FRIDAY, Dec. 4

Streamer Partners with Native American Media Alliance

In response to the economic impact of COVID-19, the Native American Media Alliance and Netflix have established the Native Americans in the Entertainment Industry COVID-19 Relief Fund.

This initiative, unveiled Friday, will begin distributing grants to eligible Native people in above the line and below the line positions who apply here.

“Native Americans in entertainment have been hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Ian Skorodin, director of strategy for the alliance. “A lot of productions have been shut down and are slowly beginning to open, but that comes with challenges as many jobs are still not available. Many Native American crew members, assistants, and other workers, who have been living paycheck to paycheck, are struggling to maintain basic living standards and are not able to find work.”

Ukraine’s Oscar Entry ‘Atlantis’ Gets U.S. Release

Grasshopper Films has set a January U.S. release for Valentyn Vasyanovych’s post-apocalyptic drama “Atlantis,” which has been selected as Ukraine’s entry for Best International Feature Film at the 93rd Academy Awards.

“Atlantis” is set In a desolate post-war Ukraine in 2025 with a former soldier volunteering his time to recover the dead bodies of his fellow soldiers. The film won Best Feature from Venice Horizons at the Venice International Film Festival.

Grasshopper Films will open “Atlantis” exclusively at New York’s Metrograph on Jan. 22 followed by releases in select theaters.

Cobalt Buys ‘Penitent Thief’ Rights 

Cobalt Pictures has acquired foreign distribution rights to “The Penitent Thief starring Jay Giannone, Stelio Savante, James Russo and Kevin Sorbo.

North American distribution rights are licensed to Vertical Entertainment. Distribution is set for a Dec. 22 VOD release.

The movie is based on Don Willis’ novel and directed by Lucas Miles. It follows the rigorous journey of two unnamed men who were crucified with Jesus. Producers are Lucas Miles and Edgar Struble with Don and Julia Willis executive producing.


Alliance Aimed at Discovering New Voices

MGM and The Black List have launched a two-year feature film script writing partnership to discover new voices with unique perspectives from historically underrepresented communities around the world.

Every six months over the next two years, The Black List will deliver a shortlist of new feature film writing candidates to MGM for consideration. MGM will select one writer from each six-month cycle to receive a two-step Guild minimum blind script deal and the opportunity to work with the studio. The first opt-in period for the partnership runs from Thursday to Feb. 23, 2021.

The Black List is best known for its annual list of the most-liked unproduced screenplays of that year.

MUAHS Ceremonies Scheduled for April 

The Make-Up Artists & Hair Stylists Guild has announced the awards timetable for the 2021 MUAHS Awards honoring outstanding achievements for make-up artists and hair stylists.

The 2021 awards, set for April 3, 2021, will break with tradition in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has resulted in the awards season being shifted back several months with the Academy Awards taking place on April 25. The MUAHS ceremony will be presented on a digital platform and will be streamed to a worldwide  audience.

The announcement was made by Julie Socash, president of IATSE Local 706.


‘The One You Feed’ Scheduled for Dec. 29

Gravitas Ventures has acquired North American rights to Drew Harwood’s feature film directorial debut “The One You Feed” for a Dec. 29 release, Variety has learned exclusively.

“The concept for ‘The One You Feed’ came to me in a dream. We wanted to tell this love story between two men in a dreamlike manner,” said actor andproducer Gareth Koorzen.

The protagonists spend lifetimes finding and losing each other. “The One You Feed” was produced by Johnny Mocker, Koorzen, Harwood and Katie Garland Noble, and stars Koorzen, Harwood, Rebecca Fraiser and Richard Watson.

“’The One You Feed’s’ rhythmic score, beautiful cinematography and strange yet distinctive sense of place set the tone of this compelling thriller,” said Megan Huggins, acquisitions coordinator at Gravitas Ventures.

Jodie Sweetin Romantic Comedy Wraps

Filming has wrapped on the romantic comedy “Will You Be My Quarantine?,” starring “Full House” and “Fuller House” star Jodie Sweetin opposite David Lipper.

Sweetin portrays a 32-year-old who has always had trouble in the dating world and is now confined to her apartment due to a pandemic. She quickly discovers how much she can get away with dating by webcam.

Alec Mapa and Danielle Perez portray her best friends. Elizabeth Blake-Thomas directed from a Wendy Braff script. “Will You Be My Quarantine?” is produced by Isabella Blake-Thomas.


Universal, James Wan Team on Untitled Project

Universal Pictures and James Wan have tapped “Overlord” director Julius Avery to helm an untitled Van Helsing horror/thriller inspired by Universal’s classic monster legacy.

Wan is producing through his Atomic Monster banner with Michael Clear. The company’s Judson Scott will serve as executive producer. The logline for the script is being kept under wraps but the film centers around Van Helsing, the vampire hunter character portrayed by Hugh Jackman in Universal’s 2004 movie “Van Helsing.”

Avery, whose credits include “Son of a Gun,” is rewriting the script and will direct. Eric Pearson (“Black Widow”) wrote the original script. The news was first reported by Deadline Hollywood.

‘Horizon Line’ Debuting with Epix

Eros STX Global has reached a deal with premium network Epix to debut the upcoming thriller “Horizon Line “in 2021 following its debut on all transactional platforms beginning Jan. 12.

The company said Tuesday that with the film’s pre-sales and downstream television deals, the film is already profitable for STX despite “challenging” market conditions. “Horizon Line” is a survival story about an estranged couple, portrayed by Allison Williams and Alexander Dreymon, who are on a flight to their friend’s tropical island wedding when their pilot suffers a fatal heart attack, leaving them with no idea of where they are, no communication and no clue on how to land the plane.

“Horizon Line” is directed by Mikael Marcimain from a script by Josh Campbell & Matt Stuecken. The film is produced by Fredrik Wikström Nicastro.

LALIFF Grant Recipients Unveiled 

The Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival has selected five Afro Latino directors for the inaugural Latinx Inclusion Fellowship Series, sponsored by Netflix.

The inaugural fellows are Lorena Durán; writer and director Justin Floyd; filmmaker Kase Peña; director Monica Suriyage and artist and director Tamara Shogaolu. Each fellow will be awarded a $20,000 grant to produce a short and will receive individualized mentorship, one-on-one meetings with industry leaders and various networking opportunities. Their completed films will premiere as part of the 2021 version of LALIFF.

“The time is now for diverse voices to have their stories told and we are proud to be able to offer our fellows the platform to have their voices heard,” said Edward James Olmos, co-founder of LALIFF and the Latino Film Institute. “We know that our first group of fellows will make a lasting impact on the industry and help to open doors for our future fellows.”

MONDAY, Nov. 30

Hiroyuki Sanada Rounds Out ‘Bullet Train’ Cast

Japanese actor Hiroyuki Sanada will join Brad Pitt in Sony Pictures’ “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 alongside Antoine Fuqua through Fuqua Films. Zak Olkewitz wrote the script. Michael Shannon, Mas Oka, Joey King, Aaron Taylor Johnson, Brian Tyree Henry and Zazie Beetz are also starring. Brittany Morrissey is the executive overseeing the project for Sony Pictures.

Sanada recently starred in Zack Snyder’s “Army of the Dead” for Netflix and just wrapped shooting the fantasy action film “Mortal Kombat.” He will next appear in Andrew Levitas’ “Minamata,” opposite Johnny Depp. His other credits include HBO’s “Westworld,” “Avengers: Endgame” and “The Twilight Samurai.” The news was first reported by Deadline Hollywood.

Israel Film Festival in Los Angeles Goes Online

The 34th Israel Film Festival in Los Angeles will be presented exclusively online for the first time this year starting on Dec. 13 through Dec. 27.

The Opening Night Film will be “Asia,” winner of nine Ophir Awards including best film, best director for Ruthy Pribar, and best supporting actress for Shira Hass. “Asia” has also been chosen as Israel’s official selection for the International Film Category at the 2021 Academy Awards.

The board of directors has selected Meir Fenigstein, the festival’s founder and executive director, as the recipient of its lifetime achievement award.

‘Let Him Go’ Tops Fandango Streaming Lists

“Let Him Go,” the family drama starring Kevin Costner and Diane Lane, is the week’s top title on Fandango’s transactional streaming services, Vudu and FandangoNOW.

Costner and Lane star as a retired sheriff and his wife who leave their Montana ranch to rescue their young grandson from the clutches of a dangerous family living in the Dakotas. The Focus Features title has grossed $8.7 million in four weeks in theaters.

A pair of R-Rated action comedies, Josh Duhamel’s “Buddy Games” and “Fatman” starring Mel Gibson as an unorthodox Santa Claus, debuted near the top of both lists.