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Deadline’s Best Film Stories Of The Week

Catch up with the top film stories you missed this week:

OSCARS: Why Michael Fassbender’s Refusal To Campaign Likely Won’t Matter
By Pete Hammond - Campaign or no campaign, in Fassbender’s case it may not matter. He’s very likely going to get nominated — and could win — for Best Supporting Actor and I think that’s a scenario whether he lifts a finger or not in doing the usual rounds.

Tom Hanks Retraces A Life In Pictures, Talks Pitfalls Of Comedy & Freedom From Self-Consciousness At BAFTA Event
By Nancy Tartaglione - Tom Hanks was in London on Saturday to spend an evening with BAFTA. The British Academy’s Life In Pictures series is a walk through an actor or director’s career – Hanks’ this evening lasted two hours, which, considering his resumé, wasn’t nearly enough time to touch on every film.

Oren Aviv Exited As Chief Movie Marketing Officer At 20th Century Fox
By Nikki Finke - EXCLUSIVE: There’s yet another shake-up inside a major Hollywood studio. I’ve learned that Thursday will be the last day for 20th Century Fox Chief Marketing Officer Oren Aviv at Twentieth Century Fox even though his contract had another 18 months to go.

Tony Sella Not Out Yet At Fox Film – But Decision Day Is Monday
By Mike Fleming Jr. - Might 20th Century Fox Film chief creative officer Tony Sella be soon following marketing chief Oren Aviv out the door? Read More »

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Dee Rees To Adapt Philip K. Dick’s ‘Martian Time-Slip’

By | Thursday October 17, 2013 @ 9:59am PDT

Spirit Award-winner Dee Rees (Pariah) has been set to adapt Martian Time-Slip, Philip K. Dick‘s 1964 sci-fi novel centered on a schizophrenic repairman living in a human colony on Mars. Rees will write the pic as a directorial project for herself with Isa Dick Hackett, daughter of Philip K. Dick, producing for Electric Shepherd Productions. The shingle run by Dick’s children previously produced 2011′s The Adjustment Bureau and is in development on Disney’s animated adaptation King of the Elves, Michel Gondry-helmed Ubik, and Electric Ant to be directed by Marc Forster. Rees is repped by WME and Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz. Victoria Cook negotiated the deal on Rees’ behalf with Christopher Tricarico repping the Dick estate and Electric Shepherd.

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ICM Signs ‘Pariah’ Star Adepero Oduye

By | Friday January 20, 2012 @ 8:09am PST
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: While talent agencies comb Sundance to find and sign new talent, ICM has signed Adepero Oduye, who turned in one of 2011 Sundance’s breakout performance as the star of the Dee Rees-directed Pariah. The Cornell University grad is nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for Best Female Lead for her performance as Alike, a 17-year-old lesbian struggling with her identity in Brooklyn. But that accolade might pale compared to what happened last Sunday, when Meryl Streep gave Oduye a shout-out from the stage while accepting her Golden Globes Award for The Iron Lady. After auditioning for a role as an extra in the 2007 award-winning short film Pariah, Oduye was tapped by Rees to make her debut as the star of the feature, which was recently released in theaters by Focus Features. Oduye continues to be managed by Kathy Atkinson.

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Gotham Awards: ‘Tree Of Life,’ ‘Beginners’ Share Kudos For Best Feature

Mike Fleming

Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life and Mike Mills’ Beginners shared the best feature award at Monday night’s 21st Annual Gotham Independent Film Awards. Other nominees for Best Feature were nominees were The Descendants, Meek’s Cutoff and Take Shelter. Girlfriend won the audience award and Dee Rees was named breakthrough director for Pariah. Mike Mills’ Beginners took best ensemble performance, and the prize for Best Film Not Seen In A Theater Near You went to Scenes of A Crime. Those filmmakers win a week’s run at Cinema Village in New York City. The win by Beginners was a big surprise as the movie bested the higher profile The Descendants, Jeff Nichols’ Take Shelter and Martha Marcy May Marlene. Best documentary was Better This World. Breakthrough Actor Award went to Felicity Jones for Like Crazy. Event took place at Cipriani on Wall Street.

Complete list of winners:
Best Feature / Tie
BEGINNERS
Directed by Mike Mills
Produced by Leslie Urdang, Dean Vanech, Miranda de Pencier, Jay Van Hoy, Lars Knudsen
Released by Focus Features
TREE OF LIFE
Directed by Terrence Malick
Produced by Sarah Green, Bill Pohlad, Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner, Grant Hill
Released by Fox Searchlight
The Best Feature Jury included: Anne Carey, Jodie Foster, Nicole Kidman, Lee Percy, and Natalie Portman
Best Documentary
BETTER THIS WORLD
Directed and produced by Katie Galloway and Kelly Duane de la Vega
Produced by Mike Nicholson
The Best Documentary Jury included: Jonathan Caouette, Keiko Deguchi, Rachel Grady, Chris Hegedus and Stanley Nelson 

Breakthrough Director Award
DEE REES
Writer

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2011 Toronto Festival Fills Out Slate And Sets Maverick Lecture Program

Mike Fleming

The 2011 Toronto International Film Festival has filled out the rest of its slate, which consists of 268 features and 68 short films that will unspool next month. The fest announced that the likes of Brad Pitt (Moneyball), George Clooney (The Ides of March), and U2 (the Davis Guggenheim-directed docu From The Sky Down) will be among a long list of boldface names at the fest.

Toronto added 13 films to its Masters Lineup, including the North American premiere of Gus Van Sant’s Restless, and a Discovery Programme lineup that includes the international debut of the Dee Rees-directed Pariah, which premiered in January at Sundance. The fest also announced its complete lineup for Mavericks. It includes a discussion with Christopher Plummer, who stars in Barrymore, the Erik Canuel-directed adaptation of Plummer’s Tony-winning performance as actor John Barrymore; a conversation between Deepa Mehta and Salman Rushdie; a conversation with Francis Ford Coppola, whose Twixt plays Toronto; Neil Young and Jonathan Demme as they premiere the documentary Neil Young Life; Tilda Swinton as she brings We Need to Talk About Kevin to the fest; and a discussion with Sony Pictures Classics founders Michael Barker and Tom Bernard as their distribution company reaches its 20th year milestone.

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Focus Features In Talks With Jeb Brody For Production Prexy Post As John Lyons Exits

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: As John Lyons prepares to leave his production president post to focus on philanthropy, Focus Features top executives James Schamus and Andrew Karpen are in talks with Jeb Brody to replace him. Brody, who is currently president of production for producer/financer Vendome Pictures, is well regarded in the indie sphere. He was a producer of Sunshine Cleaning and was the executive producer of Little Miss Sunshine while he worked at Big Beach. Brody exec produced Vencome’s first two film productions, Source Code and Larry Crowne. Lyons made public his plan right after the Cannes Film Festival.

Lyons is leaving to devote more time to his pet project, the Edible Schoolyard/NYC. He is the founder and board chairman of the charity, which mixes his passion for the environment and growing food at the schools. He will oversee an expansion of the program to schools in the five New York boroughs, and he’ll also continue his work on the board of Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse Foundation, which is the national program for the Edible Schoolyard initative. He’s also on the board of GrowNYC, a non-profit that promotes environmental awareness and runs the city’s Greenmarket programs. Read More »

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Sundance 2011: Does 38 Film Deals Mean That The Indie Biz Is Back?

Mike Fleming

Dealmakers who came into Park City hoping to recapture the acquisitions momentum of last fall’s Toronto Film Festival returned this week with smiles on their faces. And why not? By my count, 38 transactions have been completed on Sundance films so far, with several more coming. Buyers estimate that at least eight of those deals brought a minimum guarantee of $2 million or higher: The Details and My Idiot Brother to The Weinstein Company, Like Crazy to Paramount/Indian Paintbrush, Margin Call to Lionsgate/Roadside Attractions, Another Earth to Fox Searchlight, Silent House to Liddell Entertainment, Homework to Fox Searchlight, and The Devil’s Double to Lionsgate and Herrick Entertainment.

Nobody could be accused of the drunken spending that occasionally happened in past Sundance Festivals. But considering the shellacking the indie business has taken over the past several years, there were intriguing team-ups and bold plays all over the place. Like when Sony Pictures Classics acquired the Michael Shannon-in-meltdown-mode Take Shelter, sight unseen, and the SPC team strutted when the film played to glowing reviews; when Steven Rales’ Indian Paintbrush became the surprise catalyst in the  $4 million deal to acquire festival favorite Like Crazy, or when Ron Burkle partnered with Harvey Weinstein in the $7.5 million guarantee/$10 million P&A acquisition of the Tobey Maguire black comedy The Details; when Focus Features bought Dee Rees’s much discussed directing debut Pariah, and made her next … Read More »

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Sundance: Focus Features Acquires ‘Pariah,’ Buys Filmmaker’s Next Project

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Focus Features has closed an acquisition deal for worldwide rights for Pariah, the Dee Rees-directed coming of age story of a 17-year old African American teen from Brooklyn trying to find her place in the world, and coming to terms with her identity as a lesbian. Besides the acquisition, Focus has also engaged Rees to write another script with an eye for her to direct. The deal was in the seven figure range.

The film, which stars Adepero Oduye, Pernell Walker, Kim Wayans, Charles Parnell and Aasha Davis, created much buzz since its premiere last Thursday at the Eccles Theatre. It is a handle-with-care first film, but it showed enough promise that Rees has been courted by agents since the film’s premiere and many feel she will be an emerging artistic voice. The picture was exec produced by indie icon Spike Lee, and produced by Nekisa Cooper. John Sloss and Bart Walker at Cinetic Media and attorney Victoria Cook closed the deal with Focus’ Avy Eschenasy. At least two other suitors were also in the mix. It is the first deal at the festival for Focus, which last year acquired The Kids Are All Right, the Lisa Cholodenko-directed feature which became a breakout indie hit, grossing over $20 million domestic and nearing $30 million worldwide. The film this week received four Academy Award nominations including Best Picture.

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Sundance Film Festival Sets Shorts Slate

Mike Fleming

Park City, UT— Sundance Institute announced today the program of short films selected to screen at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival. This year the Festival’s Short Film Program comprises 81 short films from U.S. and international filmmakers selected from 6,467 submissions up 6% over 2010. The 2011 Sundance Film Festival runs January 20-30 in Park City, Salt Lake City, Ogden and Sundance, Utah. The complete list of films is available at www.sundance.org/festival.

”It’s a marvel to discover the creativity in this year’s shorts program. These filmmakers are charged with telling compelling stories, nurturing breakout performances and engaging the audience, all in a fraction of the time allocated to features, and each one delivers,” said Trevor Groth, Sundance Film Festival Director of Programming. “For 2011, we are pleased to be able to shine a light on indigenous filmmakers working around the world in the short-form medium, and to provide festival goers with a window into native storytelling.”

“These directors have once again raised the bar to show us the endless possibilities in short filmmaking,” said Kim Yutani, Sundance Film Festival Programmer. “It’s especially rewarding to see shorts alums such as Andrew MacLean, Sean Durkin, Dee Rees, Rashaad Ernesto Green, Madeleine Olnek, Tiffany Shlain and others returning this year with feature films.”

The short films selected for the 2011 Sundance Film Festival are:

U.S. NARRATIVE SHORTS
This year’s 44 U.S. short films were selected from a record 3,453 submissions.

After You Left (Director: Jef Taylor; Screenwriters: Jef

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