Neon has acquired worldwide rights to Ava DuVernay’s “Origin” ahead of its world premiere in competition at the Venice Film Festival.
The movie, starring Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor, Jon Bernthal and Niecy Nash-Betts, will also screen at the Toronto International Film Festival. “Origin” will be released in theaters later this year.
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DuVernay is the first African American woman director in competition in Venice’s 80-year history. She wrote, produced and directed the film, which is inspired by the life and work of Pulitzer Prize winner Isabel Wilkerson as she pens her seminal book “Caste: The Origin of Our Discontents.” A press release describes the plot as such: “While grappling with tremendous personal tragedy, Isabel sets herself on a path of global investigation and discovery. Despite the colossal scope of her project, she finds beauty and bravery while crafting one of the defining American books of our time.” Vera Farmiga, Audra McDonald, Nick Offerman, Blair Underwood, Finn Wittrock, Jasmine Cephas-Jones and Connie Nielsen round out the cast.
“I’ve known Ava for a long time and my love and admiration for her and her work goes back further, even before ‘Middle of Nowhere,'” said Neon’s CEO and founder Tom Quinn. “I’m truly humbled that it is this movie which has finally brought us together. She has always been a gifted storyteller, and her mastery of her craft shines through in this deeply personal and inspired adaptation of Isabel Wilkerson’s book, and dramatization of her remarkable life. ‘Origin’ proves once again that Ava remains one of the most groundbreaking and essential filmmakers of her generation.”
Paul Garnes and DuVernay produced “Origin” under her Array Filmworks banner. In addition to DuVernay and Garnes, the team behind the film was led by cinematographer Matthew J. Lloyd, production designer Ina Mayhew, editor Spencer Averick, composer Kris Bowers, costume designer Dominique Dawson and casting director Aisha Coley.
Neon brought Michael Mann’s “Ferrari,” starring Adam Driver, Penelope Cruz, Shailene Woodley, Patrick Dempsey, and Jack O’Connell, to Venice before it releases in theaters on Christmas Day.
DuVernay made history with “Selma” as the first Black woman to direct a film nominated for best picture at the Oscars. She also received an Academy Award nomination for the documentary feature “13th,” her in-depth look at the U.S. prison system and how it reveals the nation’s history of racial inequality. Her acclaimed limited series “When They See Us,” for which she directed all episodes, was nominated for 16 Emmys in 2019. She was the first African American woman to win Sundance’s best director award in 2012 with her second feature, “Middle of Nowhere.”
The deal was negotiated by Tom Quinn for Neon with CAA Media Finance on behalf of the filmmakers.
Watch the teaser trailer below:
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