How ‘The Great Hack’ Evolved From the ‘Sony Hack Film’ Into a Story of Algorithms Running Our Lives (Video)

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With “The Great Hack,” filmmakers Karim Amer and Jehane Noujaim set out to make a film about the Sony hack, the breach of data and leaked emails from Sony Pictures that rocked Hollywood back in 2014. But as they further examined the role th…

Alfre Woodard’s Prison Drama ‘Clemency’ Heads to Neon for US Rights

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Indie distributor Neon announced on Wednesday that it has acquired U.S. rights to the Alfre Woodard-starring drama “Clemency” from ACE Pictures Entertainment.

Writer-director Chinonye Chukwu’s film premiered last month at the Sundance Film Festival, where it won the U.S. Grand Jury Prize in the Dramatic category .

Woodard stars as Bernadine Williams, the warden of a maximum-security prison whose years of carrying out death row executions have begun to take a toll. As she prepares to execute another inmate, Bernadine must confront the psychological and emotional demons her job creates, ultimately connecting her to the man she is sanctioned to kill.

Also Read: Death Penalty Drama ‘Clemency’ Wins Sundance Grand Jury Prize

“Clemency” also stars Aldis Hodge (“Hidden Figures”), Richard Schiff (“Man of Steel,” “The West Wing”) and Wendell Pierce (“The Wire”).

The film was produced by ACE Pictures Entertainment, Bronwyn Cornelius Productions and Julian Cautherley.

“Making ‘Clemency’ has been a life-changing soul journey,” Chukwu said in a statement, “and I am thrilled to partner with the team at Neon to share the film with audiences across the country.”

At Sundance, Neon premiered Todd Douglas Miller’s stunning cinematic event “Apollo 11,” which will initially release in Imax theatres exclusively on March 1, as well as John Chester’s “The Biggest Little Farm.” In addition, the company picked up the rights to Ljubomir Stefanov and Tamara Kotevska’s documentary “Honeyland,” Alejandro Landes’ cinematic thriller Monos, Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala’s horror film “The Lodge,” Abe Forsythe’s Lupita Nyong’o-led “Little Monsters” and Julius Onah’s “Luce.”

Also Read: Inside Upstart Neon’s Big Return to Sundance With 4 Major Acquisitions (So Far)

Neon recently garnered an Oscar nod for “Border,” and its upcoming slate includes: Tom Harper’s “Wild Rose” starring Jessie Buckley; and Bong Joon-Ho’s highly-anticipated drama “Parasite.”

The deal for “Clemency” was negotiated by Neon and Paradigm on behalf of the filmmakers.

Chukwu is repped by Paradigm and Grandview. Hodge is repped by Paradigm, The Priluck Company, and Ziffren, Brittenham, Branca, Fischer, Gilbert-Lurie, Stiffelman, Cook, Johnson, Lande & Wolf LLP. Pierce is repped by Paradigm and Essential Talent Management. And Schiff is repped by Paradigm, Leverage, and Nelson Davis LLP.

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‘Selah and the Spades’ Star Lovie Simone Wants You to Know ‘There’s Not One Way to Live Black’ (Video)

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Director Tayarisha Poe’s feature film debut, “Selah and the Spades,” creates a world in which black characters aren’t impacted or influenced by the white gaze, and that’s one of the things that drew the cast to the project.

“We don’t get to see it that often,” said actress Lovie Simone, who stars as Selah, at TheWrap’s studio during Sundance. “There’s not one way to be black, there’s not one way to live black. So to see these characters going to this prestigious boarding school with all this money and nice homes, it opens your eyes to a broader perspective of blackness.”

The film premiered in the NEXT category during the 2019 Sundance Film Festival.

“Selah and the Spades” takes play in the closed world of an elite Pennsylvania boarding school, called Haldwell, where the student body is run by five factions. The film follows 17-year-old Selah Summers who runs the most dominant group, the Spades, which caters to the most classic of vices, supplying students with coveted contraband like illegal alcohol and pills.

Also Read: Riley Keough on The Scariest Part of Filming Psychological Sundance Thriller ‘The Lodge’ (Video)

Tensions between the factions escalate, and when Selah’s best friend and right hand Maxxi becomes distracted by a new love, Selah takes on a protégée, enamored sophomore Paloma, to whom she imparts her wisdom on ruling the school. But as graduation approaches and as Paloma proves to be an impressively quick study, Selah’s fears turn sinister as she grapples with losing the control by which she defines herself.

“Selah and the Spades” has a predominately black cast, but the beautiful thing about the script, and what drew “Moonlight” actor Jharrel Jerome to the film, was that there is no black and white present in the script, he said.

“I don’t think Tayarisha made it a point these are the black kids; these are the white kids. There was power and it was about who had the power and who didn’t have the power,” Jerome said. “The other beauty about the script is you have all these black faces in an environment that we’re not used to, but we’re not talking about race, not once in the film.”

Also Read: David Oyelowo on How His New Film ‘Relive’ Makes a ‘Far-Fetched’ Premise ‘Entirely Plausible’

The important thing, said Gina Torres — who plays Selah’s mother — is that within the world of “Selah and the Spades,” having a host of black kids at this prestigious boarding school isn’t an anomaly, even if audiences aren’t used to seeing it.

“It’s interesting because it’s probably not a question that we would ask a white cast, but also, what is young black life outside of the white gaze?” Jesse Williams said. “I was one of probably 10 black kids at an all-white school. It mattered, it effected us… one misstep could ruin everything for everybody after you. The weight of the world is on your shoulders, but if you just get to be Selah, or any of the characters, then you can just be an individual, you’re allowed to struggle with identity and the pressure from your mom and the incredible loneliness of being popular.”

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Riley Keough on The Scariest Part of Filming Psychological Sundance Thriller ‘The Lodge’ (Video)

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“The Lodge,” from legendary “Goodnight Mommy” directors Severin Fiala and Veronika Franz, scared the bejeezus out of Sundance-goers this year, and even star Riley Keough had one thing terrify her.

“I will say the score was really scary,” Keough said at TheWrap’s Sundance Film Festival interview studio last month. “We were there and it was dark while we were filming it, but the score really freaked me out.”

“The Lodge” follows Keough, who goes to a lodge with her boyfriend’s children (played by Jaeden Lieberher and Lia McHugh) when, naturally, everything goes terribly wrong. Fiala and Franz have established themselves as horror geniuses since their film “Goodnight Mommy” garnered critical acclaim in 2014 — but both of the Austrian directors don’t consider themselves horror filmmakers, per se.

Also Read: Neon Books Distribution Rights for Riley Keough Thriller ‘The Lodge’

“We don’t think of them as pure horror movies — we are interested in suspenseful movies which talk about society in a different way,” said Franz. “It could be a psycho thriller, it could be a horror movie, but it will always be a crossover to arthouse cinema.”

Fiala added, “We always make the movies we would like to see in cinemas ourselves. It could be anything except for romantic comedy. Well, you never know … maybe if it’s a crossover.”

Also Read: ‘Paradise Hills’ Director Alice Waddington on What She Hopes Young Women Will Learn From the Film (Video)

“The Lodge” premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. Neon bought the film shortly after its premiere.

Watch the video above.

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‘Paradise Hills’ Director Alice Waddington on What She Hopes Young Women Will Learn From the Film (Video)

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“Paradise Hills” sheds light on false stereotypes of women in society, and director Alice Waddington wants to show women of all ages that they don’t need to transform themselves into what society expects of them.

The film follows Paradise Hills, “an institution in the middle of the ocean to which families all over the world send their daughters to get reformed,” the film’s director Alice Waddington explained at the Sundance Film Festival last month. “Those girls have a variety of problems that make them into less-than-perfect women — supposedly.”

Waddington says she got the idea for her directorial feature debut because she “lived it” herself as a young woman, and she wanted to “reflect my experiences as a young woman on this planet in a certain way and to reflect the world that I see around me.”

Also Read: ‘Paradise Hills’ Film Review: Emma Roberts Flourishes in Lush, Feminist Sci-Fi

The film stars Eiza Gonzalez, Emma Roberts, Milla Jovovich, Awkwafina and Danielle Macdonald, the latter of who joined Waddington at TheWrap’s studio at the festival.

“It was so relatable and it had so many issues that are just so relevant to society and so many characters that we can relate to, but set in this fantasy, sci-fi, futurist world with these stunning visuals,” Macdonald said.

Waddington added, “It essentially communicates how we are asked to change all the time for others and how we are supposed to completely transform ourselves in order to fit into a society that doesn’t like us as who we are a lot of times, and I think it’s really important to bring home this message to young girls and young women — that you really don’t have to change for anybody else that isn’t you and what you really have to do is find people who love you for you and stay true to yourself.”

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Macdonald recently starred in Netflix’s “Dumplin,’” which pushed forward a similar message of female empowerment and self-appreciation. And the actress said that she’s happy she got to star in two films like this back-to-back because we need them.

“I felt like I didn’t grow up with any of it honestly, I never felt represented on screen growing up, and I never thought it was okay to like who I was,” Macdonald said. “So when I get the opportunity to play characters that I would’ve loved to have seen as a teenager and that would’ve helped and inspired me, I jumped at the opportunity because it was important to me.”

Watch the video above.

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Satanic Temple Co-Founder Lucien Greaves Hasn’t Received Hate Mail Over ‘Hail Satan?’ – Yet (Video)

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“Hail Satan?” director Penny Lane and Satanic Temple co-founder and spokesperson Lucien Greaves totally expect the documentary to provoke a backlash — but Greaves has received no hate mail so far.

“We’ve only had three screenings, so I’m sure it’s coming,” Lane told TheWrap’s Beatrice Verhoeven at the Sundance Film Festival. “But all they get is backlash!”

Greaves added: “This is the least controversial, high-profile thing that’s ever happened to the Satanic Temple. So far, I haven’t gotten hate mail over the documentary.”

Also Read: ‘Hail Satan?’ Film Review: Hero Satanists Use the Devil to Separate Church and State

With unprecedented access, “Hail Satan?” traces the rise of The Satanic Temple, and activist group whose modus operandi is to advance Satanism as a religion deserving equal time with Christianity, in order to call attention to the un-Constitutionality of Christianity in public spaces. Their real goal is to make the case that things like the Ten Commandments have no business on government grounds. The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and will hit theaters in spring 2019.

“‘Hail Satan?’ is really the origin story of the Satanic Temple, so it covers the first six years of the organization and it shows how something that started as something as a prank, a joke, a smart idea, but really evolves very quickly into a legitimate religious movement and a really smart politically active campaign,” explained Lane.

Also Read: Magnolia Pictures Nabs Rights to Satanic Sundance Documentary ‘Hail Satan?’

The documentary showcases how quickly the movement has grown in the past years, with the organization’s reach spanning further than the U.S. borders.

“As soon as people hear about this, there is a certain population of people who immediately, intuitively grasp it,” Greaves added. “They have an understanding of the mythology of Satan. They understand why that resonates. It’s still powerful for them as a metaphor and they understand the power of that being invoked against religious tyranny, arbitrary authority, and they see what we’re doing and it puts it all on the context that’s readily available and understandable to a certain crowd… once these people find out what we’re doing, they come to us in large numbers and we’re seeing the potential for how large those numbers are. When a film like this gets this kind of attention, we’re going to see that much more people finding out about it.”

Watch the video above.

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Demi Moore-Led Sundance Film ‘Corporate Animals’ Picked Up by Screen Media

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Independent film distributor Screen Media said on Thursday that it has acquired  North American rights to “Corporate Animals.”

The film, which premiered in the midnight section of the 2019 Sundance Film Festival, stars Demi Moore, Ed Helms, Jessica Williams, Karan Soni, Isiah Whitlock Jr, Dan Bakkedahl, Calum Worthy, Nasim Pedrad, Martha Kelly, Jennifer Kim and the voice of Britney Spears.

“Corporate Animals” was directed by Patrick Brice and has been described as “The Office” meets “The Descent.” Screen Media is planning a day-and-date release for this summer.

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The film follows Lucy (Demi Moore) as the egotistical, megalomaniac CEO of Incredible Edible Cutlery, America’s premier provider of edible cutlery. In her infinite wisdom, Lucy leads her staff, including her long-suffering assistants, Freddie (Karan Soni) and Jess (Jessica Williams), on a corporate team-building spelunking weekend in New Mexico. When disaster strikes, not even their useless guide, Brandon (Ed Helms), can save them. Trapped underground by a cave-in, this mismatched and disgruntled group must pull together in order to survive.

“This is a really special movie and Screen Media gets that,” Helms said in a statement. “I know we’re in great hands, and I can’t wait for the world to see what the warped minds of Patrick Brice, Sam Bain, and this epic cast have served up.”

Seth Needle, Screen Media’s senior vice president of worldwide acquisitions, negotiated the deal with ICM Partners and UTA Independent Film Group on behalf of the filmmakers.

Also Read: Amazon Swoops in for the Rights to Shia LaBeouf’s ‘Honey Boy’

“I couldn’t be more thrilled to have found such enthusiastic partners in Screen Media,” Brice said in a statement. “Watching ‘Corporate Animals’ with audiences in Sundance was a confirmation that this movie is a truly unique theatrical experience and I’m honored to have our insane film with such a great distributor.”

Brice is best known for his films “The Overnight” and “Creep.”  “Corporate Animals” was produced by Helms and Mike Falbo of Pacific Electric Picture Co., as well as Jess Wu Calder and Keith Calder of Snoot Entertainment (“Blindspotting” and “Little Monsters”) and was written by Sam Bain.

“Prefacing that I don’t see any of myself in Demi’s character, I’m really thrilled that we will be working with such talented individuals – Keith, Jess and the Snoot team, Ed, Mike and their team, and Patrick, who we’ve been a big fan of for a while,” said Screen Media president David Fannon in a statement. “Their warped – and I guess relatable story – is a real fun ride. We know audiences will enjoy it.”

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‘Leaving Neverland’ Trailer: Michael Jackson Accuser Wants to ‘Speak the Truth as Loud as I Had to Speak the Lie’ (Video)

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HBO on Tuesday released the first trailer for the highly anticipated and much discussed new Michael Jackson documentary “Leaving Neverland.”

The film, which will premiere on HBO on Sunday, March 3, is a four-hour documentary by Dan Reed featuring detailed accounts from two men, Wade Robson and James Safechuck, who say Jackson molested them when they were underage boys. The film premiered during the 2019  Sundance Film Festival last month, and the screening required extra security amid fears that protesters would try to disrupt the film.

The Jackson estate has vehemently opposed the documentary, calling it “the kind of tabloid character assassination Michael Jackson endured in life, and now in death.”

Also Read: HBO Won’t Edit Michael Jackson Doc ‘Leaving Neverland’ That Singer’s Estate Complained About

In the trailer, Reed paints the Jackson and his Neverland Ranch as the dream for any young person: “Everybody wanted to meet Michael or be with Michael,” one of the film’s subjects says.

“The days were filled with magical childhood adventure experiences — playing tag, watching movies, eating junk food — anything you could ever want as a child,” another person says in a voice-over during shots of Neverland Ranch and kids running around.

“Leaving Neverland” will air in two-parts on HBO. The film explores the separate but parallel experiences of two young boys, James Safechuck, at age 10, and Wade Robson, at age 7, both of whom were befriended by Jackson. Through interviews with Safechuck, now 37, and Robson, now 41, as well as their mothers, wives and siblings, the film crafts a portrait of sustained abuse, exploring the complicated feelings that led both men to confront their experiences after both had young sons of their own.

Also Read: ‘Leaving Neverland’ Director: ‘This Isn’t a Film About Michael Jackson’ (Video)

“He told me that if they ever found out what we were doing, he and I would go to jail for the rest of our lives,” one of the men says in the trailer. “I want to be able to speak the truth as loud as I had to speak the lie for so long.”

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‘The Nightingale’ Director Jennifer Kent Says Empathy is ‘Fast Disappearing’ (Video)

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The latest film “The Nightingale” from Jennifer Kent, the Australian director who broke out with the horror film “The Babadook,” is a brutal, violent film, but also one that encourages a feeling of understanding for different cultures and those who have experienced loss.

Aisling Franciosi plays Clare, an Irish convict sent to one of the worst penal colonies in Australia in the 1820s. After her family is horrifically attacked, she seeks revenge against a British officer that witnessed it, enlisting the help of a native aboriginal in Tasmania. Franciosi studied not just the history of convicts in Australia, but also researched PTSD, violence against women and how people deal with trauma.

“I’ve said this a million times, but it’s so rare to read a script where I actually feel like I have an emotional response to it, and I felt it in the first 10 pages,” Franciosi told TheWrap’s Steve Pond at the Sundance Film Festival. “It gave me such a huge sense of responsibility. You couldn’t possibly not have a massive well of empathy for the character of Clare.”

Also Read: Jennifer Kent’s ‘The Nightingale’ Acquired by IFC Films Ahead of Sundance

“Aisling used a beautiful word there, empathy, which in our modern world is fast disappearing. It’s very disturbing to me,” Kent added. “It’s a quality to me that’s not an optional extra anymore with humans. It’s something we need, or we won’t survive.”

Kent talked about how she was moved by the parallels between Irish and aboriginal cultures, incorporating a lot of traditional, native music into the film. She says the way in which all cultures are more alike than different is one of the major themes of “The Nightingale.”

“I was really wanting to tell a story of love in a dark time and ask the question, how do we love still as human beings. It’s easy to love when everything is going well, very easy. But how do we do that when things are really tough,” Kent said. “As humans we want, if there’s pain, we want to inflict it on others. It’s a natural desire to get rid of it and put it onto others. But I don’t feel good about that ultimately. I don’t think it provides much relief. So I wanted to dig in and find out what happens in the playing out of that, but also what happens in the aftermath.”

“The Nightingale” was acquired by IFC Films after premiering at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival on Jan. 25. Watch the video of Kent and Franciosi above.

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David Oyelowo on How His New Film ‘Relive’ Makes a ‘Far-Fetched’ Premise ‘Entirely Plausible’

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

“We all, at one time or another, are going to experience some kind of death that rocks us to our core … and there’s no escaping that,” writer and director Jacob Estes told TheWrap during this year’s Sundance Film Festival.

Estes’ new film, “Relive,” which premiered at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival, is a story of such loss. The film stars David Oyelowo as Los Angeles detective Jack Radcliff, who fields a distressed phone call from his niece Ashley (Storm Reid) and rushes to the rescue–only to find the girl and her parents dead in an apparent murder-suicide.

The film then takes on the air of a supernatural thriller as gets another call from Ashley after her death — from three days prior. With the cell-phone connection acting as a link between the past and the present, Jack urges Ashley to collect clues that will help him to solve her murder and change her fate.

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“The movie is about this horrific loss that detective Jack Radcliff, played by David Oyelowo suffers,” Estes said during an interview at TheWrap studio at Sundance. “This movie is sort of this very dark territory where David’s character is allowed to maybe have an opportunity to talk to the dead to save her.”

The script for “Relive” originally centered  on a white family living on a farm in Ohio, but the project changed after Oyelowo, drawn to the story’s emotional core, expressed interest in starring.

“For me, even though it had these genre elements, even though it had this wonderfully complex plot ultimately it was about love,” Oyelowo said at TheWrap’s Sundance studio. “It was about a love that would engender a man to reach through space and time to try and save his niece and for her to do the same for her family.”

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“Relive” plays as part supernatural thriller, part time-warped police procedural. The film, produced by Jason Blum’s Blumhouse Productions, taps into genre beats to deliver the love story Oyelowo was so keen on showing.

He said that underlying emotion was what they focused on during filming. They didn’t want to lean too heavily into the pulpy genre aesthetics and lose the realistic connection between the characters.

“We talked about tone a lot when we were doing the film and the tone that we went for was something very grounded, something that feels entirely plausible and realistic,” Oyelowo said. “We didn’t want to necessarily have a thunder clap that splits time or some kind of earthquake or something of that nature that we’ve probably seen in other movies before — it was theoretical and then everything else is literal and to me, that is the special quality of the film because you forget that there is an element of the premise that is far-fetched and then you just start transposing your own life onto this situation.”

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Magnolia Pictures Lands ‘Mike Wallace Is Here’ Documentary

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Magnolia Pictures has acquired North American rights to the documentary “Mike Wallace is Here,” the distributor announced on Wednesday.

The film, directed by Avi Belkin, is a documentary about veteran newsman Mike Wallace, whose confrontational, no-holds-barred style of journalism influenced generations of reporters.

“Mike Wallace is Here” offers an unflinching look at the legendary reporter, who interrogated the 20th century’s biggest figures in his over fifty years on air, and his aggressive reporting style and showmanship that redefined what America came to expect from broadcasters. Unearthing decades of never-before-seen footage from the 60 Minutes vault, the film explores what drove and plagued Wallace, whose storied career was entwined with the evolution of journalism itself.

Also Read: ‘Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am’ Documentary Acquired by Magnolia Pictures

“Since I began work on this film three years ago, the attacks against the free press have only escalated. I’ve witnessed our culture shift to a point where the hard question is fighting for its right to be asked,” Belkin said in a statement. “I’m honored to collaborate with Magnolia Pictures in bringing this important story to the big screen. We’re very excited for audiences to discover the real story behind the fearsome reporter persona of Mike Wallace, and what’s really at stake today at this precarious tipping point for journalism.”

Magnolia is targeting a 2019 theatrical release for the film, which recently premiered in U.S. Documentary Competition at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival.

“Mike Wallace’s legacy in journalism is almost incalculable,” Magnolia Pictures president Eamonn Bowles said in a statement. “Avi Belkin has done a masterful job in crafting an incredibly cinematic view of it.”

Also Read: Magnolia Pictures Nabs Rights to Satanic Sundance Documentary ‘Hail Satan?’

“Mike Wallace is Here” is a Drexler Films Presentation of a Delirio Films Production in association with Passion Pictures and Rock Paper Scissors Entertainment.  The film is produced by Rafael Marmor, p.g.a., John Battsek, Peggy Drexler, Avi Belkin, p.g.a. and Christopher Leggett. Angus Wall is the Executive Producer.

The deal was negotiated by Magnolia EVP Dori Begley and Magnolia SVP of acquisitions John Von Thaden with CAA Media Finance on behalf of the filmmakers.

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‘Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am’ Documentary Acquired by Magnolia Pictures

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Magnolia Pictures announced on Tuesday that it has landed North American rights to Timothy Greenfield-Sanders’ uplifting documentary “Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am.”

The documentary, about the legendary storyteller, who was the first African-American woman to receive the Nobel Prize, premiered at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival.

“Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am,” offers an artful and intimate meditation on the life and works of the acclaimed novelist. From her childhood in the steel town of Lorain, Ohio to ’70s-era book tours with Muhammad Ali, from the front lines with Angela Davis to her own riverfront writing room, Toni Morrison leads an assembly of her peers, critics and colleagues on an exploration of race, America, history and the human condition as seen through the prism of her own literature. Inspired to write because no one took a “little black girl” seriously, Morrison reflects on her lifelong deconstruction of the master narrative.

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Woven together with a rich collection of art, history, literature and personality, the film includes discussions about her many critically acclaimed works, including novels “The Bluest Eye,” “Sula” and “Song of Solomon,” her role as an editor of iconic African-American literature and her time teaching at Princeton University.

“‘Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am’ is an immensely inspirational film about a true pioneer and an essential voice for our time,” Magnolia Pictures president Eamonn Bowles said in a statement.  “Timothy’s film beautifully realizes her journey.”

In addition to Morrison, the film features conversations with such luminaries as Hilton Als, Angela Davis, Fran Lebowitz, Walter Mosley, Sonia Sanchez and Oprah Winfrey, who turned Morrison’s novel “Beloved” into a feature film.

Magnolia is targeting a theatrical release this year for the film, which recently world-premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. The film will stream on Hulu, and will have its exclusive U.S. broadcast premiere as part of the “American Masters” series in late 2020 on PBS.

Also Read: Magnolia Pictures Nabs Rights to Satanic Sundance Documentary ‘Hail Satan?’

“Magnolia Pictures is our dream-come-true partner for ‘Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am,’” Greenfield-Sanders said in a statement. “Magnolia brilliantly brought ‘RBG’ and ‘I Am Not Your Negro’ to the theater-going-public and we are excited to screen ‘Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am’ across the country.”

The film is a production of Perfect Day Films Inc. in association with American Masters Pictures. The film was produced by Greenfield-Sanders, Johanna Giebelhaus, Chad Thompson and Tommy Walker. Michael Kantor is executive producer for American Masters Pictures.

The deal was negotiated by Magnolia EVP Dori Begley and Magnolia SVP of Acquisitions John Von Thaden with ICM Partners and Curatorial on behalf of the filmmakers.

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Hulu Acquires Award-Winning Sundance Documentary ‘Jawline’

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Hulu has picked up U.S. rights to Liza Mandelup’s Sundance documentary “Jawline,” an individual with knowledge of the deal told TheWrap.

The film, which won the U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Emerging Filmmaker at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival, follows Austyn Tester, a handsome 16-year-old, who feels oppressed by the confines of life in his small hometown in Tennessee.

But in the online-streaming world, Austyn is adored by thousands of young girls, all eager for his “likes,” his attention, or just to hear him say their name. For Austyn and many like him, a big enough fan base could mean a ticket out of rural America and into a new life of wealth and fame–quite the undertaking when you’re coming of age.

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The film brings audiences into Austyn’s world as he is discovered by a manager and sets off on a U.S. tour to build his following and make his dreams come true.

Hulu also picked up the “Untitled Amazing Johnathan Documentary” following its premiere at Sundance and acquired rights to the documentary “Ask Dr. Ruth” before the festival even began.

“Jawline” was produced by Bert Hamelinck, Sacha Ben Harroche, Hannah Reyer. Michael Sagol and Jasper Thomlinson served as executive producers.

CAA Media Finance brokered the deal on behalf of the filmmakers.

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Neon Acquires Sundance Award-Winning Documentary ‘Honeyland’

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Neon has acquired the North American rights to “Honeyland,” a documentary that premiered at Sundance Film Festival last month, the distributor announced on Monday.

“Honeyland” is a documentary by Macedonian filmmaking duo Ljubomir Stefanov and Tamara Kotevska. Following its world premiere at the festival, “Honeyland” received three jury prizes including World Cinema Grand Jury Prize: Documentary, World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award for Cinematography and World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award for Originality.

The documentary showcases an isolated mountain region deep within the Balkans where Hatidze Muratova lives with her ailing mother in a village without electricity or running water. She comes from a long line of beekeepers and sells honey in a city four hours’ walk away. When a new family arrives with their engines and a herd of cattle, Hatidze’s life is changed.

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“‘Honeyland’ began as just another simple story, but it grew to become so much more,” the directors said in a statement. “We are so proud of the final film, and there is no better way to get immersed in it than to experience it on the big screen. Thank you, Neon, for the opportunity to bring Honeyland’ to audiences the way we always wanted it to be seen.”

This is Neon’s fifth acquisition out of Sundance — at the festival, the distributor picked up “The Lodge,” “Little Monsters,” “Monos” and “Luce.”

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The deal was negotiated by Neon and Submarine Entertainment, who is handling sales, on behalf of the filmmakers.

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‘Delhi Crime Story’ Writer Richie Mehta Spent 5 Years With Police to Tell the Story That Changed India’s Broken System (Video)

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Writer and director Richie Mehta made promises in his latest project. With “Delhi Crime Story” he had an obligation to honor the story, be compassionate and be on the right side of the story of a 2012 New Delhi gang rape that lead to India changing laws and beginning to fix a broken system.

“Delhi Crime Story” is a seven-part police procedural drama based on the real-life gruesome gang rape of a young Indian woman in New Delhi. The series, detailing the fraught investigation and the race against the clock, follows a true-to-life, no-nonsense female police commissioner who begins to uncover the horrifying details of the fatal assault. The inquiry becomes a serpentine quest for clarity and justice within a corrupt government system and a pervasive culture of misogyny.

“Yeah, I made promises when they told me this stuff. I said, ‘I’m going to do the very best I can to honor the information you’ve given me, because they don’t open up to people because most of the time they get criticized, often justifiably and in many cases unjustifiably,” Mehta said at TheWrap’s studio during the 2019 Sundance Film Festival.

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“I said, ‘If we can take a compassionate look at the law and order issues in a place like India, which is the whole developing world as well, then we can start to look at where the system is broken and how we can fix it,’” he added.

Mehta, whose first feature film in 2007 “Amal” premiered at TIFF and went on to win 30 international awards, premiered the first two episodes of “Delhi Crime Story” at the Sundance festival. The series was acquired by Netflix following the festival and will debut on the streaming service on March 22.

Mehta said he spent five years with New Delhi police to learn the ins and outs of the case that caused so much public protest and demands for change, and how, while facing so many limitations, the police were able to catch the six men responsible.

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“You are gonna get a forensic look at how this was solved and how, if the police marshals its force based on an ethical response, or a moral response to something, this is how it would happen,” Mehta said.

“The problem is so big that there’s still huge issues in the country, indicative of other places too, but in this situation what I’m trying to show is that if you want to fix a problem like this, you have to enforce laws and the people who are law enforcement officials and officers if their hands are tied — by a system that was inherited by the British, an imperial police force, which I also talk about — how are they going to solve these things?”

Watch the video above.

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Amanda Knox to Host True-Crime Podcast Series for Sundance

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Amanda Knox will host a true-crime podcast series, “The Truth About True Crime,” that will serve as a companion to SundanceTV’s upcoming documentaries, the network announced Saturday.

Knox will take a detailed look at the true crimes that are chronicled in the upcoming SundanceTV and Sundance Now documentary series “Ministry of Evil: The Twisted Cult of Tony Alamo,” “Killing for Love,” “The Preppie Murder: Death In Central Park” (working title) and “No One Saw A Thing.”

New episodes of “The Truth About True Crime” will premiere timed to each documentary.

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“Ministry of Evil,” which premieres on SundanceTV Wednesday, Feb. 27, chronicles the life and crimes of Tony Alamo, who, with his wife, Susan Alamo, became a born-again, fire-and-brimstone televangelist. The two launched The Tony and Susan Alamo Christian Foundation in 1969, which soon evolved into a cult that is said to still operate today.

“After surviving my own true crime saga, I tend not to be a fan of the genre, because it so often veers into sensationalism at the expense of the human beings involved and the truth,” Knox said in a statement. “But these stories are very important when told with compassion and context. I’m excited to partner with Sundance to bring nuance to these stories.”

Knox was profiled in her own true-crime documentary for Netflix in 2016, which looked at her conviction — and acquittal — by Italian courts of the brutal killing of her British roommate Meredith Kercher.

Knox became the subject of global speculation as around-the-clock media attention fed the public’s fascination through every twist and turn of the near-decade-long case.

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HBO Won’t Edit Michael Jackson Doc ‘Leaving Neverland’

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HBO boss Casey Bloys told TheWrap there is “nothing to” a Friday report that HBO is reconsidering its splashy “Leaving Neverland” documentary acquisition. And no, the premium-TV channel is not going to edit the content either.

“There is no hesitation, there are no plans to not air it,” Bloys told TheWrap this afternoon.

“Leaving Neverland” will premiere on Sunday, March 3, as HBO announced between the Showbiz 411 story published and our sitdown conversation with Bloys. The four-hour documentary by Dan Reed features detailed accounts from two men, Wade Robson and James Safechuck, who say Jackson molested them when they were underage boys. The film’s premiere last month during the Sundance Film Festival required extra security amid fears that protesters would try to disrupt the film.

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“All I ask of this is that people watch it and judge for themselves,” Bloys said of the film. “I think you will see a very powerful, very moving, disturbing documentary. Once people see it, they can decide for themselves.”

“We’re not dealing with any legal issues or concerns,” Bloys answered when we asked about such possible ramifications. “It’s going to air and we have not edited it.”

And, yes, the documentary has passed muster with Bloys’ legal department.

“We have a very, very experienced legal team,” he told us. “This has been vetted.”

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The Jackson estate has been extremely critical of the doc, calling it “blatantly one-sided,” and referring to both Robson and Safechuck by name as “admitted liars.”

“This is yet another lurid production in an outrageous and pathetic attempt to exploit and cash in on Michael Jackson,” the estate said last month, in a statement. “Wade Robson and James Safechuck have both testified under oath that Michael never did anything inappropriate toward them. This so called ‘documentary’ is just another rehash of dated and discredited allegations. It’s baffling why any credible filmmaker would involve himself with this project.”

Although “Leaving Neverland” prompted a harsh response from Jackson’s estate and his fans since its premiere, Reed says his documentary isn’t meant to be about the late pop star, but rather about his two sexual assault accusers.

“That’s not the story we’re telling,” Reed told TheWrap’s Steve Pond at Sundance. “We’re telling the story of the sexual abuse of James Safechuck and Wade Robson, which is a story that they know and that their families know because now it’s come out and that their families are in a position to talk about.”

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‘State of the Union’ Star Chris O’Dowd Has Become Nick Hornby’s ‘Muse’ (Video)

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Chris O’Dowd’s latest film, “State of the Union,” is his second project that was based on a novel by British author Nick Hornby, a match that has the actor joking, “I like to think of myself as his muse.”

O’Dowd was at the Sundance Film Festival last year to promote his film “Juliet, Naked,” which was based on Hornby’s novel of the same name. TheWrap caught up with the actor at Sundance yet again, this time to talk about “State of the Union,” another Hornby project about love and marriage that has O’Dowd paired with Rosamund Pike.

The characters don’t really look alike, but has O’Dowd become the on-screen manifestation of the acclaimed author?

“I like to think of myself as his muse,” O’Dowd told TheWrap’s Steve Pond. “I’m wondering what sexy situations he’s going to write me into later in life.”

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“State of the Union” is an unusual project for O’Dowd, as well. The story is a 10-part TV series broken into 10-minute intervals and, in each, he and Pike play a married couple having a drink together in a pub before they head into marriage counseling. Over the course of the series, more is revealed about the history of their relationship and what has caused them to drift apart. For instance, in one episode you learn that the two differed in how they voted on Brexit, which causes a rift between them.

“It’s really inside the sausage factory of a marriage kind of a show,” O’Dowd said. “It’s interesting in that I haven’t seen this kind of format where it’s 10-minute shorts, and it was very alluring to try and make that work, because I feel like that will be a big part of the future of television.”

O’Dowd says he came to the project after working with director Stephen Frears and jumped at the chance to work with Pike. The pair would shoot an episode a day and then would learn the lines of the next episode that evening over a bottle of wine. He says they developed a strong rapport that translates to a portrait of a marriage that, hopefully, anyone can relate to.

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“I think for the audience, even if you don’t have the same kind of marriage as this couple, there are parts of the dynamic that everyone will feel familiar with,” O’Dowd said. “Feelings of inadequacy and resentment and all those things that can swing in and out of a marriage any given day. Feeling that you’re not the best version of yourself and being very open about that, it’s very fun to play.”

Watch the clip of O’Dowd above.

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Leonard Cohen Sundance Documentary ‘Marianne & Leonard: Words of Love’ Acquired by Roadside Attractions

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Indie distributor Roadside Attractions announced on Thursday that it has picked up the North American rights to director Nick Broomfield’s documentary, “Marianne & Leonard: Words of Love,” following its world premiere at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival.

The film, which was in the Documentary Premieres section at the festival, follows the enduring love story between legendary Canadian folk singer Leonard Cohen and his Norwegian muse, Marianne Ihlen.

“Marianne & Leonard: Words of Love” is billed as one of Broomfield’s most personal and romantic films. The documentary begins on the Greek island of Hydra in 1960, where Cohen, then a struggling and unknown fiction writer, and Ihlen, a single mother with a young son, became part of a community of ex-pat artists, writers and musicians. The never-before-seen footage shot by Broomfield and legendary documentarian D.A. Pennebaker give a glimpse of an idyllic 1960s bohemia.  It was a time that left a lasting imprint on both the duo, whose friendship would last another 50 years before their deaths in 2016.

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“Making this film was like coming full circle,” Broomfield said in a statement. “It is D.A. Pennebaker’s unseen footage of Marianne, shot on Hydra all those years ago, that we found in a vault, that is used in the film.  D.A. Pennebaker, Marianne, and Leonard have remained the greatest of influences, and it was a privilege to make this film.”

It was on Hydra in 1968 that Broomfield, then age 20, first met Ihlen. She introduced him to Leonard Cohen’s music and encouraged Broomfield to make his first film.

“Any Leonard Cohen fan can tell you that there’s something profoundly romantic about his music,” Roadside co-founders Howard Cohen and Eric d’Arbeloff said in a statement. “While it’s hard to know what inspires great art, the extraordinary love story between Marianne and Leonard comes to life in Nick’s film in a way that will inspire everyone who sees it.”

The acquisition announcement was made by Cohen and d’Arbeloff, who plan to release the film in theaters later this year.

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“Marianne & Leonard: Words of Love” was produced by Broomfield, Marc Hoeferlin, Shani Hinton and Kyle Gibbon, and executive produced by Charles Finch, Patrick Holland, Cassian Elwes, Lisa Savage, Jan Christian Mollestad, Tony Palmer and Rudi Dolezal.

The deal was brokered by leading global distributor Kew Media Distribution, which has worldwide rights to “Marianne & Leonard: Words of Love.”

Angel An, senior director of acquisitions negotiated the deal on behalf of Roadside Attractions. Jonathan Ford, executive vice president of sales and distribution negotiated the deal on behalf of Kew Media Distribution supported by Elwes, Elevated Film Sales, Inc.

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