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Array, the social impact collective founded by Ava DuVernay, has released the trailer for “Cousins.” The film was released
in select U.S. theaters on July 2, and will debut worldwide on Netflix on July 22.

Based on the novel of the same name, the film follows three Māori cousins — Mata, Missy and Makareta — who lead separate lives, yet are bound together forever. Orphaned Mata believes she has no whānau (family) and lives out her lonely childhood in fear and bewilderment. Back home on the land in New Zealand, the driven and educated Makareta flees an arranged marriage to study law and begin the search for her missing cousin. She leaves behind cheeky yet dutiful Missy who takes on her role of kaitiaki (guardian) of the land. As the years pass and land surveyors begin to encroach, their promise to bring their stolen cousin home seems more unlikely than ever, until a chance encounter changes everything.

The ensemble cast includes Rachel House, Tanea Heke, Briar Grace-Smith, Ana Scotney, Tioreore Ngatai-Melbourne, Hariata Moriarty, Mihi Te Rauhi Daniels, Te Raukura Gray and Keyahne Patrick-Williams.

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Helmed by Māori filmmaking duo Ainsley Gardiner and Briar Grace-Smith, “Cousins” is written by Patricia Grace. The film is produced by Georgina Conder, Libby Hakaraia and Gardiner under Miss Conception Films and Whenua Films with investment from The New Zealand Film Commission.

 

Chloe East, Oakes Fegley, Isabelle Kusman Cast In New Steven Spielberg Film

Chloe East, Oakes Fegley and Isabelle Kusman have joined the cast of Steven Spielberg’s next film, which is loosely based on his childhood as an aspiring filmmaker.

The three young actors will play high school classmates of the young Spielberg at the center of the story. They will join Michelle Williams, Seth Rogen, Paul Dano, Gabriel LaBelle, Julia Butters and Sam Rechner.

The script has been co-written by Spielberg and Tony Kushner, who will also produce the film alongside Kristie Macosko Krieger.

East currently stars on the HBO Max series “Generation” and most recently wrapped production on Stampede Ventures’ “Going Places.” She is represented by Link Entertainment, Vault Entertainment, A3 Artists Agency, and J.R. McGinnis at Felker Toczek Suddleson Abramson.

Fegley has starred in various films such as “The Goldfinch,” “Wonderstruck,” “Pete’s Dragon” and “The War With Grandpa” opposite Robert De Niro. He is repped by ICM Partners, Wright Entertainment, Inc. and Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz.

Kusman will make her feature film debut in Paul Thomas Anderson’s upcoming untitled film, which will be released on Christmas Day. She is represented by Innovative Artists.

Universal Filmed Entertainment Group Launches Animation Writers Program

Universal Filmed Entertainment Group welcomed its first cohort of writers for the newly launched 2021 Universal Animation Writers Program.

Shari Coleman, Kiana Johnson, Senibo Myers, David Ngo and Joe Winters will have been selected for one of the three program’s tracks: film, television for ages 3-5 or television for ages 6-11. The first cohort will collaborate with DreamWorks Animation and Illumination creative executives as they develop materials in the one-year paid program.

“DreamWorks has always been a place to build the dreams of unconventional heroes. This endeavor requires diverse voices from unique backgrounds.  DreamWorks Animation president Margie Cohn said. “We are excited to dig in and begin working with this promising group of writers.”

The Universal Animation Writers Program aims to guide writers toward staffing and development, in addition to providing an immersive experience of the studio’s production process through workshops, seminars, sponsorship and roundtable discussion.

“Identifying and nurturing first time filmmakers and talent has always been a central pillar of Illumination’s process,” added Chris Meledandri, Founder and CEO of Illumination. “We look forward to collaborating with the extraordinary group of inaugural participants in the Animation Writers program to develop new and innovative animated projects.”

SCAD Savannah Film Festival Returns With Hybrid Format

The SCAD Savannah Film Festival will return with a hybrid format on Oct. 23-30.

Marking the 24th year the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) has presented the event, the annual festival will include both in-person and virtual screenings.

Kicking off with a gala opening night screening and reception, the rest of the week will feature scheduled competition screenings, premiere screenings, workshops, lectures, panels and receptions. The Docs to Watch series will take place on Oct. 24, presenting the top 10 documentaries of the year. The festival concludes with a closing awards brunch as well as a special closing night screening and reception.

The 2020 festival took place virtually, honoring Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Rachel Brosnahan, Millie Bobby Brown, Billy Crystal, Ethan Hawke, Jennifer Hudson, Samuel L. Jackson, Glen Keane, Delroy Lindo, Tessa Thompson and Steven Yeun.

Tickets and passes will be available to purchase online starting on Oct. 1.

‘Coraline’ and ‘Paranorman’ Return to Theaters for LAIKA Studios’ 15th Anniversary

Fathom Events announced that they will bring “Coraline” And “Paranorman” back to theaters for a limited time to celebrate the 15th anniversary of Laika Studios.

“Coraline and ParaNorman showcase the variety of content Fathom brings to audiences of all ages nationwide,” said Fathom Events CEO Ray Nutt. “We’re excited to be working with LAIKA, to continue our partnerships with Shout! Factory and Park Circus, and look forward to bringing these two wonderful films to local theaters.

The screeners will also feature exclusive bonus content that illustrates the creative process behind Laika’s extensive slate of animated films. Laika chief marketing officer David Burke said screening “Coraline” And “Paranorman” in theaters again will allow longtime fans to enjoy these projects once again on the big screen while providing an opportunity for new generations of moviegoers to discover them for the first time.

“At Laika, we’ve made a promise to our fans to make movies that matter, Burke said. We hope that revisiting the timeless worlds of Coraline Jones and Norman Babcock proves that we deliver on that vow.”

Tickets for “Coraline” will be available for purchase on Fathom Events’ website and participating theater box offices starting July 16, while “Paranorman” tickets can be purchased starting Aug. 13.

26th Annual ADG Awards Sets 2021-22 Timeline

The Art Directors Guild has set March 5, 2022, for its 26th annual Excellence in Production Design Awards. The location will be confirmed at a later date.

The 2021-22 timeline for the ADG Awards is as follows (dates subject to change):

Oct. 4, 2021 — Submissions Open for TV & Feature Film at www.adg.org
Nov. 8, 2021 — Submissions for TV Close
Dec. 20, 2021 — Submissions for Feature Films Close
Dec. 27, 2021 — Online Voting for TV & Feature Film Nominations Begins
Jan. 21, 2022 — Online Voting for All Nominations Ends at 5 p.m. PT
Jan. 24, 2022 — Nominations Announced
Feb. 3, 2022 — Final Online Voting Begins
March 3, 2022  — Final Online Voting Ends at 5 p.m. PT
March 5, 2022 — Winners Announced at 26th Annual ADG Awards

Honorees for Lifetime Achievement, Hall of Fame and Cinematic Imagery Awards will be announced at a later date.

Pharrell Williams’ Black Ambition Initiative Announces Winners Of Ambition Prizes

Pharrell Williams and his non-profit initiative, Black Ambition, announced the winners of the Black Ambition and Black Ambition HBCU (historically Black colleges and universities) Prize.

The Black Ambition initiative aims to support and create new opportunities for Black and Latinx entrepreneurs who are working to push the envelope for historically excluded and under-represented communities.

The Black Ambition prize was granted to current and former HBCU business owners and entrepreneurs, while the Black Ambition HBCU Prize was awarded to early-stage companies in technology, design, health and other consumer-focused products and services.

Livegistics will be awarded $1 million as the Black Ambition grand prize winner while the Black Ambition HBCU grand prize winner, Dosso Beauty, will receive $250,000. Nine additional teams will receive prizes of over $100,000.

Black Ambition received over 1,700 applications, of which 34 finalists were selected. All 34 finalists will receive financial awards of at least $15,000 and will continue to receive mentorship support, including weekly meetings with a personal coach through the end of August.

Coaches include Jonah Peretti, CEO, BuzzFeed; Tracy Gray, Founder and Managing Partner, The 22 Fund; Noel Fenton, Founding Partner, Trinity Ventures; Joann Chen, Senior Advisor, JFF Employment Technology Fund; and Jessica Salinas, VP of Investments, New Media Ventures.

Winners were determined based on the clarity of their problem and solution, business model and customer acquisition strategies, the strength of their team, addressable market and distinctive market position and overall application.

The winners of the top prizes were selected by Aida Alvarez, former administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration; Joe Hurd, global managing director of SOSV; Dami Osunsanya, head of value creation at Softbank Opportunity Fund; Don Thompson, CEO/ founder of Cleveland Avenue, LLC and Luz Urrutia, CEO of Accion Opportunity Fund.

The Nacelle Company Acquires Chris Hansen’s ‘7 Short Films About (Our) Marriage’

The Nacelle Company has acquired “7 Short Films About (Our) Marriage,” which will be released on streaming and PVOD on July 27.

Written and directed by Chris Hansen, the film spans 14 years of marriage as two people who love each other must overcome racism, career challenges and medical issues. It also shines a light on all the petty arguments and the longstanding resentments that can wear away at the strongest of unions.

“When I set out to make this film, my primary goal was raw authenticity,” Hanson said. “I wanted to make a movie that was the story of one marriage but was also an authentic look at what most marriages face – the moments, big and small, that bind a couple together or drive them apart.”

The film stars Chynna Walker and Drez Ryan in the lead roles. Brian Volk-Weiss, Anna Roberts, Brian Elliott and Daniel Lee Beard serve as producers.

“This film is a raw, real portrayal of marriage in the 21st century that tackles subjects that society sometimes labels as too taboo,” Volk-Weiss said.

The deal was negotiated by Roberts for Comedy Dynamics, Hansen of Theoretical Entertainment and Alex Nohe of Blood Sweat Honey.

Netflix and Gold House Announce New Partnership To Amplify API Stories

Netflix and Gold House have created a partnership called “Netflix Gold” to amplify API stories, artists, and creators.

The partnership marks an evolution for the nonprofit collective of Asian and Pacific Islander (API) cultural leaders behind Gold House. By expanding their support beyond films for Asian audiences, Gold House will work closely with Netflix to amplify all culturally relevant stories (inclusive of films, series, documentaries, and stand-ups) and will engage the API community through private and public experiences to celebrate diverse, multidimensional storytelling.

The first “Netflix Gold” event will be the premiere of Season 2 of “Never Have I Ever,” which will bring the Gold House community together for the first time in Los Angeles since the pandemic to get a sneak peek at the season, enjoy South Asian food and culture, highlight small businesses and celebrate intersectional South Asian stories.

The two organizations previously partnered on films such as “The White Tiger,” “Over The Moon” and “The Half Of It.” Some of their upcoming collaborations include “The Chair” with Sandra Oh and “Sparking Joy” with Marie Kondo.

“Growing up, I didn’t see girls who looked like me in the TV shows I loved,said Bela Bajaria, head of global TV at Netflix. A show like ‘Never Have I Ever’ — with API creators and artists on screen and behind the scenes — is still too rare and something I’m proud to celebrate. I’m thankful to Gold House for their partnership to make sure that the API community has an opportunity to continue to see even more of ourselves, our families, our language and our stories on Netflix,”

“Gold House is committed to amplifying and unifying our multicultural communities — not just by righting systemic wrongs but by projecting new, affirming, portrayals of the world we deserve,” said Bing Chen, president and co-founder of Gold House.

The Future of Casting and Talent Representation Panel at Cannes Highlights Need for Global Talent Higher than Ever for International Productions

On July 11, mobile platform CastingForm and the Official Industry Innovation Program Cannes NEXT presented The Future of Casting and Talent Representation Panel.

Given the explosion of streaming and series commissioning, the discussion dove into the need for global talent to meet the needs of international productions.

“We deal with actors who deserve a shot at international success but have neither agents nor ways of meeting them. They are not connected, not networked, CSA European Chapter Board of Governors president Carol Dudley said. “Even if everyone recognizes them on the street in their own country, they fly to the US and they can’t get an appointment with an agent or a casting director. I think
things will progress slowly, but what you’re providing is filling an absolute hole that you’ve recognized in the marketplace, where you don’t have a conduit from the talent to the casting people, and the US in general,” she said of CastingForm.

CastingForm has a curated marketplace that serves 2,500 creators from over 100 countries and works to democratize the casting process by providing actors with equal opportunities to be seen and booked for projects by the likes of HBO, Netflix, Amazon and Fox.

“They are stuck in the domestic market with really no way of getting out,” Dudley added. “So I think that what you’re doing is exactly what the actors and the market need. Well, in five years I think the project you have in mind is really going to be hugely helpful”.

The Retaliators to Premiere at London’s 2021 FrightFest

Better Noise Film’s upcoming horror-thriller will have its world premiere in August at Arrow Video FrightFest 2021.

“Since early days of production, we’ve always thought FrightFest would be the perfect place for this film to make its premiere,”  Better Noise president Dan Waite said. “’The Retaliators’ is an unapologetic horror film at its core, and we’re thrilled that Paul McEvoy and the rest of the FrightFest team understand our vision and have extended an invite for this story to be a part of its epic legacy in the genre. We also look forward to further bridging the relationship between rock music and horror film with this project, as so many world-class musicians are directly involved and are already supporting our filmmakers so loudly.”

“The Retaliators” follows an upstanding pastor who uncovers a dark and twisted underworld as he searches for answers about his daughter’s brutal murder. It stars Michael Lombardi, Marc Menchaca and Jacoby Shaddix, the Papa Roach frontman who will be making his feature film acting debut. Bridget Smith and Samuel Gonzalez Jr. directed the screenplay from Darren Geare and Jeff Allen Geare. “Stranger Thing’s” Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein composed the score.

Black Keys Frontman Dan Auerbach To Make Directorial Debut On Dr. John Documentary

Black Keys frontman Dan Auerbach is partnering with Impact Artist Productions on a documentary about music legend Dr. John.

Marking Auerbach’s directorial debut, the film will tell the story of the intricate life and prolific cultural impact of Mac Rebennack, best known as Dr. John, the Nite Tripper. While racial oppression in 1950s America was as ugly as ever, a musical revolution began in New Orleans. To get around the Jim Crow segregation laws of the time, we learn how Mac and his bandmates had to break the rules, trick the clubs and protect each other all for the love of music.

As a white kid raised in this racial melting pot, he was at home amongst the Black, Creole, and Afro-Cuban musicians. This music — and its diverse community — became young Mac’s entire life. Dr. John took the lead in nationally advancing a merged style of music, combining country and rhythm and blues.

“I’m thrilled to be partnering with RadicalMedia and Impact Artist Productions to try my hand at directing a documentary feature for the first time and I’m honored to have the subject be my friend Dr. John,” Auerbach said. “He was such a unique individual and a shining example of the great melting pot of American music. From his mysterious voodoo stage persona Dr. John to his real, humble self Mac Rebannack- the street poet, the family man, the junkie, the Grammy award winner and all that’s in between, this documentary will introduce the world to him in a way they haven’t seen him before. I’m still learning bits about him that I never knew, and I hope the movie provides a lens into the story of the life of Dr. John.”

Jon Kamen and Jon Doran will serve as executive producers for RadicalMedia. Dr. John’s longtime managers Ed Gerard and Peter Himberger of Impact Artist Productions will also serve as executive producers alongside independent producer Leopoldo Gout who will also serve as executive producer.

“Dan’s creative experience with Mac, and his passion for this story truly brings a unique perspective and style to the project,” said Jon Doran, executive producer and managing director of RadicalMedia. We are thrilled to bring this important story to life with Dan at the helm and alongside our partners, Mac’s longtime managers, Ed Gerard and Peter Himberger.”