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Together Films Acquires Worldwide Rights to SXSW Documentary ‘An Army of Women’ – Film News in Brief

Together Films has acquired the worldwide rights to “An Army of Women,” which will have its world premiere at South by Southwest in March.

The feature documentary, directed by Julie Lunde Lillesæter, follows a group of women in Austin, Texas, who join together to help build a movement of plaintiffs legally challenging the system that allowed their rapists to walk free.

“We believe ‘An Army of Women’ presents a compelling opportunity for major streamers and buyers. This unprecedented story shows that through resilience and solidarity, the systems that fail us can be changed. Our hope is that this can be a catalyst for change for the rest of the US, and that global audiences will be left with the same optimism and fighting spirit that drives the women in our film,” Lillesæter said in a statement.

Norwegian Film Institute, the Fritt Ord Foundation, Still Water Foundation, Viken Film Center, Arts Council Norway, NDR Norddeutscher Rundfunk, NRK, SVT and DR fund and support the film. Together Films founder Sarah Mosses and international sales and acquisitions manager Jess Reilly initiated the deal with Norwegian production company Differ Media.

“This landmark story of justice and positive change will resonate deeply, not only with survivors, but with audiences globally. Following the success of films such as ‘Victim/Suspect’ and ‘Roll Red Roll,’ the data shows there is a strong appetite for films fighting for the rights of survivors and we anticipate global buyers will be eager to secure the film for their slates,” Mosses said in a statement.

Together Films will be presenting the film to buyers at Berlinale, SXSW and CPH:DOX.

Casting Society to Honor Disney’s Sharon Klein With Hoyt Bowers Award

Casting Society of America has revealed that Sharon Klein, head of casting at Disney Entertainment Television, will receive the Hoyt Bowers Award at the 39th Annual Artios Awards on March 7, held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.

Klein is in charge of the casting departments for 20th Television, 20th Television Animation, ABC Entertainment, ABC Signature, Disney Branded Television, Hulu Originals, Freeform, Onyx Collective and Walt Disney Television Alternative. Her recent accomplishments include helming the search for lead actors Walker Scobell, Leah Sava Jeffries and Aryan Simhadri for “Percy Jackson and the Olympians,” and casting Meryl Streep and Paul Rudd in “Only Murders in the Building.”

“Sharon’s achievements in our industry and in the casting community are unmatched. Her ability to spotlight creativity and talent have not only elevated productions, but have also set a new standard for excellence in the world of entertainment. We are thrilled to honor her with the Hoyt Bowers Award,” said Destiny Lilly, president of CSA.

Klein said, “I am tremendously grateful to the Casting Society for this incredible honor. I’ve always considered my work in casting to be an extreme privilege, as it has allowed me to work alongside the most creative and brilliant minds in television, while giving me a front-row seat to some of the best performances of our generation. Discovering talent and pulling together award-winning ensembles with my unbelievably talented team has never felt like ‘work,’ which makes receiving the legendary Hoyt Bowers Award that much sweeter.”

Harvard University Establishes Black Film Project with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. as Director

Harvard University has announced the establishment of the Black Film Project, a new imitative which will “support any filmmaker who focuses on Black history and culture, and will support both narrative and documentary projects.” Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. serves as director of the project, which will be based in the Hutchins Center for African & African American Research, in partnership with Harvard’s Department of Art, Film and Visual Studies.

In partnership with the Smithsonian Institution, the Black Film Project will give out the Henry Hampton Prize for Documentary Filmmaking on Black History and Culture; an independent filmmaker will receive $200,000 to finish a late-stage, full-length documentary. Furthermore, the Baldwin Richardson Food Prize awards $50,000 to a filmmaker working in any genre to complete their project. The Black Film Project also includes three annual paid fellowships, who will receive joint appointments in AFVS and the Film Study Center.

“I conceived of the Black Film Project,” said Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr. “as a way of contributing to the growing momentum of filmmaking about the Black experience, and as a way of honoring the field that has given me my second career. The field is in the midst of a renaissance, one fueled by the democratization of filmmaking technology and an ever-growing demand for exciting new stories about Black culture and history that entertain and educate. We want the Black Film Project to identify, celebrate, and seed the work of talented artists of any ethnicity and, in doing so, to create an environment in which this renaissance can continue for many years to come.”

Jacqueline Glover, formerly head of documentary programming for Onyx Collective and ABC News and senior vice president of HBO Documentary Films, has been named the inaugural executive director of the Black Film Project.

William Shatner to Receive VES Award for Creative Excellence

The Visual Effects Society has selected actor-producer-director William Shatner as the recipient of the VES Award for Creative Excellence in celebration of his work on the “Star Trek” franchise. Shatner will be presented with the award at the 22nd VES Awards on Feb. 21, held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.

Per VES, the award “recognizes individuals who have made significant and lasting contributions to the art and science of the visual effects industry by uniquely and consistently creating compelling and creative imagery in service to story.”

“William Shatner has been at the center point of compelling stories that use visual effects to enhance unforgettable storytelling for decades, and his work has left an indelible mark on the cultural landscape,” said Nancy Ward, executive director of VES.  “With his portrayal of Captain Kirk, Shatner is the originator of one of the most iconic science fiction characters in history and has boldly taken audiences to the final frontier. We are thrilled to honor William Shatner with the VES Award for Creative Excellence!”

Past recipients of the award include Guillermo del Toro, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, and Robert Legato, ASC.

American French Film Festival Sets Fall 2024 Dates

The American French Film Festival has set the dates for its 28th edition at DGA Theater in Hollywood. After last year’s festival was canceled due to the strikes, this year’s event will run Oct. 29-Nov. 3.

“It is with great excitement that we can look forward to hosting The American French Film Festival this year. 2023 was a very challenging year for the film and television business because of the strikes, but now we can move forward and celebrate the talent and films that this Festival showcases every year,” said Cécile Rap-Veber, President of the Franco-American Cultural Fund and CEO of Sacem.

The American French Film Festival is the premier annual event of the Franco American Cultural Fund, which created the Festival in 1996. It is the largest French film festival in North America and the largest festival dedicated to French Films and TV programs in the world.

“TAFFF has become an increasingly important international event for French filmmakers and talent to gain exposure in the Hollywood film community,” notes Francois Truffart, Executive Producer and Programmer, TAFFF. “By providing opportunities for international sales companies and US distributors – including digital platforms – to convene and screen French-language films and series before the start of the Awards Season is pivotal to their overall sales and marketing strategies.”

Mark Canton to Join Infinite Reality as Chief Creative Consultant and Chairman of Entertainment Advisory Board

Producer Mark Canton has been appointed as chief creative consultant and chairman of the entertainment advisory board at Infinite Reality, a provider of cutting-edge immersive virtual experiences. He will lead the development of partnerships to bring a new standard of storytelling to the next generation of digital entertainment, content distribution and commerce.

Canton is known for his work on “300,” “Immortals,” “Power Universe” and “Den of Thieves,” among other projects. As senior vice president and president of worldwide theatrical production at Warner Bros., Canton played a role in creating the “Batman,” “Lethal Weapon” and “National Lampoon’s Vacation” franchises. He then served as chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment’s Columbia Pictures and Columbia TriStar, where he shepherded several blockbusters like “As Good as It Gets,” “Jerry Maguire,” “Men in Black,” “Fifth Element” and “Bad Boys.”

He is an executive producer at Lionsgate and Starz on the “Power” universe, as well as the co-founder and CEO of Atmosphere and Canton Entertainment. Canton is a producer on the upcoming feature “Arthur the King,” which stars Mark Wahlberg, Simu Liu and Nathalie Emmanuel.

“Immersive experiences like those powered by Infinite Reality are transforming entertainment with their ability to put the audience’s experience first, allowing them to witness and actively participate with the stories they love,” Canton said in a statement. “Along with acting as Chief Creative Consultant and driving audience engagement through enhanced narrative and visuals, I plan to inspire entertainment industry leaders to understand and embrace the transformative potential of immersive media.”

Sony Pictures Classics to Release ‘Wicked Little Letters’ Starting March 29

Sony Pictures Classics will release “Wicked Little Letters,” starring Olivia Colman, Jessie Buckley and Anjana Vasan, in New York and Los Angeles on March 29, followed by a nationwide release on April 5.

In the farcical mystery comedy, a 1920s English seaside town bears witness to a farcical and occasionally sinister scandal when residents begin to receive wicked letters full of unintentionally hilarious profanities. Watch the trailer below:

Amelia Dimoldenberg Hired as Face of Oscars Social Media Campaign

Comedian and broadcaster Amelia Dimoldenberg, host of the YouTube interview series “Chicken Shop Date,” has been selected as the social media ambassador and red carpet correspondent for the 96th Oscars.

Dimoldenberg will be involved in multiple Oscars season events, including the Oscars Nominees luncheon, where she will participate in an Academy video production with nominees. She will also be involved with an “Oscars 96 Behind the Scenes Tour,” in addition to interviewing nominees and other talent present at the Oscars red carpet.

Dimoldenberg’s “Chicken Shop Date” videos have garnered 2.2 million subscribers and 416 million views. She has interviewed a wide range of figures in the entertainment industry, including Paul Mescal, Cher and Jennifer Lawrence.

“I’m so excited. I really, really cannot believe it and can’t wait to get to Los Angeles and do some amazing interviews,” Dimoldenberg said in an interview with the Academy’s A.frame website. “To be doing this for the Oscars itself is really, where do you go? It’s all downhill from here!”

The Oscars will take place on March 10 at the Dolby Theatre and will be available to watch live on ABC.

Eric Branco’s ‘Silent Partner’ Starts Production in New York City

Director of photography Eric Branco is making his feature directorial debut with “Silent Partner,” produced by Black Man Films. Production commences this week in New York City.

The script is penned by lead actor Roderick Lawrence (co-founder of Black Man Films), James J. Johnson and Branco.

In addition to Lawrence, the rest of the cast includes Stephen Hill, Haskiri Velazquez, Welker White, Karen Aldridge, Isabella Pisacane and Shoshana Bean.

Branco has served as director of photography on projects including “Let the Right One In,” “Bupkis,” “Clemency,” “The 40-Year-Old-Version” and recently “Story Ave,” which earned him an ASC spotlight sward nomination and a special jury award for cinematography at the 2023 SXSW Film Festival. Branco was also named one of Variety’s 10 Cinematographers to Watch in 2019.

The film’s synopsis reads, “‘Silent Partner’ centers around a Black attorney (Lawrence) in New York who is thrust into a stand-your-ground case by a senior partner (Perry). He is asked to defend a white woman who has murdered a Black teen. The story focuses on the attorney’s moral struggle, his relationship with his wife (Heyward) and the black professional experience of microaggressions in the workplace and systemic racism in the justice system.”

The story originated as a short film created by Lawrence with Branco as DP. The feature is produced by Lawrence and Salma Qarnain for Black Man Films and co-produced by Cameron Tyler Carr and James L. Walker Jr.

Universal Pictures Announces Release Date for DreamWorks Animation’s ‘Dog Man

DreamWorks Animation’s “Dog Man” will have a wide release from Universal Pictures on Jan. 31, 2025. The previously untitled project is an adaptation of Dav Pilkey’s bestselling literary series of the same title.

The film follows Dog Man, who was created through a life-saving surgery following the injuries endured by a dog and police officer. Per the release, Dog Man is “sworn to protect and serve — as long as he isn’t distracted by squirrels — as he doggedly pursues his arch-nemesis: the feline supervillain Petey the Cat. But the rivalry between Dog Man and Petey is upended by the arrival of an adorable kitten clone of Petey, Lil Petey, who changes the game for both of them.”

Emmy winner Peter Hastings will direct the film, which is produced by Karen Foster. Pilkey’s “Dog Man” series is comprised of 11 books, with the 12th book “Dog Man: The Scarlet Shedder” debuting in March. Universal Pictures will distribute DreamWorks Animation’s film adaptation.

Colman Domingo Joins Gotham Film and Media Institute’s Board of Directors

Colman Domingo, the Academy Award-nominated star of “Rustin,” has been appointed to the Gotham Film and Media Institute’s board of directors.

According to Gotham, Domingo’s new position will include contributing to “their mission to celebrate and nurture independent film and media creators by providing career-building resources, access to industry influencers, and pathways to wider recognition.”

“With its rich history of elevating original voices and supporting independent film, I couldn’t be more excited to dive into my work with The Gotham,” Domingo said. “I look forward to working alongside some of the most influential and passionate people in film as we champion independent creatives and the stories they strive to share with the world.”

Focus Features vice chairman Jason Cassidy and actor, producer and director Riley Keough are also a part of Gotham’s board of directors. The entire list of board members can be found here.

In addition to his lauded performance as Bayard Rustin, Domingo recently starred in the musical adaptation of “The Color Purple.”

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