Mike Fleming

Little Birds, the Elgin James-directed drama about two restless teenage girls who leave their dying Salton Sea hometown to  take a dangerous road trip to Los Angeles with three street kids, has been acquired for North American distribution by Millennium Entertainment. The film stars Juno Temple, Kay Panabaker, Kate Bosworth and Leslie Mann. James is the reformed former gang member who in March was sentenced to spend a year in jail by a federal judge in Chicago. James had to answer for an incident from his past, the charge involving a 2005 attempt to extort $5000 from a man. I met James at Sundance, and found him to be very honest about himself, his rough upbringing, and in how he had turned his life around with a decision to embrace non-violence. Seeing his movie get a chance to reach audiences has to be a spot of good news in an EKG year in which he debuted the film at Sundance to acclaim, started getting hired to write studio films, and then drew the jail sentence. The plan is to release the film in the fall, and timing will be key here, because James is eligible to be freed 10 months into a sentence rendered in early March. Will he be released before his film is?

Little Birds is produced by Blue Valentine‘s Jamie Patricof and Alan and Gabe Polsky. Preferred Content’s Kevin Iwashina made the deal, and WestEnd Films will handle offshore territories in the Cannes market. “Elgin has made a powerful and surprising flm that deeply resonated with us,” said Millennium Entertainment CEO Bill Lee. “Little Birds marks another extraordinary performance from Juno Temple, features Kay Panabaker in a genuine starmaking turn, and showcases Kate Bosworth and Leslie Mann like we haven’t seen them before.” Millennium launched last year with the David Schwimmer-directed Trust.