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Cathy Yan to Write, Direct Sci-Fi Love Story ‘The Freshening’ for FilmNation (EXCLUSIVE)

Cathy Yan
Stephanie Diani

Cathy Yan, fresh off her success with “Birds of Prey,” will write and direct “The Freshening,” an adaptation of Rachel Khong’s short story. FilmNation, the company behind “Promising Young Woman” and “Arrival,” acquired rights to the story and will back the feature.

Here’s the official description: “Khong’s short story is set in a near future where tensions over race and gender have reached a violent extreme, the U.S. government institutes a public health initiative known as ‘The Freshening’: every American receives an injection, after which everyone only sees others as the same race and gender as themselves. But when a street drug hits the scene, promising a chance to see the world as it really is, will she choose to disrupt this ‘freshened’ world?”

FilmNation Entertainment, which will finance and handle worldwide sales, will produce with Ali Wong, Hyperobject Industries/Gary Sanchez Productions, and Rewild.

“When we read ’The Freshening’ we were blown away by this timely and provocative story. Developing this film with Cathy and all of our fantastic partners is going to be a one-of-a-kind experience in filmmaking,” said FilmNation Entertainment’s President, Film & Television Production Ben Browning and SVP of Production Ashley Fox.

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In addition to guiding the DC Comics film “Birds of Prey” to the screen, Yan directed “Dead Pigs,” which won a special jury prize for ensemble acting at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival. Yan operates a production banner, Rewild, with her producing partner, Ash Sarohia.

“’The Freshening’ is exactly the type of daring and timely film that excites me as a writer and director, and that Ash and I started Rewild to produce,” said Yan. “I’m delighted to get to work with like-minded collaborators Ali Wong, Hyperobject and FilmNation to bring this bold and impactful story to the screen.””

“I was so haunted by Rachel Khong’s compelling and high concept story when I read it,” said Wong. “‘The Freshening’ is unlike anything I’ve ever worked on and I’m thrilled to develop it into a film with everyone involved. From the beginning, it was my dream for Cathy Yan to write and direct this project and I’m so incredibly grateful it came true.”

“We fell in love with Cathy when we met her and we’re thrilled she’s bringing her singular perspective to this wild, genre-bending material,” said Hyperobject Industries’ Betsy Koch.

FilmNation has been prolific of late, producing “Promising Young Woman,” which has generated Oscar buzz, as well as “The Personal History of David Copperfield” and “The Nest” with Jude Law and Carrie Coon. The company is also backing the upcoming spy thriller “The Courier” starring Benedict Cumberbatch, which Lionsgate and Roadside will release next month.

The deal was negotiated with UTA on behalf of FilmNation Entertainment by Sarah Vacchiano. Yan, Sarohia and Rewild are repped by  CAA, ID, and Craig Jacobson of HJTH. Khong is repped by Jason Richman at UTA and Marya Spence at Janklow & Nesbit.