Madeline Brewer Set For ‘Pruning’; Freestyle Acquires Doc Narrated By Ray Liotta – Deadline

EXCLUSIVE: Emmy nominee Madeline Brewer (The Handmaid’s Tale) has signed on to star alongside Peyton Kennedy, Anjali Bhimani, Jeremy Radin, Akilah Hughes and Ben Gleib in the indie pruning.

In Lola Blanc’s psychological horror film, which is currently in production in the Los Angeles area, a far-right political commentator Sami Geller (Brewer) discovers that her rhetoric has inspired a mass shooting. She must then contend with the part of herself that she has a conscience.

Blanc is directing from the script she wrote with Jeremy Radin, with Nick Paskhover and Chris Beyrooty producing. David Lawson, Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead will also produce under their Rustic Films banner, with Brewer, Deric A. Hughes and Elia Petridis serving as EPs. Brewer is represented by CAA and Schreck Rose Dapello.

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EXCLUSIVE: Leticia Peguero has been appointed as Senior Vice President at Oscar-nominated documentary filmmaker Stanley Nelson’s (Attica) Firelight Media.

Leticia Peguero
Courtesy of Firelight Media

Peguero comes to Firelight with nearly two decades of experience working in social justice philanthropy. She has worked most recently as an executive coach and organizational consultant, and prior to that she served as Vice President of Programs at the Nathan Cummings Foundation, where she developed programmatic strategies responsive to the complex nature of social change. Her resume also includes leadership positions at the Andrus Family Fund, the Posse Foundation and Planned Parenthood of New York City, among other nonprofit organizations.

Nelson and Marcia Smith founded the company, focused on nonfiction cinema by and about communities of color, in 1998. Its programs include labs and fellowships like the Documentary Lab and Groundwork Regional Lab, grantmaking initiatives including the Williams Greaves Research and Development Fund and the Impact Campaign Fund, and documentary short film productions including the recently announced collection Homegrown: Future Visions.

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EXCLUSIVE: Terrell Carter (Empire), Matthew Sauve (One Night Stand) and pop star CeCe Peniston have boarded the romantic comedy The Pactwith Grammy winner Mario Winans signing on to score the film set in the music business. The trio of new actors join an ensemble that also includes Tyler Kay Whitley, Kym Whitley, Ne-Yo, Ashleigh Morghan, Keith Dean, Grace Aubry and Crystal Smith, as previously announced.

Terrell Carter, Matthew Sauvé, CeCe Peniston and Mario Winans

(L-R) Terrell Carter, Matthew Sauvé, CeCe Peniston and Mario Winans
Courtesy of Marc Cartwright; Lindsey MacDonald; Angelique White; Johnny Nunez

The indie focused on two best friends who made a pact in college to get married to one another if they’re not married by their 30th birthday is written and directed by Robert Mychal Patrick Butler (Life Ain’t Like The Movies). The film is being produced by Kimel Fryer and Stuntmen Entertainment’s Doreonne Stramler, who also serves as music supervisor. Butler is also producing under his banner Easy Breezy Productions, with production kicking off in Atlanta this fall.

Carter is repped by TalentWorks, Silver Lining Entertainment and Loeb & Loeb; Sauvé by FilmComm Talent Agency in Toronto and BAC Talent; and Peniston and Winans by Universal Attractions.

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EXCLUSIVE: Jasmine Batchelor (The Surrogate) and Ryan Cooper (Rough Night) have signed on to star in the indie dramedy You Are Not Alone fromdirector Andrew Shea (Buzz), which enters production in Austin, Texas next week.

Jasmine Batchelor, Ryan Cooper, Cindy McCreery and Andrew Shea

(L-R) Jasmine Batchelor, Ryan Cooper, Cindy McCreery and Andrew Shea
Stan Demidoff; Bertak Smiggi; Mark Austin; David Cox

The film follows Grace (Batchelor), a 33-year-old living in Los Angeles and the youngest child of a mixed family, who becomes her estranged older brother AJ’s (Cooper) caregiver as he undergoes bladder cancer surgery at a Los Angeles Hospital during the days after Michael Jackson’s death. Jackson played an important role in the siblings’ childhoods and the irony of the timing isn’t lost on Grace. As she tries to reconcile her complicated relationships with her siblings, she’s saying goodbye to the icon who provided the soundtrack to that chapter of her life. Cindy McCreery wrote the script and will produce alongside Shea, Austin Film Festival co-founder Barbara Morgan, Gilana Lobel, Camille Chambers Scioli and the film’s editor Melissa Shea. Victoria Kelleher (The Flight Attendant), Dorien Wilson (Inn Tanglement), Celestina Harris and Alkali Thiele will also star.

Batchelor is represented by BRS/Gage and Liberman-Zerman Management; Cooper by CESD and Authentic Talent and Literary Management; Kelleher by Master Talent Agency and Entertainment Lab; Wilson by Pantheon Talent and Burke Management; Shea by WME and Rain Management Group; and McCreery by Rothman Brecher Ehrich Livingston and Underground.

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EXCLUSIVE: Uncork’d Entertainment has landed North American rights to the ride-share horror Dawnstarring Jackie Moore (pernicious) and Jared Cohn (A Stalker in the House), with plans for a release across digital platforms in August.

'Dawn'

Dawn
Uncork’d Entertainment

The film directed by Nicholas Ryan tells of an unsuspecting couple that get into a rideshare only to find out that they may have to fight for their lives as the deranged driver puts them through life-and-death situations. Be careful who you accept a ride from, it may be your last.

Sarah French, Michael Paré, Eric Roberts, Gigi Gustin and Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s Nicholas Brendon also star in the pic written by Ryder Doupe, Dawson Doupé, and Todd Tapper. President Keith Leopard negotiated the deal for Dawn on behalf of Uncork’d, with executive producer James Cullen Bressack on behalf of the filmmakers.

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EXCLUSIVE: Random Average has acquired worldwide rights (excluding Canada) to Derek Diorio’s foul-mouthed feature comedy Happy FKN Sunshinand on the heels of its world premiere at Dances With Films, slating it for release on January 10, 2023.

'Happy FKN Sunshine'


Happy FKN Sunshine

Random Average

The film written by Ryan Keller and J. Gordon Ross tells the story of Ronnie Weston (Mattea Brotherton) and her brother Will (Matt Close), who live in a one-mill town. When the mill workers go on strike, the future for their family looks bleak. Fortunately, Ronnie has found a brisk business selling weed. When Will wants to start a band, Ronnie uses her weed profits to buy Will an electric guitar. Against everyone’s advice, Will enlists local outcast Artie Porter (Dana Hodgson) as his bass player. Artie spends his days partying with heavy metal icons and getting fellatio from rock and roll legends – or so he says. Artie’s lies cause instant conflict within the band, especially with Vince (Connor Rueter), the egotistical lead singer. But the musical chemistry is undeniable, and Will feels that his band just might hit the big time. If they can survive their dying town…and each other.

Keller produced the pic, which also stars Maxime Lauzon, Bridget Graham, Aubrey Rand, Lewis Hodgson and Lisa Boivin. Jonathan Hlibka and Terry E. Markus served as EPs. The acquisition deal was brokered by Eric Doctorow for Random Media and Ryan Keller for Other Animal Entertainment. Alex Nohe from Blood, Sweat, Honey brokered the introduction.

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EXCLUSIVE: Freestyle Digital Media has acquired North American rights to the Brandon Morson-directed thriller Another Love Story and to the World War II documentary Syndrome Kmarking the final film narrated by the late Ray Liotta. The digital film distribution division of Byron Allen’s Allen Media Group will release the former film across VOD platforms on July 19, unveiling the latter on August 16.

'Another Love Story'

Another Love Story
Freestyle Digital Media

Another Love Story tells the story of Miriam Ramos (Isadora Ortega), a budding author living in the US, who falls deeply in love with the man of her dreams. Until it quickly turns into the tragic nightmare that not even her closest friends of her could see coming. Ortega and Morson wrote the film and produced it alongside Carole Copeland. Its cast also includes Kenneth Wayne and Dorcas Tejada.

Syndrome K shines a light on the story of three Roman Catholic doctors who invented a highly contagious, fake disease during the Nazi Occupation of Rome to save Roman Jews in a Vatican-affiliated hospital from deportation to Auschwitz during World War II. Stephen Edwards directed and produced the pic from Gregory Ballard’s script, which was based on his own story. Lannette Turicchi, Patrick Olson and James Duda exec produced it, with Christopher Lovasz, Peter J. D’Arruda and Maisy-Kay Kendrick serving as associate producers.

Freestyle Digital Media negotiated the deal to acquire Another Love Story with Ortega of Black Diamond Productions, negotiating the deal for Syndrome K with Edwards of Insanely Practical Productions. Watch the trailers for both films below.

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EXCLUSIVE: Gravitas Ventures has acquired North American rights to writer-director JR Poli’s drama Marcusfeaturing seven-time world wrestling champion Paul Wight, slating it for release in theaters and on VOD on July 15.

'Marcus'

Marcus

The film based on Poli’s short film of the same name centers on Marcus (Owen Miller), who has a checked past and an unstable present, seeing unexpected news bring a new opportunity. Marcus leaves his life behind and sets off to find purpose and forgiveness. But he will have to face the consequences of his past and overcome the greatest obstacle of all: Himself. Kata Malone, Todd Bruno and Jennifer Lynn Sharp also star in the pic, which Poli produced with Miller and Jose Luis Martinez.

Gravitas Ventures’ Senior Director of Acquisitions Bill Guentzler negotiated the deal for Marcus on behalf of the company, with MPX Films and Ryan Bury on behalf of the filmmakers.

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EXCLUSIVE: Academy Award nominee Tom Berenger (platoon) will narrate the upcoming documentary Ronin 3: The Battle for Sanginwhich Jeanne McKinney is directing from her and Barb Doyon’s script.

Tom Berenger

Tom Berenger
Courtesy of Jeff Goldberg

The film examines the experiences of the Ronin 3 platoon while they were deployed to Sangin, Afghanistan in 2010 to restore security and free the local people from Taliban oppression. Marines from 3rd Battalion 5th Marines (3/5) Darkhorse faced fierce opposition in a dangerous war zone littered with enemy IEDs and murder holes, and are now telling their stories of honor, sacrifice and brotherhood.

The project from Patriot Profiles Productions has been conceived as a three-part series for release on a streaming platform at a date that has not yet been determined. Jeanne and David K ​​McKinney are its producers.

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