. It said “2 Hearts,” directed by Lance Hool, is the first inspirational film experience available to audiences during the next several months.

“Audiences go to the movies to be engrossed in a story and feel the emotions that only come on the big screen, and 2 Hearts will stand out among the calendar of tentpoles, thrillers, and horror titles. Especially after months of safer at home restrictions, the filmmakers and the studio believe moviegoers – especially core females young and old – will respond to a true story of inspiration and hope,” Freestyle said.


Chick Fight’ Scheduled for November

Quiver Distribution and Redbox Entertainment have bought North American rights to the action-comedy “Chick Fight,” starring Malin Akerman, Alec Baldwin, Bella Thorne, Kevin Connolly and Dulcé Sloan.

“Chick Fight” will be released on Nov. 13 in theaters and on digital. Akerman portrays a woman introduced to an underground, all-female fight club in order to turn her life around, when she discovers she’s more personally connected to the club’s history than she could ever imagine.

Dominique Jackson, Kevin Nash, Fortune Feimster and Alec Mapa also star in film, directed by Paul Leyden from a script by first-time feature film writer Joseph Downey. The comedy is produced by Akerman; Yale Productions’ Jordan Yale Levine, Jordan Beckerman and Michael J. Rothstein; Idiot Savant Pictures’ Anne Clements; Ash Christian; and Frances Lausell.

Fantastic Fest Lineup Unveiled 

Fantastic Fest has unveiled its “Celebration of Fantastic Fest 2020” from Sept. 24-Oct. 1 and announced that new films will be shown free on the Alamo on Demand platform.

Titles include vampire tale “Daughters of Darkness”; horror comedy “Cyst”; French werewolf story “Teddy”; and an HD restoration of “Triple Fisher: The Lethal Lolitas of Long Island,” a “meta-melodramatic mashup” of three TV movies about Amy Fisher that star Drew Barrymore, Alyssa Milano and Noelle Parker; and Amelia Moses’s thriller “Bloodthirsty.”

The festival will also present exclusive in-theater-only screenings of Brandon Cronenberg’s “Possessor” on Sept. 23 and Jim Cummings’ “The Wolf of Snow Hollow” on Oct. 8.

‘Save Yourselves!” Trailer Released

Bleecker Street has released the first trailer to survivalist romantic comedy “Save Yourselves!”

The film, directed by Alex Huston Fischer and Eleanor Wilson from their own script, stars Sunita Mani and John Reynolds, who portray a Brooklyn couple who find themselves dependent on technology and unable to put down their phones. They seize the chance to head to an isolated cabin in the woods but are blissfully unaware when aliens attack the earth. The footage offers a look at the Jack and Sue characters trying to figure out a way back to civilization — or what’s left of it.



Assassins’ Set for Awards Season Campaign

Greenwich Entertainment has bought the documentary “Assassins,” which explores the 2017 assassination of Kim Jong-nam, half brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, for an awards season release on Dec. 4.

Ryan White directed “Assassins,” which explores Kim Jong-nam’s murder in the departures hall of Malaysia’s international airport in broad daylight, filmed entirely by security cameras. Footage showed two young women approaching Jong-nam from behind, covering his eyes with their hands, and pressing lethal nerve gas into his eyes. He stumbled away and was dead within an hour.

The two women who killed Jong-nam claimed they had simply been hired to pull a video prank and had no idea what they were really doing. An Indonesian woman, Siti Aisyah, and a Vietnamese woman, Doan Thi Huong, were charged with murder. Aisyah was freed last year after the charge against her was dropped. The murder charge against Huong was also dropped and she pleaded guilty to a lesser charge.

Mickey Rourke’s ‘Adverse’ Bought by Grindstone

Grindstone Entertainment Group has acquired North American rights to Brian A. Metcalf’s crime thriller “Adverse,” starring Mickey Rourke, Lou Diamond Phillips, Penelope Ann Miller, Sean Astin, Kelly Arjen and Thomas Nicholas, Variety has learned exclusively.

Lionsgate Home Entertainment will release the film in early 2021 on all media platforms. The film is produced by Arjen, Metcalf and Nicholas.

In “Adverse,” a rideshare driver (played by Nicholas) discovers his younger sister (Arjen) has become entangled with Rourke’s underworld boss’ drugs and debt.

Casting Society of America Honors Chemin Bernard

The Casting Society of America’s board of directors and its Black, Indigenous and People of Color Alliance have announced that they are awarding CSA Emeritus Member Status to former CSA President Chemin Bernard.

CSA grants this honor to a select group of casting professionals, all of whom were at one time active CSA members, to both elevate and honor their contributions to the organization, the profession, and the art of casting.

“Chemin Bernard is an exemplary casting director who has built an esteemed career by championing actors and helping tell stories that make an impact on culture,” said Russell Boast, president. “She has been a cornerstone to our craft who continues to inspire the next generation of artists.”


Moviegoers Welcomed Back With CinemaSafe Video

The National Association of Theatre Owners has released a “Welcome Back to the Movies” short film that touts the COVID-19 health and safety protocols moviegoers will see.

NATO noted that more than 370 companies, comprising more than 3,000 locations, and more than 33,000 screens have signed on to the protocols and may display the CinemaSafe badge and protocols on their websites and at their theater locations. About two-thirds of the nation’s locations have reopened so far amid the pandemic.

Morgan Freeman Turning to Branding

Five-time Oscar nominee Morgan Freeman is teaming through his Revelations Entertainment with URI Global to launch branding and marketing service REV+5.0.

The service plans to produce high-quality branded entertainment that will feature Hollywood celebrities alongside popular influencers as they explore how new technologies, like smart devices or artificial intelligence, will impact and transform the future.

“The high-quality content will uplift brand perception amongst consumers, inspire a halo effect to bolster brand loyalty, and create opportunities for the brand to increment sales with innovative retargeting,” said Xochitl Hwang, founder of URI Global and co-founder and chairwoman of REV+5.0 said.

Puerto Rican Actioner ‘La Sombra’ Advancing

“Ford v Ferrari” co-writer Jason Keller will make his directorial debut on the feature film “La Sombra” (“The Shadow”), from an original screenplay to be financed by Sherborne Media Finance and Paprika Financing.

The story is set on the island of Puerto Rico, which becomes a battleground as one man takes on a powerful Puerto Rican gang after his brother is kidnapped.

Pimienta Film Company’s Luillo Ruiz and Sherborne Media Finance’s Gary Raskin and Alastair Burlingham will produce with Robbie Brenner (“Dallas Buyers Club”). “La Sombra will begin shooting in Puerto Rico in the spring of 2021. Casting for the lead roles is currently in progress.