Directed by Petra Volpe, the film follows a man serving a life sentence who takes an in-prison job caring for aging and infirm prisoners suffering from memory loss diseases. As the project’s official logline explains, “What starts as a self-serving mission for parole turns into a deep emotional and transformative relationship, offering a glimmer of redemption in an otherwise unforgiving place.”
Participant, whose company mission is dedicated to entertainment that stands at the intersection of art and activism, is producing the film with Zodiac Pictures’ Reto Schaerli and Lukas Hobi, and Perry and Tim Palen of Peachtree & Vine Productions. Cora Olson is co-producer on the project, with Participant chairman Jeff Skoll and Anikah McLaren as executive producers. McLaren, Elizabeth Haggard and Connor DeSha will oversee the project for Participant.
“It is amazing to see this project grow,” stated Participant CEO David Linde. “Tyler Perry joining this incredible team, combining with Petra, Clifton and Laurence, brings such a uniquely creative dynamic to a powerful story that showcases how shared compassion makes for a unifying, exhilarating experience.”
Perry and Palen launched Peachtree & Vine Productions in 2019 as a joint venture production company to produce film, television and digital content in both the scripted and unscripted spaces.
“I have long been a fan of Participant, and the company’s commitment to storytelling that inspires social change,” noted Perry. “As an advocate for prison reform, the story of ‘Frank & Louis’ and its powerful themes resonated with me, and I’m excited to be part of the creative team bringing this story to life.”
Swiss-Italian filmmaker Volpe (“The Divine Order,” “Dreamland”) also co-wrote the script with German writer Esther Bernstorff.
“To work with Laurence Fishburne and Clifton Collins, Jr. on this intimate and emotional story is an absolute dream come true,” said Volpe. “I feel a deep gratitude towards the incarcerated men I met while researching this project, and I can’t wait to bring this touching and timely story to audiences. Hopefully this film will contribute to an important conversation about aging, mental health and the prison system.”
The new project marks a second collaboration between Fishburne and Participant, after the acclaimed veteran of stage and screen starred in the Steven Soderbergh’s 2011 film “Contagion,” which grossed $136 million. The best actor Academy Award-nominee also has a Tony Award and three Emmys to his name. Fishburne’s filmography includes projects directed by the likes of Steven Spielberg, Spike Lee and Francis Ford Coppola as well as blockbuster fare like “The Matrix” films, in which he starred as Morpheus. Earlier this year, the actor wrapped his multi-season run on “Black-ish” and is next set to appear in films including Coppola’s “Megalopolis,” as well as “John Wick: Chapter 4” and “The School for Good and Evil.” Fishburne is represented by CAA, Landmark Artist Management and Del Shaw Moonves Tanaka Finkelstein Lezcano Bobb & Dang.
Collins Jr. most recently won the Sundance Jury Award for best actor for “Jockey.” Among other accolades for his performance in the film, the actor was also nominated for best actor at the Independent Spirit Awards. Collins Jr.’s feature credits include “Capote,” “Nightmare Alley,” “After Yang,” “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” “Star Trek,” “Pacific Rim” and his breakout performance, opposite Samuel L. Jackson, in “187.” In television, Collins Jr. recently starred in “Westworld” and earned an Emmy nod for his role in the miniseries “Thief.” The actor is represented by CAA, MGMT. Entertainment and Yorn, Levine, Barnes, Krintzman, Rubenstein, Kohner, Endlich & Gellman,
Volpe previously collaborated with the Zodiac Pictures producers on her 2014 debut film “Dreamland,” which was nominated for four Swiss Film Awards, and her 2017 follow up “The Divine Order.” That feature was the Swiss entry at that year’s Academy Awards, after debuting and winning three awards at the Tribeca Film Festival. In addition, Volpe’s screenplay for 2015’s “Heidi” went on to become Switzerland’s most internationally successful film of all time. Volpe is represented by WME and MGMT. Entertainment.
Likewise, Bernstorff is known for her work in film and television, with her drama “4 Könige” nominated for best screenplay by the German Film Awards in 2016. The following year, she took home the German Television Academy Award in the same category for “Ein Teil von uns.” Bernstorff is represented by Verlag der Autoren.