FRIDAY, AUG. 21
Popular Indie Filmmaker Lynn Shelton Receiving Recognition
American Cinematheque has scheduled a Zoom tribute to the late director Lynn Shelton for Aug. 25 at 7 p.m. PT that will include her work Emmy-nominated work on Hulu’s “Little Fires Everywhere.”
The event will include discussions by “Little Fires” stars and producers Kerry Washington and Reese Witherspoon, her boyfriend Marc Maron and collaborators Mark Duplass, Jon Hamm, Eddie Huang, Gillian Jacobs, Kevin Murphy, and Mikaela Watkins. The event will feature Shelton’s other TV/streaming work including Netflix’s “Glow,” Apple TV’s “The Morning Show,” Hulu’s “Casual,” AMC’s “Mad Men,” and ABC’s “Fresh Off the Boat.”
American Cinematheque hosted an in-person retrospective of Shelton’s films in 2019. Shelton, who died in May, helped popularize the mumblecore genre with works such as “Humpday” and “Your Sister’s Sister.”
‘Boys in the Band’ Scheduled for Release
Netflix has set a Sept. 30 release date for “The Boys in the Band,” an adaptation that reunites director Joe Mantello with the cast of the 2018 Broadway production.
Popular on Variety
Mart Crowley’s original play about a group of gay men who gather for a birthday party in New York City debuted off-Broadway in 1968. It was the basis of a 1970 movie directed by William Friedkin with the cast reprising their roles.
The movie cast includes Jim Parsons as the party host, a screenwriter who spends and drinks too much, in honor of the sharp-dressed and sharp-tongued Harold (played by Zachary Quinto). Other partygoers are played by Matt Bomer,, Andrew Rannells, Michael Benjamin Washington, Robin de Jesús and Charlie Carver.
‘We Are Many’ Documentary Event Scheduled
Area 23a Films, Iambic Dream Films and a coalition of social justice organizations have scheduled the “100 Cities. One Night for Peace” screening event on Sept. 21 for the documentary “We Are Many.”
The film, directed by Amir Amirani, centers on the 2003 demonstrations in nearly 800 cities around the world to protest against the impending Iraq War. The film is executive produced by Pippa Harris, Callum McDougall, Signe Byrge Sorenson and Omid Djalili and co-produced by Richard O’Brien and Jens Eilstrup Rasmussen.
The event, held to commemorate the International Day of Peace, will take in more than 100 theaters including virtual cinemas in nearly every major North American city. A panel addressing the issues raised in the film and exploring the power of non-violent protest will follow the screening with Amirani, luminaries featured in the film, and leaders from various protest movements. “We Are Many” will have a theatrical run starting Sept. 25.
THURSDAY, AUG. 20
Susan Sarandon’s ‘Blackbird’ Scheduled for Two-Night Release
Screen Media is partnering with Fathom Events for a nationwide cinema premiere of the Susan Sarandon drama “Blackbird” on Sept. 14 and 15 at more than 500 locations prior to its video-on-demand launch on Sept. 18
Each screening will be accompanied by a special introduction from director Roger Michell and exclusive behind-the-scenes footage of “Blackbird.” The cast includes Kate Winslet, Mia Wasikowska, Lindsay Duncan, Sam Neill, Rainn Wilson and Bex Taylor-Klaus.
“Blackbird” centers on Sarandon’s character, who summons her loved ones to the family’s beach house for one final gathering. Her daughters are played by Winslet and Wasikowska. Fathom is jointly owned by AMC, Cinermark and Regal — which are beginning to reopen this weekend.
Michelle Pfeiffer’s ‘French Exit’ Opening in February
Sony Pictures Classics has set a Feb. 12 theatrical release for the family drama “French Exit,” starring Michelle Pfeiffer and Lucas Hedges.
The film, directed by Azazel Jacobs, will make its world premiere on Oct. 11 as the closing night feature at the 2020 New York Film Festival. Tracy Letts, Danielle Macdonald, Valerie Mahaffey, Daniel di Tomasso, Susan Coyne, Imogen Poots, and Isaach de Bankolé also star.
Pfeiffer portrays a 60-year-old penniless Manhattan socialite who cashes in the last of her possessions and resolves to live out her twilight days anonymously in a borrowed apartment in Paris, accompanied by her directionless son (played by Hedges) and a cat named Small Frank — who may or may not embody the spirit of her dead husband.
Mammoth Lakes Film Festival Going Virtual
The sixth annual Mammoth Lakes Film Festival has been re-scheduled for Sept. 16-20 in a virtual format and will open with the West Coast premiere of Merawi Gerima’s “Residue.”
The festival, which usually takes place during the Memorial Day weekend, will also screen the world premiere of Marjorie Conrad’s “Desire Path” in the narrative features competition along with “Residue,” “Tapeworm,” “Marlene” and “Revolution Launderette.” The festival will also be implementing live filmmaker Q&As, industry panels, filmmaker meet-ups, and virtual wine tastings.
“While the delivery of films online will be different than in year’s past, the Mammoth Lakes Film Festival continues its commitment to showcase the work of emerging and innovative filmmakers,” said Festival Director Shira Dubrovner. “Thanks to the virtues of technology that can host a communal film going experience, we are excited to bring these works into people’s homes and promote the exchange of ideas and storytelling these films evoke.”
WEDNESDAY, AUG. 19
Disney Lauded for Using CGI Animals
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has given a Free the Animals Award to Disney for use of computer-generated imagery in “The One and Only Ivan.”
The movie, which premieres Friday on Disney Plus, tells the story of a gorilla and an elephant held captive at a shopping mall.
“This is a story about liberation — you can’t tell that story by exploiting real animals,” said screenwriter and longtime PETA supporter Mike White. “CGI is the only humane way to depict animals, and one look at Ivan’s face proves that we didn’t lose an ounce of realism.”
Andrea Riseborough’s ‘Geechee’ Restarts Production
Production started this week on Andrea Riseborough’s “Geechee,” the supernatural thriller backed by Stuart Ford’s AGC Studios.
The film, which is shooting at Lantica Pinewood in the Dominican Republic, was on the eve of production when it was shut down in March due to Covid-19. The cast includes Amin Joseph, Ebon Moss-Bachrach, Antoinette Crowe-Legacy, Gavin Warren, Victoria Hill and Judith Scott.
The film explores the Gullah Geechee culture in the South Carolina Sea Islands and its clashes with gentrification, cultural appropriation and the legacy of slavery.
Vivica A. Fox Thriller ‘Unthinkable’ Set for October Release
Unified Pictures has set an Oct. 9 release for the thriller “Unthinkable,” starring Vivica A. Fox, Christopher Cousins, Missi Pyle, Natalija Nogulich and Angell Conwell.
The film, which premiered at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival, is co-directed by George Loomis and Elias Talbot, who also served as cinematographer. Loomis stars as a young medical student who finds himself entrenched in an international conspiracy after being sent to care for the hospitalized former U.S. Ambassador to Syria.
“Unthinkable” won Best Film at the 2019 Santa Fe Film Festival.
TUESDAY, AUG. 18
Amazon Casts Daniel Dae Kim, Randall Park for Heist Project
Daniel Dae Kim and Randall Park are collaborating on an untitled heist film that will be written by Young Il Kim with Amazon Studios releasing.
Plot details are being kept under wraps but will feature a reunion of high school friends who come together for a heist. Kim and Park will produce along with John Cheng under Kim’s 3AD banner.
Kim executive produces and has appeared in ABC’s “The Good Doctor.” Park starred in “Fresh Off the Boat.” The news was first reported by Deadline Hollywood.
Verve Expanding to NYC With Chris Till
Los Angeles-based Verve is launching in the New York City market with the hiring of veteran literary agent Chris Till, who had spent a dozen years at CAA.
Till will help build a team representing theater, talent, unscripted and publishing from the East Coast. Some of his CAA clients included Ayad Akhtar, David Bryan, Jon Hartmere, Robert Horn, Jennifer Lee, Bob Martin and Beau Willimon.
“I am enthusiastic about joining Verve and launching their New York office,” Till said. “This agency exemplifies the very best in client focused representation and this city contains some of the greatest established and emerging talent. What a perfect match.”
Documentary Planned on Deadly 1920 Baseball Pitch
Art Horan, president of Bronson Park Films, and Danielle Alberico, of SMA Creative, have acquired the documentary rights to Mike Sowell’s book “The Pitch That Killed.”
MONDAY, AUG. 17
Amazon Unveils Footage of Stacey Abrams Documentary
Amazon Studios has released a powerful trailer for the Stacey Abrams voting rights documentary “All In: The Fight for Democracy,” less than three months before the Nov. 3 election.
“If the power of the right to vote was truly made available to everyone in America, it would change the future of this nation,” Abrams asserts in the three-minute promotional clip, released Monday.
The film will be released in theaters on Sept. 9 and on Amazon Prime Video on Sept. 18. Abrams ran as the Democratic Party’s nominee in the 2018 gubernatorial election in Georgia and was the first Black woman to be a major-party gubernatorial nominee in the United States. She narrowly lost to Republican Brian Kemp, who was accused by Abrams of voter suppression activities after he refused to resign as secretary of state while campaigning for governor.
Magnolia Buys ‘Some Kind of Heaven’ Documentary
Magnolia Pictures has bought worldwide rights, excluding Canada, from Los Angeles Media Fund to director Lance Oppenheim’s documentary feature debut “Some Kind of Heaven.”
The film, produced by Darren Aronofsky’s Protozoa, The New York Times and Los Angeles Media Fund (which financed the film), profiles the surreal world of The Villages, the nation’s largest retirement community, located in Central Florida. “Some Kind of Heaven” premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January.
“’Some Kind of Heaven’ is a remarkable achievement from a striking new voice in film,” said Magnolia president Eamonn Bowles. “Lance Oppenheim demonstrates an incredible command of his craft and more importantly, a clear-eyed vision of the world around him. It also makes me want to learn pickleball.”
Black Bear Hires Leigh Kittay, Launches TV Division
Black Bear Pictures has hired Leigh Kittay as head of film with responsibility for continuing to grow the company’s slate of feature films.
She previously served as head of film for Noah Hawley’s 26 Keys and executive produced “Lucy in the Sky.” She previously worked at Parkes+MacDonald Productions and at J.J. Abrams’ “Bad Robot” working on “Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol,” “Cloverfield” and “Lost.”
Ben Stillman, who has been at Black Bear since the company’s inception, will transition from feature film to run Black Bear’s newly created independent TV studio, Black Bear Television. Black Bear TV recently announced it had optioned the rights to Irish writer Naoise Dolan’s debut novel “Exciting Times.” Black Bear Pictures also promoted Michael Heimler to Head of Production and Finance.