William Morris Endeavor (WME) Signs Gina Rodriguez & Her Production Company

It’s a new endeavor for Gina Rodriguez

William Morris Endeavor (WME) has signed the 36-year-old Puerto Rican actress and her production company I Can and I Will Productions, run by Molly Breeskin, in all areas.

Gina Rodriguez

The Golden Globe-winning former Jane the Virgin star was previously at Creative Artists Agency (CAA).

Rodriguez played the title role in the CW series Jane the Virgin for 100 episodes, winning a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a TV Series Musical or Comedy in 2015.

Rodriguez recently starred in the Focus Features title Kajillionaire opposite Evan Rachel Wood and Richard Jenkins. The Miranda July directed feature made its world premiere at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival.

Rodriguez’s upcoming projects include the Netflix film Awake and the miniseries Lost Ollie for the streamer.

She has starred in Sony/Screen Gems’ Miss Bala and the Netflix feature Someone Great, a film in which she also served as a producer.

Her voice can be heard in the title role of Netflix’s Carmen Sandiego, and she also had starring voiceovers in Twentieth Century Fox/Blue Sky’s Ferdinand, Warner Brothers’ Smallfoot and Scoob, and Sony’s The Star.

In addition to her acting career, the native Chicagoan and NYU Tisch School alum is a driving force for inclusion and the empowerment of women in all ways, particularly in the entertainment industry. This passion led her to create her production company, I Can and I Will Productions, with a mission directly reflecting her commitment to create art and tell stories from those who are traditionally unseen and unheard.

The company has finished its second season of Diary of a Future President where Rodriguez directed, produced, and performed as the future president.

With her family, she established the We Will Foundation, which aims to uplift and champion underprivileged youth through arts, education, scholarship funding, and financial literacy.

Angel Manuel Soto to Direct DC Films & Warner Bros.’ “Blue Beetle,” Featuring the First Latino Superhero

Angel Manuel Soto is feelin’ blue

The 38-year-old Puerto Rican filmmaker Angel Manuel Soto is set to direct DC Films and Warner Bros.’ Blue Beetle, the first superhero film that will be led by a Latino character.

Angel Manuel Soto

Created by Charles Wojtkowski for Fox Comics in 1939, the character Blue Beetle has had a number of superhero alter egos, but the film is said to focus on Jaime Reyes who was first introduced in 2006. As the Blue Beetle, the Mexican-American teen from El Paso is known for his high-tech alien armor.

Miss Bala scribe Gareth Dunnet-Alcocer, who also wrote the screenplay for the upcoming Scarface reboot, penned the script for Blue Beetle.

Soto directed the 2020 drama Charm City Kings, which has its premiere at last year’s Sundance Film Festival and is currently available to stream on HBO Max.

Rita Moreno to Take Part in This Year’s Sundance Film Festival Semi-Virtual Edition

Rita Moreno is ready to rock Sundance…

The 2021 Sundance Film Festival has announced a schedule of the talks and events to be presented on the Sundance platform, with the 89-year-old Puerto Rican actress, dancer and singer set to participate.

Rita Moreno

The festival, which runs from January 28 to February 3, opted for a semi-virtual option in lieu of its traditional exhibition in Park City, UT. Among the guests taking part in this year’s virtual “Cinema Cafe” talks are Moreno, Questlove, Robin Wright and others.

Moreno will be joined by beloved Sesame Street alum Sonia Manzano for a little café talk on Saturday, January 30 from 10:30-11:15 am.

The EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscars & Tony Awards) winner will also take part in the Conjuring the Collective: Womxn at Sundance Speakeasy later that night, from 8:00 – 9:00 pm.

The virtual speakeasy will feature performances from an array of talented women from the Festival and beyond, honoring a multiplicity of perspectives through our myths and stories, dance, art, music, and culture.

In addition to Moreno, guests include poet Apiorkor, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and Artistic Director Emerita Judith Jamison (Ailey), actor Marlee Matlin and director Siân Heder.

The following is the roster of scheduled events. All talks and events are free to view, and all times are U.S. Mountain time.

2021 Sundance Film
Festival Opening Night Welcome
Thursday, January 28,
5:00 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.

The Sundance Dailies
#SundanceDailies
Friday, January 29–Tuesday, February 2,
9:00 a.m.–9:30 a.m.

2021 Cinema Café guests:

Shaka King & Ahmir
“Questlove” Thompson
Friday, January 29, 10:30-11:15 a.m.

Sonia Manzano & Rita Moreno
Saturday, January 30, 10:30-11:15 a.m.

Rebecca Hall & Robin Wright
Sunday, January 31, 10:30-11:15 a.m.

Tyson Brown, Patti Harrison & Emilia Jones
Monday, February 1, 10:30-11:15am

The Big Conversation
#SundanceBigConversation
Friday, January 29-Monday, February 1,
1-2 p.m., individual slots TBA
The Big Conversation tackles science, art, culture, and the movements that are fueling the imaginations of today’s independent artists. A compelling selection of speakers discuss topics centered on the themes of this year’s program and explore broader trends in art and culture around the world. In considering how
artists — through their practice and their work — make meaning of the world, we’re reminded that it’s the big conversation that connects us to the big ideas. The topics are “Barbed Wire Kisses Redux,” “Come Together” and “The Past In the Present: A Personal Journey through Race, History and Filmmaking.”

Power of Story
Timing TBA
The Sundance Film Festival’s Power of Story looks to deepen public engagement with storytelling, delve into cinema culture, and celebrate artists whose work propels the form and reinvents storytelling as we know it.

Power of Story: Speculative Fiction Is the Place
Black speculative fiction and historiography, Afrofuturism, and utopian/dystopian visions speak to an enduring, evolving, and vibrant storytelling sensibility.

Conjuring the Collective: Womxn at Sundance Speakeasy
Saturday, January 30, 8-9 p.m.
A virtual speakeasy featuring performances from an array of talented women from the Festival and beyond, honoring a multiplicity of perspectives through our myths and stories, dance, art, music, and culture. Guests include: poet Apiorkor, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and Artistic Director Emerita Judith Jamison (Ailey), actor Marlee Matlin and director Siân Heder (CODA), actor Rita Moreno (Rita Moreno: Just A Girl Who Decided to Go For It), actor SOKO (Mayday, The Blazing World), and more TBA.

Awards Night
Tuesday, February 2, 6 p.m.
Free and open to all, the event will be live-streamed on our online screening platform.

It’s a Wrap
Wednesday, February 3, 9-9:30 a.m.
Festival director Tabitha Jackson leads a ceremonial end to this all-new Sundance experience by bringing audiences together for one last moment together in the virtual space.

Karamo Brown to Appear on Season 4 of Netflix’s “Dear White People”

Karamo Brown has landed a Dear role…

The 40-year-old Cuban-Jamaican American television host, reality television personality, author and activist has joined the upcoming fourth and final season of Netflix’s Dear White People in a recurring role. Season 4 is slated to premiere in 2021.

Karamo BrownBased on Justin Simien’s acclaimed debut indie feature, Dear White People is set against the backdrop of a predominantly white Ivy League university where racial tensions bubble just below the surface. The satirical series — which picks up where the 2014 Sundance Film Festival hit left off – follows a group of Winchester University’s students of color as they navigate a diverse landscape of social injustice, cultural bias, political correctness (or lack thereof) and activism in the millennial age.

Stars Marque Richardson, Logan Browning, Brandon P. Bell, Antoinette Robertson, DeRon Horton, John Patrick Amedori and Ashley Blaine Featherson are slated to return for Season 4. The 10-episode series is produced by Lionsgate.

Brown received a 2020 Primetime Emmy nomination as Outstanding Host for a Reality or Reality-Competition program for Queer Eye. He most recently starred in Freeform’s romantic comedy The Thing About Harry opposite Jake Borelli.

Brown is the co-founder of the beauty and skincare company MANTL that launched online last year and now sold nationwide in Nordstrom. He also is the author of Karamo: My Story of Embracing Purpose, Healing, and Hope and I Am Perfectly Designed, co-written with his son Jason ‘Rachel’ Brown. Available through Luminary, Brown’s podcast, Karamo, is an in-depth look at life’s thorniest issues through the lens of his celebrity guests and fans from around the world.

Fernanda Valadez’s “Identifying Features” Wins Gotham Awards’ Inaugural Best International Feature Award

Fernanda Valadez is in a New York state of mind…

The Gotham Film and Media Institute’s 30th annual Gotham Awards have been revealed virtually, with the Mexican filmmaker taking home a prize.

Fernanda Valadez

Valadez’s critically acclaimed Identifying Features (Sin Señas Particulares) picked up the inaugural award for Best International Feature.

The drama premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and won the Audience Award: World Cinema Dramatic and the World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award for Best Screenplay.

Co-written by Valadez and Astrid Rondero, the film centers on the many immigrants who often go missing or die on their journeys. Most of the main characters are mothers trying to find their children.

IFP Executive Director Jeffrey Sharp welcomed the virtual audience and the night featured a handful of in-person presenters including Renee Elise Goldsberry, Cristin Milioti, Hunter Schafer, Padma Lakshmi, Michael Shannon and Noma Dumezweni, as well as remote presenters such as Zachary Quinto, Lupita Nyong’o, Anthony Mackie, Rebecca Hall and Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre.

Here’s the full list of winners below.

BEST FEATURE: Nomadland
BEST DOCUMENTARY – TIE A Thousand Cuts & Time
BEST INTERNATIONAL FEATURE: Identifying Features
BINGHAM RAY BREAKTHROUGH DIRECTOR AWARD: Andrew Patterson, The Vast of Night
BEST SCREENPLAY – TIE: The Forty-Year-Old Version, Radha Blank & Fourteen, Dan Sallitt
BEST ACTOR: Riz Ahmed, Sound of Metal
BEST ACTRESS: Nicole Beharie, Miss Juneteenth
BREAKTHROUGH ACTOR: Kingsley Ben-Adir, One Night in Miami…
BREAKTHROUGH SERIES – LONG FORMAT (40-PLUS MINUTES PER EPISODE): Watchmen
BREAKTHROUGH SERIES – SHORT FORMAT (LESS THAN 40 MINUTES PER EPISODE): I May Destroy You
ACTRESS TRIBUTE: Viola Davis
ACTOR TRIBUTE: Chadwick Boseman
ENSEMBLE TRIBUTE: The cast of The Trial of the Chicago 7: Sacha Baron Cohen, Eddie Redmayne, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Jeremy Strong, Mark Rylance, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Michael Keaton, Frank Langella, John Carroll Lynch, Alex Sharp, Kelvin Harrison Jr., Caitlin Fitzgerald, Alice Kremelberg, and Ben Shenkman.
DIRECTOR’S TRIBUTE: Steve McQueen
INDUSTRY TRIBUTE: Ryan Murphy
MADE IN N.Y. AWARD: Jeffrey Wright
GOTHAM AUDIENCE AWARD: Nomadland

Alexis Gambis’ “Hijo de Monarcas” Wins 2021 Alfred P. Sloan Prize for Film

Alexis Gambis is celebrating a monarch moment…

The French Venezuelan filmmaker and biologist’s US-Mexico film Hijo de Monarcas has won the 2021 Alfred P. Sloan Prize for film.

Alexis Gambis

Gambis’ film, which stars Tenoch Huerta, Paulina Gaitan and William Mapother centers on a Mexican scientist (Huerta) living in New York, who returns to his hometown, nestled in the majestic butterfly forests of Michoacán. The journey forces him to confront past traumas and reflect on his hybrid identity, sparking a personal metamorphosis.

The annual award from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation recognizes a film screening at the Sundance Film Festival that focuses on science or technology or portrays a scientist, engineer, or mathematician as a major character.

Tenoch Huerta, Hijo de Monarcas

Hijo de Monarcas is directed and written by Gambis and features a cast that includes Alexia Rasmussen, Lázaro Gabino Rodríguez and Noé Hernández.

Hijo de Monarcas, which was filmed in New York and Mexico in both English and Spanish, will premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on January 29, with a second screening on January 31.

“As we celebrate the wonderful news for Son of Monarchs, I just wanted to take a minute to point at this injustice and call to action to save the endangered monarch butterfly,” posted Gambis on Facebook, referring to his movie’s selection for Sundance, before the award was announced. He highlights the risks and challenges now facing the butterflies in light of reported huge population declines in the past few years. “The monarch butterfly is threatened with extinction but will not come under federal protection because other species are a higher priority, federal officials announced Tuesday,” he added citing a New York Times article.

Gambis’ filmmaking mixes documentary and fiction, often honoring animal perspective. His artistic craft and scientific background led him to launch various projects like the Imagine Science Film Festival in 2008 and the science-focused streaming platform and online magazine Labocine. Eight years later, he directed his first narrative feature, The Fly Room, a biographical drama that also deals with science, in this case genetics.

The Alfred P. Sloan Prize has been handed out at the Sundance Film Festival since 2003. The winner receives a $20,000 cash award.

Tessa Thompson to Receive Actors Award at Critics Choice Association’s “Celebration of Black Cinema” Event

Tessa Thompson is picking up a special award…

The 37-year-old Afro-Panamanian & Mexican American actress/singer will receive the Actors Award at the Critics Choice Association’s third annual Celebration of Black Cinema event.

Tessa Thompson,

Thompson will receive the prize after earning critical acclaim as both star and executive producer of Amazon’s Christmas release film Sylvie’s Lovewhich debuted at the Sundance Film Festival. The period piece takes place in late ‘50’s Harlem and centers around two Black people falling in love while individually working to carve their own professional paths amidst many challenges.

Other winners include Delroy Lindo (Career Achievement Award) John Legend and Mike Jackson (Producers of the Year), Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (Breakthrough Award) and, Andra Day (Special Honoree).

Additionally the cast of Amazon Studios’ One Night in Miami will receive the Ensemble Award.

The virtual ceremony will take place on Tuesday, February 2, and will be hosted by author and media personality Bevy Smith.

The event will also showcase a series of powerful photographs captured by Black filmmaker Tommy Oliver around Los Angeles.

Aubrey Plaza to Star Opposite Jason Statham in Guy Ritchie’s Next Thriller

High five to Aubrey Plaza!

The 36-year-old half-Puerto Rican actress/comedian is set to star Jason Statham in the Guy Ritchie untitled thriller formally known as Five Eyes. Miramax is producing and financing with STX handling distribution.

Aubrey Plaza

The story follows MI6 guns-and-steel agent (Statham) who’s recruited by a global intelligence alliance to track down and stop the sale of a deadly new weapons technology that threatens to disrupt the world order. Reluctantly paired with CIA high-tech expert, Fortune sets off on a globe-trotting mission where he will have to use all of his charm, ingenuity and stealth to track down and infiltrate billionaire arms broker.

 

The film will be produced Bill Block for Miramax, which is also fully financing the film.

Ritchie will direct and produce from a screenplay written by The Gentlemen scribes Ivan Atkinson and Marn Davies with revisions by Ritchie.

The news comes after Plaza’s scene-stealing role in the romantic comedy Happiest Season, which earned her critical acclaim and a massive amount of praise across social media.

She can be seen next in Lawrence Levine’s Black Bear on December 4th.  The film premiered at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival and garnered Plaza rave reviews for her performance.

She recently recently wrapped production on Lina Roessler’s Best Sellers starring opposite Michael Caine. Plaza most recently received critical acclaim for her role in Ingrid Goes West, which she produced and won the 2018 Independent Spirit Award for “Best First Feature.” Additionally, she recently starred in Noah Hawley’s television series, Legion on FX.

Chile Selects Maite Alberdi’s “The Mole Agent” for International Oscar Consideration

Maite Alberdi’s name has been thrown in the Oscar ring…

The 37-year-old Chilean producer, director, documentarian and screenwriter’s documentary The Mole Agent will represent Chile in the International Oscar race this year.

The Mole Agent

The film debuted at the Sundance Film Festival back in January. It follows a private investigator in Chile who hires someone to work as a mole at a retirement home where a client of his suspects the caretakers of elder abuse. Marcela Santibañez produced.

Gravitas Ventures is handling U.S. rights on the film, which is now streaming on Hulu. The movie will launch on POV on January 25.

The deadline for submissions to the Oscar race is December 1, with the 2021 ceremony scheduled to take place on April 25. The shortlist for the International Oscar will be unveiled February 9 and nominations will be announced March 15.

Amazon Prime Video Acquires Rights in Several International Territories to “Palm Springs,” Featuring Camila Mendes

Camila Mendesrepeat Wedding Day is going global…

Amazon Prime Video has acquired a swathe of international rights on Palm Springs, featuring the 26-year-old Brazilian American actress and Riverdale star as the bride celebrating her wedding day.

Camila Mendes, Palm Springs

The Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti-starring comedy caused a splash at the Sundance Film Festival this year when Hulu and Neon sealed a record-breaking $17.5M world rights deal.

FilmNation was selling international rights to the film, and several of those key territories have now sold to Amazon, which will launch the film in Australia and New Zealand (November 20), Canada (December 18), Netherlands, France and the UK (all early 2021).

The movie’s North America release was heavily disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic, screening primarily at drive-ins before its Hulu launch.

Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti star in the Max Barbakow-directed feature in which Milioti plays a lost and occasionally self-destructive bridesmaid to a younger sister (Mendes) getting hitched in the desert. A moving wedding toast from a fellow guest (Samberg) gets the pair talking, and they seem to be a decent match until a metaphysical event occurs, leaving the two with ample time to ponder the meaning of life and how it should be spent.