EXCLUSIVE: Scott Stuber’s Bluegrass Films has set Parkland writer-director Peter Landesman to rewrite and direct Down By The River, an espionage revenge thriller inspired by Charles Bowden’s nonfiction book. Landesman will come on to rewrite a script by Henry Bean.
Landesman and Naomi Despres brought the project to Stuber as the same time as Kill the Messenger, the story of how investigative journalist Gary Webb uncovered CIA complicity in bringing crack to U.S. cities and then destroyed the reputation of Webb, who committed suicide in 2004. Michael Cuesta directed the film for Focus Features with Jeremy Renner playing Webb. Stuber produced with Despres and Renner, while Landesman and Pamela Abdy are exec producers.
In Down By The River, the younger brother of a high-level DEA official and former undercover agent is murdered in broad daylight in El Paso, Texas. After discovering the hit was ordered by the drug kingpin across the river in Juarez, Mexico, possibly as retribution for the agent’s past actions, the DEA official heads across the border for some big-time revenge — not only against the killers but the DEA as well.
Landesman called Bowden’s book “haunting and epic, it winds and digs deep into the gray zone of the U.S.-Mexican border. We are using the true story chronicled in this book as a launching point, and the facts are like a punch in the gut. DEA agent Phil Jordan is a deeply compelling and complex cinematic character — courageous, brilliant, enraged, unstoppable. The desire to make this film for me is like a compulsion, and it’s great to be working with Scott again.”
Parkland, which played at Venice and Toronto, looks at the JFK assassination through the eyes of several characters on the periphery of the tragedy: the doctors who fought to save the president’s life; the assassin’s brother; the FBI and Secret Service agents unable to shield the president; and the author of the Zapruder film. Exclusive Media tomorrow releases the film, which marks the feature directorial debut of Landesman, a longtime foreign correspondent-turned screenwriter.