FRIDAY, Nov. 20

Honors Scheduled for Dec. 9

The SFFilm organization will honor Glenn Close and the ensemble cast of “One Night in Miami” — Kingsley Ben-Adir, Eli Goree, Aldis Hodge, and Leslie Odom, Jr. — in its  Dec. 9 live-streamed award show.

“We were simply enthralled by the bold performances of each of these exceptional actors this year,” said  Executive Director Anne Lai. “Glenn Close, as evidenced by her remarkable turn in ‘Hillbilly Elegy,’ is simply a master of her craft, and it’s a sight to behold. Kingsley, Eli, Aldis, and Leslie infuse such sensitivity and brilliance into their work, breathing life into these complex characters who also happen to be well-known public figures.”

SFFilm, which runs the San Francisco Film Festival, has already announced it would honor Aaron Sorkin with the Kanbar Award for Storytelling; and Chloé Zhao with the Irving M. Levin Award for Film Direction.

Gravitas Buys ‘Baby Done’ for January Release

Gravitas Ventures has acquired romantic comedy “Baby Done” and is planning a Jan. 22, 2021, release in theaters and on demand, Variety has learned exclusively

The film, directed by Curtis Vowell from a Sophie Henderson script, stars Rose Matafeo, Matthew Lewis,, Emily Barclay, Rachel House, Nic Sampson, and Madeleine Sami. Matafeo and Lewis play a couple who when they find out they are having a baby, they resolve to not let parenthood change them with Lewis’ character running towards being a dad, while his spouse runs away from being a mother and is terrified that her life won’t be her own anymore.

“Baby Done” is a semi-autobiographical story inspired by the filmmakers’ own reaction to starting a family. It’s executive produced by Taika Waititi and Carthew Neal and produced by Morgan Waru. It is made with investment by The New Zealand Film Commission, Wallace Productions Limited and Department of Post.


CNN Films Nabs ‘President in Waiting

CNN Films has bought North American television rights Jeffrey Roth’s feature film documentary “President in Waiting,” which includes President-elect Joe Biden discussing his eight years as vice president under President Barack Obama.

CNN has set the film for a Dec. 5 broadcast. “President in Waiting” also includes interviews with five other living American vice presidents — Mike Pence, Dick Cheney, Al Gore, Dan Quayle and Walter Mondale — about their White House years.

“President in Waiting” includes Biden discussing his accepting his nomination as vice president in 2008 and his relationship with President Obama. The other vice presidents discuss their own experiences with war, diplomacy and other events that shaped their own administrations.

Nominations Unveiled for Critics Choice Super Award

The Critics Choice Association has unveiled nominees for the inaugural Critics Choice Super Awards with a ceremony planned for Jan. 10 on The CW Network.

The Critics Choice Association will also present the Legacy Award to the “Star Trek” franchise. “Star Trek” icon Patrick Stewart and “Star Trek: Discovery” trailblazer Sonequa Martin-Green will accept the honor, which comes as the franchise celebrates its 55th anniversary.

Hulu’s “Palm Springs” leads this year’s film nominees, with a total of five. Seven films scored four nominations including “Birds of Prey” (Warner Bros.), “Freaky” (Universal), “Onward” (Disney+), “Sonic the Hedgehog” (Paramount), “The Hunt” (Universal), “The Old Guard” (Netflix), and “The Willoughbys” (Netflix).  “Lovecraft Country” (HBO) received the most television nominations, with a total of six and Amazon’s “The Boys” received five nominations.

David Neumann launching Newmation company

Former CAA motion picture agent David Neumann has launched Newmation as a management company for film and TV animation creators.

“It is an honor to work with these talented filmmakers and I can’t wait to share our unique projects with the world that both kids and adults can enjoy for generations to come,” he said in a statement.

Neumann’s initial clients at Newmation include Andrew Chesworth, Shaofu Zhang, Malenga Mulendema, Gustavo Steinberg, Taiko Studios, Breakthru Films, Oscar winner Hugh Welchman (“Loving Vincent”), Anita Doron (“The Breadwinner”) and Gary Trousdale (“Beauty and The Beast”).


Michael Shannon Rounds Out ‘Bullet Train’ Cast

Oscar nominee Michael Shannon will join Brad Pitt in Sony’s action movie “Bullet Train,” based on the Japanese novel “Maria Beetle” in which a train in Tokyo is the setting for battles between criminals.

David Leitch is directing, with Kelly McCormick producing through 87North and Antoine Fuqua through Fuqua Films. Zak Olkewitz wrote the script. Mas Oka, Joey King, Aaron Taylor Johnson, Brian Tyree Henry and Zazie Beetz are also starring.

Shannon was nominated for an Academy Award in the best supporting actor category for “Revolutionary Road” and “Nocturnal Animals.” Shannon is currently filming the Hulu series, “Nine Perfect Strangers,” alongside Nicole Kidman and Melissa McCarthy. The news was first reported by Deadline Hollywood.

IFTA Selects Seven Board Members

The Independent Film and Television Alliance, which operates the American Film Market, has selected eight executives as new board members: J.D. Beaufils (VMI Worldwide), Scott Bedno (Myriad Pictures), Jody Cipriano (MarVista Entertainment), Patrick Ewald (Epic Pictures Group), Will Machin (Metro International Entertainment), Wendy Reeds (Lionsgate), Lise Romanoff (Vision Films) and Nick Spicer (XYZ Films).

Michael Ryan (GFM Films) continues as chairperson. The newly-elected executives join those currently serving the second year of their two-year term as IFTA board members: Caroline Couret-Delegue (Film Seekers Limited), Clay Epstein (Film Mode Entertainment), Jeffrey Greenstein (Millennium Media), Jay Joyce (Cardinal XD), Jeannine Tang (Participant Media) and Adam Wright (Voltage Pictures).

‘Diving Deep’ Documentary Gets January Release

“Diving Deep: The Life and Times of Mike deGruy” will be distributed domestically by Gravitas Ventures across all platforms starting with Apple TV/iTunes and Amazon rentals on Jan. 19, 2021.

Mike’s widow and filmmaking partner Mimi deGruy directed, produced and wrote “Diving Deep,” which opened the Santa Barbara International Film Festival in 2019. It won Best Film at the Ocean Film Festival and Audience Favorite at the Aspen Mountain Film Festival.

DeGruy died in a 2012 helicopter crash. Mimi deGruy crowdsourced the funds to make “Diving Deep” and interviewed James Cameron, National Geographic explorer Sylvia Earle, British broadcaster Sir David Attenborough and the deGruy children, who often served as Mike’s filmmaking helpers.

TUESDAY, Nov. 17

Museum of Moving Image Honors Period Drama

The Museum of the Moving Image will honor George C. Wolfe and the cast and crew of “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” on Dec. 15.

The awards ceremony will be livestreamed to gala attendees. It will feature appearances by the cast including Viola Davis, who stars as Ma Rainey; Glynn Turman, Colman Domingo, Michael Potts, Jonny Coyne, Taylour Paige, Jeremy Shamos, and Dusan Brown; director George C. Wolfe, writer Ruben Santiago-Hudson; producers Denzel Washington and Todd Black; costume designer Ann Roth; and composer Branford Marsalis.

Wolfe’s film is an adaptation of the play by two-time Pulitzer Prize–winner August Wilson. Set in a recording studio in 1920s Chicago, “Mother of the Blues” Ma Rainey tries to wrest creative control from her band and the white executives overseeing their session. “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” will be available on Netflix on Dec. 18.

AFI Taps Greene as Diversity Director

The American Film Institute has appointed veteran education professional Syreeta N. Greene as its new director of diversity, equity and inclusion.

Her previous roles include Director of MOSAIC Cross Cultural Center at Midwestern State University and Assistant Director at USC’s Center for Black Cultural and Student Affairs. Most recently, Greene was dean of the division of student affairs at Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science. Greene will oversee diversity and inclusion for all of AFI’s programs.

AFI’s community grows with the stellar addition of Syreeta Greene,” said Bob Gazzale, AFI President and CEO. “As a person and as a professional, she embodies the culture we have been working toward and will catalyze change for an even stronger AFI.”

Indie Drama ’32 Weeks’ Set for Nov. 24 Launch

Indie Rights has acquired worldwide rights to the drama “32 Weeks” and plans a Nov. 24 digital release, Variety has learned exclusively.

“32 Weeks” tells the story of a young woman with amnesia, who is torn between the new man in her life that she can’t remember and her ex who she can’t forget. It was filmed entirely in Santa Monica, California, with a two-person crew and aims to provide an intimate portrayal of emotional abuse and pathological tendencies.

Written and directed by Brian Cavallaro and produced by Arielle Brachfeld and Jonas Smensgard, “32 Weeks” stars Nicole Souza, Nicole Rainteau, Scott Bender, Cameron Tagge and KiDane Kelati. It’s been screening at the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival and the Rome International Film Festival.

MONDAY, Nov. 16

Netflix Drama Vies for Best International Award

Mexico has chosen Fernando Frías de la Parra’s drama “I’m No Longer Here” as its official entry for the Best International Feature Film to the 93rd Academy Awards.

“I’m No Longer Here” premiered in the 2019 edition of the Morelia Film Festival, where it was awarded the Feature Film Competition Award and the Audience Award. Netflix acquired worldwide rights in 2018 and released it in May. Producers are Alberto Muffelmann, Fernando Frías de la Parra, Gerry Kim and Gerardo Gatica.

“I’m No Longer Here” is set in the mountains of Monterrey, Mexico, where the leader of the street gang Los Terkos tries to protect his friends from the nefarious elements of a quickly evolving drug/political war. But after a misunderstanding with a local cartel, he is forced to leave for Jackson Heights, Queens. The film stars Juan Daniel Garcia Treviño.

Masi Oka Boards Brad Pitt’s ‘Bullet Train’

“Heroes” star Masi Oka will join Brad Pitt in Sony’s action movie “Bullet Train,” based on the Japanese novel “Maria Beetle” in which a train in Tokyo is the setting for battles between criminals.

David Leitch is directing with Kelly McCormick producing through 87North and Antoine Fuqua through Fuqua Films. Zak Olkewitz wrote the script.

Oka was nominated for an Emmy and Golden Globe award for his role in NBC’s drama series “Heroes.” He most recently voiced the role of Agent K in animated feature “Spies in Disguise” and starred opposite Jason Statham in “The Meg.” The news was first reported by Deadline Hollywood.

Survey Shows Recent Moviegoers Likely to Return 

Movie ticketing app Atom Tickets has reported that 95% of customers who have returned to the movies are either “very likely” or “likely” to return, with 92% saying they would recommend going to the movies to others.

The survey was taken earlier this month from a mix of 500 consumers who have and have not returned to the movies. It found that 41% of respondents who live in markets where theaters reopened but have not yet returned said the primary reason they have not yet returned is that they are waiting for a COVID-19 vaccine.

When they return to movie theaters, 40% said the single most important safety feature to them is having staff and guests wear masks, followed by 37% saying  socially distant seating in the auditorium is most important.