Jane Fonda and Zazie Beetz Named Newest Women In Film Honorees — Film News in Brief

Jane Fonda
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Jane Fonda and Zazie Beetz Named Newest Honorees For Women In Film

Women in Film (WIF) announced that Jane Fonda and Zazie Beetz will be honorees of the 2021 WIF Honors at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures on Oct. 6.

Fonda and Beetz will join the three pairs of women previously announced to be receiving Crystal awards; Marlee Matlin and Siân Heder; Jean Smart and Hannah Einbinder and Zendaya and Ashley Levinson. Additionally, Jenny Yang will host the event.

WIF will also debut the Jane Fonda Humanitarian award for the star’s humanitarianism. WIF executive director Kirsten Schaffer said, “Jane Fonda has spent her entire career as a fearless advocate for people and the planet. No matter what the cost to her career or even her individual safety, she has put the needs of social justice ahead of her own; finding meaning and purpose, friendship and community in the pursuit of a better world. She has led by example, and we couldn’t be prouder to name our Humanitarian award after her.”

Beetz will receive the WIF Max Mara Face of the Future award, with the star already being honored at an exclusive Max Mara dinner and attended the Spring/Summer 2022 fashion show in Milan, Italy on Sept. 23.

The Women In Film Honors are supported by sponsor Max Mara for the 18th year, alongside visionary partners ShivHans Pictures, Lexus and major partners Google, Apple TV Plus and Starz.

Octavia Spencer Signs with CAA

Octavia Spencer has signed with CAA for representation in all areas, including her production company Orit Entertainment, which she runs with partner and producer Brian Clisham and head of production and development Stephanie Kluft. Bryan Lourd will lead the team.

Projects under the Orit Entertainment banner include “Truth Be Told” for Apple, which Spencer stars in and executive produces, and “Self-Made: Inspired By The Life Of Madam C.J. Walker” produced with LeBron James and SpringHill Entertainment for Netflix. Orit also produced “Right to Try,” a documentary short currently on the festival circuit Orit currently has a three-year overall deal with ABC Studios.

Spencer is currently in production on Sean Anders and John Morris’ film “Spirited” with co-stars Ryan Reynolds and Will Ferrell. She will also appear in Amazon Studios’ upcoming sci-fi thriller “Encounter” opposite Riz Ahmed. Additionally, she is the author of the children’s book series “Randi Rhodes, Ninja Detective.”

Spencer is represented by attorneys Karl Austen and Ryan LeVine, and Viewpoint Public Relations.

Amazon Studios Continues Partnership With Howard University

Amazon Studios and Howard University announced that they will continue the Howard Entertainment Program — an initiative designed to diversify the industry for Black and underrepresented students.

The program was launched with the goal to let professors participate in hands-on experience from industry makers, including Amazon Studio teams, to take to their classrooms.

Featured guest lecturers included Anthony Sparks, Ashleigh Hairston, Michael Hyatt, among others. Additional highlights from the second cohort included Viola Davis’ JuVee, Tracy Yvonne Productions (TVP), Rachel Brosnahan’s Scrap Paper Productions and Lena Waithe’s Hillman Grad Productions. Applications for the program open Oct. 1, with the program beginning on Jan. 10.

Visual Effects Society Announces 2021 Honorary Members Including James Cameron and Gary Demos

Visual Effects Society announced the 2021 honorary members, including James Cameron and Gary Demos, VES fellows and inductees entering the hall of fame. The celebration will take place at a special event this Fall.

Cameron, an Oscar, BAFTA and Golden Globe winning filmmaker, achieved notoriety after winning the Academy Award for best director for “Titanic.” Alongside Cameron is Demos, who was a founder of Digital Productions and was awarded the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Scientific and Engineering award in 1984.

VES fellow inductees include: Brooke Breton, who was involved in “Avatar,” and the “Star Trek” franchise; Mike Chambers, who most recently worked on “Tenet,” his fourth collaboration with Christopher Nolan; Van Ling, the creative director and VFX supervisor for Banned Entertainment and Nancy St. John, whose VFX team won Academy Awards for “Babe and Gladiator.”

Hall of Fame inductees include: Roy Field, a VFX supervisor known for his work on “Labyrinth and “Superman;” John P. Fulton, a cinematographer known for “Wonder Man” and “The Ten Commandments;” Phil Kellison, whose specialties include stop-motion animation forced perspective; Auguste and Louis Lumière, best known for their cinematographe motion picture system and films they produced between 1895 and 1905 and John Whitney Sr., known for his collaboration with Saul Bass on the title sequence for Alfred Hitchcock’s “Vertigo.”

Dave Franco’s ‘Somebody That I Used to Know’ Casts Amy Sedaris, Haley Joel Osment, Julie Hagerty and Mor

Amazon Studios announced “Somebody That I Used to Know,” an upcoming romantic comedy directed by Dave Franco, has added Amy Sedaris, Haley Joel Osment, Julie Hagerty, Danny Pudi, Zoe Chao, Evan Jonigkeit, Olga Merediz, Ayden Mayeri and Kelvin Yu to the cast. Production has already begun in Oregon.

Previously announced cast members include Alison Brie, Jay Ellis and Kiersey Clemons. Franco and Brie co-wrote the screenplay, which follows workaholic Ally (Brie) who visits her hometown and spends a night reminiscing with her ex-boyfriend Sean (Ellis). This causes her to question her choices in life, and her confusion is amplified when she meets younger Cassidy, who reminds her of the person she used to be.

The film, produced by Temple Hill Entertainment and Black Bear Pictures, will debut in 2022. Producers for Temple Hill include Marty Bowen, Wyck Godfrey and Isaac Klausner, with Ben Stillman, Leigh Kittay and Michael Heimler producing for Black Bear. Franco, Brie, Temple Hill’s Laura Quicksilver, Black Bear’s Teddy Schwarzman and Bart Lipton executive produce.

Apple Original Films Reveals ‘Blush’ Trailer’

Apple Original Films and Skydance Animation revealed a trailer for “Blush,” the new animation short by Joe Mateo, premiering Oct. 1 on Apple TV Plus.

The series follows the journey of a stranded astronaut’s chances for survival after he crash lands on a desolate dwarf planet. When an ethereal being arrives, the lonely traveler discovers the joy in building a new life.

“Blush” is part of the expanding slate of Apple Original Films, including “CODA,” the first film to win all top prizes at Sundance Film Festival; “Finch,” the latest film starring Tom Hanks; “Emancipation,” starring Will Smith; “Killers of the Flower Moon,” starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro, among others.

The series is directed and written by Mateo, with Heather Schmidt Feng Yanu serving as a producer. John Lasseter serves as executive producer. Watch the trailer below.

Gravitas Ventures Acquires North American Rights to Documentary ‘Lady Buds’

Gravitas Ventures, a Red Arrow Studios company, acquired North American rights to the documentary “Lady Buds,” directed, produced and written by Chris J. Russo.

“Lady Buds” tells the story of six women in cannabis who left their livelihoods behind in the underground market to forge a path to legalization in California as they attempt to claim their piece of the “American dream” in the very market they helped create.

“In her confident and ambitious feature debut, Russo highlights six women who are as interesting as they are inspiring. Seeing these underdogs fights against bureaucracy and regulations make for a highly insightful and engaging film,” says David Sullivan, sales and acquisitions manager at Gravitas Ventures. “We can’t wait to play our part in getting this timely and enjoyable film out into the world.”

Sullivan negotiated the deal with Travis Tammero at CAA. The film will play in 20 theaters nationwide and will also be available on demand.

PGA Invites Chosen Participants For Inaugural PGA Create Program

The Producers Guild of America announced the 10 producers and producing teams invited to participate in its inaugural PGA Create lab for emerging and mid-career creative producers.

PGA Create sponsored by Google will take place Oct. 25 through Oct. 28 and will showcase creative producers and teams actively developing, financing and packaging scripted features and series. Participants will have opportunities to hone their project pitches, attend masterclasses with experienced producers and build their producing network as a whole. As the program’s sole sponsor, Google will contribute meaningful funding as well as a variety of products to assist the participants throughout their creative processes. Designed to provide touchpoints over the span of one year, PGA Create also includes an invitation for participants of its Scripted and Documentary cycles to reconvene at the PGA Create Forum, a new day-long event held during the Guild’s Produced By Conference in June 2022.

“Google’s significant support of this important PGA initiative championing diversity, equity and inclusion are critical to driving change in the industry,” said Gail Berman and Lucy Fisher, PGA presidents. “We’re thrilled to have Google join us as we embark on this new program to build up the next generation of creative producers.”

Tonya Lewis Lee and Lori McCreary, Chairs of PGA’s One Guild initiative added, “Launching PGA Create this year represents our excitement, hope, and determination to uplift and support underrepresented producers, and we believe the immersive structure of the program will be an incredibly impactful way for the PGA to serve our participants. This excitement is shared amongst the Guild’s esteemed network of creative producers who see the value and opportunity in what we have planned. We can’t wait to get started.”

“At Google we are committed to amplifying diverse and underrepresented voices, which is why we’re so proud to be partnering with the Producers Guild of America on their first ever PGA Create Program this fall,” said Elle Roth-Burnet, Google Assistant’s Entertainment Partnership Lead. “This new platform will be an invaluable support system for these 10 emerging creatives to take the next step in their career.”

The partnership with the Producers Guild was negotiated by UTA Marketing, which represents Google. PGA Create was developed through the PGA One Guild initiative, spearheaded by Chairs Tonya Lewis Lee and Lori McCreary who also acted as chairs of the Final Selection Panel.

7th Annual Mammoth Lakes Film Festival Announces Award Winners in Return to In-Person Event

The 7th Annual Mammoth Lakes Film Festival (MLFF) announced this year’s juried and audience award winners at the closing night awards ceremony on Sept. 26.

The festival took place in Mammoth Lakes, Calif., from Sept. 22 through Sept. 26 and screened over 75 features and short films, with over $40,000 in awards and cash prizes presented to winners.

“This year’s festival will not only be remembered as a gathering of amazing filmmakers with truly remarkable stories to tell but brought us back together as a community,” said festival director and founder Shira Dubrovner. “At the heart of what we do is make connections as humans, and the restorative effect of being with each other in person was transformational.”

Films winning the top awards from the jury included “Ultrasound,” directed by Rob Schroeder and written by Conor Stechschulte, for North American narrative feature; and “Isaac,” directed and written by Jurgis Matulevičius, for international narrative. The feature-length documentary winners were “Larry Flynt for President” directed by Nadia Szold, for North American docs; and “The Renegades” directed by Lisa Maria Hagen and Mariam Noori for international. Both “Isaac” and “Larry Flynt for President” also won the Audience Award in their respective category, as did “Social” (North American feature) and “Beautiful Idiots” (international doc).

WarnerMedia Announces Early Talent Pipeline Program For Underrepresented Voices

WarnerMedia announces the launch of the WarnerMedia Access Early Career Bootcamp, a week-long intensive workshop introducing the participants to Hollywood careers, slated to take place from Sept. 27 through Oct. 1.

The program program focuses on Indigenous, disabled, transgender, MENASA, and other Muslim communities and will host 40 participants, 10 from each of the four partner organizations, RespectAbility, IllumiNative, Transgender Film Center and Muslim Public Affairs Council. The cohort will receive a comprehensive snapshot of entertainment industry careers through several roundtable discussions with up-and-coming talent as well as junior executives. Additionally, facilitators will lead conversations on how to break into the industry as well as offer tangible tools to jump-start their careers.

“We are increasing exposure, access, resources and opportunity for people who too often face socio-economic barriers that prevent them from even considering a career in the entertainment industry,” said Karen Horne, WarnerMedia’s senior vice president of equity and inclusion. “Our goal is to reach this untapped demographic and amplify their unique voices early in order to cultivate a steady flow of content creators that will eventually feed the professional pipeline, from writers to future executives.”

Sue Obeidi, director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council’s Hollywood Bureau, called the program “a dream come true for the emerging talent in these four underrepresented communities.”

Obeidi continued: “The opportunity that has been given to future content creators and executives, who historically don’t have access due to circumstances beyond their control, is a game-changer and will soon prove instrumental in changing the fabric and makeup of the entertainment industry for the better.”

The program is the latest initiative that expands WarnerMedia’s commitment to advancing representation in the industry by supporting diverse creatives and their means of storytelling.