Jake Gyllenhaal, Carey Mulligan Drama ‘Wildlife’ Sells to IFC Films

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Paul Dano’s directorial debut “Wildlife” has been acquired by IFC Films for its U.S. and Canadian rights, the distributor announced Monday.

The Sundance premiere stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Carey Mulligan, Bill Camp and Ed Oxenbould. Gyllenhaal also produced.

“Wildlife” was adapted for the screen by Dano and Zoe Kazan from Richard Ford’s acclaimed novel. The film was produced by Alex Saks of June Pictures, Dano, Oren Moverman of Sight Unseen Pictures, Ann Ruark and Nine Stories’ Gyllenhaal and Riva Marker, with Zoe Kazan, Ted Deiker and Eddie Vaisman serving as executive producers.

Also Read: ‘Wildlife’ Review: Paul Dano’s Directorial Debut Is an Austere Portrait of a Family in Crisis

IFC Films is planning a fall theatrical release and a 2018 awards campaign for the film that had its premiere at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival last month. The movie tells the story of a boy who watches his parents’ marriage crumble after his mother falls in love with another man.

“For as long as I have wanted to make films, I have known I would make films about family,” said Dano in a statement. “To have brought together a creative family in the making of ‘Wildlife’ has been one of the great joys of my life. And now to extend that family further and collaborate with IFC, whose voice as a distributor has been vital to so many filmmakers I love all over the world, is an honor.”

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Jonathan Sehring and Lisa Schwartz, co-presidents of IFC Films, added, “We have long admired Paul Dano’s remarkable career as an actor, having had the privilege of working with him on ‘The Ballad of Jack and Rose.’ We are thrilled to present his directorial debut as it is so deft and self assured.  It is almost unfathomable to think that this is his first film behind the camera as the result is nothing short of remarkable. From the amazing performances he was able to capture from Carey Mulligan, Ed Oxenbould, Bill Camp, and Jake Gyllenhaal to Paul and Zoe’s moving and nuanced screenplay, ‘Wildlife’ is a stunning debut film that will leave an indelible effect on audiences.”

The deal was handled by Arianna Bocco, executive vice president of acquisitions and production, for IFC Films with Endeavor Content on behalf of the filmmakers. Film Nation is handling international sales for the film.

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Paul Dano Brings Carey Mulligan To Sundance With His Directorial Debut ‘Wildlife’ – Sundance Studio

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Paul Dano has been a Sundance fixture since his first trip to the festival when he was 16. He returns this year for the first time as a director, with his adaptation of Richard Ford’s Wildlife, co-written by Zoe Kazan. At Deadline’s Sundance Studio he expounded on his love of Ford’s work. When he picked up Wildlife, he told me, “Pretty much from the first sentence I knew I was going to love this book. I thought after reading it there might be a film here and maybe a film…

‘Wildlife’ Review: Paul Dano’s Directorial Debut Is an Austere Portrait of a Family in Crisis

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Actors Paul Dano and Idris Elba both premiered their feature directing debuts on Saturday at the Sundance Film Festival, but it would be hard to imagine two films more dissimilar than Dano’s “Wildlife” and Elba’s “Yardie.”

The latter, which TheWrap will cover separately, is a rough and violent story set in East London in the 1970s. But Dano’s film, which he adapted with his partner Zoe Kazan from the Richard Ford novel, is quiet and contemplative; there’s emotional tumult, to be sure, but “Wildlife” is stylishly understated and slow-paced to a degree that may alienate some viewers, who’ll find the slow-paced disintegration of a family painfully drawn-out.

But those viewers were definitely in the minority in the Eccles Theatre on Saturday afternoon, where much of the audience was enthralled by Dano’s confident (if commercially iffy) directorial debut.

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The novel was told in the voice of a teenage boy who doesn’t fully understand what it happening with his parents, and doesn’t really even know how he feels about it. Short and internal, with a confused narrator describing only a few days in his life, it is not necessarily cinematic material.

But Dano was drawn to it, he said in the post-screening Q&A, because of how it captured “the feeling that the family is one of the greatest sources of love in our life, and because of that it’s also one of the greatest sources of pain.”

Jake Gyllenhaal and Carrie Mulligan play Jerry and Jeanette, a married couple in their 30s who’ve moved to Montana with a 14-year-old son, Joe, played by Ed Oxenbould. When the father is laid off from his job as a golf instructor, he decides to join a volunteer crew fighting wildfires raging in the area; disgusted by his abandoning the family for a risky job and dissatisfied with her life in general, the mother quickly jumps into an affair with an older, richer man in town (Bill Camp).

The film is spare to the point of austerity — not visually, where Dano makes good use of the open spaces of the American West, but stylistically. He sets the camera in place and lets people move in and out of the frame, introducing a slow pan only as a last resort; the pauses are deep and resonant, and these characters would just as soon respond with a look as opposed to a word.

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The sound of the film is silence; while we hear an occasional song from the radio or a jukebox, much of the action unfolds against dead quiet, with the musical score used infrequently (and effectively).

The result is a careful, deliberate, slightly distanced treatment of stormy emotions — but it’s appropriate, because the characters are often as not driven not to action but to inaction by their circumstances. Joe doesn’t understand his parents or what they’re going through; Jerry responds to a humiliating layoff by taking the one step guaranteed to be nothing but a stopgap; Jeanette struggles with the overpowering feeling that her life has to change, without any real idea what that should entail.

“I feel like I need to wake up,” she says at one poignant moment, “but I don’t know what from, or to.”

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Mulligan gives us a disquieting portrait of an impulsive, wounded woman trying to find some agency in a world that would rather not let her be a full person; we understand Jeanette’s frustration even if we can rarely embrace her choices (or Jerry’s, for that matter).

And Oxenbould, a young Australian actor whose profile sometimes makes him look and feel like a Dano surrogate, finds endless shades of confusion and bewilderment before he gains a glimmer of understanding.

The Eccles audience responded with generous applause, and the Q&A session grew so effusive that the moderator finally said, “Does anybody have a question that isn’t just compliments for Paul Dano?”

Plenty of buyers were on hand for “Wildlife,” but the film doesn’t exactly feel like a big-money deal in the making. With exquisite understatement, Dano has made a quiet, beautiful and uncomfortable little indie that is made for arthouses and Sundance screening rooms and will take careful nurturing if it’s to move beyond those venues.

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Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Ava DuVernay, Taika Waititi Heading to 2018 Sundance Film Festival

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Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Ava DuVernay, Issa Rae, Catherine Hardwicke and Taika Waititi are heading to the 2018 Sundance Film Festival to discuss their work and the power of media, it was announced Thursday.

DuVernay, Patrick Gaspard, Rae, Megan Smith and Christine Vachon will speak on a panel titled “Power of Story: Culture Shift” to talk about their work as well as the role of creative choices in our ever-shifting culture. The conversation will be led by Washington Post journalist Sarah Ellison on Jan. 19.

Hardwicke, Waititi and Justin Lin will talk about the advantages and challenges of moving from independent filmmaking to big-budget studio films with moderator John Horn on Jan. 26, on a panel titled “Power of Story: Indies Go Hollywood.”

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Other noteworthy conversations at the festival include talks between will.i.am and Kevin Smith; Danny Elfman and Gus Van Sant; Justice Ginsberg and Nina Totenberg; Ira Glass and Miranda July; and Ethan Hawke and Rupert Everett.

Octavia Spencer, Zoe Kazan, Paul Dano, Kelvin Harrison Jr., Darren Aronofsky and Steven Soderbergh will also take part in conversations at the festival.

A Celebration of Music and Film will present an evening with Joan Jett who will take the stage with The Blackhearts on Jan. 20, in celebration of the premiere of the documentary “Bad Reputation.” Other live music at the festival will include performances by Michael Franti, Brett Dennen, Mr. Hudson, Ruelle, Ethan Gruska and Striking Matches.

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The Sundance Film Festival will take place from Jan. 18-28 in Park City, Utah.

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‘The Big Sick’ Stars: Don’t Just Call Co-Writer Emily V Gordon ‘Kumail Nanjiani’s Wife’

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“The Big Sick” stars Zoe Kazan and Kumail Nanjiani are sick of co-writer Emily V. Gordon being referred to simply as Nanjiani’s wife in the media, given that she is a successful screenwriter and the inspiration for the critically-acclaimed film.

“She has a name she has a name she has a name: Emily V. Gordon, now a multiply[sic]-award-nominated screenwriter,” Kazan tweeted accompanying a Twitter moment with a headline not naming Gordon.  “it’s HER body & HER illness. the least you can do is put her name in the headline, if you’re going to make a ‘moment’ of her life. thanks.”

Kazan later added, “seriously @Twitter i know you’re letting nazis use your platform to build a movement, so maybe this is small potatoes. but it’s so gross every time this happens. you *can* do better. it’s relatively easy. try.”

The Twitter moment was later amended to include Gordon’s name.

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Nanjiani responded with the clapping emoji before posting his own tweet on Wednesday.

“Hey @washingtonpost. Big fan,” Nanjiani said, retweeting a Washington Post story with the headline, “Kumail Nanjiani opens up about his wife’s illness, the inspiration for ‘The Big Sick.’” “Love what y’all do. Appreciate you covering this. Could you add my wife’s name to this headline please? She is Emily V Gordon, & not just the inspiration, but one of the writers of ‘The Big Sick.’”

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Indeed, both Gordon and Nanjiani wrote “The Big Sick,” which has found critical and box office success since its release. Gordon herself is a multiple-award-nominated screenwriter, as Kazan indicated, having scored 16 nominations and she also won a North Carolina Film Critics Associated award for the film. Additionally, the movie is about Gordon’s illness and her relationship with Nanjiani. Kazan plays Gordon in the film.

Gordon’s other credits include writing for “The Carmichael Show,” “Explored” and “The Meltdown with Jonah and Kumail.”

See the tweets below.

Hey @washingtonpost. Big fan. Love what y’all do. Appreciate you covering this. Could you add my wife’s name to this headline please? She is Emily V Gordon, & not just the inspiration, but one of the writers of The Big Sick. https://t.co/H6VkeyzO83

— Kumail Nanjiani (@kumailn) January 10, 2018

she has a name she has a name she has a name: Emily V. Gordon, now a multiply-award-nominated screenwriter. it’s HER body & HER illness. the least you can do is put her name in the headline, if you’re going to make a “moment” of her life. thanks ???????? https://t.co/BZXxxqdFz9

— zoe kazan (@zoeinthecities) January 10, 2018

seriously @Twitter i know you’re letting nazis use your platform to build a movement, so maybe this is small potatoes. but it’s so gross every time this happens. you *can* do better. it’s relatively easy. try.

— zoe kazan (@zoeinthecities) January 10, 2018

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