Photographer Beth Dubber Announces Autism Awareness Month Series ‘Hollywood on the Spectrum’ – Film News in Brief

Hollywood On the Spectrum
Courtesy of Beth Dubber

In celebration of Autism Awareness Month, photographer Beth Dubber has launched a new photo series, “Hollywood on the Spectrum.”

The series of portraits profile actors who are on the spectrum, from working names to newcomers in the industry. Included with the photos are profiles and interviews with the actors about their experience working as an artist on the spectrum, and the challenges they have faced. The website with the photos for the series went live on Monday.

According to a release, Dubber was inspired to create the series based on her work with The Miracle Project, a theater, film and arts program that focuses on providing classes for those with autism. Elaine Hall, founder of the The Miracle Project, served as a consultant for the project.

“I am proud to be part of this groundbreaking project, which celebrates those of us who experience the world differently,” Hall said in a statement. “The kindness, respect and visibility that ‘Hollywood on the Spectrum’ provides can be life changing for these most talented underrepresented actors.”

View the photos of “Hollywood on the Spectrum” here.

Damon Wayans, Pam Grier Join Tubi’s ‘Cinnamon’ from Village Roadshow Pictures’ Black Noir Cinema Slate

Currently in production in Atlanta, “Cinnamon” marks the first movie filming under the “Black Noir Cinema” banner. Variety exclusively announced the deal which sees Village Roadshow Pictures’ producing multiple films for Tubi, reclaiming and reinventing the Blaxploitation genre for a new generation.

Set to debut later this year, “Cinnamon” is a thriller that follows Jodi Jackson, a struggling small-town gas station attendant and aspiring singer,  whose life is sent into a tailspin when there’s a robbery at work. Tony nominee Hailey Kilgore (also known for “Raising Kanan”) plays Jodi.

Blaxploitation film icon and Golden Globe nominee Grier (“Foxy Brown,” “Coffy,” “Jackie Brown”) plays Mama, the undisputed head of her family’s criminal organization — with her son James (Jeremie Harris,” Legion”) executing her wishes — while Emmy nominee Wayans plays Wally, the owner of the robbed convenience store. Wally is a businessman who also owns a used car lot that has made him a fixture on local TV commercials, and he is deeply in debt to James and Mama. After he borrowed money from them to start his businesses, he’s badly over-extended and has been aggressively cooking the books to give himself a better lifestyle and maximize his profits — by cheating his partners.

“Cinnamon” also stars David Iacono (“The Flight Attendant”) as Eddie, Jodi’s fiercely devoted boyfriend and music manager. The movie is written and directed by rising filmmaker Bryian Keith Montgomery Jr. and produced by Kevin Garnett and his Content Cartel Studios, along with director/producer Oz Scott, who heads the “Black Noir Cinema” initiative.

NewFest and Brooklyn Academy of Music Announce “Queering the Canon: Rom-Coms” Series

The Brooklyn Academy of Music will host a five day retrospective series “Queering the Canon: Rom-Coms,” its partner NewFest announced Thursday.

The series, which will include both in-person and virtual screenings and events, is the second in NewFest’s “Queering the Canon” series, after a 2021 event that focused on stories about films about BIPOC people in New York. The event will feature six retrospective screenings of queer comedy films, with four of the screenings being accompanied with Q&S with the filmmakers. The event will also feature a virtual panel on trans romcoms hosted by filmmaker Drew Gregory. This repertory series was curated by NewFest director of programming Nick McCarthy, and NewFest programming and production associate Kim Garcia.

“With several starry big-budget LGBTQ+ rom-coms set for release this year, now is the perfect time to look back and honor films that take a subversively queer approach to the rom-com genre,” McCarthy and NewFest executive director David Hatkoff said in a statement. “‘Queering the Canon: Rom-Coms’ will spotlight films — all with happy endings! — that did not receive the widespread recognition they deserved when originally released. We are pleased to partner with BAM once again to tap into some nostalgia and bring queer joy to audiences in Brooklyn and throughout the US.”

“Queering the Canon: Rom-Coms” will take place April 28 to May 5. Tickets for the screenings can be purchased at newfest.org. View the full list of films and events below.

“The Incredibly True Adventures of Two Girls in Love” (1995)</strong
Dir. Maria Maggenti
Thursday, April 28th at 7pm (BAM)
Filmmaker Q&A with writer/director Maria Maggenti and cast Laurel Holloman

Rebellious blue-collar lesbian Randy Dean (Laurel Holloman, “The L Word”) is working her gas station job and struggling with high school grades and bigoted upstate New York locals when she meets Evie (Nicole Ari Parker), a wealthy and sophisticated classmate. What starts as an unlikely across-the-tracks friendship flourish into life-changing romance in writer/director Maria Maggenti’s enchanting 1995 film, revealing how young love can still thrive amidst the hardships of class, culture, and coming out to your friends and family. DCP Restoration screening.

“The Broken Hearts Club” (2000)
Dir. Greg Berlanti
Friday, April 29th at 7pm (BAM)

An all-star cast brings vivid life to a close-knit gay gaggle as they navigate the ups-and-downs of friendship and love in Los Angeles. From weekend brunches to gym hangs to the softball field, this debut feature from Greg Berlanti (“Love, Simon”) includes a fresh-faced ensemble, including Timothy Olyphant, Billy Porter, Dean Cain, Matt McGrath, Zach Braff, Andrew Keegan, and Justin Theroux – plus the loveable John Mahoney – and a hilarious Jennifer Coolidge cameo. This Closing Night Gala Film selection at NewFest’s annual festival in 2000 features a sly soundtrack of The Carpenters covers to hum along with as characters swap boyfriends and learn life lessons while developing a sense of chosen family community along the way. 35mm screening.

“Saving Face” (2004)
Dir. Alice Wu
Saturday, April 30th at 7pm (BAM)
Filmmaker Q&A with writer/director Alice Wu

Wil (Michelle Krusiec), a dedicated Chinese-American surgeon living in Manhattan, meets and falls for ballet dancer Vivian (Lynn Chen) in this playful and heartfelt feature debut from writer/director Alice Wu (“The Half of It”). Following a meet-cute at a community event, their flirtatious romance hits a roadblock when their traditional upbringing clashes with the demands of Wil’s career, and Wil’s in-denial mother (the luminous Joan Chen) reveals her own surprises. Together, they all shake up their chatty community in the process of finding themselves. 35mm screening.

“Punks” (2000)
Dir. Patrik-Ian Polk
Sunday, May 1st at 4:30pm (BAM)
Filmmaker Q&A with writer/director Patrik-Ian Polk

Celebrated for its candid and authentic celebration of queer men of color in search of love when it premiered at Sundance and had an award-winning festival run in 2000, this groundbreaking rom-com has been unavailable to rent or stream for decades. Set in sunny, sexy Los Angeles and featuring an endearing ensemble that includes Seth Gilliam, Dwight Ewell (“Chasing Amy”), and the iconic Jazzmun as a drag diva, PUNKS focuses on four friends navigating the dating world with outrageous verve and wit to find their mythical Mr. Rights. Unprecedented in the way it centers Black gay life and love, this vivacious debut film from writer-director Patrik-Ian Polk (“Noah’s Arc”) explores the universal aspects of friendship and romance in dynamic and surprising ways. Sponsored by JACK’d. FREE 35mm screening.

“Late Bloomers” (1996)
Dir. Julia Dyer
Monday, May 2nd at 7pm (BAM)
Filmmaker Q&A with director Julia Dyer

Middle-aged passion blossoms and love conquers all in this delightfully offbeat charmer set Eleanor B. Roosevelt High School in Texas suburbia. The debut of sister filmmaking duo Julia (director) and Gretchen (writer) Dyer, “Late Bloomers” celebrates the budding romance between Carly Lumpkin—the married school secretary and mother of two—and teacher/basketball coach Dinah Groshardt. Their awakening galvanizes the local conservative community, with the small-town drama permeating everywhere from the teacher’s lounge to the student body to the PTA, yet leads to unexpected love-conquers-all resolutions. Come for the too-often untold story of later-in-life love and stay for the lo-fi retro soundtrack, 90s wackiness, and naked basketball in this crowd-pleaser that is ripe for rediscovery. 35mm screening.

“Big Eden” (2000)
Dir. Thomas Bezucha
Virtual Only

Successful and single New York artist Henry Hart (Arye Gross) is suddenly summoned to return to his small Montana hometown to care for his ailing grandfather. Upon his return to the tiny Big Sky town, Henry finds he still nurses an unrequited desire for a secret former flame until the shy general store owner Pike (Eric Schweig) begins to show Henry subtle signs of affection. With the support of sweet small-town folks (including Academy Award-winner Louise Fletcher of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”), Henry and Pike’s loneliness starts to melt away as feelings flare up between the two, leading to an irresistible will-they-won’t-they conclusion. One of the few films to prominently feature a queer indigenous protagonist, this debut from writer/director Thomas Bezucha (“The Family Stone”) won multiple Audience Awards on the festival circuit in 2000 and its enduring charm will elicit a smile the size of Montana.

Where are All the Trans Rom-Coms?
Virtual Only
Moderated by Drew Gregory (filmmaker and writer at Autostraddle; co-host of “Wait, Is This a Date?”)

Join NewFest, BAM, and Autostraddle for a conversation with critics and filmmakers about a genre all too absent from trans cinema: rom-coms. Panelists will discuss the few films that do exist, what’s upcoming, and why we need so much more. What message does it send when this genre of romance, humor, and fantasy is kept from an entire group of people? It’s time for trans people to kiss in the rain and run through the airport. It’s time for trans people to tell our love stories.

‘Who Are the Marcuses?’ Documentary Releases Trailer

Rubber Ring Films and Stone Canyon Entertainment have wrapped production on “Who Are the Marcuses?,” a feature documentary about the mysterious couple who gave more than half a billion dollars to Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. The documentary tells the story of Howard and Lottie Marcus, a Jewish couple from Long Island who were also savvy investors, and re-imagines conflict resolution in the Middle East and peace through the Earth’s most precious resource: water.

Matthew Mishory directed, with producers Bradford Schlei and Alvaro Fernandez of Stone Canyon along with executive producers Marc Bennett and Rhino Films’ Stephen Nemeth, who is serving as sales consultant. Watch the trailer below:

Wētā FX Opens New Office in Vancouver

Wētā FX, has announced the opening of its Vancouver office as part of the next phase of the company’s growth following the $1.6 billion technology deal with Unity late last year.

The company behind films such as “Eternals,” “Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” Canadian presence marks the company’s first dedicated visual effects office outside its home-base of New Zealand.

“The global growth in entertainment content has allowed us the flexibility to really pursue the projects we want and to expand our business model to tap into talent in more locations around the world,” said Prem Akkaraju, CEO of Wētā FX. “Vancouver is an established market for VFX, Animation and Games talent and we look forward to welcoming them into the Wētā FX family.”

The Vancouver office will work on a wide range of shows including the Avatar Sequels, the first of which will hit theatres in December 2022.

Palm Springs Film Fest Sets January Dates

The Palm Springs International Film Society announced dates for the 34th annual Palm Springs International Film Festival, returning in-person from Jan. 5 through Jan. 16, 2023. The gala Film Awards dinner will take place Jan. 5 at the Palm Springs Convention Center, while film screenings will start Jan. 6, including the opening night presentation that evening. Palm Springs ShortFest is still scheduled for June 21-27.

Ebony Media Launches Ebony Studios

Ebony Media, which re-launched last year as a digital-first brand, has announced the launch of Ebony Studios, a full-service production platform for film, television, audio and  digital programs that will explore the diverse and rich spectrum of Black culture. Ty Cameron has been appointed president of Ebony Studios. One of the studio’s first projects is the feature-length documentary “Sincerely, Los Angeles,” chronicling the elaborate memorials that sprang up around the city in the wake of Kobe Bryant’s death.

Pixomondo London Launches First Wave of Pre-Production Creative Services

Pixomondo London has launched its first wave of pre-production creative services for feature film and high-end TV projects spearheaded by PXO’s UK Head of Studio Alex Webster and Previs Supervisor Matt Perrin. PXO London will start taking bookings next month.

The move follows the company’s strategic push into virtual production, which has seen PXO build a portfolio of state-of-the-art LED sound stages in Vancouver and Toronto with plans for a first stage in London.

Said Webster: “With a stellar roster of supervisors now in the PXO fold, we are combining pre-production, virtual art department (VAD), virtual production, and in-camera VFX (ICVFX) into one cohesive ecosystem. Along with our creative tools built in Unreal Engine, we can begin collaborating on a project at its inception and work with filmmakers to world build and visualize sequences that carry through to ICVFX shot on PXO’s own LED volumes.”

Perrin whose credits include “Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” will be supported by a team of hand-picked visualization artists, creative technologists, and producers who work across all aspects of the pre-production process. Among them are lead VAD artist and Layout Supervisor Russell Tickner, VAD and Virtual Production Producer Andy Jamison, Virtual Production Supervisor Samat Algozhin, Asset Builder Laura Frasnelli and Agile Virtual Production Supervisor James Thompson.

“PXO is creating a pipeline and toolset from scratch, which merges the traditional with the new to provide interactivity in the early creative process,” said Perrin. “We’re using the latest real-time tech to improve the creative process and drive production values beyond anything we’ve seen before. Set this in the context of our work in virtual production and ICVFX, and we’ve got something quite special brewing.”