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In today’s film news roundup, the MPTF raises $750,000; IATSE hires a trio of epidemiologists; “Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets” and “The Flip Side” find homes; and the CAA Moebius screening series goes virtual.

FUNDRAISER GOAL

The Motion Picture & Television Fund has met its goal of $750,000 from its May 15 fundraiser event, thanks to matching contributions to double the $250,000 pledged by the John and Marilyn Wells Family Foundation.

The funds are being used to help reduce the cost of personal protective equipment and food for caregivers at its skilled nursing home in Woodland Hills, Calif., where six residents died of COVID-19 last month. The funds benefit residents, MPTF community services and workers in the entertainment community.

John Wells, the writer-producer of “ER” and “The West Wing,” is a member of the MPTF Board of Governors. The event was hosted by Yvette Nicole Brown and Tom Bergeron, which streamed live on MPTF’s YouTube page. It include pre-recorded segments from stars like George Clooney, Pierce Brosnan, Jodie Foster, Hugh Jackman and Allison Janney.

“We’re incredibly grateful to John Wells,” said MPTF President-CEO Bob Beitcher.

Beitcher said the funds will help defray the costs of setting up an isolation wing and providing personal protective equipment. The MPTF facilities, which were placed on strict quarantine on March 9, have now gone 36 days without a positive test from one of the 250 residents and 18 days without a positive test from one of the caregivers. Beitcher said that the MPTF has conducted more than 1,400 tests as of Monday and another 200 are scheduled for later this week.

IATSE HIRINGS

IATSE has hired a team of three epidemiologists to consult the union on best practices for workers in the entertainment industry to safely return to work.

IATSE international president Matthew D. Loeb said, “We want everyone to get back to work as soon as possible, but we need to do it right. We are working with these epidemiologists and employers to create standards that will apply across the board in the U.S. and Canada, so no production or worker is left behind.”

The epidemiologists include David H. Wegman, emeritus professor of work environment at the University of Massachusetts Lowell and adjunct professor for the Harvard School of Public Health; Letitia Davis, director of the occupational health surveillance program in the Massachusetts Department of Public Health; and Gregory R. Wagner, adjunct professor of environmental health at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

ACQUISITIONS 

Utopia has acquired North American rights to Bill and Turner Ross’ documentary “Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets,” one of the few films selected for both the Sundance and Berlin film festivals this year.

The film focuses on the final 18 hours of operation of a Las Vegas dive bar. The film will kick off with a limited sneak preview screening on May 30. During National Dive Bar Day on July 7, Utopia will host a series of special one-day virtual screenings of the film benefiting the USBG Foundation’s Bartender Emergency Assistance Program COVID-19 Relief Fund.

“Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets” is a Department of Motion Pictures Production, presented by Concordia Studio in association with XTR. Cinetic negotiated the deal with Utopia. Cinephil is handling international sales for the film. The news was first reported by Indiewire.

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Freestyle Digital Media has acquired U.S. rights to the Australian comedy “The Flip Side” and set a June 9 release date for DVD and VOD.

The film, set in Adelaide, South Australia, tells the story of  a struggling restaurateur who has her life thrown into chaos when former lover, a British movie star played by Eddie Izzard, who seduces her all over again. What should be a fun break descends into paranoia, bitter recriminations and appalling behavior.

“The Flip Side” was written by Marion Pilowsky and Lee Sellars, and Pilowsky also directs and produces. Sue Murray and David Willing serve as fellow producers, and Emily Taheny and Vanessa Guide star in it.

SCREENING SERIES 

Creative Artists Agency will hold a virtual showing of its fifth CAA Moebius screening series on May 20-21 from 6:30 to 8:30 P.M. each day.

The event showcases diverse Los Angeles-based graduate student filmmakers from the American Film Institute (AFI) Conservatory, School of Film/Video at CalArts, UCLA School of Theater, Film & Television, and USC School of Cinematic Arts. CAA agents will serve as mentors to the filmmakers.

The Moebius series has several notable alumni, like Dubois Ashong, who will make his feature directorial debut with “Geechee,” starring Andrea Riseborough; Max Barbakow, who most recently directed “Palm Springs,” sold to Neon and Hulu at Sundance this year in a record-breaking deal; CAA client Hao Zheng, who won silver at the 2019 Student Academy Awards; and Chris Winterbauer, who made his feature debut with “WYRM,” based on his Sundance-selected short of the same name.

The event was conceived in 2015 by then-trainees and now CAA Motion Picture agents Christina Chou, Zach Kaplan, and  Pete Stein, plus Lingie Park, all of whom continue their involvement.